Staff Report July 28, 2019NewsComments Off on Back to School! Students in Socorro, Clint ISDs return to class Monday
Where, oh where has the summer gone? That’s the question that’s on the minds of thousands of students and parents as both Socorro ISD and Clint ISD open the 2019-2020 school year Monday.
CISD students, staff and teachers now join SISD in a near year-round-schedule, although Clint officials call the change a ‘balanced calendar.’
Via a news release, officials say Clint’s new balanced calendar will allow students to have breaks which are more frequent and evenly spread out throughout the academic school year.
“This calendar will also allow for intersessions in the fall and spring in which accelerated instruction and opportunities for enrichment can be provided for students,” district officials shared via an emailed news release. “The financial benefits of the balanced calendar will assist the District in funding needed activities aligned to adding instructional initiatives for all schools.”
Students will have intersession breaks beginning September 30-October 11 and March 9-13, with the last day of school falling on June 4, 2020. To view the complete Clint ISD Schedule, click here.
Just down the road, Socorro ISD students make their familiar trek back to the classrooms as well.
SISD officials say they will welcome more than 47,000 students for the 2019-20 school year on Monday, and they be greeted by more than 3,500 educators across their 49 campuses.
For SISD students, the new opportunities for the 2019-20 school year include a new open enrollment policy, the opening of a new elementary school, three new early college high schools, the new Dual Language Academy, more technological devices and resources to enhance student learning, and improvements and renovations at existing facilities through Bond 2017.
With the opening of three new early college high school programs, SISD will be the only district in the region to offer an early college high school program at each one of its comprehensive high schools.
The new early college programs are Empire Early College at El Dorado High School, Falcon Early College at Eastlake High School, and Pebble Hills Early College at Pebble Hills High School.
Early college high schools give students the opportunity to graduate with up to 60 college credit hours or an associate degree along with their high school diploma.
Two significant milestones are also in store for two of the district’s campuses, as Montwood High celebrates it’s 30th anniversary, while over in the High Desert, Eastlake High School will celebrate its 10-year anniversary this school year.
The district’s newest campus, Cactus Trails Elementary, is opening for the 2019-20 school year in the Pebble Hills area. It is the 49th school in the district and welcomes some 900 students in Pre-Kindergarten to fifth grade. The school was the first Bond 2017 project to be completed.
Tuesday morning, officials with Canutillo ISD announced that the district would be expanding its pre-kindergarten program for this school year.
The District is now offering a new, full-day pre-k program free of charge at all of its elementary campuses for qualified El Paso-area families for the 2019-2020 school year.
Increased funding for full-day pre-kindergarten for families who meet certain criteria was made possible by the passage of House Bill 3 during the 86th session of the Texas Legislature and signed into law in June.
Canutillo ISD Superintendent Dr. Pedro Galaviz and district leaders are excited about this new change.
“It’s a great opportunity to get kids off on the right foot,” Galaviz said. “Canutillo understands the importance of a strong foundation for students.”
Parents can now begin registering for full-day pre-k online. There are some requirements to be eligible for the program.
Children must be four years old by September 1 and meet one of the following requirements:
Does not speak or understand English;
Eligible for the free or reduced-price lunch program;
Has a parent that is active duty military or active duty reserve;
Is or ever has been in the conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services following an adversary hearing;
Has a parent that was an active duty member of the armed forces, state military forces or reserve component who was injured or killed while serving on active duty.
Guest Columnist July 18, 2019NewsComments Off on Canutillo ISD ‘Super Readers’ attend summer literacy academy
Canutillo ISD’s ‘Super readers’ had the opportunity to improve their super powers at a special summer literacy academy at Congressman Silvestre & Carolina Reyes Elementary School.
Canutillo ISD English Language Arts Curriculum Coordinator Natalie Spalloni said that the students will be taught why it is important to read and explained the goals of the academy.
“The goal of the Super Readers Academy is to create a community where readers feel safe to take risks as readers,” Spalloni said. “Readers will be surrounded by rich book talk, animated demonstrations, and social-emotional support while acquiring technical skills necessary for proficient reading.”
The Super Readers Academy provides support to help more students meet and exceed the district goal that 90% of all first and second grade students will be reading at grade level.
The free academy was made available to kinder through second grade Canutillo ISD students who were nominated by their campus.
The focus is to improve phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, and writing. An emphasis on differentiating instruction to meet the needs of all students, including struggling learners, is a highlight of Super Readers Academy.
The second annual academy has been redesigned to better meet the needs of the students by using a Scholastic program called LitCamp.
The curriculum works on seven strengths: belonging, curiosity, kindness, friendship, confidence, courage, and hope. It uses a strength-based model to build children’s literacy and resilience skills side by side in small groups.
During the academy, teachers read out-loud to students twice a day, along with students reading independently each day. Children read about three books a day for eight days.
“We are excited to bring such a great summer option to our students,” Spalloni added. “They will grow and get the opportunity to be a part of something special that will benefit them in all subjects.”
Guest Columnist April 22, 2019NewsComments Off on Canutillo students win top honors in essay contest
From more than 8,200 essays submitted from local districts, 42 top essays were selected in a contest, with five students representing Canutillo ISD as semi-finalists and one of two national finalists.
The Do the Write Thing Challenge is an annual contest where students all across America rise to the challenge of doing something to end youth violence. It gives middle school students an opportunity to examine the impact of youth violence on their lives.
Alderete Middle School students Celeste Nunez, Lily Garcia, Brianna Martinez, Esther Parra, and Canutillo Middle School student Mia Lopez were among the semi-finalists.
A committee comprised of attorneys, judges, professors, and counselors met to interview the semi-finalists and their parents from the region. Then, on April 13, the semi-finalists attended a recognition reception where top essays were recognized and the top 2 national finalists were announced. Nunez is one of those finalists.
In her essay, Nunez says that she wants to inform people about the harm that violence does.
“I felt shattered like a puzzle unsolved,” Nunez writes. “I am fed up knowing that people feel unworthy or dissimilar or isolated.”
Nunez will represent Canutillo and the El Paso region at the Do the Write Thing Recognition Week in Washington D.C. this July. During the recognition week in Washington, the essays will be published into the Library of Congress.
Nunez will participate in leadership sessions and have opportunities to meet and interview national leaders and members of Congress.
Canutillo Independent School District (CISD) officials announced on Tuesday that their district had been selected as a finalist for the statewide 2019 H-E-B Excellence in Education award. Canutillo was recognized as an outstanding small district.
“Outstanding teaching, learning, leadership, and governance are the essential ingredients for a great school district,” said Superintendent Dr. Pedro Galaviz.
“Once again, CISD has distinguished itself by being named an H-E-B Excellence in Education Award finalist and we look forward to showcasing our district. These awards stand as an exemplar for positive school-business relationships.”
The H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards program was launched in cooperation with the Texas Association of School Administrators in 2002 as a positive way to support public education in Texas. In 2018, the H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards awarded more than $700,000 in cash prizes, gift cards, and grants to finalists and winners, according to the H-E-B website.
The small school district winner will receive $50,000. School districts are honored for their commitment to student achievement through innovative programs, parent/community involvement, and professional development opportunities for teachers and administrators.
A panel of H-E-B Excellence in Education judges will visit Canutillo ISD in February.
The site visit will include touring campuses and talking with administration, staff, parents and community members. After visiting the three finalist districts, H-E-B will announce the winner in May.
Since its inception in 2002, the H-E-B program has awarded over $10 million, becoming the largest monetary program for educators in the state, spotlighting best practices and celebrating the passion and creativity of Texas educators.
Staff Report December 1, 2018NewsComments Off on Canutillo ISD Recognized for Model Parent & Family Engagement Program, Financial Reporting
On Friday, officials with Canutillo Independent School District announced that their district received honors in two different fields.
CISD officials first shared that the district is one of six to be recognized for having a Model Parent and Family Engagement Program.
The district is being honored for making their parent and family engagement an integral part of their culture, via active participation in programs, communication and collaboration between the students, school, and parents.
“Thanks to our parent liaisons who make family engagement an integral part of our culture and pride through various methods and hard work, we will be receiving this award,” said Dr. Monica Reyes.
“While attending the conference, we will have opportunities to learn strategies for empowering all stakeholders to increase student achievement and to meet required state and federal mandates.”
Canutillo ISD will receive this award at the Opening General Session of the 2018 Statewide Parental Conference, TEA and the Statewide Parent and Family Engagement Initiative on Thursday, December 6th.
In addition to that honor, the district also announced that they had received excellent marks on its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the year ended June 30, 2018.
The audit encompassed all facets of CISD’s fiscal operations and was conducted by Gibson Ruddock Patterson, LLC.
Dr. Pedro Galaviz, Superintendent of Schools says that the positive results are due to continued strong internal controls, further enhancements to the purchasing process and financially sound management.
“We have been standing on solid financial ground the last few years with a great sense of accountability to our stakeholders,” Dr. Galaviz said. “Thanks to the leadership of the Board, and the hard work of all district administration and personnel, we’ve maintained our commitment to serving our students with integrity.”
Martha E. Piekarski, CPA, and Chief Business Officer of Canutillo ISD believes the entire team contributes to the District’s success.
“Receiving a clean audit is the result of what every staff member does every day from the teachers, principals, custodians, bus drivers, and food service personnel,” Piekarski, said. “I’m very proud of our team and appreciate the hard work of everyone involved in this important annual effort.”
For the second consecutive year, Canutillo ISD was awarded the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting (COE) by the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO).
“This award recognizes the excellent reporting by our dedicated finance staff,” Canutillo ISD Chief Financial Officer Martha Piekarski said. “The report informs our stakeholders about the healthy financial state of the district, making it an important tool for displaying transparency, building trust, and engaging with the community.”
ASBO International’s COE recognizes districts that have met the program’s high standards for financial reporting and accountability. CISD earned the Certificate of Excellence for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the 2017 fiscal year.
The District was recognized for the demonstration of their commitment to financial transparency. The CAFR is reviewed by a team of professional auditors, who provide feedback to improve future documents. If the CAFR meets the requirements of the program, the document may receive the Certificate of Excellence.
A district’s participation in the COE program can facilitate bond rating and continuing bond disclosure processes.
Canutillo ISD is proposing a balanced budget for the 2018-19 school year. And, the Canutillo ISD Board of Trustees recently approved an increase of the starting pay for teachers to $50,000 including a 2 percent general pay increases for all employees.
El Paso Community College’s (EPCC) Clint Early College Academy was selected to a new partnership with Microsoft’s Technology, Education, and Literacy in Schools (TEALS) program, which helps high schools build and grow sustainable computer science programs through partnerships between classroom teachers and technology industry volunteers.
Edmond Martinez, Principal of Clint ISD Early College Academy, a school that has long embraced the need for strong science, technology, engineering, and math programs, sees the teaching of computer science as a duty to the next generation, and encourages local technology experts step up to volunteer.
“We have a responsibility to create pathways for our students from high school, through college, and to professional positions,” Martinez said. “Technical knowledge and skills prepare our students for the jobs of today and tomorrow, to solve serious problems, and create new opportunities for humanity. It’s my hope that many of those in our community who have technology training will sign up to volunteer with TEALS this fall. What could be more rewarding than passing on your skills the next generation of innovators?”
“Our region is fortunate to have terrific schools, which will be even stronger with the addition of a program that teaches one of the key skills young people will need to be successful in our increasingly technology driven world,” said J.J. Childress, the El Paso manager of Microsoft’s TechSpark program to foster greater economic opportunity and job creation in six communities in the United States.
“We know teachers want to teach computer science, but it can be challenging to find the time and resources to learn the subject. TEALS addresses this by putting trained technology volunteers into classrooms to teach students, while helping teachers prepare to teach the subject on their own.”
A few months back on a local blog, the blog author and guests wrote and responded with some indignation about a local school district hiring a “marketing firm.” “Why would a school district need a marketing firm?” they asked with annoyance.
“Surely this money should be spent in the classroom! This is an outrage!” Grumble. Grumble. “Oh, and by the way the superintendent makes too much money and all administrators need to be fired.” Grumble. Grumble.
Being a blog that mostly caters to angry-at-local-politics folks, or people that are just angry in general for having to pay any taxes at all for anything, the echo-chamber cacophony of agreement crescendoed into a roar of annoyance and outrage. Soon, every response was based on agreeing the blog entry itself, with little or no reflection or critical thinking. Anyone trying to counter the argument was immediately branded a suck up, a traitor, or insulted as being “out of touch.”
Rational discourse was not welcome there. No need to respond if you disagreed or had an alternative point of view. The collective minds of the blog mass was already made up. The responses to the blog post went something like this:
“If those schools would just do their jobs, they wouldn’t need a marketing firm!”
“If the schools are losing students, so be it. If they were any good, they
wouldn’t be losing anyone!”
“They didn’t need marketing firms in my day! And look how well I turned
“Get off my lawn! And fire the superintendent!”
“Yeah, I agree with everything he just said. Ditto!
As EdChoice put it in an article about education marketing: “Shame on schools for trying to get students in their classrooms! Everyone knows those students should just show up, sit down and learn regardless of whether the learning environment is right for them.”
The original kernel of the blog post was actually a good question: “Why would a public school district would want to hire a marketing or “branding” firm?”
Actually, if you dive just a little bit deeper into the topic, “marketing” is not such a bad idea especially in these days of school districts that are under attack from a variety of forces: private schools, home schoolers, angry politicians, but mostly privately owned charter schools. For a public school district to hire a marketing firm to make sense however, you have to think critically about WHY a district would want to market it’s services. It comes down to the reason ANY business or organization would want to market itself: Getting more customers.
In many school districts across the nation, educators are faced with a multitude of forces aligning up in ways that school districts in the past 60 or so post WWII years probably would never have had to think about. Those include:
Loss of students:
In public schools, the students in the seats are the way that the schools make their money. More students mean more money. Less students mean less money.(link)
Think of students like a business thinks of customers. One district in the city has been losing students at the rate of about 1000 per year due to several reasons including major demographic changes in the city. As the oldest school district in the area, the base population is getting older and moving away from the city center towards the outskirts of town where the newer houses, stores, entertainment, and parks are.
Those “outskirts” also are home to other schools districts. Families moving to newer neighborhoods are moving away from the district. Older folks just don’t have babies plain and simple. The post WWII baby boom which fueled the rise of large urban school districts has given way to suburban sprawl and the relocation of younger families to less expensive outlying communities.
Legislative processes fighting against public education:
In the past, there was a strong bipartisan legislative ethic that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, to give it a Star Trek spin. Recently in Texas, along with quite a few mainly Republican, Tea Party controlled states like Kansas and Wisconsin, the legislature has decidedly become anti-public education. The needs of the well heeled few and corporations are becoming more important than the many.
A recent Texas Tribune article sums up the ed funding battle this way:
“The funding challenge facing districts like Kelton, as well as the unique pot of money they are set to lose in three months, stems from decisions by state officials made over a decade ago. In 2006, the Legislature compressed tax rates by a third, after the Texas Supreme Court ordered them to alleviate the high property tax rates in local school districts. They also created a state aid program to make up the extra revenue districts lost by lowering tax rates.”
In their Tea Party fueled fervor, the Texas legislature (along with MANY other GOP controlled state legislatures) has cut funding for students, cut taxes that paid for education, added funding for charter schools, made raising taxes much more difficult than in the past, and generally have decided that public education is not the investment in the future as they once viewed it, although the vast majority of them are products of the exact public school system they say is “broken.”
The idea of the collective good in education has gone on life support and with it, equitable funding. Districts are left with trying to pull funds from an ever increasingly smaller pot. Rich districts in rich suburbs of Houston and Dallas thrive, while those in the Valley, along the Rio Grande and rural areas have to try to succeed using an increasingly smaller pot of funds to draw from.
Charter schools, no matter what anyone might say otherwise, take funds from public schools by taking students from public schools. (Books have been written about whether charter schools are academically better or not, but in terms of simply sucking money from traditional public school districts, they are poison.) A student that goes to a charter school takes their funding with them.
In El Paso, not only brick and mortar but online charter schools will dig into the “butts-in-seats” funding that is the life blood of public education. The math is simple: If a student is attending an online school, or another school outside your district, you don’t get money for that student.
Charter schools, many backed with not only public funds as well as private funds, can afford to market themselves and have done so aggressively using professional marketing firms, also know as “branding firms.”
How does a school district fight back against demographic changes, a hostile legislature, and a new opponent that does not have to play by the same rules that you have to?
One way would be to just sit back and think that the issue will correct itself over time and go away. This is a poor strategy, much like allowing your opponent to run up the score in the first three quarters thinking you will be able to outscore them in the fourth.
That strategy rarely works. As poor a strategy as it may seem, it is one that many school districts seem to think is viable. Do nothing. Just teach. It will all be fine.
The problem is that while you sit back and do nothing, your competition is advertising about how good they are, with slickly produced ads that beckon parents to give that shiny new charter school a chance.
Consider this ad for Odyssey Charter Schools:
Slick, modern, and tempting. Ads like that are done, for Charter schools, by marketing companies, or branding companies. One should ask, why is it okay for charters, who use public funds, to create marketing, but not for public school districts?
One study in Pennsylvania found that charter schools spend on average, $48 per student per year on advertising.
IDEA Public Charter Schools are in the El Paso area.
They are not shy about advertising:
Another way is to create a series of strategic moves that by themselves seem disparate, but when put together make a cohesive plan to bring students back into the district.
The first step is, of course, to have a strong academic program, and to provide services to students that might not be found elsewhere. In El Paso for instance, the EPISD is addressing that issue by bringing in several programs that are unique to the area: International Baccalaureate schools at the middle school level, as well as becoming the largest New Tech High district in the US. The district is also becoming a 1:1 in all secondary campuses, among other things, like having a dual language program at all 54 elementary campuses across the city.
Another step is to allow students from anywhere to come to your district. This is called “open enrollment” and it allows students from anywhere to enroll. Surprisingly enough, in Texas, public schools default to a “closed enrollment” model where students only living in the boundaries of the school district are allowed to attend.
A district has to declare itself “Open Enrollment” to allow other students to attend. Once you have good academic programs in place (that is the most difficult and takes the most time by the way), and you have declared yourself an “open enrollment” district, the students will just start piling into your schools right?
Like any business, you need to advertise. You can have the best product in the world, but if no one knows about it, no one will buy it.
You no doubt have been in a business that has great “word of mouth;” that mystical advertising method where people tell their friends who tell their friends who tell their friends about it. That is a great strategy at first, but after a few months, that business, if it relied solely on people telling their friends how wonderful it is, probably is on financial ropes and is headed for disaster.
They have to advertise some other way, otherwise they will fail. The “build it and they will come” mentality for business and now public schools only works in the movies with ghost baseball players and Kevin Costner.
An article in Forbes Magazine stated exactly why school districts need to market themselves:
“For generations, the thought of a school district hiring outreach help was anathema. Especially during the Baby Boom, educators had one constituency to court: parents. With half the homes in many communities having school age children, the need to fund public schools was obvious. Now, however, it’s not unusual for many districts to have fewer than 30% of households with children in the public schools. Losing their core parental constituency has forced school boards and administrators to embrace social media and move beyond traditional newsletters to explain their value to the broader community.”
That is exactly why school districts need to market themselves. What is the point of creating modern learning spaces, having great academic programs, and not telling your larger community or people looking to move into your area about it?
And telling your community is more than just sending out tweets and posting on Facebook. It is an entire broad based strategy that encompasses every type of media available; something marketing firms do.
The educational landscape has changed. And with it, the need to tell the community about their services has changed as well. School districts can no longer afford to be in a passive role when it comes to marketing their wares.
The idea of marketing education is not a new one. Public universities have been marketing their programs for years and no-one bats an eye.
Here is an example of my local university marketing it’s athletic programs:
Even publicly funded community colleges, market themselves because they know that they are in competition with tech and trade schools as well as with universities:
“Ultimately, the trend towards public school marketing signals an important recognition on the part of schools that students and their families have choices, and they are increasingly able to have a say in their own educations. In a prescient 1999 report on privatization in education, the MacKinac Center for Public Policy noted that “in an era of expanded educational freedom, families must now be treated as customers with choices and not as captive audiences.”
Families must be treated as customers with choices and not as captive audiences.
Public schools, if they plan on growing, or even just staying where they are, must advertise and market themselves, like any business. Advertising requires marketing, and good marketing requires hiring people or companies with those exact set of skills. School district are mostly made up of educators, not marketers.
Large scale marketing is a separate set of skills that most educators or school districts, simply do not have.
The irony of all this, especially on the blog that I mentioned earlier, is that those same angry anti-everything commenters will be the first to say something to the effect that “school districts need to be run like businesses.” When a school district does EXACTLY that, the same angry readers get even angrier.
Marketing is no longer a “nice to have.” It is a “need to have” for public school districts. To think otherwise would be a fool’s errand.
Author: Tim Holt is an educator and writer, with over 33 years experience in education and opines on education-related topics here and on his own award-winning blog: HoltThink. He values your feedback. Feel free to leave a comment. Read his previous columns here.
Staff Report February 26, 2018Local NewsComments Off on Canutillo ISD Leader Named Region 19 Assistant Principal of the Year
Jessica Meléndez-Carrillo, Assistant Principal at Congressman Silvestre & Carolina Reyes Elementary School was recently selected as Assistant Principal of the Year in Region 19 by the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA).
Carrillo is being recognized among her peers for her exceptional leadership in the day-to-day operations of Reyes Elementary, instilling pride in the school’s accomplishments and reinforcing their leadership in helping children develop a lifelong love of learning. She says she is living the dream working in Canutillo with stellar educators whose goal is student success.
“I’ve had the honor to start my professional career in Canutillo ISD and get to know the community,” Carrillo said. “I am able to attain such an honor because I have learned from the best team of teachers, administrators, custodians, cafeteria staff, aides, librarians and counselors. Every single day is a new opportunity for learning and growth.”
Each year, TEPSA Region Assistant Principals of the Year have the opportunity to apply for the National Assistant Principal of the Year Award, a recognition program produced in partnership with the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). Carrillo will attend the Awards Reception June 13 during the TEPSA Summer Conference in Austin, Texas.
“I am always looking for ways to learn more and grow professionally in order to do a better job for our students and the community,” Carrillo said. “I look forward to representing Canutillo ISD and Region 19 this summer at the TEPSA Conference.”
Staff Report November 23, 2017NewsComments Off on Reyes Elementary Students Train to Run, Empower Themselves
Girls at Congressman Silvestre and Carolina Reyes Elementary School are running to learn and be empowered thanks to several local health and leadership organizations around El Paso.
The Junior League of El Paso partnered with the El Paso Center Against Sexual and Family Violence to bring a Girls on the Run council to El Paso. According to Jessica Arvizu, an advocate with the Center, Girls Going the Distance is a life skills development pilot program based on the Girls on the Run model. Through a mentoring relationship centered on running, the program uses dynamic, interactive lessons and running games, to inspire and motivate girls and encourage lifelong health and fitness and build confidence through accomplishment.
RES Assistant Principal Jessica Melendez-Carrillo said they have about 35 3rd-5th grade girls in the 10-week program that is designed to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident, using various lessons addressing self-care, self-esteem, positive relationships and empowerment.
At the end of the program, the girls will participate in the Flying Horse 5K Race organized by Race El Paso November 18, 2017 in Anthony, Texas and New Mexico. Junior League member Danielle Adams was on hand to train and run with the girls.
“This is about empowering girls to not only be physical, healthy and strong but also brings the goal of accomplishing something,” Adams said. “The girls are going to be awesome in this run!”
The girls also received generous donations of brand new running shoes, socks and t-shirts from the Braden Aboud Memorial Foundation while Race El Paso provided the girls discounted registration fees for the race.
“Reyes Elementary is so excited to have this program here this year and appreciates all the effort from every organization that made this possible for the girls,” Melendez-Carrillo said
Staff Report October 23, 2017NewsComments Off on Canutillo ISD Physical Therapist Supports Student Access to Educational Environment
Walking, running, lifting and playing are skills that one third grader in Canutillo does not take for granted. As a student, Lucas faces many challenges when it comes to the basic physical skills he needs to access his education.
But, with a little help from a big heart, he moves closer to success.
When Lucas was evaluated for age appropriate gross and fine motor skills by Canutillo ISD Physical Therapist Harriet Baumann, DPT, it was determined that he was developmentally delayed. Baumann, in her seventh year with CISD and the only physical therapist in the District, has worked with Lucas since he was three years of age on areas such as his range of motion, strength and balance. She explains the role the District plays in the lives of students like Lucas.
“The primary focus of physical therapy as a related service in the educational environment differs from clinical physical therapy,” Baumann explained. “Physical therapy in schools is used to support the student’s educational program to ensure access to learning activities.”
Students are supported in their daily routine at school through accommodations and modifications to their environment. This includes direct PT services on their campus and indirect services such as recommendations for appropriate adaptive equipment for home and school, procuring the equipment through Medicaid, private insurance, charities or private funds, as well as staff, student and parent education on its use to facilitate success and learning.
“We are here to make sure that each child has better and safer access to their educational environment – anything that helps them get to their classroom or their desk,” Baumann said. “Here in Canutillo, we integrate students into the school community. We support the educational program. Physical therapy is not the program.”
Physical therapists look at the students’ needs for safe positioning, transfers, mobility, endurance and self-help skills. This may include support of adaptive equipment for function, rest, comfort, access, and specific training for students, staff members and families. Baumann also says that education is one of the major parts of her job educating parents or staff about obesity, musculoskeletal and neurological disorders and how they affect them as well as precautions to take with the child in the classroom.
“We focus on the child and family’s goals within the educational and community setting,” Baumann added. “I educate them about services and equipment that are available to them – to see that we can support the family as a unit. It’s fun to watch them grow together over the years and change.”
Lucas’ father, Tim, is happy to see Lucas, who was diagnosed with a chromosomal syndrome, make progress.
“Lucas has improved a lot. We are very thankful for the services the District and Mrs. Baumann has provided,” Tim said. “She helped us get an adaptive tricycle. He loves the trike and we take him for rides.”
In addition to her regular duties as a physical therapist, “Harri” coordinates with a dedicated group of advocates to lead Team Canutillo in the Greater El Paso Special Olympics where Lucas participated for the first time this year.
“It was very joyful for us to see Lucas participate in the events. It brought tears to our eyes. We’re happy that Canutillo is involved in the Special Olympics,” Tim added.
Baumann cannot contain the rewarding feelings she has helping students learn in their environment.
“The best part of my day is when all of a sudden, something just clicks with a student and we hit a milestone,” Baumann expressed. “Lucas has made tremendous progress in functional access and his motor skills. Every day I come to work, I can’t believe I am fortunate enough to have made this is my profession. I think have the most rewarding job in Canutillo.”
Staff Report July 9, 2017NewsComments Off on Canutillo ISD Writing Collaborative Featured in State Publication
Writing-to-learn has become an innovative instructional strategy at Canutillo ISD and the District’s success story has been published in the Write for Texas: Success Stories from a Literacy Initiative 2014-2017 publication.
The published snapshot showcases a successful aspect of the state-wide writing initiative at Canutillo to document and recognize the work of the Write for Texas site and to inform and inspire other educators to adopt similar practices. Canutillo English Language Arts (ELA) and Reading Coordinator Natalie Spalloni says it is a major honor to be included in the Write for Texas Literacy publication.
“The partnership with UTEP flourished into a professional collaboration across all our secondary campus educators,” Spalloni said. “It is refreshing to have a shared conception that writing to learn is a legitimate instructional strategy.”
The Canutillo Curriculum and Instruction team used educational articles to elicit dialogue about writing instruction in relation to collaborative strategies that the teachers practiced. In addition to supporting the teachers’ own professional learning, the activities selected could be adapted for student instruction.
Spalloni explained to the publication that writing across the curriculum typically refers to process writing that is meant to be published and reflects a purpose and format particular to a content area such as a Science lab report or a Social Studies essay. Writing-to-learn activities, however, are short, informal writing tasks such as a notecard, foldable or chart that help students think through or process learning about key concepts or ideas presented in a course.
Through the professional development offered by Spalloni, groups of teachers from very different content areas reached a shared understanding of the definition of writing-to-learn. They understood how the strategies could be used to promote and measure student learning. She said that teachers gave anecdotal reports about the positive impact of the workshops.
One social studies teacher who participated in a workshop about collaborative annotation was eager to implement the strategy the next day. A middle school teacher who was originally hesitant to implement writing to learn in science class later shared his success with using the techniques. He reported that student engagement had increased and he was impressed by the volume of writing that they produced.
“In the past, formal writing instruction was taught in isolation, but now we see how integrating either low or high stakes writing into all units of content instruction offers educators immediate, authentic feedback from students about their individual level of content understanding,” Spalloni added. “It is exhilarating when teachers from varying content areas see me in the halls and ask me if we are having a writing workshop.”
A link to the entire publication and Canutillo snapshot can be downloaded here.