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Community and Student Engagement

Each week, an RISD campus program or department is featured in an article in The Rockdale Reporter.  You can view the past articles here.


2019 Sept 19: RJH HERO

This week Rockdale Junior High has new program on their campus, and RJH Principal Kelly Blair would like to share information regarding this great new program.

Rockdale Junior High is excited to announce the launch of a new communication tool for staff, students, and parents.  Hero K12 provides an online platform in which families can track student progress in real time. The program is widely utilized to reinforcement positive behaviors.  RJH staff met throughout the summer identifying targeted behaviors for success in the classroom including: completed homework, prepared for class, completed classwork, and going above and beyond for others.  Any time a student exhibits these behaviors, they receive a Hero point issued through the Hero K12 app. Students also receive points for attending tutorials, meeting individual academic goals, and being respectful.  Each Friday, students review point totals and redeem them for prizes at the HERO store during lunch. This week we offered free ice cream coupons, free admission to a home game, and an opportunity for lunch outside. Students were eagerly waiting in line to check their point totals and cash in for a special treat.  A campus leaderboard is visible in the commons, graphing grade level totals for each week of the grading cycle. The grade level with the most points each six weeks will receive a special event during the school day. Individual students are recognized as the “Hero Top 10” through the digital marquee and morning announcements.  Teachers also have classroom specific rewards that are redeemable at any time. In addition to promoting positive behavior, Hero also provides a platform for tracking campus wide infractions. Over the summer, teachers identified infractions including: tardy to class, missing assignments, disruptive and disrespectful behavior. Anytime a student receives multiple infractions, a parent receives a notification through the Hero app.  All student activity can be reviewed on the student dashboard at any time. Hero K12 has proven to be an effective communication tool, providing a campus-wide tool for progress monitoring to ensure consistent expectations from class to class.

2019 May 22: Rockdale Welding program part of successful Texas High School Welding Series

Rockdale ISD has had a another great year in a number of various programs and departments. This being the last column for the 2018-19 school year, Mrs. Britina Pesak RISD Career and Technology Education (CTE), has the opportunity to share the successes of yet another program Rockdale High School Students have been a part in its first year.

This year, the Texas High School Welding Series (THSWS) was initiated to raise awareness of career and technical education and honor the excellence of schools’ programs and individual students. Students from high schools across multiple school districts competed in welding skills for trophies and prizes. In addition, through the competition students earned certifications based off of American Welding Society (AWS) Standards. Seven competitions were held at locations from Rockdale to Houston throughout the school year. The contests started at a baseline, but were divided into three levels, and increased in difficultly throughout the year as students practiced their skills in the classroom and welding laboratory. The competitions covered cutting, welding in three different positions and non-destructive testing, and a written examination that covered safety, welding theory and understanding, and tool identification.

Schools involved in the planning of the series included Rockdale, Columbus, Cypress Ridge, Klein Forest, Brenham, Giddings, Jersey Village, and Morton Ranch. Over 400 individual students participated in THSWS competitions with over 60 earning AWS certifications. On Thursday, May 16, the Awards Ceremony for the Series was held at Cypress Ridge High School where the Top 10 Students in each event were awarded plaques and belt buckles for their accomplishments. Rockdale High School students were very successful in this inaugural year, with Junior Cody Vance earning 2nd place in the Cutting Contest as well as his AWS certification, Andrew Mulac earning 10th in the Quiz and Tool Identification contest, Joseph Nieto earning 5th place in Level 1, Dalton Hubnik earning 7th in the Cutting Contest and his AWS certification.

The series was the brainchild of high school welding instructors and members of industry who realized that building relationships between students interested in welding careers and employers is important to bridging the skills gap. Individual welding contests have been hosted in the area for several years, but coming together to work as a team has more benefits for both students and employers. The series could not happen without the support of industry sponsors. Locally, the series is supported and sponsored by Perry and Perry Builders, Rockdale Welding Supply, and Servicing Welders Across Texas (S.W.A.T). The entire list of sponsors, which is growing every day, as well as results and photos from each contest, can be found at

Please contact Britina Pesak, Director of CTE (Career and Technical Education) at or 512-430-6140, ext. 1021 if you would like to find out more about the Texas High School Welding Series or any of the CTE programs available at Rockdale ISD!

2019 May 15: RISD iTigers

The Rockdale iTigers Program is winding down their 2018-19 regular school program, and have some helpful pointers for parents for the end of the year. However, the end of the regular school year means the beginning of RISD Summer School. Rockdale High School’s iTiger Coordinator has info on both the end and beginning.

We are in the final stretch of the school year. Testing, celebrations, graduations and many activities are upon us as the school year comes to a fast end. We want to remind our students and parents that the last day of the iTigers Spring Semester is on May 16th for the after school program and May 17th for the before school program.  Along with schedule reminders, we want to encourage your students to be prepared as many testing assessments will follow in these coming weeks.

Please encourage your students to stay for tutorials, homework help and any testing assistance through May 16th. It is important to have every opportunity to enhance their skills and review any information with their teachers. Along with testing comes testing anxiety. Here are a few tips we would like to share to possibly aid in easing some of the anxiety for your student and help boost their testing confidence.

  1. Get a good night’s sleep. Try not to fall asleep with the TV or radio on.
  2. Eat a nutritious breakfast. Look for foods that offer a steady stream of nutrients.  
  3.  Prepare. Attend tutorials, test help or study groups prior to testing dates.
  4. Have a positive mental attitude. Encouraging words or actions prior to a test help boost mood.
  5. Read all testing material carefully and pace yourself.  It’s okay to take your time reading the details.
  6. Just start. Sometimes overthinking the whole exam causes the anxiety. Just start and do your best!

iTigers is committed to providing invaluable opportunities, throughout the year, for students to have an environment where they can learn, have fun while learning and empower their academic strengths. iTigers strives to provide academic enrichment, social/emotional enrichment and college and career readiness at all our campuses.   For example, at RHS, iTigers have earned their food handler’s certifications through the Milam County AgriLife Extension. They have attended a 5 week workshop series called “Spring into the Future” where they partnered with Workforce Solutions of Central Texas, RISD PTO and Mr. Clement, CPA to learn about job search skills, budgeting, resume building, and filling out an application. Several iTigers also attended the CPR certification course, and we just had 23 students complete the Driver’s Education Course this Spring Semester.

iTigers doesn’t just provide learning opportunities and enrichments during the school year but in the Summer too! We are excited to announce a partnership with YMCA and Camp Gladiator of Rockdale for some fun enrichment opportunities coming to RES, RIS, RJH and RHS for both students and parents during the summer school session. The summer feeding program will be in full effect. Kids eat free! Please contact your campus coordinator for more information, schedules and summer school times.

Lastly, please go to our iTigers Facebook page and give us a “Like.” We have attached parent survey links to our page.  Please help us by filling one out. We look forward to your feedback, as it is used to improve our programs.

2019 May 8: RJH End of Year Celebrations

The end of a school is always exciting, but also hectic for students, teachers and parents. It is even more so for our 2nd grade, 8th grade and Senior students who are moving to the next campus, college or even lifelong career. In any case, this week Rockdale Junior High Principal Ms. Kelly Blair has some exciting news of her own regarding the end of year celebrations at RJH.

Rockdale Junior High wants to celebrate a successful year for staff and students.  On Wednesday, May 22nd, we will celebrate students during our End of Year Awards Assemblies for 6th and 7th Grade.  Each teacher will recognize one student who has exhibited academic excellence for the entire school year.  We will also recognize students with perfect attendance and All A’s for the year. The 6th Grade Assembly is scheduled for 8:30 AM to be followed by 7th Grade at 9:30 AM.

Upon completion of the Awards Assemblies, we will finish the day with the 1st annual End of Year student celebration.  From 11:30-3:30, students rotate through a variety of activity stations including a rolling indoor game truck, water balloon battleship, kickball slip-n-slide, an escape room, tug of war, face painting, open gym, and movies.  Students with no referrals during the dates of April 22nd - May 17th and passing all classes for the 6th six weeks are eligible to attend.  

Finally, we will honor the 8th Grade graduating class on Thursday, May 23rd beginning with a promotion breakfast at 8:30, followed by the ceremony at 10:00 AM.  The Salutatorian and Valedictorian will address the 2019 graduates followed by the presentation of certificates from the Rockdale Junior High administration.   

2019 May 1: Summer Vacation and Summer School

It is hard to believe the 2018-19 school year is almost over, and summer time is just around the corner. This week Mrs. Kathy Pelzel has some very interesting information regarding summer vacation, and RISD's summer school.

It is commonly believed that students had summer vacation a century ago in order to ensure their farming parents had the help they needed at home. This is actually incorrect. Throughout the 1800’s schools were open during the winter and summer because farm help was needed during spring planting and fall harvest. Our current tradition of summer vacation began in the 1930’s. The reasoning was experts at the time believed that the mental exertion of learning would cause brain injury if it was prolonged. Of course today we know this is not true but the tradition continues.

In today’s world a much greater number of families have both parents working full time. This makes summer vacation a struggle to provide childcare. Students, and low income students in particular, are more likely to be left in self care. This means a lot of screen time in front of a computer, tablet, or television. This leaves the students vulnerable to summer learning loss, boredom, and high risk behaviors. In fact today the need for summer education far outstrips the ability of school districts.

Studies show that students experience a loss of knowledge and skills over the summer break due to the lack of mental exercise. The effects are more significant for low income students which serves to widen the learning gap between low and high income students over time. Teachers lose a month of class time at the beginning of each academic year refreshing students on the things they have “forgotten” over the three month period. Some students don’t recover this knowledge as quickly as others so they struggle through the beginning of each school year.

RISD does offer summer education for our students. This time is used for credit recovery and remediation. For students who catch up to their peers during this time, it allows teachers to reinforce skills thereby minimizing the typical summer losses. High income students typically make slight gains in reading skills during the summer where low income students usually have a loss. Summer education programs allow students to close this gap and be fully prepared for the next school year.

2019 Apr 24: RHS Advanced Placement Courses

Rockdale ISD is well on our way into the last six weeks of our school year. We have already had our Junior/Senior Prom, and our Class of 2019 will soon receive their diplomas. Planning for our next school year has begun, and this week, RHS Principal Mrs. Tiffany Whitsel has some important tips for high school students who are considering Advanced Placement courses for 2019-20.  

It is the time of year where we are working on student schedules for next year.  Parents and students often ask how they know if they should take an Advanced Placement (AP) course.  Below is more information about Advanced Placement courses and the benefits:

Stand Out in College Admissions

Deciding to take an AP course lets colleges know that you have what it takes to succeed in an undergraduate environment. When admissions officers see “AP” on your transcript, they know that what you experienced in a particular class has prepared you well for the challenges of college. Taking AP is a sign that you’re up for the most rigorous classes your high school has to offer.

Earn College Credits

By taking an AP course and scoring successfully on the related AP Exam, you can save on college expenses: most colleges and universities nationwide offer college credit, advanced placement, or both, for qualifying AP Exam scores. These credits can allow students to save college tuition, study abroad, or secure a second major.

Skip Introductory Classes

If you already know your preferred college major, taking a related AP course and earning a qualifying score on the AP Exam can help you advance and avoid required introductory courses so you can move directly into upper-level classes and focus on the work that interests you most.

Even taking an AP Exam unrelated to your major – whether or not you know what you want to major in – can place you beyond your college’s general education requirements. This opens up additional time on your schedule, enabling you to do a second major or minor, take electives, or pursue additional interests.

Build College Skills

Taking an AP course builds the skills you'll need throughout your college years. You give your mind a rigorous workout while polishing up your time management and study skills. You also get better at handling challenging issues and problems, with the support of your AP teachers. AP courses let you know what to expect during the next phase of your educational journey, and help you build the confidence to succeed.

Student enrollment in Advanced Placement classes is just one way that Rockdale High School is preparing students for College and Career Readiness.

2019 Apr 17: Pre K and Kinder Round-up

Rockdale Elementary has the Spot Light this week and RES Principal Alesha Eoff has some very important information regarding the annual Pre-K and Kindergarten Roundup coming up next week.

Rockdale Elementary School would like to tell you about an exciting event that we are offering this year.  This year our Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten students will have our annual PreKindergarden and Kindergarden Round Up at the Rockdale Elementary Cafeteria.  The big event will be Tuesday, April 23rd from 3:45-5:45.  All children that will be four years old before September 1, 2019 will be eligible to register for Pre-Kindergarten, and all children that will be five years old before September 1, 2019 will be able to register for Kindergarten.  To register, you must present:

*an official Birth Certificate

*Social Security Card

*Immunization Record

*Proof of Residency (utility bill)

*Parent Driver’s License

*Proof of Income (Pre-K students only)

Childcare will be provided from so that parents may fill out paperwork.  This will be a great opportunity for your little ones to meet their teachers and aides, and start to become familiar with them.  We are also grateful that the Milam County Health Department will be available along with the Milam County WIC program.

We have an amazing Pre-Kindergarten program at Rockdale Elementary.  Not only do we have excellent teachers, but also we are fortunate to use a curriculum aligned with the Prekindergarten Guidelines.  We have increased prekindergarten teacher training and/or qualifications, implemented student progress monitoring, provide kindergarten readiness results, and developed quality family engagement plans. Our teachers have worked very hard this year planning and training, attending professional development, progress monitoring our children every six weeks, and implementing the TEA approved curriculum guidelines.  Our teachers have also worked on several parent and community engagement activities to work on building support for our students.

The mission of the Pre-K program is to empower, motivate and encourage life-long learners by providing a foundation that nurtures the student’s social, emotional and academic needs. Pre-K is an excellent opportunity for our young learners. Having an extra year to develop a foundation and learn about school is a powerful opportunity for students.  It is our goal to provide a challenging and engaging curriculum for all students in our Pre-K program. A high-quality pre-kindergarten program impacts the education of four and five year old children in many positive ways.  Research has shown that Pre-K impacts the lives of our students in these ways:  it improves the overall educational outcomes for a community, helps children to learn and read on grade-level, makes them less likely to fall behind their classmates in academics, and drastically improves the likelihood that they will graduate high school and attend college.

    Our Pre-Kindergarten program embraces and celebrates the diversity of our youngest learners through a variety of hands-on extracurricular activities.  To date, some of these activities include the Pre-K Rockin’ Rodeo, annual Thanksgiving Extravaganza, STEM activities (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math integrated activities), community field trips, and various family involvement projects.  Activites and events the students are involved in are the annual QU wedding, Field Day, trip to Crowe’s Nest Farm, and Water Day.

Our Pre-K students and teachers celebrate personal and academic milestones, such as birthdays and the 50th and 100th days of school.  Our students and teachers work collaboratively to set academic and social goals and to celebrate individual and class successes.  There’s no doubt about it, Pre-Kindergarten at R.E.S. ROCKS!

We would like to invite you to come visit our campus for a tour of our Pre-K classrooms.  I think you will be impressed with the quality of instruction, and the nurturing environment that our teachers provide for our students.  I would like to encourage all parents of children ages 4 and 5 to stop by and pre-register during this exciting Round Up event and start your child on the path to success!  We hope to see you all there!

2019 Apr 10: RISD iTigers

The Rockdale ISD iTigers program will be ending by the middle of next month, however they will be up and running again soon after for their summer program which begins by the end of May. RES iTigers Coordinator Mrs. Valarie Willingham as more information below.

iTigers will soon be wrapping up our spring session at Rockdale ISD and we are looking forward to get our summer session started.  We currently offer after school homework help and tutorials, after school enrichment activities, and before school homework help. We even offer parent classes such as English Language Learners, CPR certification courses, and continuing education classes all free of charge. The iTigers program is proud to serve the needs of our RISD students and parents.  We are excited to share a few upcoming dates for students, parents, and our community.

Look for iTigers at the Community Easter Egg Hunt April 19th at Fair Park starting at 10:00 am.  We will have buckets for kids to decorate before the hunt.

If you are interested in being a part of the iTigers Advisory Committee please contact the site coordinator at your child’s campus.  We would love to hear what you want from the iTigers program for yourself and your students.

The last day for after school iTigers classes for the spring semester will be Thursday, May 16th and the last day for morning iTigers classes will be Friday, May 17th.  This is for all campuses so please make other arrangements for your students after these dates.

Summer iTigers classes will begin Tuesday, May 28th and will continue until Thursday, June 27th.  For more information please contact the iTigers coordinator at your student’s campus.

2019 Mar 25: RJH Happenings

Rockdale Junior High is in high gear this Spring whether it is preparing for STAAR Testing, providing additional support for their School Library by holding a Book Fair, displaying Art during their Annual Art Fair or having fun with Science as students and parents enjoy their Science Fair. Rockdale Junior High Principal Kelly Blair has much more to share regarding exciting things happening at RJH this week.

8th Grade “Blitz” Review:  RJH held an 8th grade parent meeting on Thursday of last week to discuss State of Texas Assessments of Academics testing (STAAR).  Parents received a detailed analysis of Math, Reading, Science, and Social Studies Benchmark scores. Teachers also prepared review materials and take home resources for each family in attendance.  As part of the final review before testing, 8th grade students will participate in a STAAR "Blitz" which will review math and reading concepts from March 25-April 5.  All 8th grade students will be grouped according to learning standards and rotate through stations facilitated by core and elective teachers as part of their STAAR review.  Students will compete in teams based on online assignments submitted through Google classroom. Each rotation will begin with a Science or Social studies mini lesson. Each day will include an activity period consisting of physical activity in the gym or outside. The first round of STAAR testing begins the week of April 8th.  

8th Grade Math - April 9th

8th grade Reading - April 10th

Algebra I EOC – May 6th

8th Grade Science – May 15th

8th Grade Social Studies – May 16th


Scholastic Book Fair:   Students will host a special Book Fair from Scholastic on March 25-29, 2019.  The Book Fair will feature a wide range of books for all ages, including mystery and adventure novels, fantasy series, sports guides, graphic novels, and the latest bestsellers from more than 100 publishers. Parents, children, teachers, and the community are invited to attend.  

Art, Science, & Book Fair Family Night:  RJH will host the annual Art & Science Family nigh on Thursday, March 28th from 5:00-7:30 PM.  Students and family members are encouraged at attend where they will vote on student created art pieces.  Additionally, every 30 minutes will feature a STEM activity in which students will work in groups to problem solve using creative solutions.

2019 Mar 13: Effective Sleep Habits

Yawning as I am writing this intro.....Sometimes we as adults find it difficult to get enough sleep during the week or even on weekends. In my youth, I wanted to stay up until midnight and sleep until noon if allowed, but of course that never happened. In the last 20 years, I’m doing good if I make it to 7am no matter what time I went to bed! This week Ms. Alesha Eoff, RES Principal has some valuable information regarding sleep habits for our younger students, and how it impacts learning.

Ask any elementary teacher around, and they will tell you how important that it is for child to get a good night’s sleep.  Unfortunately, a lot of our students come to school without a proper night’s sleep. When researching what is the recommended amount, the following was found:  

Preschool Students (3-5 years) are recommended to have 10 to 13 hours of sleep a night.

Elementary Grade Level Students (6-13 years) are recommend to have 9 to 11 hours of sleep.  

Babies, Children, and pre-teens need significantly more sleep than adults to support their rapid brain and physical development.  Children, unlike adults, don’t necessarily slow down when they get insufficient sleep. Often, they wind up and improper sleep can look very similar to hyperactivity.  This can make evenings difficult for parents, or can make the morning routines difficult and it can carry over into the school setting. Most parents feel that sleep directly affects mood, but research has found that lack of sleep has a big impact on learning and behavior.  In addition, pediatric researchers state that sleep is essential for good health and may lower the risk of becoming overweight and developing diabetes as well as other learning problems and attention issues.  Researchers have found that sleep allows the brain to flush out disease-causing toxins and some believe that it is as important as proper nutrition and exercise for the overall health and well-being of the child.  

There are ways that you can set the stage for a good night’s sleep for your child.  Most children should aim to have a bedtime around 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Providing a consistent bedtime and wind down routine such as taking a warm bath, brushing teeth, reading a book with a family member, or simply talking about the day will help to calm the child and prepare them for sleep.  Ideally, the wind down time should be without electronics or screen time from tablets, phones, gaming systems, or TV. Research also suggests that as little as two hours of light generated by tablets and computers before bedtime can reduce melatonin, a chemical that occurs naturally at night that signals the body to sleep, by twenty –two percent.  Often we are busy with after school activities, work, practice schedules, or other things that get in the way of a maintaining a consistent early bedtime, but it is key to helping your child develop good sleeping habits. Setting a solid nightly routine is especially helpful for preschoolers, who are transitioning away from naps. They are often especially tired, and a good night’s sleep helps them at home and at school.  If your child is dozing off in the car, on the bus, or on the couch while watching tv, it is likely they are not resting enough at night. Try to purposefully develop a consistent, early bedtime to help set your child off on the path to success. Their brains, bodies, and teachers will thank you for it!

2019 Mar 6: How to Balance Your Time in High School

This week Mrs. Tiffany Whitsel has tips for how high school students can balance their time due to the various activities they can be involved while in high school.


With so many different components to consider in applying to college GPA, test scores, extra-curricularsessays  it’s difficult to know how exactly how much time should go into each. It’s important to take a challenging course load, but earning good grades in challenging courses can be extremely time consuming. Heavy involvement and leadership positions strengthen your application, but between club meetings, volunteer activities, and out-of-town competitions, there’s very little time left for school. Factor in studying for standardized tests, having a social life, and getting enough sleep, and you may feel like you have no free time at all!


There’s so much to juggle in high school if you’re serious about being admitted to a tier-one university, which is only complicated by the fact that you don’t just need to perform respectably in every area to gain admission – you need to excel. The mistake many students make is that they fail to balance their time, devoting excessive energy and hours to schoolwork or extra-curriculars or studying without taking the time to fully develop other, neglected components of their applications. This can be disastrous when it comes time to report your shaky GPA or (lack of) extracurricular activities on college applications.


A mistake many students make is overloading their schedules with difficult classes in the race for the perfect GPA or the honor of being named valedictorian. While taking 5 AP classes, might seem like a foolproof way to impress a college, it can hurt more than help. Devoting all your time to one aspect of your application, your GPA and class rank, leaves other, equally important factors neglected and results in an application that ultimately seems one-sided.


Another common mistake is overcommitting to extra-curriculars and allowing academic performance to suffer. Being a dedicated, passionate member of a club takes time; being a dedicated, passionate member of 5 clubs takes 5 times as much time; being a dedicated, passionate leader of 5 clubs can take up all your time. Demonstrating involvement and leadership in multiple activities is important, but you shouldn’t be so involved in extra-curriculars that your grades take a hit as a result. Grades aren’t the only thing that can slip when you overcommit to activities; membership or leadership positions in too many clubs, teams, or activities compromises the quality of the work you put into each of them. If you’re struggling just to complete the minimal requirements for each activity, that’s a red flag that you’re spreading yourself too thin. It’s smarter to seriously commit to only a few activities and perform at your best than complete subpar work in many because you don’t have sufficient time to devote to each of them. It’s easy to get caught up in a tough schedule or overcommit to extra-curriculars without even realizing it.


Understand the Returns. Class rank and GPA don’t matter a whole lot beyond a certain point. The difference between a 4.4 and a 4.5 GPA; either way you’ll have demonstrated significant academic aptitude and a capability to complete college level work. The effort you spend jumping your class rank by 2 spots could be better spent on developing your extra-curriculars, applying to scholarships.


Choose a few activities and stick to them. The quality of involvement is more important than the quantity. Don’t join groups just because you think they’ll look good on college applications, and don’t apply for leadership positions just because there’s an opening. Pursue lengthy, meaningful commitments to groups you actually care about and that are relevant to your potential major or career field. If you’re involved in too many activities at once and you can tell that the quality of the work you’re putting into each is dropping, don’t be afraid to reprioritize and drop one or more activities.


Utilize your summers. Summers provide an excellent opportunity to compensate for areas of weakness in previous years. If you had an extremely rigorous schedule and excellent grades the previous year, but your extracurricular involvements were scanty, consider spending your summer volunteering or interning to build your resume. If your extra-curriculars were strong, but your GPA wasn’t, academic tutoring for the classes you’ll take in the fall can boost your GPA. Taking a challenging class or two at your local community college that are relevant to your academic interests can also help the academic component of your application. If you have summer homework, use the few months to begin developing habits that will bring you success during the school year and ensure your initial grades for your classes will be strong. Not putting off all your work until the week before going back to school is a good start!


Get organized. Time management is one of the most important skills you’ll learn in school and in your career. Find a system that works for you a planner, calendar on your phone, or a to-do list and document your academic and extra-curricular responsibilities. Remembering homework assignments, test dates, and deadlines for major assignments can be overwhelming, and writing or typing it all down is a smart way to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. Scheduling out your time is also a great way to hold yourself accountable and to ensure you don’t spend an undue amount of time on any one task.


Give yourself a break. While this article is about how to balance school and extra-curriculars, these shouldn’t fill your every waking moment. Give yourself to spend time with family and friends, to develop hobbies, to think about things other than school or college! If you don’t allow yourself reasonable breaks and a decent amount of sleep, you won’t be able to perform at your best in school or in extra-curricular activities

2019 Feb 25: Celebrating CTE Month

For the Rockdale ISD column this week, Mrs. Britina Pesak has the opportunity to give us a run down on the Career and Technical Education program she heads up, and how our school district and community benefits from this vital part of education.

Students and faculty at Rockdale ISD have joined others across the nation during the month of February to celebrate national Career and Technical Education (CTE) MonthTM.  This year’s theme is “Celebrate Today, Own Tomorrow.” CTE Month provides CTE programs across the country an opportunity to demonstrate how CTE educates students to be college- and career- ready and prepares them for high-wage, high-demand career fields.

CTE programs are based on the most current industry skill standards.  Students who complete CTE programs in high school gain valuable experience in the workplace and can earn industry-based certifications and licenses.  Many colleges partner with CTE programs and award college credit to high school students. CTE programs even help college students acquire skills and knowledge needed in cutting edge career fields AND acquire new or advanced skills in an existing career path.  CTE courses offer rigor and relevance in a way that really connects with students. By partnering with the business community, we are investing in students’ lives with the latest technology and skills that will prepare them to become successful employees as well as future leaders.

Approximately 94% percent of high school students and 13 million postsecondary students are engaged in CTE courses in the United States.  This includes students in high schools, career centers, community and technical colleges, four-year universities and technical trade schools.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly one-third of the fastest growing occupations will require an associate’s degree or a postsecondary technical certification.  At a time when opportunity for employment is so critical, CTE programs in every community are ensuring students are adequately equipped with the necessary skills and education to successfully enter the workforce.  The student leadership organizations that correspond with these programs (FFA, SkillsUSA, HOSA) each provide a unique opportunity for students to practice their college- and career- ready skills through in-class of out-of-class activities and programs.

CTE is a powerful motivator for Rockdale’s young people and a valuable part of the Texas economy. When students can see a pathway from classrooms to careers, they are more likely to graduate high school with the skills and experience they need to succeed and to help our businesses succeed.

Please contact me, Britina Pesak, Director of CTE (Career and Technical Education) at or 512-430-6027 if you would like to find out more about any of our CTE programs!

2019 Feb 18: RHS iTigers (ACE) Program Update

Martha Gonzales, RHS iTigers (ACE) Program Coordinator, would like to give us an update on what is happening with the Rockdale ISD iTigers program. The program coordinators on each campus welcome any comments or suggestions to make their program even more successful, so please be sure to attend their monthly ACE/iTigers Parent and Community Advisory Committee meetings to share or provide input to their programs.

iTigers is in full gear for our second semester.  Testing preparation, intensive tutorials and homework help are being held before and after school at our campuses. Our iTigers program strives to give our participants every opportunity possible to aid their preparedness in their school day classroom and end of year testing. Please encourage your student to attend these academic enrichment opportunities.  iTigers would also like to remind you that our spring program runs through May 17th.   If your student is in need of after school bus transportation, this semester, please contact your campus coordinator as soon as possible.

This month, the iTigers program is highlighting our parent involvement activities.  Are you aware that we have an ACE/iTIgers Parent and Community Advisory Committee? Our parents are always invited to attend these meeting each month. We provide guest speakers, information, resources, as well as, seeking feedback and suggestions on how we can make our program better.  This past month’s meeting was held on February 5, 2019. Parents and community members were provided information by several guest speakers. These speakers included Ed2Go- Temple College, RISD PTO and RISD Food Services. Each of our speakers discussed valuable information and gave examples on how their services help our students and parents.  Specifically, ED2Go Temple’s representative speaker, Ms. Tonda Turner, explained in detail, the online courses offered through Ed2Go- Temple College. These courses are available to our iTigers parents/guardians this semester and a handful of scholarships are available. RISD Food Services, Ms. Wheeler, discussed the meal and snack plan offered to our students after school. Please encourage your student to partake in the snack or meal provided at iTigers.   If you are interested in finding out more about these meals/snacks, please contact your campus coordinator.

In addition, iTigers will also be working closely with PTO to offer many more opportunities for our parents to get involved in our after school programs.  Watch our iTigers Facebook Page, PTO page and your student’s campus page, for these exciting events. The list below, features our current opportunities for parents/ guardians of iTiger students. Please sign up, take advantage of these opportunities, and help us reach our parent involvement goals.

  1. ESL- Mondays at Rockdale Elementary School- Ms. Orozco. 6:00-8:00pm.
  2. Adult Knitting- Monday’s -5:15-6:15pm @RHS.
  3. CPR Classes- Wednesdays for 4 weeks, starting February 13, 2019. 3:30-4:30pm @RHS.
  4. Parent and Community Advisory Committee- Our next meeting is March 5th, 5:30- 6:30pm @RHS.
  5. iTigers, PTO, and Texas Workforce collaboration event for RHS Students. “Spring into the Future.”  Tools you need to succeed outside of high school. Be on the lookout for dates and times.
  6. ED2Go- Temple College Online Courses. Continuing Education. – Contact Campus Coordinator.

We hope to see you at our next meeting. If you would like to get enrolled in these classes, or would like to volunteer for any of our upcoming events, please contact your iTigers Coordinator, below is their contact information:

Valarie Willingham-Rockdale Elementary- 512-430-6030 x5130.

Sandy Robbins-Rockdale Intermediate- 512-430-6200 x4130

Leesa Perez- Rockdale Junior High- 512-430-6100 x3130

Martha Gonzales- Rockdale High School -512-430- 6140 x2130

2019 Feb 11: Planning for High School

This week Ms. Kelly Blair, RJH Principal, would like to share information regarding the Lunch and Learn Program her students will benefit from during the upcoming weeks. See attached.

It’s never too early for students to start planning for high school, college and career options.  At Rockdale Junior High, we are launching a new program in partnership with Perry and Perry construction that will provide students with valuable life skills for their future.  Beginning this week, students will participate in a ‘Lunch and Learn’ session where they will be introduced to a variety of trade skills.  These sessions will continue throughout the year during ‘Lunch and Learn’, with some trade skills being offered after school through our itigers program.  Students will be introduced to basic welding skills, financial planning sessions, interview skills, construction and engineering, sewing, auto mechanics, along with a variety of volunteer service opportunities. The timing of this program could not be better, as our 8th grade students are in the midst of high school course selections, a tour of Temple College, and CTE rounds to explore programs of study at Rockdale High School.  

Students interested in participating in the ‘Lunch and Learn’ and iTigers partnership, can sign up in the RJH front office.  The first session will be held on Wednesday, February 13th from 11:45-12:45.  All 7th and 8th-grade students are encouraged to participate. 

2019 Feb 6: Kids Heart Challenge

Rockdale Intermediate School is conducting a fundraiser and fitness program this month. This program emphasizes the need for cardiovascular fitness and provides a great opportunity for an effective fundraiser to fight deadly heart diseases. Kathy Pelzel, RIS Principal, has important information regarding this national program, and the contribution her campus makes to support this worthy cause.

Kids Heart Challenge, formerly known as Jump Rope For Heart, is an educational fund-raising event. It’s held each year in thousands of elementary schools across the nation by the American Heart Association and the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.  Kids Heart Challenge raises funds for medical research and for programs such as HeartPower! that help prevent heart disease and stroke.  Kids Heart Challenge teaches students the benefits of physical activity, how to keep their heart healthy, and that they can help save lives right in their own community.   Kids Heart Challenge was developed in 1978 and has raised more than $810 million for cardiovascular research and education programs. 

Kids Heart Challenge offers students many benefits by engaging school age children in community service while promoting the benefits of lifelong heart-healthy lifestyles. Rockdale ISD has participated in the program for over 29 years. Our community was very giving last year as Rockdale Intermediate School students raised almost $6454. This year, we have set our goal at $5,000! Please help support our students as they work to meet this goal. Fundraising will begin on Friday, February 1, 2019 and will continue through Friday, February 27, 2019 when our jumping event will take place. Please contact Reagan Fritsche at or 512-430-6200 for more information or to make donations.