Board of Trustees Meeting Recap and Video: October 19, 2021

The Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees met for their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, October 19. You can view the full video here and read the recap below

 At the beginning of the meeting, trustees gave a special recognition to the Montgomery High School Madrigal Choir for their recent award, being named a National Winner in the Mark of Excellence National Choral Honors Project. The MHS Choir, led by Director Heather Orr, competed against 236 of the finest musical ensembles in the nation, from 38 different states. The board recognized this remarkable achievement and thanked Mrs. Orr for the continued level of excellence she brings to the district’s music program. The Madrigals performed for the board members and those in attendance at the meeting.

During each monthly regular board meeting for the 2021-22 school year, department directors will present an update to the board on the work happening in their department and share the progress of their objectives and strategies listed in the district’s Pathway to Premier Strategic Plan. For the October meeting, the department on the agenda was the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department.

CTE Director Amy Vance explained the levels of student CTE participation and then shared data for CTE District “Completers” for the 2020-21 school year. Montgomery ISD currently offers 16 complete programs of studies. Students in Montgomery ISD first select their endorsement path, then their career cluster and finally select their program of study and course selection. The career clusters include Agriculture, Architecture & Construction, Technology & Communications, Business, Marketing & Finance, Education & Training, Health Science, Hospitality, Human Services, Manufacturing, STEM and Law & Public Service. Vance also shared the findings and recommendations of a third-party external review of the district’s CTE programs. The report, which can be found on the district’s website in the “Transparency” tab, can be read here.

The CTE department has a department goal in place to increase CTE student enrollment and is adding seven certification opportunities this year. District leadership is evaluating current program offerings to determine which align with district goals and to identify areas of need. District leaders are also working to evaluate the growth of the CTW program and how that will fit into possible bond needs for updating CTE facilities. The CTE department has been a large part of the discussion at bond planning meetings as Montgomery ISD makes plans to grow CTE program offerings.

The Board of Trustees also took action to approve a new service provider for the district’s copy and printing services. The new contract with Funtion4 will provide more flexibility for teachers and district staff in creating copies, as well as a cost savings to the district. New equipment will be installed over the winter break and Function4 will provide training to all district employees.

Trustees also approved a contract with Gibson Consulting to complete an external evaluation of the district’s Specialized Learning Department. The firm will evaluate staffing, procedures and effectiveness and make recommendations to ensure best practices are in place to serve the students that benefit from our special education programs.

To wrap up the meeting, district administration provided an update on the district’s process for developing the district’s academic calendar for the 2022-2023 school year. The calendar development process begins with the assistance of the District Advisory Committee (DAC) and the district is offering the opportunity for staff, parent and secondary students to respond to a districtwide survey, indicating their preferred characteristics of an annual academic calendar. District administration will develop draft calendars based on input received from the DAC and through the districtwide survey. DAC members will then solicit feedback on the calendar options from their respective departments and campuses. District administration will present a final draft calendar to the Board of Trustees for approval during the February 2022 board meeting.

Montgomery ISD hosts first annual Walkathon For Hunger

Free community event benefits Montgomery County Food Bank in time for the holiday increase in need

One in four children in Montgomery County is food insecure. This means they aren’t 100% sure where their next meal will come from or how it will be provided. Montgomery County Food Bank is growing their partnership with Montgomery ISD by supporting our district’s students in need and the district’s Student Nutrition Advisory Council (SNAC) wanted to do something to give back.

With the support of the Child Nutrition Department and local sponsors, SNAC hosted the district’s first Walkathon for Hunger. With over 300 people in the community in attendance and contributions from school groups including the Art Club, HOSA, the Junior Belles dance team and the Montgomery HS cheerleaders, the event was most definitely a success.

“Our students had this idea and were dreaming big, wanting to give back in a way that would make a real difference,” Child Nutrition Director Lena Neugebauer said. “So many of our child nutrition staff got behind the idea and thanks to our sponsors and volunteers, we were really able to do something meaningful.”

Participants were asked to bring non-perishable food items to donate as their only cost for entry, were given a free t-shirt and were able to spend up to 3 hours enjoying the beautiful fall weather with family and friends. Art Club students offered free face painting for children and music entertainment was provided by the Jr. Belles dance team. The HOSA students were doing blood pressure checks and sending all attendees home with a Woodlands Methodist lawn chair for having their blood pressure checked.

As the laps were tallied on the tags for each participant, each lap walked earned one drawing ticket to win one of three donated prizes including a family set of bicycles, a pair of fishing poles with tackle box and a set of three family outdoor games. In addition, silent auction items were available for bidding and the money raised from that alone ($966) equated to 4,830 meals for the Montgomery County Food Bank!

At a meeting with superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison and Lena Neugebauer before the school year began, the idea for this walkathon was shared with Montgomery County Food Bank President and CEO Kristine Marlow.

“I was thrilled with the idea as Montgomery was the first district to plan a walkathon for our benefit, and it’s clearly been such a successful event,” Marlow said. “It’s a win-win partnership as we help serve the families in your district and then families are coming out for this event and giving back to their own community.”

With the holidays ahead, the need always rises for families to provide for their loved ones. The pandemic and the struggle to recover has effected many Montgomery County families, increasing the need for the community to support the local food bank.

“It’s a constant and great need in our community,” Marlow continued. “When we combine the donated food by the pound with monetary donations, $1 donated equals 5 meals provided. So an event like this makes a huge impact and we are very thankful to MISD!”

Overall, Montgomery ISD’s Walkathon for Hunger brought in a total of 1,683 pounds of donated food! In addition, monetary donations totaling $1,367.80 from both silent auction and private donors provided 6,839 meals for Montgomery County residents.

“We couldn’t have done this without the help of everyone involved,” Neugebauer said. “I’m just so thankful for all who showed up and helped us support such a fabulous and necessary organization.”

Lake Creek HS Principal Phil Eaton calling it a career after 43 years

Eaton widely known as an inspiring coach and educator; will retire in December

“It’s a Great Day to Be a Lake Creek Lion.” This is a phrase one will often hear Lake Creek High School Principal Phil Eaton say to his students and staff as they enter the school building, or as he starts his daily morning announcements on the campus loudspeaker. The simple statement quickly became the quote of positivity and optimism that brings the students, staff, parents and community together as Lake Creek High School Lions.

Eaton, now in his 43rd year in education, is calling it a career in December 2021. Montgomery ISD is thankful that he has given 13 of those years to the students and staff in our district.

According to Eaton, the celebration of one’s career as it comes to an end often reflects on the abundance of people, students, colleagues, and community members who propped up and gave support to the celebrant.

“I am a beneficiary of being surrounded by amazing people all throughout my career,” Eaton said. “For me, it’s always been about the people – the TEAM – and I have made life-long friends here in Montgomery and beyond.”

In 2009, after serving as an educator in school districts in the Greater Houston area, Eaton accepted the offer to become principal of Montgomery High School. Under his leadership at Montgomery High School, the Bears were consistently in the top ten of the Texas Lone Star Cup, repeatedly attained high ratings in state accountability, and were recognized as one of the top high schools in the country

In 2018, as Montgomery ISD was preparing to open a second high school campus, Eaton was selected to be the first principal of Lake Creek High School. The buzz and excitement associated with the opening of Lake Creek was loud and consistent, and according to Eaton, the 2018-19 school year had one great day after another.

“When we first opened in 2018 it was very rare to see any Lake Creek apparel around town,” Eaton said. “Today the ‘LC’ branding of Lake Creek is seen all throughout Montgomery County. Our vision from day one was to be the school that all other great schools want to be like. And that move to the top continues today.”

At the start of his career, Eaton was known as “Coach”. After just four years in education, teaching English in the classroom and basketball on the court, he became the youngest head basketball coach in the state’s largest division. While in Pasadena ISD, Eaton led his basketball teams to historic success following a formula of goal setting, hard work and determination. Coach Eaton earned a long list of honors, crediting all accolades to the mountainous efforts of his players, unrivaled support from district and campus leaders, and the willful understanding of the parents of his student athletes.

After a move to Humble High School, Eaton’s success as a coach grew as he led the school to five straight district championships, with deep playoff runs including a state championship tournament appearance. In 2020, Phil Eaton was named one of the Top 100 Coaches of Boys Basketball in the long history of Texas University Interscholastic League (UIL), an honor he says belongs to all of the players he had the opportunity to coach.

Montgomery JH continues heritage studies with Hispanic Heritage Wax Museum

Montgomery JH Principal Angie Chapman is working hard to create a culture on her campus that recognizes the unique characteristics of each heritage and continues to bring focus to the “Together we can achieve more” campus slogan. The student council at Montgomery JH has continued to impress her with their leadership and their plan for the year to incorporate a different heritage study into each month of the school year.

Since October is Hispanic Heritage Month, the campus Spanish teacher, Mrs. Ladd, was excited to get to help ramp up the heritage studies with the campus’ first wax museum.

“I’ve seen wax museums done on other campuses in the past,” Mrs. Ladd said. “But I’ve never seen it done specific to one culture. When Mrs. Chapman and I discussed the possibility, I was excited to give it a try. I had no idea how excited the students would get and once I mentioned it to them, it was happening.”

The wax museum was cross-curricular in nature, as Mrs. Ladd got the names of famous figures from history and art teachers and many of the costumes came from the theatre department. Ladd’s Spanish II students were able to select from a list of historical Hispanic figures and a few of them even presented their own idea from someone they had learned about in another class.

Each student was behind a window opening in the school’s library and was posed as if they were encased in a museum. Pressing the button in front of each student would share the student’s recording of their character’s life story and visitors could also scan the QR code on the window for more information, completing the museum experience.

This is Mrs. Ladd’s third year in Montgomery ISD and her first year to add the wax museum to the lesson plans for October. Parents of the museum participants were invited to attend and eighth grade students were able to visit the museum during their history class time.

“Any chance that our students can learn from other students is a wonderful learning opportunity,” Mrs. Chapman said. “That’s what I’m trying to do here. Students leading students, sharing about their culture and bringing learning to life.”

Mrs. Ladd wanted to make sure and thank her donors that helped purchase some of the costumes, MJHS theatre director Tamara Lumpkin for sharing the theatre’s costume closet and her mother-in-law for donating the curtains hung around each piece of the exhibit.

“I love teaching in this community,” Ladd said. “It’s a wonderful thing to be a part of a community that works together for the benefit of our students and the support the kids received to make this happen was so important to their success.”

Oak Hills Lemonade Brigade is making teachers smile on Friday afternoons

Friday afternoons at Oak Hills JH will do more than clench your thirst. It’s refreshing to your soul. Students in Mrs. Nispel’s Life Skills and Functional Academics Science class take the halls and deliver pre-ordered lemonade to staff around campus.

“Each kid has a job,” Mrs. Nispel said. “From learning how to knock on the door correctly to accepting cash and tips and even being the one to offer the straw. They all have a role and they take real ownership of it.”

Mrs. Nispel had this science class first period last year and used MISD Education Foundation grant earnings to purchase the carts and supplies to start the Lion’s Grind, selling coffee to staff each Friday morning. Due to schedule changes this year, she had to think around the coffee plan. With t-shirt donations from an OHJH staff member and new wraps for the cart made for them as well, they were ready to teach the kids how to make and sell lemonade.

Students measure and stir the lemonade and are in charge of getting the carts setup as well. When 8th period begins, they have their uniform on and list in hand and are ready to deliver. Additional students called Lion Leaders attend this class daily to support the learning of the Life Skills’ students.

“Our Lion Leaders are a huge help on Fridays,” Mrs. Nispel said. “They carry the cash tray and help my students make it through the delivery list efficiently with their guidance and patience. These helpers are just a wonderful part of this program!”

“”Having the kids sell lemonade and the coffee last year is a great connection time for our entire campus,” Oak Hills JH Principal Tim Williams said. “The teachers get a cold drink, but more importantly the interaction is positive and encouraging for all of our lions. It’s a reminder that we are all in this together.”

And when the work is done, the students enjoy a sweet bit of lemonade themselves. Next on the list is adding a yummy treat to the beverage cart and one of Mrs. Nispel’s students, Molly Messecar, believes the addition should be lemon bars, of course!

Madeley Ranch GT students take the Rube Goldberg challenge

Fifth grade science curriculum includes a unit covering forms of energy and how energy is transferred. Thanks to donations from residents in both Walden and Grand Harbor, 5th grade science teacher Michelle Knowlton was able to take teaching this unit to a whole new level this school year.

“It started with donations from anyone that would let me pick stuff up off their driveway,” Knowlton said. “And with all the amazing materials we were able to truly do hands on learning. Students were able to take apart doorknobs to study the mechanical energy and next we’re going to take apart old fans to see what energy components make them work.”

Once all the supplies were collected, it only made sense to take it one step further. Rube Goldberg machines are a chain reaction-type machine or contraption intentionally designed to perform a simple task in an indirect and overly complicated way. Want to throw something in the trash? Let’s make it as complicated as possible and study energy while we do so.

“I just thought this is what we needed to do instead of a worksheet,” Mrs. Knowlton said. “The students spent weeks designing, testing and tweaking their machines and were able to show that they understood the transfers of energy taking place.”

Students were put into teacher assigned groups and the assignment required planning, problem solving, working together and sometimes being able to accept that your grand idea just might not work out. As they tested and tweaked and studied more about energy, they also learned some valuable life lessons.

Before students could host their showcase on Friday, they completed their unit assessment Thursday. Knowlton said that the scores on this year’s unit assessment were better than ever before, crediting this hands-on approach to teaching the unit and giving students the opportunity to learn beyond the textbook.

With ownership over the projects and the effort required, students were taking such pride in showing off their creations and then celebrating the success of their peers. Each Rube Goldberg machine had to have a purpose, had to have a minimum of 5 transfers of energy and students were required to fill out a reflection sheet of things tried, what worked and what didn’t and how they worked with their group to achieve success.

One group’s goal was to have a stamp put on their envelope so they could “deliver” a sweet note of thanks to Mrs. Knowlton.

“This is all for the students,” Mrs. Knowlton said. “I’m so thankful for the donations from our school communities and I’m just really proud of these kids and how hard they worked to find success!”

Lincoln ES teacher “taxes” students through New World lesson

Teaching students about history can require some outside the box thinking, and that’s just what Mrs. Boyle did with her Social Studies classes last week when teaching about the New World colonies and the start of our government in the late 1700s. With a list of taxable items from school supplies to leaving to use the restroom, students were each given their coins (fruit loops) at the beginning of the day and were able to learn the lesson through life experience.

“Today was a chance to bring history to life,” Mrs. Doyle said. “King George III taxed the colonists (students) throughout the class period for all kinds of things, such as using a computer, getting a paper, sharpening a pencil, and even for asking the King a question.”

Mrs. Boyle dressed up as King George and the students had to pay their taxes through the day as they completed a list of assignments. Students were seated in colonies and worked together to help each other, while also completing their individual task cards that demonstrated comprehension of the geography, government timeline and the different acts that were protested. Posters were around the room reminding the students of the Acts of the American Revolution that they had already studied, including the Sugar Act, the Tea Act, the Stamp Act and the Townshend Act.

“By the end of the day, I wanted the students to understand how the colonists felt and why they desperately wanted independence from England,” Mrs. Boyle said. “Not only did they understand our American history better, but they increased their reading skills, comprehension, inferencing, and map skills.  When students practice all of those skills, understand history, and participate in something they won’t ever forget, it is a big win for this teacher!”

Oak Hills JH students honor their custodial staff for Custodian Appreciation Day

Counselors at Oak Hills JH visited classrooms this week to discuss the very important topic of respect. The discussion covered respect for their school, each other, and themselves.

With October 2nd being National Custodian’s Day, the counselors developed an action plan for students to show their respect and appreciation for the very people that work hard every single day to keep their campus beautiful, clean, and safe. The students were asked to each write a note of thanks to their custodians, and if possible, donate $1 to give them to show how much we love and appreciate them.

The students of Oak Hills came through, and in a big way! The campus currently has 1,153 students and collectively, they donated $1,155!! The notes of thanks and monetary gifts were presented to them in the Oak Hills Library on Friday, with staff and students there to celebrate them. 

Montgomery JH expands #BearsDontHate initiative into new school year with Student Heritage studies

Establishing and growing strong campus culture is a task at Montgomery JH that Principal Angie Chapman finds very important. During the 2020-2021 school year, the campus took ownership of the #BearsDontHate motto and this year the campus theme follows that initiative with the slogan, “Together everyone achieves more.”

Throughout the school year, Montgomery JH staff from every department will be coordinating together to teach culture lessons, highlighting the uniqueness of each heritage and how together, we really can achieve more. To start the year, students in grades 6 through 8 have performed a heritage study on their own family’s history and each Social Studies class is dotting a world map to show that representation and answer the question, “Where is MJH from?”

“This is the first application to an entire school year’s worth of Heritage study,” eighth grade Social Studies teacher and Student Council Sponsor Pegi Morgan said. “We started in August with ‘Bears come in all shapes, sizes and abilities’ and after we complete our Culture and Heritage Mapping, each month will highlight one heritage through cross-curricular activities and discussions.”

“Our students learning about their family’s heritage and culture is so important to campus unity,” 7th grade Social Studies teacher Allison Mittag said. “I really enjoy seeing how they take pride in what they learn about their family and understanding that we aren’t really all just ‘from Texas’ or ‘American’. Learning how to own their history and learning about the heritage of their classmates helps them show respect to others.”

In October Hispanic Heritage will be studied through Mrs. Ladd’s Spanish classes creating a Hispanic Wax Museum offering representation from all departments, including historical Hispanic figures from social studies, the arts, literature and more.

“It’s about developing a culture of respect on our entire campus,” 6th grade Social Studies teacher Phyliss Teasdale said. “They are learning that we are all unique and our heritage is the history that creates all of us.”