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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 Jan 30: RES Student Attendance

During the winter months, we unfortunately have a higher risk of sickness that always has an impact on student attendance and learning. This week Ms. Alesha Eoff, Rockdale Elementary Principal, has the opportunity to share the importance of good student attendance, and tips to help insure your child receives a high quality education by being in school.

As we enter into the second semester, we face the challenge of keeping our students healthy so that they are able to regularly attend school.  Students who regularly attend school have been shown to achieve at higher levels than students who do not have regular attendance. Research shows that attendance plays an integral role in student achievement.

Chronic absenteeism is detrimental at every grade level, but it is especially concerning during the early elementary formative years. Research shows that students who are chronically absent during early elementary grades, when class time is mainly focused on developing the foundations for academic success through math and reading skills, are less likely to be reading on grade level by third grade. It’s difficult for students to build their skills and make adequate progress if they are frequently absent.  Frequent absences result in students falling behind, and produce gaps in the child’s learning. Missing even one or two days can put a student behind in their learning.  This can be not only hurt a child’s future academic success, but may also increase a student’s likelihood of dropping out of high school.  The attendance rate is important because students are more likely to succeed in academics when they attend school consistently.

Another factor that we monitor closely is tardies.  Our students are expected to be in their classrooms ready to learn at 7:50.  At the elementary, we provide breakfast for all students, and if a student comes in late, he or she may miss the opportunity to have breakfast with their class.  When a child comes into class late, especially elementary age children, it throws off their routine. They are often scrambling to find their homework folders, locate assignments, and get settled into class.  This can be avoided by making sure that students arrive on time, and are ready to begin their day at 7:50.

Along with tardies, we also closely monitor students who are taken out of school prior to our dismissal time.  We strongly encourage you to avoid making appointments prior to dismissal. Our learning time is from the time the bell rings in the morning until the students dismiss in the afternoon.  When a child is continually pulled out of the classroom to leave early, it can cause them to miss getting their homework assignments, or cause them to have gaps in certain subjects, or in their learning interventions.  We provide classroom instruction and intervention in the afternoons, and when students are absent or are pulled early for errands or other events, then they are missing quality instructional time.

If your child is ill, we ask that you contact the school so that we can document the reason for their absence.  With flu season upon us, we want to make sure that our children are seen by doctors and that we keep all of our students healthy.  If your child is running fever, or shows signs of the flu, please make sure that they are seen by a doctor, and are fever-free for 24 hours before returning to school.  This will help to keep all of our students and teachers healthy this semester. Also, if the child goes to the doctor or has an appointment, we ask that you provide the school with a note so that we can place it in their file.   At school and at home, we want to encourage frequent hand washing with soap, coughing into their elbows, using tissues, and never drinking or eating after our friends. We appreciate your support in teaching these basic hygiene skills that we model at school.  

Our teachers do a wonderful job of creating a caring school climate for our students, and the students know they are missed when they are not at school.  To further encourage attendance, our teachers provide things such as stickers, treasure chest choices, and other classroom incentives for our students. We have even created classroom competitions to encourage the importance of attending school.  At this age, we know that it is parent support that plays the biggest role in our children having regular attendance. We ask that you work with us to provide our children with the best opportunities to learn and grow so that all of our kids are successful.  

2019 Jan 23: Parental Expectations

When considering our children’s abilities, sometimes it is difficult to determine what their level of performance or success should or will be as they grow and develop. Being a parent of two very different sons, I sometimes struggled to avoid comparisons with both academic and athletic skills. On one hand I wanted/expected high levels in both areas, but on the other hand I knew there were limitations due to their specific abilities.

How important is it to have high expectations for our school aged children? According to a number of specialists it is extremely important to set expectations that are high, but reachable for our children. This is true not only at school, but also at home. Sometimes parents tend to set expectations too high, and their children see themselves as failures and find ways not to perform whether it is in the classroom or in athletics. However, if expectations are too low, our children tend to become bored, uninterested and/or lazy.

Expectations are, and should be, different for each child depending on their abilities. An exceptional athlete who is bored in a P.E. class can still make a good grade, but not reach his or her full potential by not being challenged. However, a student who has difficulty reading will struggle to pass the STARR Reading test due to the standard being too high or out of reach. Neither of these students can be experience their unique level of success due to the inaccurate expectations set for them.

There are many ways parents can provide high but reasonable expectations for their children. First, expect the best from your child keeping in mind his or her abilities and interests. Second, ask children what they expect from themselves, so they can verbalize or say how well they can perform a skill or task. Also, encourage your child to tackle subjects and hobbies that are challenging, but not above their ability levels. Finally, be sure to work with them by spending valuable time helping them to develop confidence and skills to be successful. Parents should always remember to tell their children when they do something well, and avoid being overly negative when they make a mistake or their performance does not meet their expectations.

2019 Jan 16: Rockdale ISD's ACE (iTigers)

The Rockdale Junior High’s ACE (iTigers) Program’s coordinator Leesa Perez has the spotlight this week, and she would like to provide us with important information regarding the iTigers Program at Rockdale ISD. iTigers provides additional instruction and enrichment for our students who may need extra help and support.

Happy New Year from the RISD ACE (iTigers) programs! A new semester is upon us, and the ACE (iTigers) programs on each campus are preparing for after school activities to begin on January 14, 2019. Students and teachers have worked diligently across campuses to make the first part of the year a memorable learning experience.

iTigers would like to remind students and parents that this upcoming semester is critical. The STAAR test is upon us, and teachers will be working in overtime to make sure that students are prepared. Students must be sure to take advantage of tutorials and homework help that are immediately available to them during iTigers hours before and after school.

Once the academic session is over, students may stay for the enrichment activities. Please note that each campus offers different activities, which are designed to meet the needs of that campus’ specific age group. For example, Rockdale High School  ACE (iTigers) is offering Drivers Education Classes, beginning February 4, 2019. Please contact the high school coordinator, Martha Gonzales, for more information. Your child’s campus iTigers coordinator is happy to answer any questions or provide a more detailed list of classes offered on their campus. Coordinators may be reached at the following numbers:

RES- Valarie Willingham- 512-430-6030, 5130

RIS- Sandy Robbins- 512-430-6200, ext. 4130

RJH- Leesa Perez- 512-430- 6100, ext. 3130

RHS- Martha Gonzales- 512-430- 6140, ext. 2130

In addition to activities for students, iTigers hosts events for parents and families, as well! In fact, RJH hosted a Parent/Student painting event before the Winter break. Twelve parents attended with their students, and left with their own piece of beautiful artwork. RJH will host another parent/student painting event this semester. Also, stay tuned for other exciting parent/students events for iTigers families at RJH!

District wide ACE (iTigers) parent events include the following:

~ Adult Knitting Club – beginner to advanced levels – RHS – Mondays, beginning January 28th

~ PELLs (Parent English Language Learners) Class – RES – Mondays, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

~ Parent Advisory Committee – next meeting to be held at RHS Library – February 5 at 5:30 p.m. (light refreshments will be served)

~ Ed2Go classes – contact a campus coordinator for more information on this amazing opportunity!

We are looking forward to a wonderful semester. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your child’s education and well-being!

2019 Jan 9: The Role of Rockdale ISD Career and Technical Education in Improving Local Economy

Opportunities for Rockdale High School students continue to grow each year. The need for skilled labor workers continues to increase, and Rockdale ISD is committed to provide as much as possible to meet the needs for our state and local community. This week Mrs. Britina Pesak has important information regarding the Labor Market for Rockdale as well as the rest of Texas.

According to The Labor Market & Career Information Department (LMCI) of the Texas Workforce Commission, Texas' unemployment rate is at 3.7 percent and holding, a historic low. For Milam County, the percent is only a bit higher, sitting at 4.8 percent (LMCI, 2019). With these small rates, it may seem that jobs would be lucrative, and hard to find with the vast majority of sought after jobs being filled by workers before a notice can be posted. But ask many employers in the area and the job market managers will tell you there are many jobs available. It is skilled employees that are hard to find.

Texas Labor Market Projections for Central Texas for a ten year period expect significant growth in healthcare, information technology, construction, business and administration, education, and manufacturing. All of these areas include not only a significant increase in the number of jobs expected to open annually, but in the percentage of growth as well.

Enter the role of the local High School, a premier college and career readiness curriculum, and Career and Technical Education (CTE). This is not your mother’s first period study hall, and definitely not your father’s wood shop. The rigor of the CTE classroom has been raised to meet the needs of all students to focus on high-skill, high-wage occupations whether that leads to a four-year degree or a 6-month certification post-graduation.

In order to ensure Rockdale ISD is preparing students for post-secondary success in a career in which they can expect to find quality employment, it is important to partner with local businesses and community members to implement high-quality programs.

Our construction and manufacturing (welding) program students often work with local builders to listen to the experts and hone their craft while building road-quality trailers, building tiny homes, and earning industry certifications.

Until recently, our health science students had been observing surgeries, learning patient care, and beginning the final stages of earning the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) certification. With the close of the hospital, we will be seeking other prospects for learning, but are glad to have had the opportunity to work with the Hospital.

In each of the other Program Areas, we also work with great businesses across Rockdale and Milam County to grow our students as citizens and future employees by developing pathways to desired certifications and potential onsite work studies. We believe all of these partnerships are the key to working together to improve the local economy.

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!

SOURCE: Texas Labor Market and Career Information Department online. (January 2019).

2018 Dec 26: RISD's Christmas Round-up Support

Rockdale Christmas Roundup was another huge undertaking again this year, and Rockdale ISD provided it’s much needed support for the success of this event. As in many prior years, students and staff members from all four Rockdale ISD campuses had the opportunity to volunteer or donate food items and cash during our annual Rockdale Christmas Roundup.

The Annual Winter Wonderland & Parent Involvement Night hosted by Rockdale High School with Rockdale Elementary, Rockdale Intermediate School staff members was held on Dec. 4th. A variety of games and fun activities were provided for students along with hot cocoa and cookies. Parents were given the opportunity to receive information on Title I, English as a Second Language, Gifted and Talented, Advanced Placement, Dyslexia, Every Student Succeeds Act, Technology & Food Service. Door Prizes were given away during the event and a 39” LED Smart TV was the major door prize given away at the end of the evening. The winner of the TV was Richard Taylor. This year Winter Wonderland raised $561 in cash and collected over 300 food items donated to Christmas Roundup.

The Rockdale Intermediate School led the way in cash and food donations.  RIS Student Council donated $300 dollars and RIS students donated $106 for a total of $406 in cash for Christmas Roundup. Rockdale Intermediate School Teachers donated $640 dollars in cash in support of Christmas Roundup, so the total of cash donations from the Rockdale Intermediate School was $1,046. Also, the campus collected 115 boxes of Cocoa Mix, 233 boxes of Jello, 422 boxes of Mac & Cheese, 143 Cans of Chicken, 68 cans of corn and 76 cans of Green Beans with a total of 1,072 food items collected. Student Officers from the Early Act First Knight (Sponsored by the Rockdale Rotary Club) and RIS Student Council helped pack boxes on Tuesday December 17th at the KC Hall during Christmas Roundup.

The Rockdale Elementary School took part in a competition that encouraged student donations this year. Collection bins labeled with 3 staff member names Principal Alesha Eoff, Asst. Principal April Eschberger and P.E. Teacher/Coach David Monroe were provided, and the two staff members with the most items in their bins, received a pie in the face. The lucky staff members were Ms. Eoff and Coach Monroe. The food total donations by students were 173 cans of Corn, 214 cans of Green Beans, 67 cans of Chicken and 46 miscellaneous items. The collections began the first week of November with a total of 500 food items collected. Rockdale Elementary School Teachers donated $300 dollars to support Roundup as well.

The Rockdale Junior High campus collected 51 bags of Pinto Beans, 68 bags of Rice, 118 Cornbread Mixes, 32 Cans Chicken and 6 miscellaneous items for a total of 275 food items collected. Members of the Leo Club (Sponsored by the Rockdale Noon Lions Club) sorted and counted food items donated at the junior high, and worked on Tuesday Dec. 17th at the KC Hall to help with the packing of boxes with food and toys. Rockdale Junior High staff members donated $120 in cash for Roundup.

Rockdale High School Peer Assistance Leaders (PALs) assisted with sorting, boxing and counting food items on the Elementary and High School campuses again this year. RHS classes collected 103 Cans of Chicken, 181 Cornbread Mixes, 59 Instant Potatoes and 409 Ramen Noodles with a total of 752 food items collected. The RHS Student Council was another group of students who helped with packing boxes on Tuesday December 17th, and RHS Cheer donated $50 cash to Christmas Roundup this year.

Along with the students, a number of Rockdale ISD Staff Members volunteered throughout the days of Christmas Roundup, and helped make it a huge success again this year. Rockdale ISD donated a total of 2,300 food items and almost $2100 dollars in cash for the 2018 Rockdale Christmas Roundup. Rockdale ISD appreciates the opportunity to give back to our community especially during this time of year.

The Christmas Holidays are always very special for the staff and students of Rockdale ISD as we have the chance to spend time with our families and friends. Our holidays began on Monday December 24, 2018 and will end on Friday January 4, 2019. On Monday January 7th, staff members will be back at work for a Professional Development Day, and on Tuesday January 8th, staff members will report for a Work Day. Students will return to regular classes on Wednesday January 9, 2019.

On behalf of the Rockdale ISD Staff and Students, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Community of Rockdale for your continued support, and it is our hope that you have a Safe and Enjoyable Holiday Season.                                                                  

                              Happy New Year!!

2018 Dec 19: RIS Student Council

The Rockdale ISD campuses are always looking for ways to keep school interesting and fun especially around the holidays. Rockdale Intermediate School Counselor Keely Reisner has a report this week on the RIS Student Council and their latest activities.

Here at Rockdale Intermediate our Student Council has been quite busy! For the 5th year in a row our Student Council held a fundraising campaign selling turkey feathers.  For seven school days leading up to the release for the Thanksgiving Holiday, Student Council officers and members arrived at school each morning by 7:15 to sell turkey feathers.  The three teachers with the most feathers at the end of that time had to dress up like a turkey the Friday we released for the holiday. They not only had to dress up and help with dismissal wearing the costume but they had to dance to the Turkey Hokey Pokey that morning for the entire student body wearing their costumes.  Student Council raised over $450 dollars selling feathers! Mr. McMahon, Mr. Headley and Mrs. Pickel were the winners and did a fabulous job supporting our Student Council in their challenge of raising money to donate to Christmas Roundup. Because of the amazing support by our teachers and students we were able to donate $300 to help with toys and food for Christmas Roundup.  Later this month our officers along with the officers from Rockdale Intermediate EAFK Rotary Club officers will go over and help pack boxes for Christmas Roundup Delivery. Thanks again for all the support we received!!!

2018 Dec 5: Holiday Happenings at Rockdale Elementary School

The Holidays are always a very special time of year for all students, but it seems to be extra special for our elementary students. Ms. Elesha Eoff, RES Principal, has the opportunity this week to share what is happening on her campus, so read and enjoy.

November and December are exciting months for our students at Rockdale Elementary.  We had several events for our students that centered around Thanksgiving, celebrating the season, competing in events, and giving to others.  

One of our events was the annual Pre-Kindergarten Extravaganza.  Seeing our PreKindergarten students dressed as turkeys, Native Americans, and Pilgrims is a highlight of the show.  Everyone is impressed with the work they put into the show, and we are always amazed by the singing, dancing, speaking parts, and work that goes into making this show such a delight to watch.  Families and friends came to watch them perform and they put on a great show!

Another fun learning event that happened was in Kindergarten.  The Kindergarten teachers paired up and provided rotation stations involving retelling of the first Thanksgiving.  Other stations included math and science graphing and sorting as well as writing stations. It was a fun way for the students to learn about customs, tradition, and the reason we celebrate the holiday.  The kids loved it and learned a lot! They ended the rotations with their annual feast where they dressed up, talked about manners and being polite, created table cloths, brought snacks for their friends, and shared why they were thankful for each other.  It was a nice culminating activity to lead them into the holiday.

        Looking into December, it is filled with many activities for our students.  Our older students are currently working on their UIL events and preparing for competition in December.  They are working after school and putting in many hours to make sure they are able to compete well.

Another exciting family event we enjoyed this week was the Winter Wonderland held on December 4th.  This is the annual event for all students and families to come read, play games, do some fun learning activities, and celebrate the season. This very enjoyable experience was at the Rockdale High School campus.  

Another seasonal event is our Second Grade students are involved in is beginning to prepare for their Christmas Variety Show.  This is their annual performance which includes, singing, dancing, acting, and a whole lot of fun! We encourage you to come out and watch the performance on December 20th at 9:30.  Please call ahead to have your badge ready.  

In addition to these things, as we continue in the spirit of generosity and giving thanks, our campus is focusing on giving back to our community through our canned food drive for Christmas Round Up.  Our elementary is donating cans of chicken, corn, and green beans. Currently, the classes are in competition to see which class can bring the most cans. Our collection is growing, and we encourage the children to think of others during this holiday season.  Our hope is that these activities will foster a love of wanting to help others less fortunate than themselves as they grow. At RES, we focus on teaching to the whole child and creating valuable learning experiences that our students will hold onto for a lifetime.  

2018 Nov 28: iTigers is an ACE for Rockdale ISD

The Rockdale Intermediate School’s iTigers Coordinator Sandy Robbins is very proud of her program at RIS, and the impact it has had on the intermediate campus. iTigers programs are available on all RISD campuses, and according to Sandy, our school district has benefitted from these programs for well over 10 years.

The Texas Afterschool Centers on Education Program (ACE Program) has been working with Rockdale ISD for the last 13 years and has touched almost every student in Rockdale in one way or another.  ACE is a federally funded grant that awards approximately $500,000 a year to Rockdale ISD.  This Grant is intended to promote success in six areas: grades, attendance, behavior, promotion rates, graduation rates, and college and career readiness.  The ACE Grant is awarded through the 21st Century CLC program supported by the US Department of Education.  In Rockdale, the program is better known as the iTigers program.  

iTigers is more than ‘just an after school’ program.  Most people are only aware of the after school academic tutorials and homework piece of the grant.  For grades K-12, the grant requires that ACE/iTigers must run 36 weeks of the school year. This includes four days a week after school and five days a week before school, as well as six weeks of summer school.  However, the grant also requires an ongoing parent involvement activities and one-time parent events.  ACE/iTigers offers ESL (English as a Second Language) to parents, ED2Go Classes from Temple College, Family-event nights, Parent Fitness workouts, and Parent and Community Advisory Committee meetings.  Furthermore, ACE/iTigers is involved in the Rockdale community. We support our community by preparing monthly lunches at the Senior Citizens Center, donating time and support at community events such as: the Music Festival, the Rockdale Fair, the Fall Festival, Rockdale ISD PTO meetings and events, the RISD Winter Wonderland, at the Community Easter Egg Hunt to name a few.

The grant funds pay for a many services and resources for RISD students and parents:

  • Academic tutorials, homework help, and enrichment facilitators pay
  • Supplies, academic materials, and school technology
  • After school and summer school bus transportation
  • Driver‘s education and various certifications for RHS programs
  • UIL academic practice and competitions
  • Summer camps and Summer school staff
  • Staff development and travel
  • Site Coordinator’s salaries
  • Recreational sports
  • Parent education services and fitness programs

So while you may see the ACE/iTiger program being heavily focused on afterschool academic tutorials and homework help at each campus, just remember, it is SO MUCH MORE!

2018 Nov 21: What is AP?

What Is AP?

The Thanksgiving Holiday is here, and before you know it, St. Nicholas will be making his rounds. This week we have a little food for thought (pun intended) during this week off for Rockdale ISD. Rockdale High School’s Patti Darby is glad to assist our readers in answering the thought provoking question.  What is AP?

For those of you with students in AP (Advanced Placement) classes I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that they are difficult and time consuming to say the least. But do you really know what it takes for your student to be successful? As the current AP Biology teacher at Rockdale High School here are a few of my tips and tricks that I tell my students so that they can be successful and earn that coveted college credit.

  1. The success tangle is real. What I mean is that we all get caught up in extra-curricular activities, homework and life itself. Sometimes that means we get so overwhelmed we can’t seem to find our way to a place of peace. In my class we call that the success tangle. You don’t get to be successful without a few hardships along the way. Helping your student recognize when they are in that success tangle and to ask for help is critical to their success. No one is in this by themselves.
  2. Writing is crucial. On the AP Biology exam there are eight FRQ’s (Free Response Questions). These questions can ask students to simply identify information or have students develop an experiment and calculate the statistical probabilities of their experiment. Having students write in concise and complete sentences is vital to their success on the writing portion of the test. Like with anything, practice makes perfect. The more your student writes, the easier it will be, come test time. 
  3. Vocabulary. Science is essentially a foreign language because of its vocabulary. You can help your student learn key vocabulary terms by making flashcards or utilizing the online program, Quizlet, and quizzing them a few nights a week. Being able to fluently utilize vocabulary will increase not only their test scores but will help their writing as well.

For more tips and tricks on how to help your student earn credit on their AP exam or to see what we’re doing in class, follow us on Twitter @scienceanddarbs.

2018 Nov 7: RHS Career and Technical Education (CTE)

This week Mrs. Britina Pesak, Rockdale ISD’s Career and Technology Education Director, is providing information regarding her program, and how it can affect the lives of her students. When a student is given the opportunity to explore the many choices CTE has to offer, they can make valuable decisions that can have lifelong implications, and determine their level of success in our world today.

The vision of Rockdale ISD is “Working together to ensure each student becomes a successful and productive citizen in a diverse society.” Along with the state mission that “Every child, [is] prepared for success in college, a career or the military,” Career and Technical Education (CTE) plays an important role in today’s public education. Students today have the opportunity to gain a depth of knowledge and skill in their field of interest before graduating high school and pursuing post-secondary options. This depth allows students to be highly sought after employees and students at all levels of higher education. This skill level translates to higher wages.

According to a study conducted over a 15-year period from 1997 to 2012 by Kreisman and Stange, taking a coherent sequence of courses, and specifically, more upper level CTE courses (defined as CTE concentrators) leads to earning higher wages than non-CTE concentrators. CTE coursework did not decrease the likelihood of graduating from college, nor that the monetary value of the courses are explained away by other factors. Specifically, they wrote, “while wage gains associated with non-vocational courses (core and electives) are entirely explained by college enrollment, wage gains from upper level vocational courses are unaffected by controlling for college enrollment and completion, suggesting that these courses do in fact have real value in the labor market.”

These wage increases are particularly notable in the following clusters: Health Science, Business and Management, Construction, Mechanics, and Manufacturing. Here at Rockdale ISD, we offer all of these pathways because we focus on high skill, high wage, high demand careers. We work with the ever changing ebb and flow of the job market and employers to ensure we are training our students to become marketable employees for the jobs of the future.

We begin working with students in Junior High to discover their career interests so they can develop a depth of knowledge in high school and become highly skilled, seek post-secondary certifications or degrees, and become productive members in a diverse society that are (higher) wage-earners.

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!

SOURCE: Daniel Kreisman and Kevin Stange, “Vocational and Career Tech Education in American High Schools: The Value of Depth Over Breadth,” Education Finance and Policy (June 2018).

2018 Oct 31: Responsibility

Responsibility is not a quality that we are born with, and it surely is not learned overnight. Our children will not magically become responsible, so who is responsible for teaching responsibility? The answer to this question is easy, however the process of teaching responsibility can be difficult.

One important step in teaching responsibility is to “Let your child do it”. As parents there may be a variety of reasons for doing things for your child. Many parents feel that their children are unable to do a job, but we need to remember our children will never be able to learn if we never give them the opportunity. Our life styles today are very busy. This is another major reason for not giving our children jobs to complete. How many times have you, as a parent, said “I can do it faster myself” referring to doing a job rather than making your child do it. Time is valuable to all of us, but taking the time and having your child learn to do the job and learn responsibility is time well spent. Another effective way to get your child to work on a job or complete a task is to ask them to help you with something like mowing the yard, and do it together in the beginning. Then teach your child to do more of the job until they are able to do it on their own.

When your child does not take care of something that is their responsibility, remember to use consequences to help motivate and get their attention. For instance, a rule in your house may be for everyone to pick-up after themselves and not leave things lying around the house, or it will be put in the trash. It won’t take to many times of digging in the trash for belongings, that things begin to be picked up and not left out. This may again take some extra time for a parent, but responsibility will be learned. Another important way to encourage responsibility is to be a good example for your children. Make sure you take care of your responsibilities at home and at work, and not make excuses when something doesn’t get done. Always talk to your child about how you will handle the situation and avoid being irresponsible in the future.

As a parent, give your child jobs they can accomplish or do. Take time to teach them, and don’t nag or do it for them when they forget. Instead, help your child to feel responsible for their assigned jobs, and if they fail to do something right, encourage them to never give up and try until they get it right. I know everything mentioned in this week’s column is much easier “said” than “done”, but it is vital for our children’s success in life if they learn responsibility at an early age when they have plenty of support.  

2018 Oct 17: Pre-Kindergarten Happenings

Rockdale Elementary School’s staff is working very hard to develop a learning environment that is both creative and challenging for their students. This week, the following column was written by Pre-Kindergarten team leader, Kim Pizana for Rockdale Elementary, and she is excited to share what her team has to offer their students.     

   Autumn is the season that teaches us change can be beautiful--we look forward to crisp, chilly mornings, beautiful falling leaves bathed in gold and russet hues, and academic /personal growth in our students. Rockdale Elementary is eagerly welcoming the new season with open arms and oodles of exciting learning opportunities for our children.  From super science investigations and marvelous math experiences to exploring the awesome hometown of Rockdale, all of our students are in for a treat.

         In October, our Pre-Kindergarten, youngest, most inquisitive learners are gearing up for a rip-roaring good time at their 8th annual Pre-Kindergarten Rockin’ Rodeo on Thursday, October 17th!  Families are creating stick horses at home and sending them to school for their children to rope, ride, parade, and rustle up alongside their friends. Students will dress in Western attire and explore various thrilling rodeo-themed stations to sharpen math, literacy, science, and fine-motor skills. In addition, our Pre-K Rodeo coincides with a mini-field trip to the Rockdale Fair on Friday, October 19th.  Partnered with RHS FFA students, we will tour the fairgrounds to learn more about show animals and other FFA activities and opportunities. Mr. Free and his students always make sure we have a grand ‘ole time.

         This November is another exciting month for our students.  Our annual Pre-Kindergarten Extravaganza is also quickly approaching.  Pre-K students and teachers are preparing a delightful and entertaining dramatic presentation with a little singing, a little dancing, and a whole lot of fun for everyone!  The presentation for families will be on Friday, November 16th at 9:30 am in the RES cafeteria. Parents are encouraged to pre-register with the RES Office by calling 512-430-6030.  We sure hope to see you there as we gobble ‘til we wobble!

        Looking ahead to December, the season of thankfulness and giving to others, our students will be focusing on giving back and completing acts of kindness for others in our community.  We partner hand-in-hand with residents of Renaissance Villa and clients of the MARC Center to spread holiday cheer and warm the hearts of young and old alike. This holiday season, our goal is to intentionally focus our hearts and minds on showing kindness, compassion, grace, and love to others.   Young children can learn to give back during the holiday season by sharing a kind word, offering a smile, sharing a toy, drawing a picture, writing or dictating a note, or comforting a friend or family member.  Our hope is that these activities will foster a love of wanting to help others less fortunate than ourselves and as they grow, so will their spirit of kindness and generosity.

         In Pre-Kindergarten at RES, our students and teachers celebrate personal and academic achievements as we work collaboratively with parents to set academic and social goals and celebrate individual and class successes.  We are strongly anchored in academic excellence and are actively cruising to success.

2018 Oct 10: RHS - The College Search

Rockdale High School has always provided students with the tools needed to take that giant step to higher education. Historically, RHS has had a large percentage of students who graduate attend colleges and obtain their bachelor’s and, in many cases, master’s degree or even doctorate. The first step, in all cases, is deciding what college or university to attend, so this week RHS Principal Tiffany Whitsel has great information regarding making that very important decision.

As you begin your college search, one of the first decisions you need to make and one that helps narrow your list is what size college you want to attend. There are many options, from small colleges with fewer than 1,000 students to large state universities with more than 35,000 students. What's best for you depends a lot on your personality and academic goals.

The Big College Experience

Do you picture yourself at a big university that offers everything from televised sporting events to countless degree programs? Are you itching to break free of the high school fishbowl and enjoy the anonymity that comes with being one of thousands of students? Then a big college might be a good fit for you.

Here are some of the benefits associated with big colleges:

  • Wide variety of majors and courses
  • Well-stocked libraries
  • Variety of housing opportunities
  • Well-funded sports programs
  • Wide range of academic choices and student activities
  • State-of-the-art research facilities

Things to Consider

To succeed at a big college, it's best to go in knowing what subjects or general areas you're interested in pursuing. Students who do best at large colleges tend to be go-getters who are not afraid to speak up and take advantage of the many opportunities available.

Introductory classes at a large college may contain hundreds of students. Some students find this environment exciting. Others feel overwhelmed.

Administrative red tape is also something to think about — large colleges tend to have a lot of it. For example, enrolling in a course that's not part of your major may require multiple signatures and approvals.

The Small College Experience

Do you enjoy personal attention from teachers and advisers? Then a small college may be just what you need. Some students find that a smaller setting is a better fit. Although there may be fewer facilities, there are also fewer students to compete with.

Here are some of the benefits associated with small colleges. Small class sizes

  • Hands-on learning opportunities
  • Individually designed majors
  • Strong advising system; advisers know students well
  • Strong sense of community
  • Professors, not teaching assistants, teach most courses
  • Opportunity to get to know professors well

Things to Consider

Small colleges don't offer as many majors as big colleges; however, some of them let you design your own. Courses at small colleges are usually taught by professors, not teaching assistants. The professors may even know your name and areas of interest.

Be aware that small colleges do not have the research facilities of large universities. If you're hoping to be a research assistant, find out what kind of work and facilities are available before you apply.

Although you'll find a robust social life at most small colleges, you'll find less in terms of big sporting events and variety. However, there is often a stronger sense of community and connection.

Start Your Search

Whether you're considering a big university, a small college, or something in between, you need to carefully look at all options, and determine what's most important to you. Use College Search to research two-year and four-year colleges and find some that meets your needs.

2018 Oct 3: RISD's iTigers ACE Program

Rockdale ISD's iTigers ACE program is excited with what the program is doing and how our students are being impacted.  Having the afterschool program on all four campuses gives a safe and secure place for many of our students, which they would not have otherwise.  The tutorials and enrichment programs are well attended and enjoyed. Rockdale ISD’s forward thinking and concern with our student achievement are why this program is made available each school year.  Valarie Willingham, Rockdale Elementary iTigers Coordinator, has more information regarding this important after school program.

Many of you know about iTigers at Rockdale ISD.  You probably have a student who attends our tutorials after school, fun enrichment activities after school, or before school homework help.   Maybe you yourself have attended some iTigers parent activities like our Camp Gladiator Boot Camp or you’ve taken advantage of our excellent Ed2Go continuing education opportunities. The iTigers program touches so many not only in our schools, but in our community as well.  We are excited to share a few upcoming dates for students, the community, and parents!

RISD iTigers will be participating in the annual Lights on After School event to celebrate after school programs. This year are excited to be a part of the Rockdale Fall Music Festival!  We will have tables set up with free children’s activities as well as information celebrating what is going on after school. Be sure to come by and see us Saturday, 10/06/18, at 10:00 am.

The iTigers program is currently holding weekly English Language Learner parent classes Tuesdays at Rockdale Elementary School from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm.  Classes for this session are full, but if you would like more information on upcoming sessions please contact the site coordinator at your student’s campus.

RISD iTigers after school fall classes will end Thursday, 12/06/18, and morning classes will end Friday, 12/07/18.  iTigers will resume for spring classes Monday, 01/14/2019. If there is an early release from school, we will not have afternoon iTigers on that day.  

2018 Sept 26: Rockdale ISD Career and Technical Education: Driven by Purpose

As we wind down the 1st Six Weeks of our school year, RISD is very proud of our students, and their willingness to get on board and stay on track for another successful year on each campus. This week Mrs. Britina Pesak, RISD Career and Technical Education (CTE) Director, has information regarding future career planning for students at Rockdale High School, and how CTE classes can impact student success.

Every generation wants better for the next generation, and our sincere hope is that they outperform us all. What we often hear is that these younger generations simply don’t want to, but nothing could be further from the truth. So what does it take to unleash the passion, purpose, and performance for these upcoming world changers? Explaining why.

Mark C. Perna, author of Answering Why, has dubbed the Millenials (born 1981-1994) and Generation Z (born 1995-2010) the “Why Generation.” Students today often do not have a solid idea of what they want to do with their lives. They don’t have a “want-to.” But students don’t know what they don’t know because we haven’t shown them what’s possible. When we show them what is possible and youth develop their “want-to” they become driven by purpose (Perna, 2018.)

To help develop this purpose, Rockdale ISD narrows the awareness gap by conducting career interest surveys and career awareness events throughout junior high and high school. Teachers, counselors, principals, and the CTE director work with the student and parents on personal graduation plans that are based on these surveys and events. These adults help students “backwards design” their high school plans by determining careers they are interested in, the post-secondary education needed for that career, and the high school courses and programs of study that will prepare them for that future.

To help unleash that passion and answer the many why questions for students, it takes a special teacher. This week, we take a special look at Rockdale High School’s Graphic Design program with new teacher Mr, Gimel Peterman who has industry experience and is filled with enthusiasm for both the subject and teaching students. I observed a group of students in the advanced graphic design course to get an idea of how they felt about the experience. When I entered the room, a picture of celebrity Ryan Gosling was on the projector screen with vertical and horizontal guidelines strategically placed, and students were all sketching in their own books with pencils. Not your typical class, and not necessarily what I expected in a graphic design class.

What I found out after speaking to several of the students was that the point of sketching, even if the student didn’t consider themselves to be an “artist” was that they needed to understand the shapes and layout of design. Students felt these sketches helped get their creativity going and sharpen their skills. They appreciate that Mr. Peterman specializes in graphic design and has industry experience. Many of the students mentioned how much they can tell that he really enjoys what he does and that he is very open-minded.

Rockdale Graphic Design will be working toward certifying students in Adobe products to prepare students for College and Career. Whether a student is going to four years of college, or directly to the workforce, the employability skills and technical skills taught in the CTE classroom, like Graphic Design, are useful in the present and long term. It is programs of study like these where students can find their passion and be driven by purpose!

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!