Patricia Hawke asked:
On the evening of August 31, a meeting was held for the parents, students, teachers, staff, business partners, and other community members of McReynolds Middle School, a member of the Houston schools that is located on the east side of the city. Hundreds of people filled the school’s auditorium, leaving standing room only.
McReynolds, along with Houston schools Kashmere and Sam Houston, will be closed next spring, if they do not improve their state rankings. McReynolds has been ranked “academically unacceptable” by the state for three consecutive years. It has been given the 2006-2007 school year to be rated at least “academically acceptable”.
The meeting concerned the 2006-2007 plans to improve McReynolds’ state rating. Speakers included school and district leaders, with Houston Schools Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra, Board of Education President Diana Davila, and First Vice President Manuel Rodriguez representing the Houston Schools district.
The purpose of the meeting was to educate the community on measures being taken to save the school from closing next year, solicit feedback from the public and all concerned, discuss what still needs to be done, and to elicit help, support and involvement from the community.
The Houston schools installed Jorge Arredondo in 2005 as the school’s principal. Though his first time as principal, student progress increased significantly in the 2005-2006 school year over the previous one. McReynolds experienced a significant improvement in the areas of math, reading and writing, earning a “recognized” status from the state in both the areas of reading and writing. Additionally, the number of students increased for receiving a “commended” status from the state on their excellent performance on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test.
Arredondo gives credit to his staff for the improvements, but he had already implemented many changes during the 2006-2007 school year that supported both students and teachers. Some examples:
â€¢ Full-time mentors were assigned to new teachers;
â€¢ The “bear (school’s mascot) team time” was created to provide additional TAKS support to targeted students; and
â€¢ New staff was added â€” 22 new teachers, two new assistant principals, and another bilingual counselor.
During Arredondo’s discussion, he reiterated his commitment to the McReynolds, saying he expects greatness from his Houston schools students. He acknowledged his belief that “how much educators care about them” is more important to the Houston schools children, citing his own experience with middle school teachers “who never gave up on him” and cared what happened to him. He also expressed his belief that all of McReynolds teachers and staff care deeply about their Houston schools students and want them all to succeed.
Houston schools superintendent Saavedra ended his speech by urging everyone in the McReynolds community to get involved as mentors, volunteers or in other equally valuable roles. Saavedra expressed his confidence in Arredondo and the success of the school during the 2006-2007 school year under Arredondo’s guidance and leadership. Saavedra finished by giving Arredondo his full support, saying, “Whatever he needs, we will do.”