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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.

Recent Posts

2016 Nov 2: Rockdale Intermediate School's Gallery of Champions

Community and school partnerships are extremely valuable for all campuses at Rockdale ISD, and this week we are excited to share another program that involves our school district and our community. Mrs. Kathy Pelzel, Principal of Rockdale Intermediate School, has the pleasure of introducing you this new student recognition program on her campus.

          Rockdale Intermediate began a new tradition last week by inducting the first round of knights into the Gallery of Champions. The term “knight” in medieval times meant “servant”. It referred to an armored soldier who served as protector of a kingdom. In modern times, it is used as a term of recognition of merit or service an inherently infers the honorific of “Sir” to the recipient. Everyone is familiar with characters known as knights and this immediately invokes mental imagery of chivalry, service, and honor for students.

          The Early Act First Knight program (EAFK), funded through the Rockdale Rotary Club, made it’s first stop at RIS to honor students who exemplify the virtue of respect. When we use the term respect, we use it in a multifaceted manner. This includes good conduct, self respect, respecting one’s peers, teachers, and learning environment. Knights take their education seriously and strive to be good learners.

          Teachers and administrators don appropriate garb for the ceremony of bestowing knighthood on champions. The teacher who has made the selection first reads a passage identifying the characteristics of the prospective champion to the student body who are in attendance. After reading the accolade, the newly appointed knight’s name is revealed and the student comes before the group to receive the honor. The honoree puts on a knight’s robe and sits in the gallery of champions where he or she is joined by more knights as they are announced by their teachers in succession.

          The program has been a huge success so far. Students are thrilled to receive the honor and everyone enjoys the festivities of the event. The program provides us an opportunity to recognize students who are working to put forth their best effort each day while identifying to all students specific examples of exactly what behaviors and habits merited the honor. We fully expect many students to work harder and focus more going forward in hopes of being knighted along with their peers.

          We are grateful to the Rockdale Rotary Club and everyone involved in the process for providing us with the means to engage our students through positive reinforcement of behaviors and traits that all students need to be successful. We look forward to having this ceremony regularly. We have many deserving students and expect to have many more. It was great fun and a huge success.

2016 Oct 26: Higher Education FAFSA Changes

It is never too early to prepare for higher education no matter what your child’s age may be. Financial aid is a very important consideration for all parents and the sooner the better. This week Ms. Tiffany Commerford, RHS Principal, has some very important things to think about as it applies to the FAFSA, so parents pay close attention due to some recent changes.

         If you plan to go to college next year, you need to know about two changes to the nationwide financial aid form.   The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form that every U.S. college student needs to fill out in order to be eligible for any need-based financial aid. That includes federal grants and loans, scholarships from the state and school, as well as college work-study jobs.

Here's what's new:

Change #1: You can now submit the FAFSA as early as October 1, rather than January 1. This isn't the deadline, but it's best to get the form in early because some aid awards are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Change #2: The FAFSA asks for financial information reported on your federal tax return. Now, you can base your answers on your return from the previous year. This new policy is referred to as "prior-prior year" and should make it easier to answer the questions. You'll be able to use your 2015 federal tax returns this year, and you won't have to go back and update your form next spring when you file taxes again.

These changes aim to make the whole financial aid process a bit easier for you, but it remains a tedious and sometimes confusing task. Here are some tips:

Where do I start? Go to If this is your first time filling out the form, you'll have to create an FSA ID. This basically acts as your user name and password for each year you apply -- so don't forget it.

What documents will I need? Yours and your parents' Social Security numbers, driver's licenses, federal tax returns, W-2 forms, and current bank and investment statements.

Does applying cost any money? No, it's free. Don't get tricked into paying for a service that helps you fill out the form.

My family is middle class. Should I still apply? Yes. There's no income cap. And if you don't apply, you won't be able to get any financial aid. You can use the White House College Scorecard or the online calculator that each college must post on its website to get an idea of how much financial aid you might receive.

What is the deadline? There can be multiple deadlines. To receive federal grants and loans, you must submit the FAFSA by June 1, 2017. But colleges and states might have earlier deadlines -- and you could miss out on their money if you wait to apply. The deadlines are listed on their websites.

I filled out the FAFSA last year. Do I have to do it again? Yes. You have to resubmit the FAFSA with updated financial information each year you're going to college.

My parents are divorced. Do I list both of their incomes? No. The parent you live with the most is the one you'll report financial information about. If that parent is remarried, you must include his or her income, too.

When do I find out how much money I'll get? Your financial aid award letter will be sent to you from the college or listed on your college website portal (where you view your schedule and billing). This usually comes in the spring, after you've been accepted.

         If you have questions about financial aid and the process for applying the counselors and administrators are available to help or you can attend one of our College Readiness Nights at Rockdale High School.

2016 Oct 19: iTigers Afterschool Program Rocks!

Rockdale ISD’s After School Program Rocks

            iTigers on all RISD campuses offers tutorials, homework help, college and career readiness, and parent and family involvement opportunities.  Student activities are available before and after school throughout the week.  Adult activities are going on at different sites and family events are held at each campus throughout the school year.  Service learning and community involvement are significant components of our iTigers programming. This week Valarie Willingham has more information about iTigers and an exciting event at the end of this month. 

            Come celebrate Lights on After School with RISD iTigers!  This event will take place Tuesday, October 25th at the Rockdale Junior High School commons from 5:45 pm – 6:45 pm and all iTiger students and their families are invited.  We will have fun for all age groups! Lights on After School is a nationwide celebration of after school programs, like iTigers.   As always, our activities are free to our iTigers students and their families.  Some of our activities will include:

  • A Halloween Costume Contest
  • Halloween Arts and Crafts
  • Health Screenings for Adults
  • Math Snack Mix Activity
  • Reading Corner
  • Cookie Decorating
  • Make Your Own Spirit Buttons
  • And Many More!!!

            In addition to our students, we want to see you!  Check out our Facebook page for details of upcoming events and ongoing activities.

Please help us get the information out by “liking” and “sharing” the iTigers Facebook page.

            We are excited to announce that every Tuesday evening, our campuses will provide new parent involvement opportunities. Please contact the site coordinator at your student’s campus for more information.

  • RES iTigers Coordinator – Valarie Willingham – 512.430.6144
  • RIS iTigers Coordinator – Sandy Robbins – 512.430.6226
  • RJH iTigers Coordinator – Leesa Perez – 512.430.6072
  • RHS iTigers Coordinator – Kristin Jakubik – 512.430.6013

2016 Oct 12: Rockdale Elementary Academics

At Rockdale Elementary School we are dedicated to creating learning opportunities for each and every student.  Our staff is committed to providing a learning environment which equips students with skills to help them to flourish and be successful.  We believe that we are responsible for the academic, social, emotional and physical well-being and development of the children in our care.  Our goal is to develop the whole child and enable them to become more independent as they grow. 

Our teachers have worked diligently to strengthen their academic focus this school year.  Several of our teachers attended a Professional Learning Communities conference this summer.  The main emphasis of this conference was to gain the knowledge and skills required to develop quality Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) in our elementary.  We have implemented what we learned at the conference, and are looking closely at individual student achievement.  We are focusing on what we want the students to learn (the curriculum) and how we assess that they have learned the desired curriculum.  We are not only planning interventions for those students that haven’t met those expectations, but also developing extension activities for those students who have met the expectations.  We are working to develop goals and strategies to meet the needs of all students by looking closely at the achievement of each individual child. 

Not only are we looking at student achievement, but also we are working to develop the child socially, emotionally, and physically.  We have incorporated a “Thoughtful Thursday” into our weekly routine.  This is a brief character lesson for the students on manners, being polite, using kind words, doing good deeds, and developing qualities like trustworthiness and honesty.  The students are greeting each other and their teachers, saying “please” and “thank you”, speaking and responding in kind ways, and have even started recording these words and deeds in classroom graphs to try to do more kind things than they did the week before.  After reading Carol McCloud’s, “Have You Filled A Bucket Today?”, a book about saying and doing kind things for others, several classrooms created their own buckets so that they could keep track of these behaviors.  Our itigers Winning Culture Group created a beautiful “Fill the Bucket” visual in our hallway to allow and encourage polite behaviors throughout our school. 

Another program that we have just begun to help our students physically is our annual “HOOPS FOR HEARTS”.  Hoops for Hearts benefits the American Heart Association.  The students make a pledge to either drink more water, exercise more, cut their salt, eat more vegetables, or be more active.  This fundraising event runs for three weeks, and last year Rockdale Elementary raised over $9,000!  We want our students to make healthy choices for their bodies, and this program raises money for the American Heart Association while encouraging healthy behavior. 

Academics, social and emotional well-being, and physical fitness are all integral parts that make up the overall education of our students at Rockdale Elementary School.  We encourage the partnership between home and school, and do all that we can to ensure the strength of this partnership. We encourage parents to volunteer, attend school activities, join PTO, and keep in close communication with their child’s teacher.  Our teachers and staff are committed to educate the whole child, and help all students be successful.  Feel free to contact us if you have any questions, or if we can help your child in any way. 

2016 Oct 5: Tiger E.Y.E.S. Mentor Program

The Rockdale ISD School-Based Mentor Program is designed to organize additional assistance for many of our at-risk students. This program ENGAGES our YOUTH and ENCOURAGES their SUCCESS (E.Y.E.S.). We have a number of goals for our program and they are as follows:


  • Provide positive role models for students
  • Foster relationships between adult members of the community with youth that help students become successful learners
  • Give youth an adult they can depend on for guidance and assistance
  • Build self-esteem in students that will help lead them to success
  • Help students excel academically and make strides toward accomplishing their aspirations


          Mentors are individuals who possess certain qualities that are needed when working with at-risk students. Some of these qualities are listed below:


  • Like to work with youth
  • Have a strong desire to help students be successful in school
  • Effective listener without passing judgement
  • Able to see solutions and opportunities in situations as well as barriers
  • Effective Mentors are able to make sense of student issues and help them come up with sensible solutions
  • Able to empathize with student struggles
  • Willingness to dedicate time and energy each week to mentor a student and set a positive example
  • Commitment to spend time with mentee and be involved in the schools


          By being a consistent adult presence in a young person’s life mentors can offer advice, share life their experiences, and help a young person navigate challenges. Youth who meet regularly with their mentors are: 46% less likely than their peers to start using illegal drugs and 27% less likely to start drinking. (Public/Private Ventures study of Big Brothers Big Sisters)


          Young adults who face an opportunity gap but have a mentor are: 81% more likely to participate regularly in sports or extracurricular activities than those who do not. (The Mentoring Effect, 2014)

A study showed that the strongest benefit from mentoring, and most consistent across risk groups, was a reduction in depressive symptoms.


          Mentoring promotes positive social attitudes and relationships. Mentored youth tend to trust their parents more and communicate better with them. One study estimates that the human potential lost as a result of the educational achievement gap is the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession. (Mentoring: At the crossroads of education, business and community, 2015) By preparing young people for college and careers, mentoring helps develop the future workplace talent pool. Mentors can also prepare their mentees for professional careers and assist with their workplace skills by:

  • Helping set career goals and taking the steps to realize them.
  • Using personal contacts to help young people network with industry professionals, find internships, and locate possible jobs.
  • Introduce young people to resources and organizations they may not be familiar with.
  • Skills for seeking a job, interviewing for a job, and keeping a job.


          The number of ways mentoring can help a young person are as varied as the people involved in each program. While the lists and statistics can be impressive, personal stories can be even more impressive. The opportunity for community members in Rockdale to touch the lives of our students who struggle to be successful can be a very rewarding experience. But more importantly, the benefits gained by a mentee can be a life changing experience.


          The targeted campuses for the Rockdale ISD Tiger E.Y.E.S. program will be the Rockdale Intermediate School (Grades 3 thru 5) and the Rockdale Junior High School (Grades 6 thru 8). If you would like to receive more information regarding this dynamic new program, please contact April Eschberger, Grants and Compliance Manager at (512)430-6000 – or Allen Sanders, Community Relations Director at (512)430-6112 – Tiger E.Y.E.S. applications are available on the Rockdale ISD website @





2016 Sept 28: RJH Programs

Speaking from the experience of being a former junior high administrator, I understand how hard dealing with change can be for junior high students. This week Kelly Blair, Rockdale Junior High Principal, has information regarding various ways she and her staff are working to assist students with this issue.

          Junior High can be one of the most difficult transitions for students.  Some students are coming from the elementary level and experiencing multiple teachers for the first time while others are simply adjusting to secondary education and the added responsibilities that come along with that.  The pressures of junior high include everything from greater academic expectations, social pressures, and of course, “fitting in”. 

          One of our goals this year is to provide all students with as many opportunities as possible to get involved with their campus, take ownership of their education, and find intrinsic motivation.  Rockdale Junior High has worked very hard to evaluate our student strengths, weaknesses, and needs in order to provide these opportunities.  Listed below are only a few of the opportunities that our campus is providing along with a brief explanation of each one:

SUCCEED Elective Class

Before moving into high school, all junior high students will have taken the SUCCEED elective class which mirrors the AVID elective class at the high school.  This program provides daily guidance on organizational skills, peer tutoring, leadership skills, team building activities, and provides students with college readiness skills. 



Academic Intervention Schedule

Early intervention is critical to academic success!  Rockdale Junior High is now offering intervention before, during, and after school.  Every Tuesday and Thursday, our campus works on a modified schedule to incorporate a 30 minute “flex” time called Tiger Time.  Teachers select students in need of additional support each six weeks and those who are not selected, are exposed to the SUCCEED curriculum in more depth.  A tutorial matrix will be sent home with report cards and parents are encouraged to sit with their child to create a schedule for them to obtain academic support based on their needs.

Student Recognition

Each six weeks, Rockdale Junior High will hold an awards assembly in which students will be recognized for excellence in the following areas: Perfect Attendance, A Honor Roll, A/B Honor Roll, Conduct Excellence, and STAR Student.  Each teacher will select 1 student as their ‘STAR Student’ in their particular subject.  Parents are encourage to attend.  The first awards assembly is scheduled for Tuesday, October 4th.

Clubs on Campus

Rockdale Junior High has restructured and added a few clubs/events to include more students in extra-curricular activities as well as having a voice on campus.  Some of these include: 6th Grade Spirit Club, Photo Club, Principal Luncheon, NJHS, STUCO, and the LEO club. 

2016 Sept 21: RIS Play Ground Volunteers

The community of Rockdale continues to provide opportunities for us to appreciate the small town in which we live. Kathy Pelzel, Rockdale Intermediate School principal, has information she would like to share this week that further proves just how lucky we are.

           I’m not sure if the members of our wonderful community have had an opportunity to drive by Rockdale Intermediate School this year. Not everyone has a student attending on our campus. If you haven’t, I encourage you to drive by and see our new playground equipment! The students have been enjoying it immensely this year. It was a much needed upgrade that would not have been possible without some incredible generosity and hard work.

           David Yarbrough, the PTO, Alpha Tau Delta and Lin Perry made extremely generous donations in order to make all this new equipment a reality. With the monetary donations we were able to purchase a wonderful playset and materials to build swing sets. Once the equipment was ordered, Perry and Perry Builders used their equipment and knowledgeable staff to accept delivery and begin setting up the equipment.

           As you can imagine, this is quite an undertaking. Perry and Perry Builders’ donation included labor and equipment necessary to get the project completed over the summer so it would be ready for students when they returned this year. We had two weekends where members of our community came out in the heat of the day and worked alongside Perry & Perry's crew to construct the playground for us. We had people doing everything from painting to assembling set pieces and setting them in the ground. It was a massive amount of work but our volunteers rolled up their sleeves and got it done with a smile on their faces,​ albeit a sweaty one.

           While we are so very grateful to have this new addition to our campus, this is not the best part of the project. The lesson learned by our students is the greatest gift we received to start the 2016/2017 school year. Our students witnessed what happens when folks in a community set a goal and work together to accomplish it. This project teaches Rockdale students that volunteerism can have a profound and lasting impact on the lives of others. Volunteering time to swing a hammer or dig a hole can be every bit as helpful and rewarding as the generous monetary donations. We are now the proud recipients of a symbol representing what can be accomplished by a determined community that isn’t afraid of a little hard work.

          We challenge our students to reach farther and work hard each day in the classroom. When the children go outside for recess and enjoy all the new equipment, they can literally see evidence of how much our community loves them. These aren’t just values we preach. Our community lives these values and demonstrates them constantly. This is permanent,​ tangible evidence of what we hope to instill in our students as they grow into responsible, giving​ adults.

2016 Sept 14: RHS College Readiness

The 2016- 17 school year is well under way, and this week Ms. Tiffany Commerford, Rockdale High School Principal, would like to share information regarding the opportunities available on her campus for RHS students getting ready for college.

It’s never too early to start planning for college and career options.  At Rockdale High School we have started asking our students about their upcoming plans.  This Wednesday evening our counselors  planned a College Readiness Night in conjunction with our RHS Open House from 6:00 – 7:30pm at Rockdale High School. When visiting with students, counselors and administrators are reminding them of deadlines for exams, encouraging them to be aware of deadlines for admissions, and helping them to understand the importance of financial aid and scholarships that are available this year. Our College Readiness Night will help both students and parents in this important next step in their lives.

The fall semester is crucial for juniors and seniors; here are some key items to remember for the fall:

Stay on track with your classes and grades.
Know what your transcript looks like.  Check on your class rank and your Grade Point Average. Even if your grades haven’t been that good so far, it’s never too late to improve. Colleges like to see an upward trend.

Evaluate your education options.
Now is the time to follow a more specific path. Decide whether you want to pursue full-time employment, further education or training (such as a vocational-technical school, career college, or two-year or four-year college), or a military career.

Make a college list.
Your list of colleges should include schools that meet your most important criteria (size, location, cost, academic majors, or special programs). Weigh each of the factors according to their importance to you and develop a preliminary list.  It is important to have a list when registering for the ACT and SAT.

Continue gathering information.
Attend college fairs, go on college visits, research your college online, and reach out to college admission specialists. You may be able to narrow your choices or add a school to your list.

Organize a testing plan.
Figure out when you’ll be taking important tests like the SAT, ACT, and Advanced Placement exams, and mark the dates on your calendar. You’ll want to have plenty of time to prepare.

Make sure you’re meeting any special requirements.
If you want to play Division I or II sports in college, start the certification process and check with your counselor.

Whether you have high school freshman or a senior finishing up their high school career, there’s something you can be doing now to better your college and scholarship search, and help them plan for their next steps. The administration and counseling staff at Rockdale High School are dedicated to help you and your young adult succeed during this exciting yet often challenging time in your lives. Feel free to contact our staff anytime you have questions or need additional information. We are there for you!

2016 Sept 7: Rockdale ISD iTigers (After-school Program)

The Rockdale ISD iTigers Program has provided after school tutorials and enrichment activities for students for a number of years in our district. Over the summer Rockdale ISD received some great news regarding the funding of this important program. Leesa Perez, Rockdale Junior High iTigers Coordinator, has more information about iTigers and the program’s funding.

ITigers to continue!  RISD is fortunate and thankful to be among the recipients for the Cycle 9, 21st CCLC ACE grant award!  This means that our after school program can continue to provide students with academic assistance, enrichment and college and career readiness activities.  In addition, our site coordinators are working hard to bring meaningful opportunities for parents, as well.  Your suggestions and ideas are much needed and valued!  If you haven’t completed a parent survey, please contact your campus iTigers Coordinator for details.

  • RES iTigers Coordinator – Valarie Willingham – 512.430.6144
  • RIS iTigers Coordinator – Sandy Robbins – 512.430.6226
  • RJH iTigers Coordinator – Leesa Perez – 512.430.6072
  • RHS iTigers Coordinator – Kristin Jakubik – 512.430.6013

It is hard to believe our campuses are buzzing with activity and another year of iTigers is under way.  In the hustle and bustle of things, it is sometimes easy to overlook information, paperwork, or events.  Please make sure that you fill out and return any iTigers forms that your student(s) bring home.  We don’t want them to miss out on the wonderful opportunities that await them!

In addition to our students, we want to see you!  We will be sending a calendar of iTigers parent/student events home with your student. You may also check out our Facebook page for details of upcoming events and ongoing activities. Please help us get the information out by “liking” and “sharing” the iTigers Facebook page. We are excited to announce that every Tuesday evening, our campuses will provide parent involvement opportunities. Listed below are a couple of opportunities for September:

  • September 13 – Computer Lab for RJH iTigers Parents, RJH, starting at 5:15 p.m.
  • September 20 – PTO Meeting – RJH Commons, starting at 6:00 p.m.
  • September 27 – ** Healthy Eating/Cooking Demo – RJH Commons, starting at 5:45 p.m.
    • Courtney Paulsen will give a brief presentation on healthy eating habits
    • Trevor Lee will give a demonstration on healthy meals

Each month will be a similar schedule, with new spins on the district wide activity each time! When you see the double asterisk (**), it denotes a district wide activity.  For the fall semester, district wide iTigers activities will take place on the fourth Tuesday of each month.

Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your child’s education!

“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” ~ Malcom X

2016 Aug 24: Back to School with Positive Values

The “Good Ole Days of Summer” have come to a bitter sweet end for Rockdale ISD students, teachers and parents. Students have enjoyed days full of leisure and fun, but most felt the need to get back to the routine of school. More importantly, they looked forward to catching up with friends they have not seen or talked to all summer.      Teachers have also enjoyed the summer, and have been working the last couple of weeks prior to the first day preparing for their classes. They too were ready to resume the routine, and were glad to get their students back in their classrooms on Monday. Parents were definitely ready for the first day of school, probably more so than the first two groups mentioned.         

Speaking of parents, you play a crucial role in the development of strong positive values that are established at a very early age of all children. Positive values and actions that are modeled by parents provide their children with experiences that emphasize the importance of positive behaviors. When parents offer an environment that is based on strong morals and values, they:

  • Help their children to know the difference between right and wrong.
  • Encourage them to become independent
  • Develop their integrity
  • Help them to listen to their conscience
  • Develop healthy happy children and later adults

Peer pressure has a powerful impact on children, but if children have a strong support system with positive values, they will have the tools to make the right decisions and not “follow the crowd” thus avoiding negative consequences.

Search Institute researchers have identified 6 positive values that are critical to help young people to develop into healthy and happy adults. They are: 

  1. Caring – The value of helping and caring for other people.
  2. Equality and Social Justice – The value of promoting equality and reducing hunger and poverty.
  3. Integrity – The value of acting on convictions and standing up for their beliefs.
  4. Honesty – The value of telling the truth even when is not the easy thing to do.
  5. Responsibility – The value of accepting and taking personal responsibility.
  6. Restraint – The value of believing that it is important not to be sexually active or use drugs/alcohol.

Children today have a multitude of influences that were not present in our daily lives 20 or more years ago. Cell phones, the internet and social media have changed the landscape of our society, but the basis of strong, positive values has not changed. If children have a foundation built on strong positive values, they can overcome the negative influences and take advantage of these innovations using them in a way that is productive rather than destructive. Parents must be willing to understand the responsibility they to their children, and put forth the effort to teach their children the positive values they need to be healthy, happy and successful.

As we begin the 2016-17 school year, it is very important to remember that you, the parents, are the most influential part of your children’s lives, and the next in line are your children’s teachers. Rockdale ISD staff members are committed to providing the children of Rockdale the best opportunity possible to learn, and at the same time reinforce the values you have taught them. Together, we can make the difference in the lives of our children that can last a lifetime.

2016 May 25: iTigers Summer Offerings and Grant Renewal

It definitely seems like yesterday that the RISD was one of the privileged school districts to receive the 5 year ACE Grant that could fund our after school programs on all campuses. This grant was the beginning of what is now well known as the Rockdale iTigers ACE After School Program. We have been very fortunate for the last 5 years to have this program as a part of our school district. This week Denice Doss has information regarding upcoming iTigers Summer Activities, and hopefully, we will also receive some great news about the program’s grant renewal.

As the regular school year is winding down the iTigers ACE Program is gearing up for summer activities.  Our summer school and camps will extend from June 6-June 30, Monday-Thursday, from 8:00 am to 12:50 pm.  The coordinators are planning on some great events for summer that will help our students not only have fun but stay busy with enrichment activities.

One of our activities that definitely interest the high school students is Drivers’ Education.  The grant pays for $170 for RHS students with the student paying $220.00.  We will have a meeting about Drivers’ Education in May for all the parents to give you an idea of what is expected, the rules, etc.

During the month of June at the high school we have several field trips planned, regular swimming, and a host of activities.  Also if your child needs credit recovery we will also have that available.  Have your student sign up in the office if they are coming to summer school—especially if they will need a bus.

Junior High and High School summer school/camps will meet at the High School and Elementary/Intermediate summer school will meet at the Elementary School .  Call your child’s school for more details on summer school and camps.

This is year 5 (and the last year of this grant cycle) of this ACE iTigers program and we will find out in the summer if the grant has been renewed.  The iTigers program makes such a difference in our students’ lives and we are hopeful that the program will continue.  We will be looking forward to the announcement this summer.

2016 May 18: RISD Volunteers Recognized

“Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.” ~ Sherry Anderson       

          Rockdale ISD has always had a deep appreciate for the countless hours our parents and community members have donated for the success of our students and events each school year. I became a part of this community over 30 years ago, and I continue to be proud of the community members that are willing to commit their time, money or other resources.

          From the beginning of our school year in August to the end of the year in May, volunteers work tirelessly to coordinate Cake Auctions, Volleyball and Football concession stands, inventory library books, teach iTigers classes, Fall Festivals, Spaghetti Suppers and the list can go on and on. At the end of the day, the Community of Rockdale has a number of selfless individuals that are willing to go the extra mile to not only provide opportunities for our students, but make them great in the process.

        Recently, the Rockdale ISD recognized many of our volunteers at a luncheon on the Rockdale Junior High campus. Those who were able to attend were treated with a delicious meal provided by the district and our food service manager Mr. Trevor Lee of Southwest Foods. Our volunteers were graciously served by another group of volunteers, students, from our Rockdale Junior High Student Council. Our luncheon guests also enjoyed music selections played by the RJH Concert Band directed by Mr. Marco Estrada.

          Each of our volunteers was given the opportunity to introduce themselves, and describe what role they had while volunteering for Rockdale ISD. During these introductions, I felt humbled listening to their comments that were more expressions of gratitude for their being allowed to give their time for the benefit our students and school district.

          I began this column with a quote about volunteers which is one of my favorites by Sherry Anderson, and I will end it with another favorite.

“You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give.” ~ Winston Churchill

           As a small token of Rockdale ISD’s appreciation our volunteers attending the luncheon were given a coffee mug with the Rockdale Independent School District logo, and the quote from Mr. Churchill.

         On behalf of Rockdale ISD, I again want to express our appreciation for all of our parents and community members who chose to donate their time, money and effort to support our students and school district.

2016 May 11: Senioritis, again?

The topic this week is one, as a former high school principal and parent of a high school senior, I can whole heartily relate to and understand. Ms. Tiffany Commerford, Rockdale High School Principal, has been dealing with disorder that occurs during this time of year, and has some suggestions for parents to help with the symptoms.


            It’s the seasonal affliction that all high school seniors and parents are warned about. Many high school seniors, fresh off of spring break and finishing up the last of their college applications, begin to lag. Missing class, not doing homework, getting lower grades on assignments they would usually ace - all signs of the ever-present ‘senioritis.’

            It’s not hard to understand why many seniors crash second semester. After months of preparing for the college admissions process, hitting ‘submit’ on that last college application can feel like collapsing across a huge finish line. What many students fail to realize, however, is that completing applications isn’t the end of the journey - it’s just the beginning.

            So what’s the cure for senioritis? While scare-tactics like the threat of holding high school diplomas, rescinded college acceptances, and lost financial aid are the usual go-to, it’s important to remember that battling the spring semester slump is a marathon, not a sprint. While it’s necessary to highlight what’s at stake, students need to arm themselves with the tools to combat the temptation to slack, not just the threat of consequences.

Set small goals. Rather than focusing on the large, long-term goal, students should set smaller, more manageable goals until the end. Get a 90 or above on the next calculus exam. Finish my history report a week early so I can get feedback from my teacher. Set aside an hour every week to prep for AP exams and complete scholarships. By breaking down goals into smaller chunks, students can focus on one task at a time.

Improve study habits. By now most seniors have a good handle on how to study and prepare for tests, but there’s always room for improvement. Students should schedule study time directly into their calendars so they can hold themselves accountable. Focus on consistently reviewing material for a test, rather than cramming the night before. Not only will these study habits help combat senioritis, it will also prepare students for the rigors of a college come fall.

Take some time to relax. Often the pressure to succeed can be the biggest factor causing students to slack. It’s important for students to take some time to recharge. Spend time with friends and family. Set aside some quiet time to read a favorite book or focus on a personal project that’s been put off. Students should embrace down time and use it to relax, reset, and prepare for their next goal.

2016 May 4: Consequences-Natural

           The art of being a parent can be a challenge especially when it comes to consequences for certain behaviors. But in many cases, the most effective consequences require you to do nothing at all.

          Most of us learn from our mistakes. If we drive too fast, we might get a ticket – an expensive lesson. Our children are no different, and they will also learn well from their mistakes.

          For instance, if your child doesn’t do his/her homework, he/she might get detention and/or a bad grade for missing an assignment. That’s the consequence. If your toddler keeps taking their mittens or gloves off when it is cold outside, he/she might get cold hands. Rather than attempting to change your child’s course, you can choose to let them experience the natural consequences of their choices.

          As with many things in parenting, this can be emotionally challenging. After all, you don’t want your son or daughter to get a bad grade! Or you may feel like you’re not doing your job if you let the school’s consequence be enough. Likewise, you want your son or daughter to have warm hands, and you may feel like a bad parent if they not dressed the way they “should be.”

Here are four ways to make natural consequences work for you:

  1. Stay on the lookout for natural consequences.They are all around us. If you are accustomed to giving consequences for certain behaviors, you might not see how well a natural consequence can work.
  2. Don’t save your child from a natural consequence.Many parents have a hard time watching their child experience the physical or psychological discomfort that can be such a powerful learning experience. But your child learns best if he/she experiences the entire scenario with his/her choice and the consequence that follows. You can certainly give your child a warning, but if he/she decides to ignore your advice, allow the consequence to happen without intervening. Of course parents need to intervene if you think there’s serious risk or danger involved.
  3. Recognize when a natural consequence is enough.If your child rides his/her bike too fast and he/she falls, that may be all the consequence they need. Shaken up and scraped, he/she probably learned his/her lesson and will change their behavior next time. An additional consequence isn’t necessary.
  4. Watch for changing behavior…or not.Observe what happens the next time your child repeats the behavior. Did they learn from their previous experience? If you see change, great. If not, evaluate whether you need to intervene and give another consequence.

          Natural consequences are very powerful learning opportunities; they help your child learn on their own and become more responsible for their actions or choices. Knowing when and how to let them work for you and your child involves some letting go, allowing your child to experience the consequence when appropriate, and looking for signs of change.

2016 Apr 27: RIS Student Council

It is always very inspiring to see students, at any grade level, showing pride and leadership on our campuses. This week our Rockdale Intermediate School Principal Mrs. Kathy Pelzel would like to recognize an important group of leaders on her campus.

        Rockdale Intermediate School Student Council has had a very busy year this year. In October, our students began fundraising for the district’s first ever Coins for a Cure. Proceeds were targeted to support childhood cancer research. They then began our second 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 tripling 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. 

        This year the Student Council also started a new fundraising campaign with the “Happy Grams Valentine” slide show that was shown during the week of Valentine’s.  That project had no overhead and raised just over $260.  The Student Council is also looking forward to helping this year’s 2nd grade students tour the Intermediate Campus so they can become familiar with their new school for next year. 

        Over spring break the Student Council sponsor Mrs. Reisner filled out an application for a Student Council Excellence Award from the National Association of Elementary School Principals Foundation (NAESPF).  To earn this award the Student Council had to participate in at least two school spirit, community service, student leadership or citizenship projects.  Only 140 Student Councils in the entire state of Texas were awarded this honor.  This coming fall the officers will be recognized and honored at the Student Council Workshop they will attend. 

        It is truly an honor and privilege for our students to win this award for the second year in a row.  The staff and administration at Rockdale Intermediate School could not be any prouder of our Rockdale Intermediate Student Council.  We look forward to many more exciting projects from them in the future.