#KCGreatSchools Houston Visit Day Two

Lessons from Day Two

What an incredible day in Houston! Our group had the pleasure of visiting four schools: Energy Institute High School, Mandarin Immersion Magnet School, Heights High School, and Herrera Elementary School. Here are the highlights:

Energy Institute High School

  • Opened in 2013 with 200 ninth graders
  • True Magnet School: Open enrollment (no entrance requirements)
  • 68% free and reduced lunch
  • Project-Based Learning (PBL), Technology Integration, and Industry Partnerships are three main initiatives
  • Bell-less daily schedule
  • Excellent partnerships with energy companies such as BP

Mandarin Immersion Magnet School

  • Pre-K through Sixth Grade
  • Received 500 applications for 88 spots
  • More than half of students bring their own lunch
  • Lottery enrollment
  • Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) purchased Chromebooks for sixth graders
  • Building design based on Chinese characters for “sun” and “moon”

Heights High School

  • Formerly known John H Reagan High School (named after Postmaster General of the Confederacy)
  • Name changed in 2016
  • Built in 1926, renovated in 2006
  • School is split into five smaller learning communities (academies): transportation, business, health science, computer science/engineering, technology magnet
  • Has an International Baccalaureate (IB) program
  • Each academy has corporate/community partners including: BP, Deloitte, Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Hospital
  • Used to be a low-performing school
  • 2,400 students

Herrera Elementary School

  • Dual language (Spanish & English), IB, Technology Magnet
  • 900 kids, 98% Hispanic, 50% bilingual
  • 1 pig (Ozzie), 2 goats (Jesse & Billy), 1 peacock, and several chickens live in courtyard

Houston & HISD Overall Lessons

  • Houstonians consider their city “the energy capital of the world”
  • “Maker Studios” are a big deal in Houston schools
  • HISD is proposing free lunch for all students for the upcoming school year. Breakfast is already free
  • HISD High School principals have autonomy on how they choose to run their schools
  • 86% of students in HISD are on free and reduced lunch
  • HISD has 65 dual language programs (more than Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio combined)
  • In addition to the Mandarin Immersion Magnet School, HISD also has Spanish, French, and Arabic immersion schools
  • HISD has 50 Magnet programs
  • Texas schools have Site Based Decision-Making Committees (SBDC)
  • No teacher unions in Texas; Right to Work state
  • Every high school in HISD has a college counselor on site
  • Texas under-produced 22,000 teachers last year
  • HISD is the seventh largest school district in the country
  • 80% of school districts in Texas have less than 5,000 students
  • HISD has 23 IB schools, 15 of which are elementary schools

 Notable Quotes  

“Make many little principals.”~ Lori Lambropoulos, principal at Energy Institute, on how she delegates

“My ‘class’ is bigger here.”~ ChaoLin Chang, principal at Mandarin, on his transition from teacher to administrator

“You’re running a small elementary school.”~ Connie Berger, principal at Heights, instructing her five academy principals on how connected they should be to their students

“Make HISD great again!”~ Adam Stephens, HISD Officer for Innovative Curriculum, joking about the current political climate

“Somebody lied and they told me it was going to stay small.”~ Christopher Carnes, principal at Herrera, on Ozzie, the pig

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