The MISD Minute – April 9, 2021

Important Update on High School Graduation Ceremonies

I wanted to provide you with an update on high school graduation ceremonies.

The date of our graduation ceremonies are scheduled for Monday, May 24 at 7 p.m. for Lake Creek HS and Tuesday, May 25 at 7 p.m. for Montgomery HS.

After consulting with both campus principals, and taking into consideration the desire of our graduates to have flexibility in the number of guests they may invite, we have decided to adjust our plans and move forward with an outdoor graduation ceremony at the Montgomery ISD Athletics Football Stadium. 

District administration had been working with the principals and administration teams at both high schools to plan indoor graduation ceremonies at Sam Houston State University that would allow graduates to invite multiple guests. However, we were recently informed by the university that capacity at the ceremonies would be limited to 25% attendance with strict social distancing measures in place. As a result, continuing with the ceremonies at Sam Houston State University would limit guests to no more than three per graduate and restrict other graduation features like having bands in attendance. Throughout this year, seniors at both high schools expressed to me that flexible attendance and having traditional graduation ceremony features in place, like the bands, were top priorities for them.

The dates and times of our graduation ceremonies are unchanged.

Moving the graduation ceremonies to the Montgomery ISD Football Stadium will allow for much greater flexibility in the number of guests our graduates may invite. We firmly believe that although outdoors, a graduation ceremony at the MISD Athletics stadium will provide our graduates and their families with the memorable experience they deserve.

We’re excited to plan an exciting graduation ceremony for our seniors More details, including a contingency plan should weather impact the outdoor ceremony will be shared by each campus in the coming weeks.

Thank you for your continued flexibility.

Sincerely,

Dr. Heath Morrison

Superintendent

MISD Master Teacher Cohort Celebrates Completion

This week, the MISD Master Teacher Cohort Class of 2018 celebrated the completion of the two-year program!

The pandemic delayed a few of the activities involved, but these persistent teachers refined their skills in the areas of content, pedagogy, and technology.  The cohort sessions included in-person trainings, virtual experiences, book studies, and peer observations, and each member earned additional technology for their classroom. It was a valuable learning experience for all, and we are proud of their accomplishments!  

Congratulations to the MISD Master Teach Cohort Class of 2018!

Heather Brown, Cheryl Hartner, Katye Hight, Matthew Monk, Robin Riley, Cindy Siple, Leah Taska, Carolyn Veillon, Sarah Wieghat, Tanya Gardner, Kerrie Johnson, Melissa Nordstrom, Nicole Petillo, Kristin Stevenson, Sheradon Sullivan, and Jennifer Gerbrecht

Superintendent Shout-Out – Montgomery HS Choir Earns National Recognition

This week’s Superintendent Shout-Out goes to Heather Orr and the Montgomery HS Choir!

The MHS choir has received the “Best Communities for Music Education” recognition from the NAMM Foundation! Through this recognition, MHS earned the 2021 Support Music Music Merit Award through the Best Communities for Music Education. 

What makes this award special is that there are only 80 high schools in the nation that earned the Music Merit Award. 

You can read more about this outstanding achievement here.

Way to go, MHS Choir!

MISD Board of Trustees Candidate Forum

May be an image of text that says '密 MONTGOMERY Area Chamber fCommerce presents Montgomery ISD VOTE Board of Trustees Tuesday April 6 7pm Lake Creek HS 20639 FM 2854 Candidate Forum'

I want to send a special thank you to the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce for hosting an outstanding Board of Trustees Candidate Forum on Tuesday evening at Lake Creek High School. This was an outstanding opportunity for our community to attend and hear first-hand from the individuals seeking to serve on our Board of Trustees. I’m thankful to all who participated in this event by attending in-person, submitting questions for the candidates, or watching it on Facebook Live.

You can watch the recording of the forum here.

Statewide STAAR Online Testing Issue

Thank you to our students, teachers and staff for their patience and flexibility on Monday when the Texas Education Agency’s online testing vendor experienced statewide outages. The issues experienced by TEA’s vendor did not affect students taking the STAAR on paper. Unfortunately, this was a statewide issue, and completely out of the district’s control. The TEA canceled testing on Monday while their vendor worked to resolve the issues. Campuses will keep you updated as it pertains to the re-scheduled test date.

The MISD Minute – April 1, 2021

“Budget Road Show” Complete

This week, we completed our “Budget Road Show”, having now met with staff from all 10 campuses as well as the district office to discuss our work to develop the district’s 2021-22 budget recommendation to the Board of Trustees. As I stated during each of these meetings, meaningful improvements to employee pay has been – and remains – our top priority as we work to finalize a budget recommendation to the Board. I want to thank each of you who asked questions, provided input and gave comments during these discussions. Your critical feedback empowers me and my leadership team to improve how we serve you and our students. You have my full commitment of continued transparency and collaboration through the budget process.

It is our plan to bring forward to the Board of Trustees a proposed district compensation plan at the April 20 Board meeting. Putting a compensation plan forward now, rather than at the conclusion of the budget process, allows employees to have an understanding of what their compensation will look like heading into the next school year. We will provide additional information as it becomes available.

I enjoyed the opportunity to discuss are plans regarding an enhanced district compensation plan beginning in the 2021-22 school year.

As a reminder, all schools and district offices will be closed on Friday, April 2.

Have a safe and relaxing weekend!

Sincerely,

Dr. Heath Morrison

Superintendent

Wendy Graves is retiring in August

It is with a wide range of emotions to announce that, after three decades of outstanding service to Montgomery ISD, Wendy Graves is retiring in August 2021. While we are sad to be losing a valued colleague, we celebrate her many accomplishments in the district and are excited about the next step in her leadership journey.

Wendy is in her 30th year with the district, having started her career in education as a teacher at Montgomery HS. She went on to become an assistant principal at Montgomery Intermediate School before being named principal of Montgomery Elementary School, a role she served in for 10 years. Wendy has achieve countless incredible accomplishments throughout her career, but perhaps the greatest was while a principal at Montgomery Elementary School. Under her leadership, MES became the district’s first ever Blue Ribbon School – a highly prestigious and coveted national honor awarded to schools for academic excellence and closing achievement gaps. Wendy was eventually named the Assistant Superintendent of Elementary, where she has spent the previous 10 years.

Over the past year, I have learned that Wendy’s knowledge, experience, selflessness and countless contributions to our district are what make her such an incredible leader in our district. She has been a trusted member of my leadership team and I am grateful for her many contributions during my first year as superintendent.

Please join me in congratulating and thanking Wendy Graves for her service to Montgomery ISD. We wish her all the best as she enters her next chapter.

Efforts to re-open campuses

Over the last several weeks, district administration has been working with principals and campus leadership to bring back a sense of normalcy for students and families on campuses. During the March Board meeting, I announced to trustees that this work had been underway, and I’m excited to let you know that many pre-COVID activities are returning, including proms, field days, Kindergarten and 5th grade celebrations, and volunteers on campus. This school year continues to present unique, unprecedented challenges. As we work diligently to close out this school year strong, it’s important that we continue to find ways to safely restore student, family and volunteer activities in our district.

MISD Education Foundation’s Together We Grow Community Fundraiser

As a reminder, the MISD Education Foundation is holding its first community fundraiser, Together We Grow, on Saturday, April 24 from 7-11 p.m. The event will take place outdoors at the Old Community Center in Historic Montgomery. This is a casual, adult night out with live music featuring the band Rapture and a BBQ dinner catered by locally owned Jr’s.

Together We Grow is a remodeled version of the Foundation’s annual Gala. Our Foundation board members, especially Jessica Grace and Shannan Reid have worked tirelessly on behalf of our district to make this a successful fundraiser for their scholarship and teacher grant programs.

There is also a competition to award one Montgomery ISD Principal with a $2,000 grant for a campus “Hustle Project”. You can help a campus win by sharing the ticket link and encouraging people to buy campus sponsorship tickets for the “Hustle Project” they would like to receive the grant. A video of each campus “Hustle Project” can be viewed here.

I encourage all employees to show their support for the Foundation by attending this event on April 24! Tickets to the event can be purchased here.

Superintendent Shout-Out: Lake Creek HS Varsity Softball

The Lake Creek Varsity Softball team is turning heads attracting some serious statewide attention, having improved their record to 24-0 after defeating Caney Creek this past Tuesday. The Lions are currently ranked #1 in the Area, and #2 in Texas and #18 in the nation according to MaxPreps. I want to give Head Coach Michelle Rochinski and the entire team a Superintendent Shout-Out for the amazing run they have put together so far this season!

The Lions take on New Caney tonight (4/1) at 6:15 p.m. at Lake Creek HS. Get out and support the Lions as they go for 25 in a row!

The Lake Creek Varsity Softball team and all other spring sports schedules can be viewed here.

Thank You HCA Houston Healthcare Conroe!

I would like to send a special thank you to HCA Houston Healthcare Conroe and CEO Matt Davis for their generosity this week in providing every Montgomery ISD employee with a lunch from Joe’s Italian Restaurant in Conroe. On Monday and Tuesday, Matt Davis and his leadership team personally delivered the lunches to all schools and district offices! I am incredibly grateful for this kind gesture to our hard-working employees and appreciate our partnership with HCA Houston Healthcare.

The MISD Minute – Friday, March 26, 2021

Ready For a Strong Finish

I hope you all had a wonderful Spring Break with a chance to relax and recharge in preparation for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.

This week, we were back in full swing at the District Office with a monthly Board of Trustees meeting, four “budget road show” meetings and a COVID-19 vaccination event for employees. I would like to send a special thank you to all who made this vaccination event opportunity possible for our employees.

I’m enjoying the opportunity to speak with campus employees during our budget update meetings. So far, I’ve had meetings at Stewart Creek, Lone Star, Keenan, Lincoln and Montgomery Schools, and Montgomery Junior High School. Next week, we’ll wrap up the meetings with stops at Oak Hills Junior High School, Madeley Ranch Elementary School, and Lake Creek and Montgomery High Schools. It has been a privilege to present to you the process we are going through to provide meaningful, across-the-board pay increases for employees. Your feedback during these meetings has been beneficial and improves our ability to better serve you.

Next week, all MISD employees will be provided a free lunch meal from Joe’s Italian Restaurant courtesy of HCA Houston Healthcare Conroe! We’re very grateful for this kind gesture from HCA Houston Healthcare Conroe and CEO Matt Davis, who is a parent in our district. I’m grateful for his organization’s partnership and generosity this year. Below is when each staff group will receive their meal next week:

Monday, March 29: Maintenance, Transportation (Liberty St. Location), Lincoln ES, Madeley Ranch ES, Montgomery ES, Montgomery Jr. HS, Montgomery HS, Stewart Creek ES

Tuesday, March 30: District office, Transportation (Bear Cub Dr. Location), Keenan ES, Lake Creek HS, Lone Star ES, Oak Hills Jr. HS.

Below you will find a few important updates on issues and events happening around the district. Please take a few moments to read this week’s MISD Minute to stay current on important district-related items. We have reached the “home stretch” of the 2020-21 school year, and I look forward to working together for ensure a strong finish!

Sincerely,

Dr. Heath Morrison

Superintendent

March Board of Trustees Meeting

On Tuesday, the MISD Trustees met for their regular monthly Board meeting.

The Board took action on a few important items, including the issue of district health protocols in response to Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-34, which rescinded the statewide mask mandate and delegated authority over school district health protocols to the Texas Education Agency (TEA). In response, TEA advised school districts that mask mandates should remain in place, but allowed a board of trustees to remove or modify a district’s mask-wearing policy through an official vote. TEA also urged school district’s to consult with local public health officials when making this decision.

The MISD board of trustees voted to keep the district’s current health protocols in place through the end of the 2020-21 school year and authorized me as Superintendent to remove the district’s mask-wearing requirement on May 31, 2021.

Following the Board meeting, Board President Fuller sent a letter to parents and staff outlining the decision and explaining how it was reached. There were several factors that drove this difficult decision, but the main focus of the board was ensuring that schools could remain open and student activities could continue to thrive for the remainder of the school year. If you have not yet read Board President Fuller’s letter, I strongly encourage you to take a few minutes to read it here.

Please know that this was not an easy decision for our trustees, or one they took lightly. In fact, the final decision had not yet been made as of Tuesday afternoon prior to the board meeting. Our students, staff and community all have very strong opinions on this issue, and I want to thank all who took the time to make their voices heard. I also want to thank our Board of Trustees for their continued leadership.

It goes without saying that, while our district health protocols have ensured that campuses have remained open and student activities have been able to occur, they have posed unique challenges in staff, students and their families. I urge you to continue to exercise compassion and grace when addressing health protocols and the topic of masks with your students.

Revision to 2021-22 Academic Calendar

In addition to addressing health protocols, the board also adopted a minor revision to the 2020-21 academic calendar.

After reviewing the operational minutes in the previously adopted 2021-22 calendar, we determined that an adjustment was necessary in order to account for the possibility of a school-day closure next year. Under the previously adopted calendar, we would not have had the necessary operational minutes to make up any canceled school days, meaning the school year would need to be extended should we need to close schools for any reason. This year alone, with hurricanes, brown-outs and other weather events, our school year would have needed to be extended into June had we not had additional operational minutes built into our academic calendar.

Restoring 15 minutes to the operational day for the 2021-22 school year resolves this issue. It’s important to note that these operational minutes are similar to what has been in place historically in our district, and that the number of staff work days – or daily duty hours – does not change with this revision.

The revised school hours for the 2021-22 school year are as follows:

Secondary: 7:15 a.m. – 2:40 p.m.

Elementary: 8:15 a.m. – 3:40 p.m.

The 2021-22 academic calendar can be viewed here.

The full video of the March Board of Trustees meeting can view watched below.

National Nutrition Month

At this week’s Board meeting, trustees and district administration gave a special recognition to our hard-working, dedicated Child Nutrition staff. March is National Nutrition Month, so this week’s board meeting was a great opportunity to thank our child nutrition employees for service to our children and families. The work they perform behind the scenes each day to keep children fed and well-nourished is a vital component to our efforts to ensure academic excellence for all students.

Please take a few minutes to watch the video below highlighting some of the great work of our Child Nutrition Department!

Superintendent Shout-Out: Montgomery High School Senior Kalani Hayden

This week I want to send a shout-out to MHS Senior Kalani Hayden!

Kalani, who is a member of my Superintendent’s Student Leadership Council at MHS, made her voice heard by speaking on the issue of district health protocols during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s board meeting. Kalani gave a heart-felt, passionate viewpoint of her opinion on district health protocols and impressed all who were in attendance. It took an incredible amount of courage for Kalani to speak publicly at the board meeting, and I could not be more proud of how she represented herself and her peers.

Kalani is a phenomenal leader who has a bright future ahead!

Final Strategic Plan Town Hall Meeting – April 27 at Montgomery Jr. High School

Please mark your calendars for the final MISD strategic plan town hall meeting on Tuesday, April 27 from 6 – 7:30 p.m. at Montgomery Junior High School. This is a final opportunity to provide your input on targeted items and issues the district should prioritize over the next several years in alignment with the Board’s five adopted goals: Academic Achievement, School Safety, Finance and Operations, Human Capital, and Communications and Customer Service.

The Montgomery ISD Strategic Plan will be finalized in May after we’ve had the opportunity to hold this town hall meeting on April 27.

The MISD Minute: Friday, March 12, 2021

A Year of Resilience

It’s hard to believe that one year ago this week, our school district was forced to halt in-person instruction due to the spread of COVID-19 in our community. When I think back to one year ago, I recall the fear of the unknown and the impact the pandemic would soon have in school communities across the nation. I remember how difficult and painful it was for educators and students to miss nearly a full semester of in-person instruction. And mostly, I think about activities like graduation, prom, athletics and extracurricular activities that had to be canceled and the thousands of students who never had an opportunity to create a lifetime of memories. These were extraordinarily challenging times.

Fast-forward to today. There’s no doubting that things look a little different. Social distancing, hand sanitizer and masks are now a part of our daily routines – the new (temporary) reality. Yet, because of these adjustments and other health and safety protocols in place, we have been able to offer in-person learning and resume extracurricular activities this year with some normalcy. In fact, Montgomery ISD was one of the first school districts in Texas to re-open for in-person instruction. This community should take great pride in the resilience of Montgomery ISD students and staff.

As we head out for a much-needed Spring Break, lets take a moment to recognize how far we have come from one year ago today. From not knowing when we would be able to return to our campuses, classrooms, and sports fields – to where we stand now – with nearly 95% of students engaged with in-person learning, extra-curricular activities in full swing, and our sports teams on the field.

Nothing about this year has been easy. The challenges we have confronted during this school year have taken a toll on everyone – from a global pandemic, hurricanes and brownouts to a once in a generation winter storm in south Texas. I’m thankful that our community has continually put children first as we have navigated the challenges presented during this unprecedented school year. Let’s celebrate our resilience, take a week to rest, and finish this school year strong.

Below you will find a few important district updates. Thank you for taking the time to read this week’s MISD Minute to stay informed on important issues happening in the district.

Please enjoy a safe Spring Break. We’ll see you on March 22!

Sincerely,

Dr. Heath Morrrison

Superintendent

Montgomery ISD

COVID-19 Vaccine Opportunity on Monday, March 22 at the District ESC

On Monday, March 22, all MISD employees will have the opportunity to receive the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the MISD Education Support Center. All school district employees are now eligible for the vaccine.  

If you are interested in scheduling an appointment, please complete the questions in this link (also below – employee name, date of birth and employee ISD email address). The list will be submitted to the Montgomery County Health District (MCHD) and you will then receive an email to register for your appointment (check your spam folder if you do not get an email).  An appointment is required to receive the vaccine on March 22. Appointment times will be between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m.

https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=aNXioP38pUiOvteAor6fEImi0qrU-SFPuy0t6YL1d71UNTlRN1k2SktSN09YVlg5NDNKTkVCOU5KSC4u

Please choose a time slot that is during your scheduled conference period, if possible.  If your conference time is in the morning, your campus administration will work with you so that you have the ability to leave campus for your scheduled appointment time.  Please communicate this need so they can make arrangements. 

MISD staff should complete this form by midnight on March 16th. Please park in the back parking lot and enter the doors for the Board Room area.

To view the prescreening checklist for the Moderna vaccine, click this link:  https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/downloads/pre-vaccination-screening-form.pdf

As soon as the 2nd dose of Moderna is available, MCHD will send out an email with registration options.  We plan to work with MCHD to open the MISD ESC as a vaccination site for the second dose, as well. 

This opportunity is being provided as a courtesy to our employees – the vaccine is not mandatory.

Budget Road Show

This week, we completed three stops of our “Budget Road Show”, meeting with ESC staff and the faculties at Stewart Creek ES and Lone Star ES. Financial transparency and providing meaningful salary increases to district employees are our top priorities as we build a district budget for the 2021-22 school year. We’re also committed to developing a district compensation plan to present to the Board of Trustees for approval in April. With a district compensation plan, employees will have a much better understanding of their salaries going into the next school year. It has been exciting to share some of our initial budget development work and proposals for salary improvements with staff across the district. I have enjoyed answering your questions and taking input and feedback.

I look forward to continuing these discussions when we return from Spring Break.

Staff Survey Results – Mask Requirements

This week, we surveyed all staff to gather input on the district’s existing mask requirement. Thank you to all of you who took the time to respond and provide us with your feedback. Your input is important to us as we make important health and safety-related decisions at the district level.

You can see the results of the staff survey here.

Superintendent Shout-Out – Montgomery JH One Act Play

Congratulations to MJH Theater teacher Tammy Lumpkin and the Montgomery Junior High UIL One Act Play students, who were named district champions this week!

We are so proud of your hard work and dedication this year.

Way to go, Bears!

The MISD Minute: Friday, March 5, 2021

An update regarding the Governor’s Executive Order

I wanted to provide you with an update on Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order No. GA-34, which rescinds the statewide mandate regarding the required use of face masks or facial coverings. The Executive Order takes effect on Wednesday, March 10.

On Wednesday, March 3rd the Texas Education Agency issued further clarification regarding the Governor’s Executive Order. TEA clarified that the use of a mask or facial covering is still required when inside a school building, school facility, and facility used for school activities. TEA also stated that a local school board may modify or eliminate any existing district mask-related requirements by taking a formal action.

The Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees will have this issue as an agenda item when it meets for its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, March 23. Until then, Montgomery ISD will continue to follow its existing health and safety protocols requiring face masks or facial coverings on all district campuses and facilities. 

It’s important to note that the TEA guidance did not change – or address – how removing a mask requirement would impact required close contact tracing, social distancing and CDC-required quarantining. This presents challenges in scenarios where campus administrators need to determine close contacts to an individual who tests positive for COVID-19.

For example, under the current close contact and quarantine requirements, in a scenario where an individual wearing a mask or face covering tests positive for COVID-19, only those individuals not wearing masks or face coverings determined to be in close contact with the positive person would be required to quarantine. Conversely, in a scenario where an individual not wearing a mask or face covering tests positive for COVID-19, all individuals – whether they were wearing masks or facial coverings or not – determined to be in close contact with the positive person would be required to quarantine. This scenario has the potential to result in large numbers of required quarantines impacting classrooms, sports programs and even an entire campus. We are currently seeking to gain further clarification from the TEA on quarantine requirements for districts considering removing mask-wearing requirements.

We understand that our community feels very passionately about all sides of this issue. Please know that as a district, our top priorities are the health of our students and staff and ensuring that in-person learning can continue without closing schools or quarantining a large number of students, sports programs or entire classrooms. 

I want to thank our staff, students, and parents for their flexibility and understanding throughout this challenging school year. I am proud of not only how we successfully reopened schools for in-person instruction in August, but also of how we have ensured that our campuses have been able to stay open without any major disruptions due to the spread of the virus. While the state is averaging approximately 56% of students engaged with in-person instruction, MISD has over 94% of our students choosing in-person learning as their preferred method of instruction. We are proud of our students, staff and community.

Again, thank you for your patience as we continue to confront unprecedented challenges.

Sincerely,

Dr. Heath Morrison

Superintendent

Montgomery ISD

School District Personnel Now Eligible for the COVID-19 Vaccine

I am very thankful that our educators, campus staff and other district personnel are now on the COVID-19 vaccine priority list.

We are working diligently to ensure that any employee who wants to receive a vaccine will have access to one. On Monday, March 22 there will be an opportunity for employees who would like the vaccine to receive the here at the MISD ESC. Please know that we will work with your campus principal or supervisor to ensure your duties are covered during the time you need to travel to the MISD ESC to receive the vaccine. More information will be shared in the coming days.

Once again, I want to reiterate that the vaccine is optional. While we are working to provide vaccines as a courtesy to our staff, receiving one will never be a requirement for employment in our district.

Second MISD Strategic Plan Town Hall

Thank you to all who participated in our second Strategic Plan Town Hall meeting at Lake Creek High School on Thursday, March 4.

During this Town Hall meeting, strategic plan task force leaders shared results of each SWOT analysis performed in the first Town Hall meeting in January at Montgomery High School. It was important that each task force do a “deep dive” on perceived strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats relating to each of the five Board goals before starting to develop district initiatives and strategies aimed at targeted and measurable improvements in various areas.

Town Hall attendees also had the opportunity to participate in breakout sessions to discuss possible district initiatives and strategies addressing the district’s five goals: academic achievement, school safety, district finance and operations, human resources, and communications and customer service. I am both excited and thankful for the level of community support and participation in this process. Our five task force committees have grown in number of participants considerably since we first started this work back in December. It has been a true privilege for me to see first-hand the authentic work happening with the ultimate goal of evolving our great school district into the “premier” school district.

We will hold one final Strategic Plan Town Hall meeting in April before finalizing a draft plan to present to the MISD Board of Trustees.

Communication Council Conversation on Budget and Pay Raises

This week I met with our elementary and secondary communications councils to provide them with an overview of the district’s budgeting process for the 2021-22 school year and share with them what is being discussed as it relates to improvements to employee compensation. I also shared with them that it’s our intention to take a district compensation plan to the Board of Trustees for approval in April, meaning that you will have a clear understanding of your salary before signing a contract for the next school year.

As I stated to them during our discussion, we are committed to complete transparency as we develop budget options that provide our employees with well deserved pay raises. Over the next several weeks, I will be meeting with all staff from each campus to discuss our budget plans and answer any questions you may have about this process.

I look forward to engaging in these important discussions with you.

Superintendent Shout-Out – The MISD Fishing Team

I want to give a shout-out to Coach Mark Hooker and the MISD Fishing Team!

Coach Hooker and his anglers know what it takes to build a successful team. Over the past several years, The MISD Fishing Team has achieved historic success, winning several conference titles over nearly 50 competing districts, cementing Montgomery ISD as THE top program in the State!

Check out this awesome feature on these talented students and watch the video below to hear what “victory” means to them!

MISD Education Foundation “Together We Grow” Fundraiser

On Saturday, April 24, the Montgomery ISD Education Foundation is host its first “Together We Grow” community fundraiser on April 24 in downtown Montgomery from 7-11 pm. This is going to be a casual, adult night out with live music featuring the band Rapture, and a BBQ dinner catered by our locally owned Jr’s. Please mark your calendars and make plans to attend!

The goal of the MISD Education Foundation is to support each of our 10 campuses through scholarships, grants, special projects and other financial matters, and this event is a great way to be a part of all that we are doing for MISD schools!

You can purchase tickets for the event here.

A Conversation with Dr. Meeker – Part III

Please take some time to watch my latest conversation with Montgomery Jr. High School’s Dr. Meeker!

In this edition, we discuss the Governor’s new Executive Order, our recent inclement weather closure days, the MISD Strategic Planning and 2021-22 budget development processes, our work to improve employee compensation across the district and the upcoming MISD Board of Trustee elections!

The MISD Minute: Friday, Feb. 26, 2021

Stepping up for one another in times of need – The Montgomery Way

Thank you all for your flexibility and diligence to ensure we could offer in-person instruction beginning on Monday following last week’s inclement weather. Last week presented historic weather-related challenges and damage to our region, causing many of us to lose power and water for an extended amount of time. I’m proud to be a part of a community that continually helps one another during times of need. Through hurricanes, pandemics and now, snow storms, members of this community always support one another through extraordinary circumstances. I’ve quickly learned that this is The Montgomery Way.

With that said, each of you continue to step up daily for students and their families, despite the numerous challenges that have been thrown at you this year. I could not be more appreciative of your continued dedication to our students. On top of your already busy workloads, you’ve been asked to persevere in ways like never before – and you continue to do so with determination and courage.

Please see below a few important district updates, including a summary of this week’s Board of Trustees meeting, which included important items supporting district employees.

With appreciation,

Dr. Heath Morrison

Superintendent

Montgomery ISD

Operation Connectivity laptop distribution for teachers

I’m excited to announce that every MISD teacher will be offered a laptop from the district. We’re thankful for the opportunity to provide this benefit to teachers at no cost to the district through a partnership with Operation Connectivity and Montgomery County with the support of County Judge Mark Keough.

In addition to every teacher having the option to utilize a district-issued laptop, seven campuses due for a “refresh” will receive an allotment of new laptops for student use, also thanks to Operation Connectivity and Montgomery County. More information will be provided through your campus principal.

Laptop distributions to campuses for teachers and classroom use will begin in the coming weeks.

MISD Board of Trustees February Meeting

On Tuesday the MISD Board of Trustees met for its February regular meeting.

The Board took several noteworthy actions that benefit MISD employees and students, including the adoption of a Board Resolution urging the Governor of Texas to include school district employees on the list of those eligible to receive of COVID-19 vaccine and a Board Resolution approving employee compensation during the district’s inclement weather closure from Feb. 16 through Feb. 19. Trustees also authorized the district to accept missed school day waivers from the Texas Education Agency for last week’s inclement weather closures. This means that the district will not need to add any school days to the current academic calendar to make up for the missed instructional minutes. With that said, we’ll always work to ensure students are provided academic opportunities to make up for missed instructional time during closures.

Regarding the COVID-19 Board Resolution adopted by Board, I want to reiterate that we would never make it a requirement for any employee to receive the vaccine once they are made available. The district and Board of Trustees felt that, given the resilience and hard work this year to keep schools open, it was appropriate to request to the state that public school district personnel be included in the definition of “frontline workers” for purposes of COVID-19 distribution.

Additionally, during the meeting trustees received a report on a study of the MISD Human Resources Department by the Texas Association of School Boards. The report identified areas of strength and opportunity for HR-related functions within the district. Like in any organization, Human Resources plays a key role in how we recruit, retain, grow and support our employees. It’s always important to have a third-party share insights on how to improve and provide affirmations of your strengths.

Trustees also gave a special recognition to our school counselors. Each year during the month of February, school counselors are recognized during National School Counseling Week for their unique contributions and positive impact on helping students achieve success in school and plan for their future. Trustees gave a special thank you to our dedicated school counselors for the support they provide our students not only academically, but also and socially and emotionally. A video was shown highlighting the contribution of school counselors. You can view the video below:

Next Strategic Plan Town Hall Meeting – March 4

As a reminder, due to last week’s inclement weather, the next Strategic Plan Town Hall meeting at Lake Creek HS has been pushed back one week to Thursday, March 4 at 6 p.m. I encourage you all to attend and share your thoughts and input on district initiatives and strategies to be included in the Strategic Plan.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to observe our Strategic Plan Task Force Committee meetings at the District ESC. I was incredibly encouraged to see first-hand such enthusiasm toward developing an outstanding strategic plan for our district and students during these meetings.

Here are a few photos of the task force committees in action!

Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources

I want to share with you that Dr. Sonja Lopez is stepping away from her role as Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources. We thank Dr. Lopez for her years of service to the district as both a campus administrator and district leader, and wish her the best as she moves on to the next stage of her career. A broad search will begin for the next leader of our Human Resources Department.

Superintendent Shout-Out: Lake Creek Boys’ Basketball

I’d like to give a special “Superintendent Shout-Out” to the Lake Creek Varsity Boys’ basketball players and coaches, who advanced to the UIL Area Playoff Round this week! On Monday, the Lions defeated A&M Consolidated 49-47 in the Bi-District Playoff Round in what was a thrilling finish, before coming up a little short on Wednesday in the Area Round. The Lions finished the season with an overall record of 17-9, with a 11-3 District record.

Congratulations to Coach Shannon Spencer and the Lions on a remarkable season!

The 2020-21 Lake Creek Lions Varsity Basketball Team

Debraun Hampton

Mason Moore

Trace Spencer

Jordan Fitch

Mitch O’Neal

Seth Cantu

Ty George

Logan Peterson

Charlie Johnson

Kaiden Wyszynksi

Skylar Mayweather

Hudson Boyd

Sawyer Matchett

Chase Brown

MISD Swimmers Head to State

Good luck to Lake Creek HS swimmer Jacob Whitaker and Montgomery HS swimmers Kendall Wilson, Kaitlyn Weightman, Kaelynn Miller and Reese Balkcom, who are all headed to the UIL State Swim Meet in San Antonio!

The MISD Minute: Friday, Feb. 19, 2021

Prioritizing the Safety and Well-being of Students and Staff

Needless to say, this was a difficult, crazy week. I want to express my sincere appreciation for your patience, flexibility and understanding as we wrestled with making decisions around closing schools.

The decision to close schools, delay the start of schools or shift to an all-remote format is never easy. There are many factors we examine and discuss in detail, not only as a leadership team but also in conjunction with local officials and neighboring superintendents. But, the driving factor in these decisions is always the safety and well-being of students and staff.

Our decision to close schools entirely this week – with no remote instruction – was due to dangerous road conditions and also the fact that many families and staff members struggled with weather-related issues like power and water outages, pipe bursts, leaks and heating issues. Unfortunately, many are still trying to get their personal lives in order and dealing with the mess this severe weather is leaving behind. At the end of the day, we’re all in this together, and I’m proud of how our community has supported one another throughout this challenging week.

During this terrible weather event it was a source of pride to make Madeley Ranch ES available for sheltering impacted community members. In fact, Madeley Ranch ES served as the community’s primary warming center providing a number of families with a warm and safe place to stay as they faced power and water outages. It was a great example of the City of Montgomery and MISD working together to assist our community. A special thank you goes out to the Madeley Ranch ES staff, MISD PD and our maintenance team for making this possible. 

Our district maintenance team has been working hard to ensure all schools are ready to safely accommodate in-person instruction on Monday. Please exercise caution when entering buildings on Monday, as there may still be some ice near doors and in the parking lots. Also, please join me in thanking our maintenance team for their hard work this week to ensure our campuses are prepared for students and staff next week.

Again, I want to thank you all for your patience and flexibility this week. As I have mentioned before, we will always work diligently to provide weather-related school closure information as quickly as possible. The safety and well-being of our students and staff is always my top priority.

Enjoy a safe and restful weekend.

With Gratitude,

Dr. Heath Morrison

Montgomery ISD Superintendent

February Board Meeting Now Tues., Feb. 23

Due to inclement weather this week, the February Board of Trustees regular meeting has been rescheduled to 6 p.m. in the Board Room of the MISD Education Support Center.

As a recap of what I shared last week, during this meeting, trustees will give a special recognition to our school counselors in honor of National School Counseling Week, which was Feb 1-5. Thanks to all who joined us in celebrating our amazing school counselors last week.

During the board meeting, Trustees will also consider the adoption of a Board Resolution urging Governor Greg Abbott to prioritize school district employees in the next round of COVID-19 vaccinations. While we respect every individual’s right to make their own healthcare-related decisions, we believe that public school employees should be eligible recipients of the vaccines, given the magnitude and importance of their roles.

Strategic Plan Town Hall Meeting at Lake Creek Rescheduled to March 4

Due to several district events needing to be postponed or rescheduled, the next Strategic Plan Town Hall meeting scheduled at Lake Creek High School will be held Thursday, March 4 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

We look forward to continued collaboration with stakeholders through the district strategic planning process.

Superintendent Shout-out: Joe Kinard and the MISD Maintenance Team

I want to give a special shout-out to Director of Maintenance Joe Kinard and his entire team for their tireless work over the past few days. They have been incredible, working around-the-clock to ensure our campuses are ready for in-person instruction on Monday. They have also stepped up for families by helping with staffing our warming shelter at Madeley Ranch ES. Please join me in showing your appreciation for our awesome maintenance team!

The MISD Minute: Friday, Feb. 12, 2021

Building a Budget that Prioritizes Employee Compensation

Thank you to all who attended our first Budget Town Hall meeting this week at the District ESC. It was well-attended with highly engaged staff and stakeholders. Our budget development process for 2021-22 is in its early stages, and as I stated during the discussion, increasing employee compensation is our top priority.

Identifying the funds necessary to provide meaningful pay increases wont come without some challenges. The threat of a recapture – aka “Robin Hood” – payment to the state, inequitable per-student funding we receive when compared to our neighboring districts, and other factors like a limited fund balance are all challenges we need to overcome. Despite these challenges, District senior leadership and campus principals are working diligently together to identify areas of possible savings that could be allocated directly towards increasing employee compensation.

My commitment to you through the entire budget process is transparency and proactive, collaborative communication. In the coming weeks, we’ll share with you information on how the budget is being developed as well as specific budget-related items being discussed. We’re a long way from making any recommendations to the Board of Trustees, and even further away from a final decision and budget adoption in June.

I look forward to a transparent and collaborative budget development process.

Sincerely,

Dr. Heath Morrison

All Classes to be Remote on Tuesday, Feb. 16

Due to likely unsafe road conditions resulting from the forecasted inclement weather impacting our region, all Montgomery ISD schools will shift to remote instruction on Tuesday, Feb. 16. No in-person classes will be held on Tuesday.

Students will be contacted by their school regarding remote learning activities for Tuesday, Feb. 16. In-person classes are scheduled to resume on Wednesday, Feb. 17.

A remote learning day on Tuesday, Feb. 16 rather than a closure, will ensure that we will not need to add additional instructional days to the 2020-2021 school year calendar.

Please know that weather-related decisions are not taken lightly. When making a decision to close or shift to remote learning due to weather, the district works closely and consults with county officials as well as neighboring superintendents. All decisions are made with the safety of students and staff as the top priority.

In making weather-related decisions, we attempt to provide as much advance notice as possible to our families. This decision was made early due to weather reports showing unusually cold and inclement conditions in our region early next week.

Please be safe and, if possible, adhere to the advice of local authorities regarding road travel in the area.

MISD Board of Trustees Meeting – Feb. 16

The MISD Board of Trustees is still scheduled to meet for its monthly regular meeting on Tuesday. Feb. 16 at 6 p.m. in the Board Room of the District ESC.

During this meeting, trustees will give a special recognition to our school counselors in honor of National School Counseling week, which was Feb 1-5. Thanks to all who joined us in celebrating our amazing school counselors last week.

During this unprecedented year, the work of our school counselors has been especially heroic. In fact, over the years, the duties of school counselors has expanded well beyond the traditional “guidance counselor” role. School counselors now fill the critically important role of providing a comprehensive developmental school counseling program that focuses on student social and emotional well-being, in addition to academic success.

During the board meeting, Trustees will also consider adoption of a Board Resolution urging Governor Greg Abbott to prioritize school district employees in the next round of COVID-19 vaccinations. While we respect every individual’s right to make their own healthcare-related decisions, we believe that public school employees should be an eligible recipient of the vaccines, given the magnitude and importance of their roles.

Second Strategic Plan Town Hall Meeting

Mark your calendars for the next Strategic Plan Town Hall meeting at Lake Creek HS on Thursday, Feb. 25 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

We’re thrilled with the level of excitement and participation in the work to develop the district’s strategic plan. At the next Town Hall, we’ll discuss possible district initiatives and strategies to be included in the final plan. The initiatives and strategies developed during this process will be designed to empower the district to meet the goals and performance objectives adopted by the Board of Trustees.

As a reminder, the five district goals adopted by the Board of Trustees are:

  • Goal 1: Academic Achievement
  • Goal 2: Safety
  • Goal 3: Operations and Finance
  • Goal 4: Human Capital
  • Goal 5: Communications & Customer Service

Thank you for your participation in the strategic planning process!

Superintendent Shout-Out: LCHS Principal Phil Eaton

This week, our own Lake Creek High School Principal Mr. Phil Eaton was recognized as one the 100 greatest high school basketball coaches in the history of the Texas University Interscholastic League!

Mr. Eaton coached for 17 years, amassing over 400 wins at stops in Humble ISD and Pasadena ISD. Please join me in congratulating Mr. Eaton for this remarkable, well-deserved recognition!

Congratulations, Coach Eaton!

(I hope you enjoy the photos in the slideshow of Mr. Eaton during his coaching “prime”)

BONUS Superintendent Shout-Out: Teresa Tipton

Earlier this month, I made a difficult announcement that Teresa Tipton would be leaving the district for a new professional opportunity.

Today, I’m excited to inform you that Teresa has decided to remain with us as our Benefits, Leave and Worker’s Compensation Specialist! Montgomery ISD is blessed to have a dedicated employee like Teresa.

Please join me in thanking Teresa for her commitment to Team MISD!

Schools and Offices Closed on Monday for Presidents’ Day

All schools and district offices will be closed on Monday, Feb. 15 in observance of Presidents’ Day.

In the history of our great nation, we’ve had many courageous and bold leaders occupy the White House. The president I admire most is Abraham Lincoln. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from him:

“The best way to predict your future is to create it.”

– Abraham Lincoln

The MISD Minute: Friday, Feb. 5, 2021

Dear Team MISD,

This week is National School Counseling Week!

Our school counselors play a critical role in both the academic and social and emotional well-being of our students. Each day, they push our students to achieve the goals and aspirations they’ve set for themselves, while ensuring that each of them receive the support they need to be successful. I could not be more thankful for the hard work and dedication our counselors have shown this year. They are truly making a tremendous impact on the lives of Montgomery ISD students, and the work they have contributed to our district’s collective efforts this year is without a doubt one of the reasons that nearly 95% of our students are currently participating in traditional, in-person instruction.

Showing appreciation for our counselors is especially important – even personal – to me. When I entered high school as a student, going to college was not an option I was considering. However, my high school guidance counselor not only inspired me to pursue college, but also helped me secure the scholarships I needed for financial support along the way. I would not have become the first person in my family to attend college and ultimately obtained my Master’s degree and Ph.D. without the guidance, support and inspiration of my counselor.

It has been a pleasure getting to know our dedicated counselors during my time as superintendent. Seeing their passion and dedication to our students is inspiring, and I’m excited about the work being performed in our district strategic plan to further strengthen the role of counselors in Montgomery ISD.

Sincerely,

Dr. Heath Morrison

MISD Strategic Planning Survey

As we continue our district strategic plan work, it’s important that we survey our employees, parents, students and community members on important issues encompassing the five Board of Trustee-adopted district goals, which are: Academics, Safety, Operations and Finance, Human Capital, and Communications and Customer Service.

Diverse community and stakeholder participation in the district strategic planning process is important to us as our strategic plan task force committees work on Key Performance Indicators and initiatives and strategies designed to meet our district goals.

Please take a few minutes to complete the survey by clicking the link below. The survey takes approximately 5-10 minutes to complete.

We appreciate your time and feedback. The survey will close at 5 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 15.

Click here to access the MISD Strategic Planning Survey

Budget Town Hall Reminder

On Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 6 p.m., we will hold a Budget Town Hall meeting in the Board Room of the MISD Education Support Center.

At this Town Hall, Chief Financial Officer Kris Lynn and I will discuss our budgeting process and priorities for the 2021-22 school year and provide the community with an overview of district revenues and expenditures. As we work through our budget process, we are fully committed to transparency, active engagement and making meaningful improvements to employee salaries.

I look forward to the community’s participation in these discussions.

Student Leadership Council Meetings

It is always the highlight of my week when I have the pleasure of meeting with our student leaders. This week, I held my monthly meetings with my student leadership councils at Montgomery HS and Lake Creek HS.

These leaders never fail to impress me with their passion and insight on how we can improve the student experience in Montgomery ISD. During this meeting, students provided us with valuable input on our strategic planning survey, which was launched today. We also discussed their personal growth as leaders by reviewing one of Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: First seek to understand, then to be understood.

Communication Council Meetings

This week I met with my District Elementary and Secondary Communication Councils. These groups are comprised of a representative from each campus who each bring to me various issues, thoughts, concerns and suggestions raised by their colleagues. In addition to the issues brought forward by members of the councils, we discussed the district strategic plan process and also spent time talking about culture and morale across the district.

These conversations are not only important, but valuable to me as we seek constant improvement in how the district supports our teachers and other campus-level staff. I charge myself, and my leadership team, with responding to the issues raised by the communications councils in writing, which we always share districtwide to all staff.

Our goal is to provide written responses to issues raised by the communications councils within the next two weeks.

Superintendent Shout-Out: Jayson Kimberly

This week, I want to give a Superintendent Shout-out to Montgomery High School’s Jayson Kimberly, who was recently featured on KPRC Channel Houston Life for his fantastic work through his own non-profit organization, Leave it for the Pooch. As the proud owner of a rescue dog, I am especially moved by Jayson’s story and dedication to this outstanding cause.

You continue to make us all proud, Jayson!

You can watch Jayson’s segment on Houston Life here.

The MISD Minute: Friday, Jan. 29, 2021

Strategically Planning for the Future

Dear Team MISD,

Thank you to all who attended our first Strategic Plan Town Hall meeting at Montgomery High School on Thursday evening. The excitement behind the work to develop our Strategic Plan is a testament to this community’s desire to elevate and position our school district as the “Premier” district in Texas. The Strategic Plan will serve as a roadmap to how we get to “Premier”.

The feedback from the Town Hall meeting has been very positive. During the breakout session portion of the meeting, there was active listening and authentic conversations occurring throughout the five groups. It was exciting to see a diverse group of stakeholders come together to discuss how we can further improve our district through the Strategic Plan.

Dr. Morrison’s Strategic Plan Town Hall Introduction – Jan. 28, 2021

Development of the Strategic Plan is being led by a Task Force of district leaders in conjunction with district parents, staff, students and community members. The plan will align with the MISD Board of Trustees’ adopted goals for the district. The five district goals, which were finalized in October 2020, are as follow:

  • Goal 1: Academic Achievement: MISD will provide a challenging curriculum, assess individual student achievement and support efforts to ensure excellent academic performance.
  • Goal 2: School Safety: MISD will vigorously enforce policies and procedures that promote a safe and orderly environment.
  • Goal 3: Operations and Finance: MISD will responsibly manage the use of financial and operational resources in order to sustain equitable funding to support academic excellence and to provide safe, efficient operations of the district.
  • Goal 4: Human Capital: MISD will recruit, support, develop and retain highly qualified and effective personnel.
  • Goal 5: Communications and Customer Service: MISD will provide proactive and frequent engagement with employees, parents, and community to ensure effective communication, superior customer service, and a strong culture within the district.

I entered Montgomery ISD as Superintendent with an intentional commitment to listen and learn from students, parents, staff and community stakeholders. That’s why it’s important to me that all who want to participate in the development of the strategic plan are provided the opportunity to have a voice. We plan to host two more Strategic Plan Town Hall meetings before it’s adopted by the Board in May.

Please mark your calendars for our next Strategic Plan Town Hall meeting on Thursday, Feb. 25 at 6 p.m. at Lake Creek High School.

With appreciation,

Dr. Heath Morrison

MISD Budget Town Hall Meeting – Tuesday Feb. 9

On Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 6:00 p.m., we will host a Budget Town Hall meeting in the Board Auditorium of the MISD Education Support Center. This Town Hall will provide an overview of the district’s annual budget and our process for the 2021-22 school year.

As we work on a budget for 2021-22, and beyond, we are committed to complete transparency in how we develop and ultimately approve a district budget. As I have shared previously, continuing to focus on employee compensation is one of my top priorities.

Additionally, it’s important that our budget process is in alignment with the development of our Strategic Plan. I encourage all who are interested to remain engaged and informed as we work on our 2021-22 district budget. Please join us and share your thoughts and priorities for the district’s budget.

COVID Rapid Testing Initiative

Our voluntary COVID Rapid Testing program has been a success and has received extremely positive feedback. We’re pleased to continue to offer this cost and time saving benefit to staff and families. To date, we have provided nearly 200 rapid tests – at no charge – to students and staff. This program would not be successful without the dedication of our outstanding school nurses. I want to thank our Director of Special Programs Dr. Amy Busby and all of our dedicated nurses who have made this testing initiative possible.

As a reminder, the voluntary tests are available for employees on campus and by appointment at the District’s Education Support Center. Testing for students is only available by appointment at the District ESC.

You can learn more about the voluntary COVID Rapid Testing program and schedule an appointment for a test on our website by clicking here.

A Retirement Reception for the “Grand Bear”

A special thanks go out to all who attended Bobby Morris’ retirement reception on Tuesday at MHS. Bobby leaves an impressive legacy in MISD, having worked in the district for over 22 years. He joined MISD as Principal of Montgomery High School in 1998 and went on to join district administration in 2009 as Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services and eventually our Chief Operating Officer in 2015. Bobby’s accomplishments throughout his remarkable career have had a positive impact on thousands of students and their families.

Coming into MISD, Bobby became a trusted voice for me. Bobby’s input and wisdom were always in the best interest of our district, and I learned so much from him in a short period of time. Bobby will be forever missed in the MISD family. His impact on our students, families, and this community will be felt for many years ahead.

At the reception, I especially enjoyed the MHS Madrigals performance singing the MHS Alma Mater.

A Farewell and Congratulations to Teresa Tipton

It is with excitement, but also great regret, that I announce Teresa Tipton has accepted a career advancement opportunity and will be departing MISD in February.

Teresa has spent the last 13 years as a dedicated member of our Finance Department, where she served as the district’s Benefits, Leave and Worker’s Compensation Specialist. Many recognize Teresa for her strong dedication to Team MISD. Those who worked closely with her would tell you that Teresa always had a genuine passion to serve MISD staff and improving our district. What makes Teresa special is not only her vast knowledge in all areas of employee benefits and leave, but also her ability to provide the employees of MISD outstanding customer service.

While she was not seeking another opportunity, Teresa’s hard work in MISD positioned herself as a sought after candidate for an Account Executive role with FBS.  FBS is our Third Party Administrator that assists us with creation, compliance and maintenance of all health and supplemental employee benefits.

Teresa’s departure is a huge loss for us, but she will always be a member of the Montgomery Family. Please join me in thanking Teresa for her contributions to our district and wishing her the best as she moves into the next stage of her career.