It’s time for our mid-term check-in with Montgomery ISD Superintendent, Dr. Heath Morrison.
Watch as Dr. Steven Meeker sits down with our district superintendent and discusses major topics for this school year. Topics include the continued ways in which a school district has to deal with the COVID pandemic, the creation of the 2022-2023 Academic Calendar, the 2022-2023 budget process, a possible Bond election in May of 2022 and more.
Be ONE Team: Culture of Respect campaign being created for MISD staff
In order to be successful in becoming The Premier School District in the state of Texas, we must make sure that Montgomery ISD is a place where our employees not only want to work, but also feel like their contributions to the district matter. Whether working on a campus, or in a district building or facility, our employees should always feel that their role is valued and that they are respected. Employees should have confidence that when the need arises, they have a safe place to share concerns and speak openly when doing so. They should also know that district administration wants – and even expects – them to share, because we cannot make continuous improvements to how we operate without the input and voice of all district employee groups.
Many of you might be asking why a Culture of Respect campaign has become a priority . Through interactions with staff, many employees have brought up the culture within the district, with many of the concerns being centered on respect. The different responses varied from how employees treat and speak to each other, as well as how individuals feel that their role in the district is valued. While most felt that the culture in Montgomery ISD is good, it’s important to make sure that we don’t become complacent, especially as we continue to grow at the rate we are currently experiencing. In Montgomery ISD, as we strive for Premier, “good” is not good enough. We want to be “great”. When employees have concerns, they need to feel comfortable sharing them, and confident that their concerns will be received with empathy, understanding and action. We need our district culture to be one that provides this level of respect that every employee is deserving of receiving.
Our administration knows that there are employees who directly teach, and those who directly support the teaching that takes place in MISD. Our goal in this campaign is to make sure that the culture in Montgomery ISD provides security and affirms that the work our employees do, and the way they are made to feel while doing it, is always valuable.
Finally, to show that we truly must confront challenges on One Path, Together, due to the increasing demand for substitutes on campus, staff at the district office will begin to serve campuses as subs one day a week, when needed. I am proud of how eager the district office staff was to help when asked, being willing to serve campuses at this capacity.
-Dr. Heath Morrison
Montgomery ISD health protocol update
We want to thank all staff who are working extremely hard each day to ensure our students are remaining healthy and that quality academic instruction is occurring in the classroom. As we aim for this to continue, we are working to implement increased safety measures, including directional hallways, additional lunch periods, increased physical distancing in classrooms, and more. While we watch the numbers closely, we have made some efforts that we believe will serve and support you as we continue to be impacted by this pandemic and we are continuing to explore options that can keep our students and staff healthy, and in attendance.
In an effort to make sure that all staff and students are able to get free COVID testing when the need arises, Montgomery ISD will be hiring additional staff to expand our capabilities to offer testing. We are working to increase our testing schedule to every weekday from 8:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Please continue to use this link to sign-up for an appt.
Montgomery ISD is encouraging our district employees to wear a mask or face-covering when in close contact with employees and students. We want to keep our focus on personal responsibility with self-screening, hand washing and physical distancing when possible, but it’s important to add one more layer of protection, when physical distancing is not possible. Additionally, should you come in close contact with a positive person in your household, please report this information to your supervisor, monitor yourself for symptoms, and consider testing daily.
Our Education Support Center served as a location for a local COVID-19 vaccination site on Thursday and Friday of last week. Nearly 100 individuals chose to receive a dose of the vaccine. We are planning to open our facility again as a vaccination site on September 9 and 10. Please watch for communication regarding how to sign up to receive the vaccine on either of these days in the coming days. We will continue to explore how we can support the community during this challenging time.
As previously reported, the Board of Trustees approved an extension of COVID leave days for all Montgomery ISD employees at the August board meeting earlier this month. Each staff member now has a total of 10 COVID leave days. Employees may use these days if they have tested positive for COVID-19 or if they have come into close contact with an individual in their household who has tested positive for COVID-19. We hope that this decision demonstrates the level of support that we are trying to provide Montgomery ISD staff as we navigate our way through this uncertain time.
In order to use these days, staff will need to contact Teresa Tipton at email@example.com or 936-276-2045.
Friday Night Lights starts tonight
It’s the end of August in Texas, and that can only mean one thing… it’s time for some high school football! Both of our MISD football programs kick off their seasons this weekend on the road. Lake Creek will play at Dayton at 7:30 p.m. tonight, and Montgomery will play at Porter at 6 p.m. tomorrow. Mark your calendars with the schedule below to support our Lions and Bears.
For those of you that would prefer supporting our Bears and Lions in air-conditioning, here is the home schedule for Varsity volleyball teams at both high schools.
Child Nutrition Department recognized by Texas Agriculture Commissioner
The Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Sid Miller, announced this week that the nutrition team at Montgomery ISD has successfully completed the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) 2021 Spring Farm Fresh Challenge.
MISD joined schools and childcare providers across Texas in “Eat Local, Teach Local and Be Social” from April 12 through May 14. The children at Montgomery ISD ate local foods and learned about Texas Agriculture.
Board of Trustees extends COVID leave for employees
This week, the MISD Board of Trustees approved our recommendation to extend COVID leave for employees an additional five days – for a total of 10. Employees may use these days if they have tested positive for COVID-19 cases or if they have come into close contact with an individual in their household who has tested positive for COVID-19. This action by our board continues a trend of our district taking a lead in prioritizing employee health and well-being throughout this pandemic. We were one of the first school districts in the state to extend COVID leave last year after the federal requirement expired on December 31 and we were one of the first in the region to extend such leave this year. We hope this action provides employees with some comfort as we continue to be challenged by the impact of this pandemic.
I know that all of us hoped that with COVID rates declining over the summer and the availability of vaccines, that the impact of this pandemic would lessen this school year. Unfortunately, local and state positivity rates continue to climb. We will continue to follow our established health protocols and ask all staff and students to remember the most important aspect of these plans call for personal responsibility; if someone is sick, they should stay home. Additionally, we are doing everything we can with continuing to offer rapid testing and vaccination opportunities for staff and students. Research suggests that the most effective measures while indoors are to social distance as much as possible, wash hands frequently and wear a mask. While masks are optional in Montgomery ISD this year, we want to make sure all staff and students feel comfortable and supported in whatever decision they make.
At a time when these issues have become divisive, let’s demonstrate that we will come together as one team – one path forward.
Dr. Heath Morrison
District hires architectural firm to begin possible bond election
After completing the district’s facilities assessment this past spring, Texas-based architectural firm Huckabee has been selected as the building and planning partner while Montgomery ISD begins the process of preparing for a possible May 2022 bond election. The district will be creating a citizens’ advisory bond committee complete with MISD parents, staff and business and community leaders to help plan and create the scope for a potential bond.
The citizens’ advisory bond committee will meet often, research and assess our district’s needs, and collect data that will assist them in creating a schedule and a budget for potential projects to be considered. The committee will send surveys to all district families, continue to monitor the rapid growth and expansion in our community and seek to assure that any potential bond brought forward will positively benefit all of those working and attending schools in MISD.
As the planning continues and the real work begins, the district will seek transparency in the vision and prioritization and will make sure that any possible bond brought forward is not only the district’s bond, but also the community’s bond. As we seek to be the Premier school district in the state of Texas, it is important that our community is beside us and an integral part of any bond process.
MISD to adopt Culture of Respect: Be ONE Team
As explained at the board meeting Tuesday evening, in order to be successful in our mission as a district, we need our current staff to feel respected and heard and have confidence that each member is a contributing partner to ensuring that MISD has a strong employee culture of respect. Through interactions with staff of Montgomery ISD, many employees have brought up “culture” and “respect,” with many of the concerns being centered around respect. The different responses varied from how employees treat and speak to each other, as well as how individuals feel that their role in the district is valued. When employees have concerns, they need to feel comfortable sharing them, and confident that their concerns will be received with empathy and understanding. We need our district culture to be one that provides this level of respect that every employee is deserving of receiving.
Every single member of Team Montgomery matters, and we don’t just want those to be words. We want it to be known and felt by each of our employees. In the near future, we will be launching our awareness campaign with a committee formed consisting of all levels of our employee base. We will be listening first. Committee members chosen will be individuals who can be honest and open when reflecting on the data that is collected through surveys sent out district-wide. Our administration knows that there are employees who directly teach, and those who directly support the teaching that takes place in MISD. Our goal in this campaign is to make sure that the culture in Montgomery ISD provides security and affirms that the work our employees do, and the way they are made to feel while doing it, is always valuable.
District Highlight: Montgomery ISD Maintenance Department
As we have started a new school year, it’s important for us to make sure we recognize those groups that directly impact our ability to effectively educate the students of Montgomery ISD. At Tuesday night’s board meeting, Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Kris Lynn took the opportunity to recognize the district’s maintenance department and their Director, Joe Kinard.
Each member of the maintenance team was recognized for their continued efforts and hard work ethic to get our campuses ready for the 2021-2022 school year. As a part of our Culture of Respect campaign, it’s important that we recognize all members of our staff and the work that it requires of each department to help a district be successful. The Montgomery ISD maintenance department is an exceptional group of men and women that we are thankful to have serving the staff and students in MISD.
House Bill 4545 adds accelerated instruction requirements to curriculum
This past summer, the Texas Legislature passed HB 4545 requiring accelerated instruction services for all students during the 2021-2022 school year, based on STAAR results from Spring 2021. For each of our students that did not take or meet requirements of the STAAR test in grades 3, 5 and 8, an accelerated learning committee must be formed including the student’s parent, the campus principal or their designee, and the teacher for the subject area in which the child did not pass. This committee is tasked with creating an accelerated instruction plan to best enable the student to perform on grade level by the conclusion of the school year.
The guidance laid out in HB 4545 for accelerated instruction will continue to take effect through subsequent school years and will require an intense look at master schedules, high-impact tutoring programs, and data systems used to track student success. As we take these steps to follow these guidelines and serve the students in our district that need this extra level of academic intervention, it’s important that we always continue to focus on educating the whole child, emotionally, physically, mentally and academically.
Our Curriculum and Instruction Team provided the Board of Trustees with an overview of the new law in a presentation during the Board Meeting on Tuesday. You can watch the HB 4545 presentation during the board meeting here.
Lake Creek Theatre Director receives Golden Apple award
Montgomery ISD is proud to announce that Lake Creek theatre director Mr. Ramirez has been honored by the Texas Thespian Board of Directors and has received the Golden Apple Award for leading a stellar theatre program. This award was established to honor those adults who have 10 or more years of service by dedicating themselves to promoting Texas educational theatre. The recipient of the Golden Apple is chosen for his or her dedication to theatre performance in Texas and to the aims and ideals of the Educational Theatre Association, as well as their contributions to continued standards of excellence in Texas theatre.
We are very fortunate to have Mr. Ramirez working with the students at Lake Creek High School and appreciate his dedication to his students and the theatre department.
What a privilege it was to welcome over 9,000 students back to our 10 campuses across Montgomery ISD yesterday! The start of a new school year is always a beautiful opportunity to be reminded of why each of us chose this profession and the difference we can make in each of our student’s lives.
When I think back to starting the role of superintendent last year, I’m so proud of the work we have achieved. As a school district community, we have worked together to develop our Pathway to Premier Strategic Plan and our board of trustees approved raises for each of you after an immense amount of effort to balance the budget. I’m excited to continue the work necessary to make Montgomery ISD the Premier School District in the state of Texas on our journey from “Good” to “Great”.
Insights from professional development leading up to student return
District staff spent Tuesday, August 10th in professional development to prepare for the start of the school year. Montgomery ISD administrators held trainings for teachers and staff that were divided by department, grade level and content areas. The morning was spent doing a variety of activities including planning, reviewing content, and developing lessons. Collaboration across the district with professional development is one way we can focus on our mission of #OnePathTogether and striving to offer all students in Montgomery ISD the best education and preparation for the future!
Montgomery ISD continues to grow at a rapid pace
MISD finished the 2020-2021 school year with 9,031 students and as of today we have over 9,400 enrolled students. This growth rate is already exceeding the predictions made just a few months ago when Montgomery ISD received their demographic study and growth prediction from Population and Survey Analysts. This type of rapid growth brings both excitement and a few challenges, especially with so many students enrolling in the weeks leading up to school starting. With this unexpected increase in enrollment, you will of course see a few classrooms that have reached their capacity. It should come at no surprise that we have job postings for positions at many of our district campuses and are seeking to fill those positions quickly.
The exciting news is that people want to come to Montgomery ISD. It is clear that they want their students to be on our campuses and they believe that we have the best to offer their children. Rapid growth always comes with growing pains, and while we should accept those with grace and patience, we should also celebrate that the Pathway to Premier is going to be full of such amazing opportunity and everyone wants to be a part of it. If you’re new to the district, we welcome you, and we hope you will do your part to make this year a successful one!
Rapid testing, vaccine opportunity and the district’s COVID-19 tracker
Montgomery ISD has resumed free COVID-19 rapid testing at the Education Support Center for students or staff members wishing to be tested. To receive a test, appointments must be made online. You can schedule an appointment by clicking here.
Rapid testing is not required, but is a courtesy service being offered to our students and staff.
On Thursday, Aug. 19 and Friday, Aug. 20, Montgomery ISD will serve as a vaccination site for any eligible individual who would like to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine being administered will be Pfizer and they will be administered at the District Education Support Center, located at 20774 Eva St., Montgomery, TX 77356.
Receiving the vaccine is not required. This service is being provided as a courtesy to students, staff and members of the community.
As of yesterday, the district’s re-designed COVID tracker became available on our website at www.misd.org. The tracker will be updated daily and now includes the number of positive cases by day, campus and grade level.
You can review all of the district’s health protocols and see a list of frequently asked questions by clicking here.
MISD and Montgomery Area Chamber partnered for back to school prep
Please watch this video highlighting our back to school partnership with the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce. We continue to be thankful for their efforts in helping us prepare for a successful 2021-2022 school year.
Dr. Morrison’s Interview on FOX 26
In case you missed it, Dr. Morrison was interviewed live on FOX 26 during the first day of school!
I am very excited to have our staff back on campuses, preparing to welcome students on Thursday. It’s been evident through our new teacher orientation on Tuesday and our Convocation on Thursday that all campuses and departments are ready to travel the #PathwayToPremier. We hope you enjoyed your summer and gathered the rest and motivation needed to bring your best to the 2021-2022 school year.
Last year was quite the challenge for educators and students all across our district and we are hopeful that this year will allow for more normal instruction and campus culture. You will be seeing a lot of new faces throughout our district this year and the administration team at the Education Support Center has worked hard this summer to make sure that leaders are in place to help you more than ever before.
Let’s have an amazing year!
Thursday’s pep rally style convocation was a fabulous way to kick off this 2021-2022 school year with excitement. We hope that our staff and specials guests enjoyed the food truck lunch options and took the time to soak up the support that our community brings for our educators. This event would not have been possible without the help of our sponsors and donors.
“Get Back to Work” Day with the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce
We want to extend a huge thank you to the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce and Shannan Reid for organizing and executing such a fabulous Get Back to Work Day for Montgomery ISD. The Chamber gathered over 100 volunteers from the area and brought teams of helpers to each of our 10 campuses to help get our facilities ready for the 2021-2022 school year. Our partnership with the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce has been an ongoing gift to our district and we are thankful for this annual event that has been helping our campuses since 2017.
Campus projects included updating name plates for classrooms, assembling new furniture, textbook organization and delivery, as well as outdoor needs of spreading mulch, weeding gardens, and the painting of parking lots. On many campuses, individual teachers and program directors were given volunteers to get their classroom, theater or curriculum organized and ready for a successful 2021-2022 school year. Thanks to the donations of Montgomery area business owners and the time given by each volunteer, our campuses are ready to operate and welcome students on Thursday, August 12th.
District Health Protocols
Montgomery ISD announced their health protocols for the 2021-22 school year. Click here for more information.
A Conversation with Dr. Heath Morrison- Season 2, Part I
Montgomery Jr. High teacher Dr. Meeker is back this year for Season two of Conversations with Dr. Heath Morrison. In this first episode of season two, Dr. Meeker and Dr. Morrison discussed all things relating to the 2021-22 school year!
Kerri Gilchriest named Region 6 Counselor of the Year
Montgomery ISD administration is very excited to announce that our very own Kerri Gilchriest has been named the Region 6 Counselor of the Year for the 2020-2021 school year. Mrs. Gilchriest is one of our district’s special education counselors and services children of all ages, on many campuses in our district. Kerri Gilchriest is known for going above and beyond to ensure all of the students she supports have access to the services they each individually need and is always making an effort to offer new opportunities. She has introduced innovative ideas such as equine therapy for some of our students, who have since thrived and may not have had that chance otherwise. The love and care she has for each of her students is evident through her work each and every day and we are very proud to have her working with the students in Montgomery ISD.
Montgomery ISD trustees approved a new district strategic plan during their regular monthly board meeting for June.
The strategic plan, named the “Pathway to Premier”, is the product of a six-month-long districtwide effort to collaborate with all district stakeholders and identify existing district strengths and areas for improvement. The strategic plan focuses on the Board of Trustees’ five district goals and contains measurable key performance indicators in targeted areas. The plan also lists initiatives and strategies the district will use to meet or exceed targets outlined in the key performance indicators.
The board-approved district goals are: 1) Academic Achievement; 2) School Safety; 3) Finance and Operations; 4: Human Capital; and 5) Communication and Customer Service.
Dr. Heath Morrison, who is entering his second year as the superintendent of Montgomery ISD, emphasized the district’s intense focus on developing the strategic plan through collaboration with the community.
“My time of entry as superintendent of Montgomery ISD was spent doing a significant amount listening and learning,” Morrison said. “Conversations with hundreds of district stakeholders identified many strengths we have as a district, but also opportunities to improve. It was a priority for us to ensure the development of the strategic plan authentically represented all voices in our community. Hundreds of voices were involved in this process.”
To develop the strategic plan, the district formed a large task force consisting of five committees, each focused on one of the goals. The task force committees were comprised of district leadership, principals, teachers, counselors, parents, students and community members. The task force committees spent several months examining district functions and developing key performance indicators and district initiatives and strategies to be included in the final strategic plan. The district also issued a communitywide survey and held three town hall meetings during the strategic plan development process to gather public input.
“As a Board, our vision for the district is clear: We want Montgomery ISD to be the Premier School District in the state of Texas,” Board President Matt Fuller said. “We are excited about the direction of our district with this strategic plan as our guiding document. I would like to thank all staff, parents and community members who participated in this process.”
In total, the strategic plan consists of 66 key performance indicators addressing various areas within the five district goals. The task forces identified 121 initiatives and strategies during the development of the plan. Increasing and enhancing Career and Technical Education opportunities is a district initiative under district goal one.
“This strategic plan is comprehensive, starting with ensuring strong academic programs are in place for our youngest learners all the way up to our students ready to take on college, career or military opportunities,” Trustee Shawn Denison said. “I’m especially excited about the increased focus on expanding CTE options and programs for our secondary students.”
Beginning in the 2021-22 school year, the Board of Trustees will receive monthly updates from task force leaders and department directors regarding the district’s progress in various areas of the strategic plan.
“With the strategic plan, our board and community will have a clear understanding of where the district is excelling and where there are growth opportunities,” Trustee Linda Porten said. “This not only brings about greater transparency into district functions, but it also provides guidance on academic, operational and financial aspects of district decision-making.”
Morrison emphasized the district’s desire for the strategic plan to reflect the values, wishes, and desires of the entire Montgomery community.
“Our Board of Trustees and community expect consistent greatness from Montgomery ISD, and our students deserve nothing less.” Morrison said. “We are a very good school district. However, we cannot let ‘good’ be the enemy of ‘great’. This strategic plan truly serves as our pathway to being the premier school district in Texas.”
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 WinnersCelebrated
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.
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!
Earlier this week, we announced the appointment of Carrie Fitzpatrick as our new Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education. I am excited about the leadership Carrie will bring to this role and confident that she will build upon the outstanding work in our district.
I’m also excited to welcome four additional talented leaders to Team MISD! We have identified four outstanding candidates to lead technology and digital learning, human capital, 504 and Dyslexia services and career and technical education.
A little bit about each of them is below.
Amanda Davis-Summerville – Director of Technology and Digital Learning
Amanda Davis-Summerville is joining us as Director of Technology and Digital Learning to provide strategic oversight of districtwide IT activities, continued development of instructional technology programs, and further enhance customer service to campuses.
Amanda brings 12 years of combined experience in the field of information and educational technology and teaching. She has a diverse background in both classroom and district level systems administration and service delivery, with extensive experience in systems analysis, instructional, and enterprise computing, as well as copyright compliance, curriculum evaluation and instructional design. Amanda will be responsible for the Information Technology department as well as setting guidelines and coordination of services for infrastructure and instructional technology service delivery across all the campuses within the district.
Previously, Amanda served as an Educational Technologist and Systems Administrator for Houston Independent School District, where she had a direct role in systems and service delivery as well as responsibility for identifying and developing educational tools, curriculum and classroom technologies.
Amanda has Masters of Education in Educational Technology from Texas A&M University and a bachelors degree in business administration from Tarleton State University and is a certified educator in the State of Texas.
Amanda will begin the role on May 3.
Alayna Siemonsma – Coordinator, 504 and Dyslexia Services
Alayna Siemonsma is joining us as Coordinator of 504 and Dyslexia Services. She is a native South Dakotan who began her 24-year teaching career as an elementary educator serving students in Wyoming, Arizona, and South Dakota. In 2015, her family relocated to Conroe where she continued teaching in an intermediate school setting as a 5th grade ELA/SS teacher and most recently as a teacher of students with Dyslexia and/or Dysgraphia. She is an active and founding member of the Texas National Board Coalition for Teaching and is a member of Texas Association for Literacy Education.
Alayna is a Nationally Board Certified Teacher in the area of Early and Middle Childhood/Literacy: Reading-Language Arts who holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wyoming, a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Curriculum and Instruction and Reading Specialist from Northern Arizona University, and a Principal Certification from Lamar University. Alayna was honored with the Milken Educator Award and has had the opportunity to connect and collaborate with educators from all over the country through the exceptional work of the Milken Foundation and National Board of Professional Teaching Standards.
Amy Vance – Director of Career and Technical Education (CTE)
Amy Vance has been named as our new Director of CTE. Amy is joining us from Waxahachie ISD, where she has spent the previous four years as District CTE Program Access Coordinator. In this role she was responsible for growing student, parent and community stakeholder involvement in the district’s CTE programs. Amy previously served as a teacher in Chapel Hill ISD, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD and Mount Vernon ISD.
Throughout her work in CTE, she served as a department head and in many campus and district leadership roles. Amy has a passion for and success in growing the number of student obtaining industry certifications. She will be an asset in our efforts to build meaningful business partnerships throughout our community that will grow and enhance our CTE programs and provide practicum and internship opportunities for our students.
There has been significant interest and desire across the district expand and enhance CTE programs and we are excited for the vision and leadership Amy will bring to this new position. Amy is highly trained and experienced in CTE and I am thrilled to be adding her knowledge and expertise to our team.
Amy is a currently a candidate for a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and Stephen F. Austin University, holds a Master of Educational Leadership from Stephen F. Austin University, a Master of Agricultural Education from Texas A&M University-Commerce, and a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Development.
Denise Miner – Executive Director of Human Capital
Denise Miner has been named Executive Director of Human Capital. In this role, Denise will oversee all aspects of the Human Resources Department, including recruiting, hiring, evaluating retaining staff and enhancing professional development opportunities across the district.
Denise has over two decades of experience in education, including several years of experience in school district human resources. She joins us from Cypress Fairbanks ISD, where she has served the previous three years as Assistant Director of Human Resources. Prior to this, Denise was the Director of Personnel and Technology in the :Lake Havasu Unified School District in Arizona. Denise has also served as a high school principal, assistant principal and teacher. She holds a bachelors degree in Arts from Prescott College and a Master of Arts in Elementary Education from Grand Canyon University.
Denise will begin the role on May 10.
I am excited about the skills and expertise each of these talented individuals will bring to Montgomery ISD as we continue our work to become the Premier School District in Texas!
Dr. Heath Morrison
MISD Counselors of the Year Announced
For the first time, MISD staff has voted on district counselors of the year! The votes have been counted, and you selected the following amazing individuals as our District Counselors of the Year!
Deanna Peterson – Elementary Counselor of the Year
Barbara Gagliano – Junior High School Counselor of the Year
Laureen Thompson – High School Counselor of the Year
Kerri Gilchriest – All-Level School Counselor of the Year
Our winners will be submitted to Region 6 where they will be considered for regional recognition against their regional peers. At Region 6, our nominees will be judged on school counseling innovations and further development of programs to support the career, social/emotional and academic development of all students. Other criteria include leadership, advocacy and collaboration in their work in addition to promoting equity and access to opportunities and rigorous educational experiences for all students to maximize student achievement.
I am thankful for the incredible counselors we have in Montgomery ISD!
Montgomery Junior High Takes First in District UIL
Montgomery Junior High School has won first place in District Academic UIL!
The Bears took the top spot among seven other schools in the region! The District Academic UIL competition requires a significant amount of time and effort, both from students and coaches. I am incredibly proud of the MJH UIL students and coaches for being the District Champions this year! Go Bears!
Montgomery ES Destination Imagination invited to Globals!
Montgomery Elementary School’s Destination Imagination Team has received an invitation participate in the global DI tournament! This is the first time Montgomery Elementary School has had a team advance to this level! Way to go, Bearcats!
Superintendent Shout-Out – Child Nutrition Department
This week’s Supetintendent Shout-Out goes to our dedicated, hard working Child Nutrition team! The Child Nutrition Department recently received their second inspection from the Montgomery County Health Department (MCDH), with all 10 campuses receiving a 100 score!
MCHD inspects a minimum of 47 different items in each kitchen. Receiving a 100 for all campuses shows the dedication for food safety and sanitation our Child Nutrition have for students and staff of Montgomery ISD.
Thank you for your service and dedication to Montgomery ISD!
First or Second COVID-19 vaccine doses available on Monday
The Montgomery County Public Health District is offering free first or second COVID-19 vaccine doses on Monday, May 3 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Woodforest Stadium. You can register for an appointment at http://www.mcphd-tx.org/. Information on COVID-19 vaccines is shared as a courtesy to employees. They are not required as a condition of employment.
This week the MISD Board of Trustees approved a compensation plan containing raises for the 2021-22 school year for all Montgomery ISD employees. I want to thank the many employees who reached out with kind comments and to express their gratitude about the board’s actions. While we intend to do more for our employees in future years, the work behind this compensation plan has truly been a journey, beginning with the 2% raises approved by the board in October.
When looking at making additional salary increases across the district, we needed several items to make informed decisions, including data and your input. Since October, we conducted an internal study of how our salaries compare to neighboring districts, engaged a third party to review how we staff campuses and district offices and provide options to become more efficient, brought in all campus principals to assist in our decision-making, visited with staff at all 10 campuses and the district office and held two budget Town Hall meetings. Having the necessary data to make decisions and receiving feedback from employees were extremely important to us as we developed this compensation plan.
On top of the 2% raises approved in October, we’re excited to have had the opportunity to put forward a proposed compensation plan with an additional $3,300 for teachers (about a 5% raise), and an additional 3% pay raise for all other district employees. While there still work to be done to make Montgomery ISD salaries in the region, we hope this shows our commitment to prioritizing staff compensation in our budgeting.
I wanted to point out a few additional important points about the compensation plan.
First, the compensation plan adopted by the board takes effect upon the start of your 2021-22 school year contract or beginning of the next fiscal year, depending on your contract length and type of employment. What this means is that you will begin to see the raises and increased stipends reflected in your paycheck at the start of your 2021-22 duty schedule, depending on the number of work days in your contract. For at-will employees, the raises will begin at the start of your work schedule beginning in the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.
Second, we have received some questions regarding the adjusted teacher hiring schedule. The hiring schedule salaries have been increased to become more competitive in the region. The teacher hiring schedule was also extended from 22 years to 30 years. I wanted to clarify a few items on this. First, with the adopted raises, a current Montgomery ISD teacher’s salary is designed to be – at a minimum – higher than what is reflected in the new salary schedule. The hiring schedule salaries reflect what a teacher entering Montgomery ISD would be compensated. For example, a teacher with two years of experience, entering Montgomery ISD during their fifth year of teaching would now have a starting salary of $55,875. This figure was increased from the $52,242 outlined in the previous 2020-21 hiring schedule. Current fifth year Montgomery ISD teachers received the 2% raise in October and will have also received the additional $3,300, bringing their salary to start their sixth year of teaching in Montgomery ISD above the $55,875 listed in the teacher hiring schedule.
Next, I want to be clear that while the teacher hiring schedule has been extended to 30 years, employees with 30+ years of experience still receive the $3,300 raise, and any salary increases approved each year by the board. Again, the hiring schedule reflects the salary of an individual entering the district for the first time, not existing Montgomery ISD employees, whose salaries will be – at a minimum – higher than what is outlined in the updated teacher hiring schedule. It’s also important to note that, while uncommon, a 30+ year teacher entering Montgomery ISD would receive a higher salary than what is listed at the 30-year mark in the hiring schedule. A 30-year range is common across many school district teacher hiring schedules.
Finally, I want to point our that professional, administrative, and auxiliary salary scales were all increased in the newly-adopted compensation plan. Many of you have inquired about raises being based on the midpoint of your salary. With the increased midpoints, the adopted raises for employees will actually be greater than they would have otherwise been without this adjustment. An adjustment to the salary scales is not something that has occurred when raises were approved in the past. Increasing the salary scales is an important component of making all district salaries more competitive.
Again, highlights of the Montgomery ISD 2021-22 Compensation Plan include the following:
Current MISD teachers receive a $3,300 pay raise (about 5%), for a total increase of approximately 7% over 18 months when factoring in the 2% raise provided in October – for a total raise of $4,055.
All other district employees receive a 3% pay raise, for a total of 5% over 18 months when factoring in the 2% raise provided in October.
The teacher salary schedule has been extended from 22 to 30 years.
Salary scales have been increased (Minimum, Midpoint, Maximum). Raises are calculated based on the increased salary midpoint.
Stipends reduced in summer 2020 have been restored to their previous amount.
In the coming weeks, employees will receive a letter containing their projected salary for the 2021-22 school year. The Human Resources and Finance teams are working diligently to produce individualized letters to all employees. This is an enormous effort being put forward, and I want to express my sincere gratitude for their hard work on behalf of all district staff!
It was truly a pleasure to recognize our outstanding assistant principals during the Board of Trustees meeting this week. Our district is blessed to have this amazing group of leaders who play a key role in providing all students with a high-quality education. They work so hard each day to keep our campuses running efficiently and effectively, attend after-school and extracurricular events and always go the “above and beyond” – especially this year – to serve the needs of students and families.
Here’s a short video featuring Oak Hills JH principal Tim Williams and Montgomery HS Principal Dr. Andria Schur expressing their gratitude for our assistant principals!
The final meeting in our MISD Strategic Plan Town Hall series will take place next Tuesday, April 27 from 6-7:30 pm at Montgomery Jr. High School.
As you may know, we are developing a three-year Strategic Plan in alignment with the MISD Board of Trustees’ five adopted district goals:
Finance & Operations
Communications & Customer Service
The Strategic Plan is being developed by a district Task Force comprised of parents, MISD staff, students and other district stakeholders. The final Strategic Plan will consist of measurable key performance indicators surrounding the board’s district goals and will contain district initiatives and strategies intended to meet targets in the performance indicators. The final strategic plan will be adopted by the Board of Trustees in June and take effect at the start of the 2021-22 school year.
If you would like to provide your input regarding the areas addressed in the district’s goals, please join us for this important discussion!
Lake Creek HS VEX Robotics Team advances to global competition!
There was some great news over at Lake Creek HS this week that I want to “shout out”! This week, the Lake Creek HS VEX Robotics Team advanced to the global competition!
Lake Creek’s robotics teams began the school year with one goal in mind, return to the VEX Robotics World Championship. Throughout the year, students competed in virtual and in-person tournaments, and after each of these tournaments, teams would refine their robot and code to improve their world rankings. On Monday, team 2854Y, which is comprised of Garrett Denley, Niko Howell, Aiden Suarez, Colin Nerren, Colton Bailes, and Colton Jenkinson, accomplished their goal, and received their invitation to “Worlds”!
The VEX Robotics World Championship will take place over the course of a week starting on Sunday May 16th and running through Saturday May 22nd. Team 2854Y has been one of the top performing robotics teams across the globe throughout the whole season and has received much praise from other teams and coaches on the design of their robot.
World – 144th
United States – 101st
Texas – 7th
Gulf Coast Region – 4th
Way to go, Team 2854Y!
Early Voting underway for MISD Board of Trustees May 1 Election
Early voting for the MISD Board of Trustees election kicked off this week! Two seats on the MISD Board are up for election on May 1.
Running for Board of Trustees Position 4:
Running for Board of Trustees Position 5:
Early voting dates and times are:
Monday, April 19 – Saturday, April 24 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Monday, April 26 – Tuesday, April 27 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
MISD Education Foundation’s ‘Together we Grow’ is Saturday!
I’m looking forward to seeing you all at the Montgomery ISD Education Foundation’s inaugural Together We Grow community fundraiser tomorrow evening, April 24 at 7 p.m.!
Together We Grow promises to be a wonderful evening, all in support of the Montgomery ISD Education Foundation, which is essential to our work as a district. The Foundation provides students with college scholarships and funds innovative, forward-thinking classroom and campus projects and provides teachers with tools needed to enhance their ability to educate our students.
I want to thank all, especially MISD parents and Foundation board members Jessica Grace and Shannan Reid who worked “overtime” to make Together We Grow a reality. We’ll see you all on Saturday!
Trustees approve raises for all district employees, including additional $3,300 for teachers
The Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees adopted a compensation plan for the 2021-22 school year containing across-the-board salary increases for all district employees during their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, April 20. In total, the compensation plan includes an additional $3.8 M in salary and stipend increases across all employee groups.
The adopted Montgomery ISD Compensation Plan for the 2021-22 school features an additional $3,300 raise (approximately 5%) for current MISD teachers and an additional 3% raise for all other employee groups. These increases are in addition to the 2% across-the-board pay raises approved by the Board for all district employees earlier this school year. With the adoption of this compensation plan, in 18 months, current Montgomery ISD teachers will have received an approximate 7% total pay increase, or a total of $4,055, with all other employee groups receiving a 5% total raise. Additionally, employee stipends that had been previously decreased or eliminated during the previous budget cycle have been restored in the adopted compensation plan.
“Our dedicated employees in Montgomery ISD have stepped up in so many ways during this challenging year,” Board President Matt Fuller said. “I could not be more thankful for their tireless efforts this school year, and, while I’m looking forward to the opportunity to do even more for our employees, I’m excited that the compensation plan adopted by the board tonight provides them with well-earned raises entering the next school year.”
The compensation plan also increases the pay scale on the district’s teacher salary schedule. A first-year teacher entering Montgomery ISD will now have a starting salary of $54,450. The previous salary for a first-year teacher in Montgomery ISD was $51,000.
In addition to approving the district’s compensation plan, trustees also approved teacher contracts for the 2021-22 school year.
“The raises provided to teachers and district staff are not only well-deserved but also exercise the fiscal responsibility needed to ensure we have the opportunity to approve a balanced district budget heading into the next school year,” Board Vice-President Gary Hammons said. “For the first time, our board has simultaneously adopted a compensation plan along with teacher contracts. This approach to budgeting displays an ability to manage the district’s budget responsibly while prioritizing our valuable employees.”
Trustees are expected to adopt the district’s annual operating budget during its monthly Board meeting in June.
“Our school district budget should always be aligned with our priorities,” Trustee Trey Kirby said. “I’m pleased with how this compensation plan adopted by the board recognizes the hard work of our teachers and staff this year through a targeted, data-driven approach to providing increases to district salaries.”
Highlights of the Montgomery ISD 2021-22 Compensation Plan include the following:
Current MISD teachers receive a $3,300 pay raise (approximately 5%), for a total of 7% over 18 months when factoring in the 2% raise provided in October – for a total raise of $4,055.
All other district employees receive a 3% pay raise, for a total of 5% over 18 months when factoring in the 2% raise provided in October.
The teacher salary schedule has been extended from 22 to 30 years. (Employees on the teacher pay scale with more than 30 years still receive annual pay increases approved by the Board)
Salary scales have been increased (Minimum, Midpoint, Maximum). Raises are calculated based on the increased salary midpoint.
Stipends reduced in summer 2020 have been restored to their previous amount.
The 2021-22 Montgomery ISD Compensation Plan can be viewed here.
“Earlier this school year, after approving an ongoing 2% raise for all district employees, the board and superintendent made a firm commitment to seek additional pay increases for our teachers and district staff,” Board Secretary Linda Porten said. “I’m hopeful and excited about the path we are headed as it relates to compensating our wonderful employees in Montgomery ISD. They truly represent the heart and soul of this district, and we must continue to prioritize their compensation.”
During the meeting, MISD trustees also approved a Request for Proposal from Cenergistic, an award-winning energy management consultant firm. Cenergistic will advise the district on energy management and consult on best practices for energy efficiencies across all campuses and facilities. The district anticipates realizing a net savings of at least $300,000 in the first year of the partnership and continued significant savings over the following five years.
Seeking responsible efficiencies through energy management is one of the strategies the district will continue to engage in when identifying financial savings across the district. Earlier this school year, the district also engaged with the Texas Association of School Boards to conduct a comprehensive review of district staffing across all levels and provide options to increase efficiencies. The district implemented options in the TASB study to identify $2.4 M in savings without a reduction in force.
“The work behind balancing the district’s budget and seeking efficiencies necessary to provide our amazing teachers and district employees has truly been a journey,” Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison said. “This was a deliberative, input-driven process. We still have work to do relating to compensation. But I hope the effort put forth in this compensation plan is a strong illustration of our commitment to prioritizing employee pay through transparent and responsible fiscal management.”