Excellence in Education, and Beyond
The Boerne Independent School District has been named one of three finalists for the statewide H-E-B Excellence in Education Award.
Courtesy of The Boerne Independent School District
In January, administrators were notified that BISD was one of only three districts across Texas to be selected as a finalist for the prestigious H-E-B Excellence in Education Award. The award is designed to recognize school districts based on their commitment to student achievement through innovative programs; parent and community involvement; and professional development opportunities for teachers and administrators. Grant winners will be announced in May 2020, and the winning district will receive $50,000 to go towards student learning.
BISD is the only district from the greater San Antonio area to be named for the award in a year where they were also given their second “A” rating in the state accountability system by the Texas Education Agency. Additionally in 2019, the BISD School Board was named the Board of the Region, and the district received the State Comptroller’s Transparency award for Business Operations.
“We were very excited to hear of the honor,” said Superintendent Dr. Thomas Price. “We have innovative teaching styles in our district such as a focus on collaborative, action-based, and social-emotional learning that we are proud is being noticed.”
It is this innovation and collaboration that has served the district well during the unprecedented school closures resulting from COVID-19. During the district’s scheduled Spring Break, the week of March 9-13, the first announcement of an extended closure was made, followed by more extensions in alignment with the district’s cities’ and county’s emergency declarations. The district quickly implemented remote work environments for their staff, and by day three of the first week, distance/remote learning curriculums were in place for students to continue their studies from home.
Several years ago, district teachers began using Google Classroom as a means of communication and instruction for students in all grades. This application was the channel for the disbursement of assignments, and for students without technology or internet access at home, weekly printed packets were available for pick-up every Friday at each school.
Two years ago, the district introduced Skyward Family Access, an internet-based student data management system that stores everything from school registration forms, assignment grades and report cards to attendance and heath reports. Skyward was another way of informing parents of their child’s assignments. Email and social media rounded out the district’s lines of communication with parents and the community.
And finally, if Zoom was not a household name before, it quickly became one during a time of social distancing. BISD teachers utilized the video conferencing technology to engage their students through live activities, lectures and even exercise programs. “While the buildings may be closed, learning has continued in full force at BISD. Our teachers are coming up with creative ways to connect with their classes and continue the lesson plans for this school year. I can’t thank our staff enough for the hard work that they have put in for our students,” said Dr. Price.
The district also addressed students in need of meals during the closure, setting up a drive-through meal service for daily breakfast and lunch, Mondays through Fridays, and enlisting parent volunteers to assist in distribution. To keep students, parents and staff safe during lesson and meal distributions, BISD implemented several additional safety steps including limiting the number of staff on each campus, school nurses checking temperatures of staff, providing masks and gloves for staff and a placing a School Resource Officer on-site to help control traffic.
To help students who did not have other means of accessing the internet, GVTC made drive-up Wi-Fi Hot Spots available at Boerne High School and Boerne Middle School South, as well as Hill Country Family Services. Students could access the hot spots from each parking lot.
Virtual counseling services were also provided for students needing social and emotional support during the uncertain time.
At the helm of the district’s initiatives was Dr. Price who, since he joined the district over two years ago, has strived to keep the lines of communication open while encouraging feedback from staff, students and parents. His YouTube series Boerne Insider, which highlights and recognizes great things happening in the district by staff and students, introduced him to being in front of the camera, and he regularly posted videos on social media to relay updates to the community during the mandatory closure. On multiple occasions he was also invited to be a guest reader for Boerne Reads, a program put on by the Patrick Heath Public Library, appearing live on Facebook as he read a few of his favorite children’s books. And in an effort to promote positivity, he initiated #GreatThingsBoerneISD, where he encouraged the community to submit everything wonderful they have done or encountered during the difficult weeks of school closures and social distancing.
It is these efforts now and before, as well as preparation for reopening schools when the time comes, that has made the Boerne Independent School District worthy of the recognition of Excellence in Education. For more information, visit www.boerneisd.net.
Fair Oaks Ranch Elementary teachers give “air hugs” to their students via Zoom.
Dr. Price appeared as the Boerne Reads guest reader on Facebook Live on April 8 and read one of his favorite books, Wanted: Perfect Parents by John Himmelman. The program is sponsored by the Patrick Heath Public Library.
BISD maintenance continued throughout the closures — Maintenance Crew Member Steve Morris mowing at one of the facilities.
Boerne ISD teamed up with Hill Country Family Services and The Rainbow Center at Kronkosky Place on Good Friday to serve meals to students on the district holiday. TRC’s Colleen Housley, along with BISD School Nurses Linda Laing, Jennifer Agarwal and Lesha Penny, were ready to serve meals to BISD students.
Herff Elementary Packet Pick-Up, L to R: Jennifer Agarwal (Nurse), Lili Cunningham (1st grade teacher), Candice Wheeler (3rd grade teacher), Dianna Simmons (Kinder teacher)
Kendall Elementary’s PE Coach, Jason McLaughlin, guided Tuesday and Thursday workouts.
Voss Middle School Packet Pick-Up: Nurse Michelle Humphries and Counselor Denisse Nipper