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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.


2018 Feb 7: RHS Scheduling for 2018-2019

Preparing for the future can be a daunting task for teenagers and even adults. Rockdale ISD is very proud to have Rockdale High School Administration and Counselors who try to help students as much as they possibly can in making the right decisions regarding their future by scheduling meaningful career based classes. Ms. Tiffany Commerford, RHS Principal, has some guidelines for students and parents to remember when our scheduling for the 2018-19 school year begins this month.

            In February Rockdale High School will begin scheduling classes for 2018-2019.  Eighth graders will visit RHS Career & Technology Classes Friday, February 9; we will meet with eighth graders Wednesday, February 14 at RJHS, and have a parent information night Thursday, February 15 at 6:00pm to start helping students plan for high school.  Current RHS students will schedule classes Tuesday, February 20. 

            One of the great things about high school is the variety of classes you get to choose from many students and parents want to know what courses to take to improve their chances for admission to college. With the caveat that every situation and students is different, here is some advice to help guide you as you make these decisions.  Take a look at the 2018-19 Rockdale High School Course Guide on our webpage to see all of the great classes that we have to offer.

A Well-Rounded Approach

            The high school transcript is almost always the most important document in a student’s application. But it is hard to think of a situation in which the appearance (or absence) of any one class on a transcript would determine admission. Admission committees do not make decisions based on a piecemeal review of an applicant’s recommendations.  They look at test scores, activities, and volunteer hours and considers each application as a comprehensive picture of the student.  When the admissions committee looks at your transcript, it will not focus on whether you have taken a specific course. It will be far more interested to see that you have challenged yourself with difficult coursework, and have done well.



            Trends are important. Remember, admissions committees are primarily concerned with what kind of student you will be for them. So it is very important that they see a high level (or an improving degree) of rigor and success throughout your high school years. This includes your senior year. If you wish to make your application among the most competitive, you must take a challenging senior program and continue to excel in it. Senior year is not the time to take a light course load. Do not catch “senioritis!” The admissions committee will check an applicant’s senior year program and performance before offering admission.  Remember that they are looking for students who will make the most of their talents. Knowing how you have engaged in high school gives them an idea of how you might engage at college.


            Colleges look for students who have taken a balanced set of the rigorous classes available to them. Generally speaking, you should try to take courses each year in English, science, math, the social studies, and foreign language.  Be honest with yourself when you are deciding between different courses. Are you choosing a particular course because you are truly excited about it and the challenge it presents, or are you also motivated by a desire to avoid a different academic subject?  You should also bear in mind that many other selective colleges do have minimum course requirements for entering students. It is best to research each school individually.

            When weighing your course selection for the upcoming year, here are a few things to consider:

  • Am I taking a well-balanced academic program that will provide me with a good foundation for college?
  • Am I prepared to take college-level math, writing, and science courses?
  • Do I feel challenged by the courses that I am taking?
  • Are my courses among the more rigorous ones available to me at my school?
  • Am I seeking challenge or avoiding it?
  • Am I choosing classes because my friends are taking them or because I am interested in them?



2018 Jan 31: Intermediate School's Jump Rope for Heart

Rockdale Intermediate School will be kicking off their Jump Rope For Heart fundraiser and fitness program next 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.

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. JumpRope For Heart raises funds for medical research and for programs such as HeartPower! that help prevent heart disease and stroke. Jump Rope For Heart 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.  Jump Rope For Heart was developed in 1978 and has raised more than millions of dollars for cardiovascular research and education programs. 

Jump Rope For Heart 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 27 years. Our community was very giving last year as Rockdale Intermediate School students raised almost $5,800. This year, we have set our goal at $6,500! Please help support our students as they work to meet this goal. Fundraising will begin on Friday, February 2, 2018 and will continue through Friday, February 23, 2018 when our jumping event will take place.

Please contact Regan Fritsche at or 512.430.6200 for more information or to make donations.

2018 Jan 18: School Attendance Vital at RES & RISD

Proper student attendance is vital on all RISD campuses in order for students to be successful and achieve their full potential. This week Rockdale Elementary Principal, Alesha Eoff, has important information regarding good attendance on her campus and why it is so important.

            The start of the school semester provides us an opportunity for refocusing our school priorities.  One of our top priorities for this semester is keeping our students healthy so that they can 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.

            The attendance rate is important because students are more likely to succeed in academics when they attend school consistently. 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. 

            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.  We also would like to remind you about the Little River Clinic that we have in our school.  Students can be seen on our campuses which is a convenient option for some parents.  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 climate for our students, and the students know they are missed when they are not here.  To further encourage attendance, our teachers provide things such as stickers, treasure chest choices, and other classroom incentives.  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. 


2018 Jan 10: RISD Career and Technical Education (CTE): Focus on Welding

Rockdale ISD continues to be a leader in Career and Technical Education (CTE), and this week we would like to showcase the career of Welding. Mrs. Britina Pesak, RISD CTE Director, has some great information regarding this highly skilled career.

          Welding is not an easy job. It can be brutal in the hot Texas summers and not all that pleasant in the few days of winter. Not to mention it requires a certain amount of strength; this is not a desk job. But welding is essential to the infrastructure of our lives and many people don’t realize the importance it plays in our everyday lives.

          The conversation around the country has centered on the skills gap in the trades for some time now, and Rockdale CTE has been focused on helping close that gap. This week, we will discuss how teachers at Rockdale High School have been working to create interest in younger generations, increase the knowledge in the field, and help fill the growing demand for welders.

          Art Free and Brandon Grigsby both teach students about the welding industry at Rockdale High School. Students who show an interest or aptitude for the career begin the coherent sequence of courses in Principles of Skilled Trades where they earn their OSHA-10 safety certification (OSHA is an industry safety standard) and learn about tools, measurement and other basics. Students can then begin to take classes specific to welding to earn NCCER certifications.

          Once the students are in the advanced level welding classes, they can also compete against other schools in welding competitions through membership in Texas FFA and SkillsUSA. Recently, students competed at the Columbus FFA welding contest where they had the chance to participate in three different levels of competitions: Level 1 – 1F, Level 2 - 1G, and Level 3 - 2G. Students also participated in a timed cutting contest, welding knowledge and tool identification quiz.

          The results from the contest were impressive! In Level 1, three students from Rockdale made the top 20: Koye Bleeker, Blaise Samford, and Tyler Eliot. In Level 2, three Rockdale students made the top 10: Raul Flores, Dalton Hubnik, and Isiah Smith. In Level 3, three students made the top 20: Jacob Phillips, Braden Wallis, and JR Harris. With over 200 contestants in the contest, this was quite the accomplishment and says a lot about the program.

          As students continue to hone their skills in the classroom and laboratory under the supervision of the teachers, in early February, students will have the chance to compete in the District SkillsUSA welding competitions at TSTC in Waco. We look forward to great results from this event as well and hope for some state-qualifiers!

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

2017 Dec 13: RISD iTigers Update

Rockdale ISD's iTigers after school program continues to provide effective tutoring and enrichment for our students on all campuses. This week Leesa Perez has an update on this very successful program.  

RISD iTigers programs are off to a strong start as they close their first semester out. Students and teachers have worked diligently across campuses to make the first part of the year a memorable learning experience. Do not fret, though, for the fun is hardly over! iTigers starts back on all campuses  January 16th, 2018. Rockdale High School will host driver’s ed beginning on January 8th, 2018, after school. iTigers would also like to remind students and parents that this upcoming semester is critical. The STAAR test is upon us, and teachers will be working  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. If there is any reason that you should need to contact your child’s iTiger Campus Coordinator, you can reach them at the following numbers:

RES- Valarie Willingham- 512-430-6144

RIS- Sandy Robbins- 512-430-6226

RJH- Leesa Perez- 512-430- 6072

RHS- Martha Gonzales- 512-430- 6013

 iTigers would like to wish all of Rockdale a Happy Holidays!

2017 Dec 6: RIS Community Projects

Rockdale ISD has a number of fundraisers and community service opportunities throughout our school year many of which sometimes go unnoticed. This week Rockdale Intermediate Principal, Mrs. Kathy Pelzel, would like to highlight community service projects on her campus.

Rockdale Intermediate School has been very busy this year working towards supporting our community with several projects. Our EAFK Rotary Club kicked off the year with fundraising to support childhood cancer. Students purchased Gold Out t-shirts in order to raise money for childhood cancer research. This was the platform chosen by this year's President, Braden Pickel. 

In November, RIS Student Council began our third annual Teacher Turkey Feather campaign. Student council members sold turkey feathers for teachers. The teachers in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade with the most turkey feathers had to dress up like a turkey the day school let out for Thanksgiving break.  Student Council raised over $900 from this activity matching our total from last year. This money is used for student council projects throughout the year, such as donating to Christmas Roundup, buying sports equipment for the playground and handmade teacher appreciation gifts for the staff.  The Student Council will also be able to cover the cost of the workshop the officers attend in the fall. 

Currently, our No Place for Hate initiative is working on connecting compassion and the holiday spirit to this initiative. We are decorating classroom doors with positive, compassionate comments to help remind students of the importance of this mindset over indifference. We are putting this into action by collecting food items for Christmas Roundup. RIS is collecting macaroni and cheese, jello, canned chicken and hot cocoa mix to support needs families in our community. We collected a total of 1507 items and hope break last year's record of 1785 items before December 8th. If you would like to help support our efforts you may drop off food items to Rockdale Intermediate School before December 15th.

The staff and administration at Rockdale Intermediate School could not be any prouder of our students.  They are working very hard to support our community and I am honored to say that their efforts are making a difference!  We look forward to many more exciting projects from them in the future.

2017 Nov 29: Elementary School Happenings

For Rockdale ISD, the week following a holiday is always a challenge due to catching up and getting back in the routine, but amazingly we do what we need to do to take care of our students’ needs. This week Rockdale Elementary has many exciting things that have happened and many that are coming up before we have our next holiday for Christmas. Ms. Alesha Eoff would like to share all of the exciting things happening on her campus.

At Rockdale Elementary School, we are dedicated to creating learning opportunities for each and every student.  This six weeks our faculty has engaged, challenged, and motivated our students through multiple learning experiences.  Our staff has worked to provide engaging lessons for our students through hands-on activities, real world application, and grade-level performances.   

The whole elementary attended our Veteran’s Day assembly at the high school.  Our students made patriotic hats to wear and they sang “You’re a Grand Old Flag”, and “Fifty Nifty United States” to honor those who have served our country.  The students have been learning about patriotism, respecting our country, and appreciating those who have fought to keep us free.  Our flags waved proudly, and our voices sang loudly as we honored our veterans in the ceremony.  

Another opportunity that our students had was to attend the Pre-Kindergarten Extravaganza.  Each Pre-K student shined in their respective roles as they presented our annual Thanksgiving Extravaganza.  There was a little singing, a little acting, a little dancing, and a whole lot of fun!  We hope you were able to attend and that you enjoyed our show.  We would also like to thank our awesome parents for their continued support and encouragement.  

In addition to these activities, we had our annual Thanksgiving Meal for our students and their parents.  Our wonderful cafeteria staff provided a tasty feast for our visitors and students. We served over two hundred-fifty visitors for lunch.  We had a great turnout!  Our Kindergarten children were also able to have their own feast to celebrate the holiday with their classmates.  Students dressed in holiday attire and dined on fruits, nuts, jerky, and vegetables to simulate what their meal may have been like many years ago.  

The Second graders at RES have been busy learning new skills and concepts and engaging in many different, fun activities.  Second grade is the first year that students get the opportunity to participate in academic UIL activities.  They will attend a UIL competition at Rockdale Intermediate on Dec. 5th.  Students have been working very hard, with the help of their coaches, to prepare for Creative Writing, Storytelling, Spelling, Chess Puzzles, and Mathematics. Creative Writers will look at a collection of pictures and create an original story from at least one of the given pictures.  Students are graded on creativity and grammar.  Storytellers are read a brief story.  Then, they are expected to retell the story in their own words before a group of judges using expression and inflection of voice. Speller contestants are given a list of spelling words to study and are tested over the given words. Chess Puzzles involves students being able to anticipate the appropriate chess moves based on the situation given.  Mathematics students will complete three timed sections- addition, subtraction, and story problems.  We wish our students good luck as they compete for RES for the first time.   

Our Second Grade students have also started tryouts and practices for our annual Christmas Variety Show.  It will be on Dec. 15th at 9:30 in the RES cafeteria.  Students will be performing dance routines, singing Christmas carols, and sharing Christmas facts and customs with the audience. The students put on a great show, and we would love to have you join us for some holiday cheer next month.  

Our annual Polar Express, Winter Wonderland, will be at Rockdale High School December 14.  Our teachers are working on developing learning games, arts, crafts, and other activities for our students.  The kids and adults always have a great time celebrating the season during this fun night.  Please make plans to attend this night with your whole family.  

Parents and students are also encouraged to attend our upcoming Winter Wonderland (Polar Express), 2nd Grade Variety Show, and other opportunities to see our students’ hard work and performances.  As you can see, Rockdale Elementary School is a terrific place to be!

2017 Nov 21: To Serve

During this time of year our community does a great job in providing food, clothing and toys for the members of our community who need a helping hand. It is important that our children understand the value of service in a community, and the many benefits they can gain. A child’s perception of the world around them is very limited. Their home, school and neighborhood are what they know, and what is meaningful to them. They have the perception that the world revolves around them, and their way of life. When children have the opportunity to reach out and help others, their world begins to grow along with their confidence. Other benefits of community service and volunteering, according to a recent survey, include:

  1. Leadership skill development.
  2. Patience when dealing with others.
  3. Learning how to understand people who are different from themselves.
  4. Learning new skills.
  5. Learning how to get along with and relate to others
  6. Learning to be helpful and kind.
  7. Gaining satisfaction from helping others.
  8. Learning to respect others.
  9. Learning how to relate to younger children
  10. Becoming a better person.

The Rockdale Junior High Leo Club sponsored by the Rockdale Noon Lions Club recently had a golden opportunity, To Serve, which is our Lions Club moto. During our Rockdale ISD Veterans Day Luncheon, the RJH Leo Club “Served” our Veterans a delicious meal, and according to many of our Veterans and their Spouses in attendance, our Leo’s service was excellent. I know it made our Veterans proud to see young Americans engaged in an activity that is positive and beneficial for our community since the protection of their rights and freedoms was the main reason for our Veterans service.

Next month our RJH Leos will participate in another service opportunity by assisting with the Annual Rockdale Christmas Roundup. The club members will provide help filling the boxes with food items and toys that will be delivered to needy families in our community.

RISD believes that knowledge is key to success in life for all of our students, but they also need to be exposed to community service.  Every thriving community has a strong network of people donating time and resources to helping others.  We hope they learn good citizenship through projects and have a great time doing it.  It makes them feel good to help others and what better time to emphasize it as we begin our holiday season.

2017 Nov 15: RISD iTigers/ACE Program Update

The Rockdale ISD iTigers/ACE program has been in full swing this school year. This week Rockdale Intermediate School’s iTigers Coordinator Mrs. Sandy Robbins has an update for her campus program, information regarding various iTigers offerings across the school district.

The iTigers/ACE, (Afterschool Centers on Education), program is well into the second year of our three year grant.  Programs at each of the campuses have been working hard to make a difference with their students, their families, and the community.  

At the Intermediate School, the first hour of iTigers is dedicated to tutoring sessions that focus on  English Language Arts and Math.  Those tutorials are followed by an enrichment class that is led by one of our teachers or aids.  Examples of enrichment class are: Gardening, Baking, Computers, Board Games, Sports, Arts and Crafts, Legos and Construction, and Morning computer/homework Library Time.   

For the family sessions, the Intermediate iTiger/ACE program invites parents to join a weekly “Make It and Take It” activity.  Parents and their iTigers students each make a fun craft item that can be taken home and enjoyed.  We offer this activity each Wednesday from 4:30 pm - 5:15 pm, in the RIS library.  

The iTigers/ACE program also offers a selection of college courses to our parents.  The wide range of covered by the grant that funds the iTiger Afterschool Program.  Classes run for six weeks, consist of 12 lessons, and begin every four weeks.  Ask your iTiger/ACE Coordinator for more information or you can research it on-line by typing in Ed2Go.

iTigers/ACE is active in our community too.  Once a month each campus helps to supply a lunch to the residents at the Senior Citizen Center.  The Intermediate makes the desert in our Baking class which happens to be one of the favorites on Thursdays.  This year, our students will continue our tradition of making and donating  40 pumpkin pies for a Thanksgiving Outreach Program which will serve lunch to the community right here in Rockdale.  Our iTigers/ACE students also participated in the Rockdale Rodeo Fair Parade.  Some of our students dressed up and joined the community as they walked the parade route in celebration of the Rockdale Fair.  Lastly, iTiger/ACE will participate in the Rockdale Round-up. Some campuses participate more than others, depending on age group.

Please mark your calendar:  We will have no iTigers program Monday and Tuesday, the week of Thanksgiving, November 20 and 21.  Regular iTigers/ACE will be finishing the 2017 Fall Semester on Thursday, December 7th, and morning tutorials and Library will conclude Friday, December 8th.   The program  will resume January 8, 2018, after the Holiday Break.

If you have any questions, please contact one of your iTigers/ACE Site Coordinator:

Elementary, Valarie Willingham  (512) 430-6144

Intermediate, Sandy Robbins  (512) 430-6226

Jr. High School, Leesa Perez  (512) 430-6072

High School, Martha Gonzales  (512) 430-6013

2017 Nov 8: Parental Influence is HUGE!

Teenage years can be a very difficult time for parents and their children. Research has shown that hormonal changes can alter your child’s perception of the world around them. Peer pressure and the need for acceptance is a very powerful influence at this stage of their lives. Independence is another major desire for teenagers during this time, and they have a hard time understanding that they are not fully ready for all of the responsibilities independence brings. Parents can seem to forget how difficult it was at this age, and how strong the need was to fit in with their peers.  It is essential that parents understand their role in the proper development of their children, and parents must be willing to spend time with their children to help guide them to this understanding. There is a great deal of research that supports the idea that parents and family ties are among the most influential factors in a child’s development and well-being. The following factors have been identified to be highly effective in teen development.

  • Regular family routines (meals, chores, and errands) are linked to a teen’s academic achievement and self-esteem.
  • Teen-parent time together helps motivate education and socialize teens.
  • High parental involvement during high school increases the likelihood that teens will attend college, vote, and volunteer.
  • Teens closely supervised by their parents are less likely to engage in inappropriate relations with the opposite sex.
  • Teens who receive communication and praise are less at risk for delinquency and alcohol or drug use.
  • Teens whose parents demonstrate warm support and simultaneously high demands for appropriate behavior tend to be content, self-reliant, and self-controlled.

In many cases, parents seem to be suprised to know that teenagers still want and need their approval and praise. In a study recently conducted teens were asked what factor most affected their decision about whether or not to use drugs, 40 percent answered that the morals, values, and religious beliefs taught to them by their parents influenced them the most.

Parents, you hold the keys to the appropriate development and success of your child through-out their teenage years and eventual adulthood. Please be there for them and provide the guidance that is necessary for this transition.

2017 Oct 25: Reading -- Beneficial to All

The ability to Read is a major part of all of our lives. We read continuously whether it is books, magazines, street signs, instructions, recipes, the internet and a multitude of other written information we take for granted. How well we read is based on how important it is to us as individuals. This week Rockdale Intermediate Principal Kathy Pelzel describes a number of benefits for reading not only for our children, but for us adults as well...

Reading is important! I think that is one thing that everyone can agree on. However, have you ever thought about what benefits children get from reading daily? Best Books for Kids recently listed the Top 10 Benefits of Reading. (

1. Kids who read often and widely get better at it. - At Rockdale Intermediate students are required to read every night for at least 20 minutes. Parents are encouraged to read with their children and discuss what they are reading.

2. Reading exercises our brains. - It allows our kids to use their imaginations as they are reading. This is much better for our kids than watching tv. Reading is time well spent.

3. Reading improves concentration. - This is something that comes with age. The more you read the longer you are able to focus your attention on what you are reading.

4. Reading teaches children about the world around them. - Reading allows our students to experience life outside of Rockdale. They can visit Mount Rushmore by reading Hanging Off Jefferson's Nose: Growing Up On Mount Rushmore by Tina Nichols Coury or venture to the bottom of the ocean by reading Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California's Farallon Islands by Katherine Roy. Reading opens doors to places one may never travel.

5. Reading improves a child’s vocabulary and leads to more highly-developed language skills. - Students learn much more from reading than just content. They expand their vocabulary and learn to form sentences. Reading improves a student's ability to write.

These are just some of the benefits of reading. Taking time out of our busy schedules to read with our children is clearly an investment in their future that can be enjoyable for the entire family. Rockdale Intermediate School is committed to improving reading for all students by providing reading materials that are of high interest for our students. We are able to do this not only through the campus budget but also through the funds earned from our Book Fair. Our book fair last week was a huge success and I'd like to thank the families who supported our effort to provide library resources for our students by making purchases.  These funds are not just an investment in our libraries, but more importantly, it is an investment in our children!

2017 Oct 18: RES Parent Involvement

Parent involvement, as I have emphasized in many past articles, is critical to the development of a child. This week Rockdale Elementary Principal, Alisha Eoff, has more tips on how to be engaged with your child, and help them to succeed in school and later in life.

At Rockdale Elementary School, we encourage any kind of parent involvement.  This week our article focuses on some simple steps that you can take at home to improve your child’s education by getting more involved in conversations about school with your child.  One of the best ways that you can get involved in your child’s education is by simply having a conversation with your child.  It is easy to ask a simple questions such as, “How was your day?”, but we want to give you some tips to take that conversation further with your child.  

One way to do this is through asking to see their Take Home Folder each night.  Each teacher at the elementary uses this as a way to communicate to parents the goings on of the classroom.  Within each folder, you will find class newsletters, educational focuses for the week, daily discipline, take home notes, unfinished homework, and completed work.  We encourage you to look at completed work to find out what your child is learning about and how well he or she is doing.  For example, you could comment on her math homework by saying, “You know a lot about addition and counting money, let’s see if you can count some now.” This not only involves the child, but also shows the child that you have an interest in his or her learning.  

Another way to do this is by asking your child to show you their homework.  Ask them to explain the assignment to you so that they can show that they know what they are supposed to do.  This will help to build their confidence, too.  In addition, you can take some of these assignments and topics to use as a jumping-off point for an activity to share with your child.  For example, several of our classes are going to visit the Rockdale Fair and Rodeo.  While there, they will learn about different animals and their habitats, and their feeding and sleeping patterns.  You could encourage your child to share which animal they liked learning about the most, and read books or attend a zoo to learn more about those animals.  

Not only can you ask your child about academic interests, you can also ask your child about his or her feelings associated things that happen at school.  Some examples might be, “What was one way that you were helpful today?”, or “What made you laugh at school today?”, or “What was the coolest thing that happened today, and why was it so cool?”  These questions will start conversations with your child and will hopefully give you some insight into what their thoughts and feelings are while they are at school.  

Finally, one of the best ways to have conversations with your child is to read with them at night.  This can be a special time with you and your children.  You can turn the television, phones, and computers off, and simply share a book with them.  During the story you can ask questions about what is happening in the story, what may happen next, or why they think the character is acting a certain way.  You will end up having some quality time and great conversations with your child.  

Through thoughtful questioning, looking through their folder, and spending time reading and having conversations with your child, you strengthen the home and school connection.  A strong school and home connection and increased involvement in your child’s education will help them to be more successful.  

2017 Oct 11: Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) Essential to Future

Rockdale ISD's Career and Technical Education Department is dedicated to preparing our students for their future. Ms. Britina Pesak, RISD's CTE Director, has exciting opportunities that can help to insure student preparation and success, and she would like to share some of them with you this week.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) is helping our nation address key challenges such as workforce development, student achievement, economic vitality and global competitiveness. Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) are key components to strong CTE programs. They (CTSOs) integrate into CTE programs and courses and extend teaching and learning through innovative programs, business and community partnerships and leadership experiences at the school, state and national levels.

CTE programs are supported at the federal level by the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act, which provides approximately $1.2 billion dollars in state grants annually to serve more than 14 million students nationwide. CTSOs align with the 16 career clusters and 79 Career Pathways recognized by CTE.

Here in Rockdale, through the work of the longest-standing and community-supported FFA program, thousands of students have benefitted from this agricultural based CTSO. So many Tigers have experienced personal growth during their high school years, graduated with premiere leadership skills, and have gone on to attain great career success due to their active involvement in the local FFA chapter. The blue corduroy jackets are unmistakable wherever they are seen and are a symbol of class and pride.

In recent years, the community has seen the need to prepare students for careers in the growing healthcare industry, and the school district has responded by offering courses in the Health Science cluster. Thanks in large part to a JET Grant by the Texas Workforce Commission, the school has a simulation lab for the health science students to practice skills to become a Certified Medical Assistant. In order to hone these skills and gain leadership qualities, the Future Health Professionals organization known as HOSA is the CTSO for these students.

Students taking coherent sequences of courses in the remaining career clusters offered at Rockdale can demonstrate their leaderships and technical skills in the SkillsUSA CTSO. In this inaugural year of SkillsUSA at Rockdale, we hope to build support for the program where the vision is for all students to learn personal skills, workplace skills, and technical skills.

Nationwide, students who participate in CTSOs demonstrate higher levels of academic engagement and motivation, civic engagement, career efficacy and employ-ability skills than other students. Here at Rockdale, we are very proud of the work of our students in CTSOs and the CTE faculty and staff that work with all students to ensure a positive, lifelong experience.

2017 Oct 4: RISD iTiges Program

The Rockdale ISD iTigers ACE Program has provided many opportunities for our students to experience success and enrichment. These opportunities were not available prior to this highly successful program. This week our Rockdale Elementary iTigers Coordinator Mrs. Valarie Willingham has regarding the RISD iTigers Program and her program on the RES campus.

Many of you know about iTigers at Rockdale ISD.  You probably have a student who attends our tutorials/homework help, after school activities, or before school tutorials.   Maybe you yourself have attended some iTigers parent activities like our ELL parent classes or you’ve taken advantage of our excellent Ed2Go continuing education opportunities.  No? Well surely you have seen iTigers offering children’s activities at community events?  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!

Rockdale Elementary iTiger students will be bringing home parent interest surveys this week.  It is important that you fill them out and send them back in before Monday, 10/9.  It is required for us to have these surveys returned.

RISD iTigers will be hosting our annual Lights on After School event to celebrate after school programs.  This year some of our students will be participating in the fair parade and iTigers will have tables set up outside of City Hall with snacks and information about what is going on after school.  Be sure to come by and see us Saturday, 10/21, at 10:00 am.

Rockdale Elementary School iTigers are partnering with Region 13, bilingual/ESL department to host a series of parent-education literacy trainings this fall.  These trainings are geared specifically toward parents of English language learners in grades Kinder, First and Second Grades.  We will be meeting at the Elementary Library from 6:00-7:00 p.m. The trainings will focus on these topics:  Finding the Right Book - October 19 and Vocabulary Development - November 16

Regular Fall RISD iTigers after school classes will end Thursday, 12/7, and morning classes will end Friday, 12/8.  If there is an early release, we will not have iTigers that day.

2017 Sept 27: Balancing High School and Life

The life of a typical high school student in today’s world can be very difficult and challenging. This week Rockdale High School Principal Tiffany Commerford has some helpful tips for those students who, as the old saying goes, have “Bitten off more than they can chew”. 

          I visited with a student this past week that asked why high school isn’t fun.  I asked the student what they meant “fun” and the student said I work 20+ hours a week, I play a sport, have church activities, club meetings, and lots of homework.  My principal answer was you sound overbooked but I know that wasn’t what the student needed to hear at the time, so I shared some strategies for trying to balance scheduling and maybe add a little fun.

          Not only can being in high school be stressful, but playing a sport and having a job as well can double or triple that stress. High school students are very busy people. Many students choose to play two or more sports per year, and have a job on top of it. For adults, it is easy to think that students can handle a lot of responsibilities, but what they don’t understand is that students have many duties. Homework, studying, practices and jobs can be hard to balance, but with the right advice, it can become so much easier.

          The best advice for balancing school and work is to have good communication between your parents, coaches, and managers. If your manager knows that you are playing a sport prior to you getting hired, they will be more understanding about you needing days off, and they can help work around your schedule.

          Knowing when your practices and games are also helps. If you write a list or keep a calendar of all the things you have going on in a week, you can figure out when the best time to complete school work is. Also, it is okay if you need a day off. If there is a day that you don’t have a practice and game, don’t feel obligated to go into work. Take that day off from work ahead of time, as soon as you know you’re free from sports, and just take a break. It can get very stressful at times without balance, so make sure that you allow yourself breaks or “free days” every week to just relax and wind down from all the commotion.

          Another piece of advice I shared, is, make sure you’re still taking care of yourself. It is very important to make sure you are eating right and getting enough sleep each night. Though not all nights allow an early bedtime, take advantage of those that do. If you get a good night of sleep each night, it will make it a lot easier to function the next day.

          Lastly, make sure you still have time for friends, family, and school events. High school is a great time to make memories that will last you a lifetime. There are so many opportunities to take advantage of, so don’t miss out.