The MISD Minute – May 7, 2021

Celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week

May has arrived, end of the year banquets and celebrations are taking place and graduation planning is in full swing. The end of the 2020-21 school year is right around the corner.

It is Teacher Appreciation Week! And I would never allow this week to end without a special message to the amazing professionals educating our students in the classroom. In a year like no other, teachers have stepped up for our students and families like never before. They have approached the historic challenges thrown our way this year with patience, perseverance, dedication and even a bit of creativity. When our students needed compassion – that’s what they gave them. When our students needed additional help – they were there to lend a hand. And, when students needed some inspiration to reach the finish line, teachers were there to provide them with that final boost. Teachers, you are the heart and soul of our school district. You are the incredible heroes who inspire me each and every day.

Teachers, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for your kindness, generosity and love for our students. While teachers are worthy of year-round celebration, please join me in showing your appreciation to them this week.

Have a wonderful weekend.


Dr. Heath Morrison

Update on 2021-22 secondary campus schedules

For the 2021-22 school year, all secondary campuses will shift back to a straight 8-period schedule. Additionally, no secondary teacher will be required to instruct in a “hybrid” model with both in-person and remote learners.

I want to acknowledge the excellent collaboration between our secondary administrators and counselors on the decision to move back to the 8-period schedule next year. When I first arrived as superintendent, I heard a number of concerns from teachers regarding the process and lack of input prior to shifting to a block schedule this school year. Our team committed to a collaborative process in the development of next year’s secondary campus schedules. Earlier this spring, we convened administrators and counselors from all secondary schools to explore options. Campus leadership teams went back to their schools, and the consensus was for the district to return to the 8-period day (the schedule prior to the pandemic). I appreciate all of the work that went into this decision.

We will always examine the best instructional options for our students and schools and involve staff in those decisions. I hope this decision, along with knowing that teachers will not be required to implement a hybrid model next year comes as welcome news to our secondary teachers.

2020-21 District Award Winners Celebrated

This week we celebrated our district teachers of the year, counselors of the year, District MVPs and Spirit of Montgomery Award winners during a reception at Lake Creek High School. It was only fitting that this celebration take place during Teacher Appreciation Week. So, it was a special honor to recognize our district winners during this reception. Again, thank you to all of our district winners. Your contributions to our district were magnified during this unprecedented school year.

You can view more photos from the district awards reception here.

Montgomery ES Principal Search Underway

This week the district held meetings at Montgomery ES with campus staff and parents regarding the search for their new principal. Before starting the process of screening and interviewing candidates, it was important to us that we receive input from MES staff and parents regarding their next campus leader. We asked staff and parents for qualities, skills and characteristics they believe are important for the next principal to possess and to share what procedures, programs or other school areas they want the new principal to maintain or continue to grow. It was made very clear to us that the existing work and academic expectations that have been put in place at Montgomery ES under Carrie Fitzpatrick’s leadership is viewed as strong by the staff and parents. We look forward to identifying candidates who can build upon the solid foundation at Montgomery ES.

Next week, we will continue our process to identify the new principal of Montgomery ES. Our goal is to recommend a candidate for approval to the Board of Trustees during a special board meeting in May.

Process for Identifying New District Leaders

I wanted to shine some light on the extensive process that we have been utilizing to identify district leadership. The district hiring process includes the following:

  • Every job opening in Montgomery ISD is posted on our district website for at least 10 days. We also place the openings on industry-specific job boards like the Texas Association of School Administrators and the Texas Association of School Business Officials.
  • Applicants are pre-screened by a group of two to three staff members and select up to eight internal and external candidates for a first round of interviews.
  • A panel of staff members (senior leadership, principals, other district and campus employees) conduct a first round of interviews.
  • After the first round of interviews has been completed, the panel will select candidates to advance to a second round of interviews. My charge to every first round interview panel is to identify at least one person they believe could successfully take on the role for which they are interviewing. If this is not accomplished, then the process stops and we will continue to search for candidates.
  • Next, a second round of interviews occurs. The second round interview panel will include me, members of the senior leadership team, and at least one individual who served on the panel for the first round of interviews to ensure consistency.
  • After conducting a second round of interviews, the senior leadership team deliberates and selects a candidate to recommend to the board of trustees for final approval during a regular or special board meeting. If necessary, we will hold a third round of interviews.

When I joined as your superintendent in June 2020, concerns, with how we were sourcing and hiring employees were shared with me by many in our community. An external review of our Human Resources Department by the Texas Association of School Boards confirmed that this is an area where improvement is needed. This new process of sourcing, interviewing and selecting leaders in our district is intended to provide an unbiased and fair opportunity to all who desire to either join or advance their career in Montgomery ISD.

Masks and facial coverings to become optional beginning May 31

As we prepare for a more normal school year in 2021-22, and consistent with the MISD Board of Trustees’ action during the March Regular Board Meeting, the use of masks or facial coverings will become optional in all district schools and facilities beginning Monday, May 31.

We will continue to closely monitor COVID-19 conditions in Montgomery County and seek advice from public health officials. And, as I have stated many times this year, all decisions are “subject to change”. However, we are very encouraged by the improving positivity rates, increased number of fully vaccinated individuals and predicted continued progress across Texas and the nation in the fight against the virus.

I want to thank you all for your patience, understanding and flexibility as it relates to the district’s COVID-19 protocols this year. Due in large part to health protocols in place, and your adherence to them, we were able to minimize the spread of COVID-19, safely open and operate schools beginning in August and provide traditional in-person instruction to over 94% of our more than 9,000 students this school year. I could not be more proud of the resilience and determination of our students and staff this year. We will continue to provide updates on district health protocols as we prepare for the 2021-22 school year.

Superintendent Shout-Out: District Teachers of the Year, MVP and Spirit of Montgomery Winners

We were excited to announce our Elementary Teacher of the Year, Secondary Teacher of the Year, District MVP Winner and Spirit of Montgomery Winner during the district 2020-21 awards reception this week.

The 2020-21 winners are:

  • Elementary Teacher of the Year: Lauren Coughlin, Keenan ES
  • Secondary Teacher of the Year: Wendy Jebousek, Oak Hills JH
  • District MVP: Shara Phillips, Special Education Department
  • Spirit of Montgomery: Nikki Taylor, Keenan ES

The district winners were selected based on their responses to questions provided to all district finalists by the human resources department. Each finalist’s name, department and campus were redacted, and responses were scored by members of the senior leadership team based on a rubric, also developed by the human resources department.

Congratulations to our 2020-21 district winners, and thank you for your dedication to Montgomery ISD students and families!