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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 Apr 20: Miller-Starnes Chevrolet-Buick recognized for "Standing Up for Texas Public Schools"

Miller-Starnes Chevrolet/Buick was recognized by the Rockdale ISD Board of Trustees at their last regular meeting for its outstanding support of the students and schools in the Rockdale ISD. Included during this special recognition, Miller-Starnes was recognized at the state level, the Texas Association of School Boards selected Miller-Starnes in their “Standing Up for Texas Public Schools” business recognition program.

                Miller–Starnes Chevrolet/Buick has a long history of supporting the Rockdale ISD Schools and Organizations, and even though they are a small business in a small town, they have a big impact in several ways.

                Sponsorships are annual contributions that Miller-Starnes makes to help support RISD organizations. They sponsor various school programs such as Friday night football program adds and fan contests, yearbook adds, attendance incentives, fundraisers and even scoreboards.

                Miller-Starnes has donated funds for the RISD Band, Athletic, Cheerleader, Career and Technology Education, and Drill Team programs. They have also donated to the Lions Club and Rotary Club’s Scholarships for graduating seniors.

                The Rockdale Junior High School’s Annual Career Day has been supported by Miller-Starnes for a number of years. The owners, sales manager and business manager have all made presentations during the event, and their exhibit is always very popular with our students.

                Miller-Starnes has allowed their employees to attend our Rockdale ISD Parent/Teacher Conference Days every time they are offered, and they have encouraged their workers to attend these conferences to make contact with their children’s teachers.

                Our students, parents and teachers directly benefit from companies such as this that are willing to stand up for public schools, not just in words but their actions. We applaud these community partners for their participation and hope that this will continue to be a strong relationship in the years to come.

                Rockdale ISD’s staff and students owe Miller-Starnes a great debt of gratitude for their support of our school district over the years since its establishment in 1963.

2016 Apr 13: RISD Career and Technology Department (CTE)

This week our CTE Director Ms. Sari McCoy has some exciting news from her department, and I will fully agree with her regarding how quickly this school year has flown by as we complete our 5th Six Weeks of school this Friday.

            What a great year it has been in Rockdale ISD. I am so proud of the efforts and accomplishments of our students and staff. As I write this note, I am amazed that there is only a month and a half left of school! With spring sports in action, beautiful skies, and warmer days, it is easy to be distracted. Please help us encourage our students to stay the course and finish strong.

            The Career and Technology Department (CTE) is excited to host our first CTE Advisory Council meeting on April 20, 2016. We are committed to preparing all students for success, in post-secondary education and in the 21st Century Workforce, through rigorous academic, real-world industry, and leadership training.  As we prepare our students to be contributing members of our global society, we rely on the partnership of business and community stakeholders to ensure that we are providing the most up-to-date instruction.

            In planning for the future, the CTE Department is evaluating opportunities to offer more industry certifications to our students than ever before. These possible certifications include software applications, such as Microsoft Office and Adobe, Carpentry, OSHA – 5 and 10 hour, Veterinary Technician, Floral Design, and Healthcare Certifications. We are excited about the industry knowledge and skills that we can offer the students of Rockdale ISD.

            Thank you, Rockdale community, for supporting all of our students in their achievements. We continue to serve our students well because of your generosity and collaboration. It’s a great day to be a Tiger!

2016 Mar 30: RJH's Family Science, Math, and Art Night

Parent involvement in their child's education is very important for success no matter the age of the student. Involved parents make sure their children have great attendance, complete their home work and assist their children with projects just to name a few ways. Due to various reasons, these examples can sometimes be extremely challenging. In an effort to offer an alternative to the more typical ways, a couple of weeks ago Rockdale Junior High held an event that invited junior high students and their parents to experience educational involvement in a fun and competitive way. Principal April Eschberger has provided us with the details below.

Last week the junior high hosted our annual Family Science, Math and Art Night. This year the activities involved a little friendly competition between students and grade levels. The evening started off with spaghetti tower building. Students were partnered and received a bag of raw spaghetti and marshmallows. The object of the competition was to build the largest tower made from just these two items. The second competition of the evening was building a cup pyramid using plastic cups. While this may sound like an easy task, the students were not allowed to touch the cups with their hands. They were given pieces of string and rubber bands to move the cups and stack them in a pyramid faster than any of the teams. The final competition of the evening involved students building a catapult to launch a plastic army man. Items given to students included paper cups, rubber bands, plastic spoons, and wooden sticks.

While the activities allowed for fun and competition, all of the tasks involved critical thinking skills, a key component in science and education. Before each activity teams were given a small amount of planning time to discuss strategy and the ideas to complete the tasks. Walking among the teams during the planning was interesting as students engaged in relevant conversations about how to engineer their design, why something would or would not work, or how to use the given tools in the construction. These critical thinking skills are sought by employers nationwide. Even though the critical thinking was used in science activities, these same thinking skills can be applied to all subject areas and tasks. Parents were able to participate in the competition with their child as a partner or were able to watch as their child teamed up with another student to participate in the events.

Also on display that evening was the student art work done through art classes. There were beautiful and amazing pieces of art done by students in the categories or design, painting, drawing, and a new category of science art. Thank you to our parents and students for attending and our volunteers for helping run the activities.

2016 Mar 23: Texas Public Schools Week at RISD

Texas Public Schools Week activities have long been a part of Rockdale ISD’s offerings where we invite parents, grandparents and guardians to come and enjoy being with their children at school. This week Rockdale Intermediate School Principal Kathy Pelzel has the opportunity to share some information and background regarding this annual event.

Texas Public Shools Week was officially celebrated at Rockdale ISD March 7th - March 11th. The celebration of Texas Public Schools is not a new idea. It began with the Masonic Lodges of Texas in 1950 as a way to recognize and celebrate the free education system available to the children of Texas. In modern times, we use it as a platform to encourage parents, grandparents, and guardians to have an opportunity to participate more directly in our classrooms.

This year Rockdale Intermediate School was pleased to welcome 198 visitors who participated in a variety of activities.  Some of our visiting parents and grandparents read to their child’s class which they loved. Others had breakfast with us in the cafeteria. Many observed projects on which students have been working. There was a plethora of both opportunities and participation by a wide variety of people. All of these things added to a much needed and greatly appreciated injection of community involvement with our students.

 A quick look at the website of the Center for Public Education reveals a study done by Southwest Educational Development Laboratory which in 2002 synthesized 51 prior studies and concluded that students with highly involved parents were much more likely to earn higher grades, be promoted, pass all of their classes, attend school regularly, have better social skills with improved behavior, graduate and go on to post-secondary education. All of the activities our visitors participated in can be attributed to that lofty and important goal. It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child and Texas Public School Week gives our community an opportunity to be that village.

Rockdale Intermediate school would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the people who took time out of their busy schedules to be a part of our learning environment and contribute. Our students love to have their families join them on campus and we were thrilled to have a chance to do it. We look forward to it every year and we hope that you will remember us next year and come see us for the 2017 event.


2016 Mar 9: School Transportation and Safety

School and Transportation safety has always been an important objective in the Rockdale ISD. Our school administrators and staff are devoted to the safety and security of our students, and we want to reassure our parents of this commitment. Parental “Peace of Mind” is the goal, so parents can feel comforted knowing their child is safe in our care. Mr. Kurt Streck at Rockdale Elementary School has some important tips for bus safety this week.

          For the safety of our bus students, please note the following safety tips for riders.

  • Do not run and play while waiting at the bus stop.
  • Upon entering the bus, go directly to a seat.
  • Speak quietly to the driver and always be silent when at a railroad crossing.
  • Keep the aisles clear at all times and keep feet in front of you.
  • Hands should be kept to yourself at all times.
  • Use inside voices and stay in your seat until told to move.
  • Never return to the bus to get something you have left. It will be returned to you later.
  • Always cross in front of the bus and never speak to any strangers on your way home.
  • With your cooperation, Rockdale Elementary School can insure a safe bus trip for all students.

With the recent challenges to school and bus safety, we at Rockdale ISD want to stay “proactive” rather than “reactive” in regards to the safety of our students and staff.

2016 Feb 17: RHS FASFA Night

Getting ready for that next step from high school, college, can be a little intimidating especially for first time parents. If you as a parent have questions or need some helpful advice, Rockdale High School has a great opportunity for you. Ms. Tiffany Commerford, RHS Principal, has for us this week information about an upcoming event that could answer many if not all of your questions.

On Wednesday, February 24, 2016 at 6:00pm Rockdale High School will host a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) Night for parents.

If you’re a parent of a college-bound child, the financial aid process can seem a bit overwhelming.  Who’s considered the parent? Who do you include in household size?  How do assets and tax filing fit into the process? Does this have to be done every year?  Here are some common questions that parents have when helping their children prepare for and pay for college or career school: 

Why does my child need to provide my information on the FAFSA?

While the federal government provides nearly $150 billion in financial aid each year, dependency guidelines for the FAFSA are determined by Congress. Even if your child supports himself, he may still be considered a dependent student for federal student aid purposes. If your child was born on or after January 1, 1992, then he or she is most likely considered a dependent student and you’ll need to include your information on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

your children but who live with you and for whom you provide more than half of their support Who’s considered a parent when completing the FAFSA?

If your child needs to report parent information, here are some guidelines to help:

  • If the child’s legal parents (biological and/or adoptive parents) are married to each other, answer the questions about both of them.
  • If the child’s legal parents are not married to each other and live together, answer the questions about both of them.
  • If the child’s parent is widowed or was never married, answer the questions about that parent.

More information on who’s considered the parent can be found here

Who’s considered part of the household?

When completing your child’s FAFSA, you should include in the household size: parents, any dependent student(s), and any other child who lives at home and receives more than half of their support from you.  Also include any people who are not.

Do we need to wait to apply until I file my income taxes?

Deadlines in some states are before the tax filing deadline so you’ll want to ensure your child files his or her FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1st to maximize financial aid. You do not need to wait until you file your federal tax return.  If you haven’t done your taxes by the time your child completes the FAFSA, you can estimate amounts based on the previous year if nothing has drastically changed.  After you file your taxes, you’ll need to log back in to the FAFSA and correct any estimated information.  If you’ve already filed your taxes, you can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to automatically pull in your tax information directly from the IRS into the FAFSA. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool will be available February 1, 2015.

Do I need to do this every year?

Yes, you and your child need to complete the FAFSA each year in order for your child to be considered for federal student aid.  The good news is that each subsequent year you can use the Renewal Application option so you only have to update information that has changed from the previous year!

What else do I need to know before I begin?

Even if you think your child will not be eligible for financial aid they still need to fill out FASFA for scholarship opportunities.

You’ll need to get a PIN and have all the necessary documents before you begin.  Here’s a handy checklist:

We look forward to seeing parents and students for FASFA Night next week.  There will be staff from Temple College to help parents with the process.

2016 Feb 10: Helpful Suggestions for JH Parents

Adolescent years can sometimes be a tough time for both the adolescent and parent. These are years full of transitions and changes that are both physical and emotional. This week Mrs. April Eschberger, Rockdale Junior High Principal, has some suggestions that can help parents and students during this time of their lives.

Junior high can be a difficult for many students and their parents. At this age, students are becoming more independent and may not want to communicate with their parents about school as much. Often their social world becomes a central focus as they gain this independence. But be assured that there are still many ways to keep up with your middle school child and know what is going on with their academics and help them be successful students. This week we have a few tips that will help parents. First, stay in contact with teachers. Using our automated grading system, Skyward, your child’s grades and attendance are just a few clicks away. You can see what grades they are receiving, if they have missing assignments, and send emails to teachers.

Set a specific time for your child to do their homework each night. Select a quiet place where they can do the work. Students at junior high should be reading 20-30 minutes each night. It is a good idea to mix up the reading between both fiction and nonfiction reading. The more a child reads the greater his or her comprehension and vocabulary increase.  A suggestion is to also take your child’s technology including phones, TV, and video games, when they are working on homework so that he or she can dedicate their full attention to academics. If the homework requires technology, periodically check the screen to be sure that the student is focused and making progress on the assignment. Another great way to help your child in middle school is to help them stay organized.

Because middle school students have multiple teachers and travel to many classrooms throughout the day it is important to develop an organization system such as writing assignment in a planner, having a homework folder, or having folders for each class with the necessary supplies. Checking with you child on a regular basis and asking them about their organization system can help them as they transition to junior high and then on to high school.

Another important skill to work on with your child in middle school is to learn the importance of studying for tests and developing skills to study. A parent can help a student by quizzing them on subject material, creating flashcards, underlining or highlighting important concepts when reading, taking notes, writing summaries, or outlining material. Be sure to ask your child for suggestions on how you can help them and what they need. As a parent you do not have to know everything about the subject matter to help them develop study habits and strategies. All of these tips will help your child be successful in the middle grades. It is never too early to begin working on good study habits!

2016 Feb 3: RIS Jump Rope for Heart

Rockdale Intermediate School will kick off their Jump Rope For Heart fundraiser and fitness program this Friday. 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. Jump Rope 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 $327 million 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 26 years. Our community was very giving last year as Rockdale Intermediate School students raised almost $9,900. This year, we have set our goal at $10,000! Please help support our students as they work to meet this goal.  Fundraising will begin on Friday, February 5, 2016 and will continue through Friday, February 26, 2016 when our jumping event will take place. Please contact Regan Fritsche at or 512-430-6200 for more information or to make donations.

2016 Jan 27: Jump Rope for Heart/Hoops for Heart

Health and Wellness is a very important part of all of our lives, and as we all know good habits, whether it be for health or other aspects of our lives, need to start early. This week Robin Faulkner, Rockdale Elementary Physical Education Teacher, would like to give us important information regarding heart healthy programs going on at Rockdale Elementary and Rockdale Intermediate Schools.

Rockdale Elementary and Rockdale Intermediate Schools are excited to be participating in the upcoming Hoops/Jump Rope for Heart event.  Hoops/Jump Rope For Heart is a community service learning program of the American Heart Association. While learning and practicing basketball skills orjump roping skills it teaches students:

*the importance of developing heart-healthy habits;

*that being physically active can be fun;

*that raising funds to support cardiovascular research and education helps save lives in their community and across the country.

Since the program began millions of students have learned basketball/jump ropingl skills while learning how nutrition and physical activity can help them live longer, healthier lives. With the educational programs from the American Heart Association , our students learn how the heart works, how exercise affects their hearts and how to stay fit for life.  Why is it important that we support our students in this effort:

*Heart disease is the nation’s No. 1 killer.

*Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the U.S.

*Our children are developing significant health issues that can shorten their life expectancy.

  -Almost a third of U.S. children and adolescents between the ages of 2 and 19 are overweight or obese.

  -Children who are obese are more than twice as likely to die before age 55.

  -Sixty-one percent of children ages 9-13 aren’t physically active outside of school.

  -On average, American children and adolescents spend nearly four hours watching television every day.

The American Heart Association is a major advocate for children’s health. Last year AHA funded nearly $16 million in new research awards broadly related to children’s heart disease.  AHA funding for pediatric cardiac research is second only to the federal government. The AHA advocates for federal and state governments to improve physical education and nutrition wellness in schools. AHA provides life-saving CPR courses for middle school and high school students so they can properly react during emergency situations. AHA and the National Football League have teamed up to create the NFL PLAY 60 Challenge, a program that inspires kids to get the daily recommended 60 minutes of physical activity in school and at home.

What are Rockdale Elementary/Intermediate School’s and American Heart Association’s goals for Hoops/Jump Rope For Heart?

*Increase student’s knowledge of how their hearts work and the best way to to take care of them.

*Honor those in our community who have been affected by heart disease and stroke.

*Raise funds to support the American Heart Association’s efforts to build healthier lives, free of   cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

Since 1978, Hoops For Heart and Jump Rope For Heart have raised more than $1.2 billion for research and educational programs.  Rockdale Elementary/Intermediate students will begin  fundraising the week of February 8th and continue through February 28th.  Parents will receive an information letter brought home by the students.  Information will also be available on the RES/RIS website for community contributions or go directly to:


We hope you are as excited as we are to support our students in this important experience.

2016 Jan 13: Rockdale ISD iTigers Update Spring 2016

The Rockdale ISD iTigers ACE After School Programs are back in business at each of our campuses, and this week Leesa Perez, Rockdale Junior High School iTigers Campus Coordinator, has information regarding offerings for the 2016 Spring Semester.

            RJH iTigers is in full swing for the spring semester! We have lots of activities going on after school. In preparation for the upcoming STAAR tests, we will be offering many tutorial sessions throughout the week. Please ask your student if they have received an invitation to attend those tutorials. In addition, we will still offer homework help and we have added a “reading room” on Mondays and Tuesdays, as well as a session for students to work on their assignments on Thursdays.  

            We also have enrichment classes that include: theater, cooking, sewing, crafts, soccer, tennis, wii, college and career readiness, softball and karate. There are several activities each day for students to choose from and they are free for your student! In order for your student to attend iTigers at the Junior High, they must have a completed iTiger form on file. If your student does not have a form on file, he/she may pick one up at the office or from Mrs. Perez. We encourage all students to take advantage of the opportunities presented through RJH iTigers.

***A SPECIAL THANK YOU for your kindness and generosity with the iTiger theater program***

  • Antique Queens and Jewels for loaning us tables, chairs, prom dresses, etc.

Furthermore, as a district wide program, ACE (iTigers) offers opportunities for parents and the community, too!

  • The first Monday of each month, iTigers hosts a Mental Health Awareness presentation. We have had guest speakers Courtney Paulsen and Lynette Guerra talk about sensitive (but important) topics such as: Self Esteem, Bullying, Depression, Anxiety, etc. Although these may not affect you, you likely know someone who deals with one or more of these illnesses/issues. Learn about the signs and symptoms and what to do for someone struggling by joining us each month. Dinner will be provided.


  • iFit is back! Rockdale iTigers offers iFit twice a week: Mondays - 6:30 pm and Wednesdays - 7:00 pm at the RHS weight room. This is also open to the public and it is free! We hope you will seize the opportunity to work with others toward the goal of a “healthier you.”


Thank you for the opportunity to work with your student! If you ever have any questions, please feel free to contact the site coordinator for your child’s campus.

RHS – Denice Doss – 512-430-6140

RJH – Leesa Perez – 512-430-6100

RIS – Sandy Robbins – 512-430-6200

RES – Valarie Willingham – 512-430-6030

2015 Dec 9: RJH UIL Academics Results

Competition is always a great way to encourage participation, and learning. Students at Rockdale Junior High had that opportunity last week, and Principal April Eschberger has a number of results to share with us this week.

Rockdale Junior High School students competed in the academic UIL meet on Thursday, December 3. The meet was held in Franklin and 83 students traveled to the meet to compete in the various events. Mr. Michael Young is the UIL director. The junior high coaches have been working hard with the students for their individual competitions. Art Memory was coached by Mrs. Young. The 6th grade team composed of Hannah Lehmkuhl (6th individual), Jadelynn Warren (4th individual), Heather Murphy (2nd individual), and Payton Shuffield (first individual) placed first. The 7th grade team composed of Averie Hobbs (2nd individual), Jaylynn Stutts (3rd individual), and Mallory McDaniel (4th individual) also placed first. And the 8th grade team placed first with Angel Hollan, Whitley Boyd (3rd individual), Vanessa Reyes (2nd individual), Emily Depine (1st individual), and Marina Costilla (5th individual). The 6th grade calculator team coached by Ms. Austin placed 3rd with Hayden Aguilar, Alize Llanas, and Breanna Avila.

The chess teams were coached by Mrs. Elliott. The 6th grade team placed 2nd with Andrew Hicks (2nd individual), Kade Marburger (6th individual), and Trey Jacob. The 7th grade team placed 1st with McKade Casas (1st individual), Eddie Klekar (2nd individual), and Christian Briggs (3rd individual). The 8th grade chess team placed Logan Plam (2nd individual), Nathan Thomas (4th individual), and Brian Bell (6th individual). Jaylynn Stutts placed 3rd in dictionary skills.

Editorial writing placed several individual writers. Mallory McDaniel placed 3rd, Brande Briethaupt placed 4th, Tyley Arledge placed 3rd, Lane Wallace placed 4th, Xavier Matchett placed 5th, Nick Brindle placed 1st, Devon Whitsel placed 3rd, and Marina Costilla placed 5th. Impromptu speaking coached by Mrs. Roddam placed some individual speakers. Kobe Mitchell placed 2nd, Aaron Avila was 5th, and Anthony Dansby placed 3rd, Jace Robinson placed 4th , and Reese Weise placed 5th. Cady Barcak placed 1st in 6th grade Modern Oratory coached by Mr. King.

Listening Skills coached by Ms. Murphy placed 2nd as a team with Brande Breithaupt (3rd individual), Katia Hernandez (4th individual), and Ivanna Luna. Justice Mayberry placed 1st individual and Hagen Land placed 5th individual in the 7th grade competition. The 8th grade team placed 3rd with Sabrina Pantaleon (6th individual), Devon Whitsel, and Whitley Boyd. Mathematics coached by Mrs. Loewe placed the 6th grade team 3rd with Brande Breithaupt (5th individual), Kade Marburger (6th individual), and Destiny Clarke. Hayden Aguilar placed 6th place in 7th grade competition. The 8th grade team placed 3rd with Keylan Hairston (3rd individual), Jared Stanberry, and Nygia Crawford.

In Maps, Graphs, and Charts coached by Mrs. Cedidla Joseph Miller placed 5th in the 6th grade contest and Xavier Matchett placed 6th in the 7th grade competition. The 8th grade team placed 3rd with Jagger Rubio (6th individual), Payton Miller, and Caleb Cook-Parker. Number Sense coached by Mr. Clark placed 1st as a team in the 6th grade with Jake Hasselbach (1st individual), Hayden Aguilar (2nd individual), and Aiden Borrero (5th individual). The 7th grade team placed 1st with Arianna Eastridge (1st individual), Brayden Burns, and Enrique Rivera. Trey Hill placed 3rd individually and Brandon Hernandez 4th individually in the 8th grade competition.

Oral reading coached by Mrs. Roddam placed Cady Barcak 1st, Taytum Young 3rd, and Katia Hernandez 5th in the sixth grade contest and Lilly Phillips 5th in the seventh grade contest. In Ready Writing coached by Ms. Bexley placed Makailah Huff 5th individual, Ethan Ingram 5th individual, and Kiersten Hyvl 6th individual. Seventh grade science coached by Ms. Thompson placed third with McKade Casas (3rd individual), Caleb Cook-Parker, and Anthony Dansby. The eighth grade science team coached by Mrs. Mynar placed third with Nick Brindle (4th individual), Whitley Boyd (6th individual), and Hailey Bangert. Social Studies coached by Mr. Young placed the 6th grade team second with Jake Hasselbach (2nd individual), Taytum Young, and Creek Windham. The seventh grade team placed second with Ethan Taylor (3rd individual), Hagen Land (4th individual), and McKade Casas. Isaisas Balderas placed 5th individual in the 8th grade competition.

The sixth grade spelling team placed third with Andrea Ruiz (6th individual), Aubrey Brindle, and Talayeh Green. The eighth grade team placed third with Andrea Salazar (5th individual) and Lexi Baggerly. The spelling team coach was Mrs. Scott.

The One-Act Play competition will be held on Tuesday, December 8th in Cameron. Students will be performing “Quiet Please”. This is the first time Rockdale has participated in junior high one-act play. The director is Ms. Andey Perez. The cast are McKade Casas, Michael Radar, Cady Barcak, Brian Perez, Irma Nesbit, Riley Hendeson, Mackenzie Musto. The crew members are Katia Hernandez, Hannah Lehmkuhl, Kiersten Hyvl, Mia Lambright, Nygia Crawford. We are very proud of these one-act play members as they performed dress rehearsal for English classes last Friday. We are excited that many of our students placed in the competitions in Franklin and appreciate their hard work toward UIL.

2015 Dec 2: RIS Reading is a priority

The Holidays are upon us, and I know students and staff thoroughly enjoyed our Thanksgiving Holiday. In less than 3 weeks we will have the opportunity to enjoy the longer Christmas Holidays as well. During those days off, it is important to remember to practice reading skills to insure your child is ready to learn when we return in January. Mrs. Kathy Pelzel, Rockdale Intermediate Principal, has some information that verifies the importance of good reading practices at home.

Reading is important! I think that is something upon which everyone can agree. What benefits do children receive when they invest time in reading each day? The web site Best Books for Kids recently listed the top ten 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.- The written word allows and even requires the reader to paint a mental picture of fantastic events as they unfold. Reading exercises the mind of a child and allows them to imagine exactly the hero or villain they wish rather than the choices made by a movie or television director. The hero you create in your mind is so much more robust than the one created for you in visual media. Reading is always time well spent.

3. Reading improves concentration.- This is something that comes with age.  Focus helps in all aspects of every activity we tackle on a daily basis. It is a critical learning skill. Tackling difficult material requires tenacity and mental endurance. Both of these traits are bolstered while reading. There is so much joy in finding a genre of literature that you love and eagerly devouring the pages to find out what happens next. This is what our children need to learn early and practice often.

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 Rushmoreby 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. The internet may be a great resource for finding a bit of information on a topic but you simply cannot experience a location fully until you lose yourself in a book devoted to the topic.

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 students ability to write. We all agree that we live in the age of technology. The written word is the currency with which employees extend their value to an employer. A copious vocabulary and fluid writing skills will ensure future success.

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. As Christmas vacation nears, I challenge you to find time over the holidays to read each day with your children. If you invest the time to read with and to your children, one day when they are grown they will come back to you and ask for the books they cherished or the names of them at the very least. They will be eager to read these books to their own children. You will have created a family tradition of learning and exploring worlds that can be experienced in no other way.

2015 Nov 26: RES Attendance

Rockdale Elementary has the stage this week, and Sandee Calame, RES Principal, would like to share with you the importance of school attendance on her campus.

Successful schools begin by engaging students and making sure they come to school regularly. In the past session, the Texas Legislature revamped state attendance and truancy laws.  In accordance with these changes, Rockdale Elementary has implemented a Truancy Prevention Measure plan.  When a student accrues three or more unexcused absences within a four week period, parents will be notified.  Parents are then required to call the assistant principal to explain the reason for any absences.  If a student has ten or more unexcused absences within a six month period, the school district is required to file truancy charges against the parent.  Parents can easily avoid any adverse consequences by doing the following:  be sure your child attends school on a regular basis, send a written excuse after all absences, and contact the school office when the child will not be in attendance.

How important is attendance?

The attendance rate is important because students are more likely to succeed in academics when they attend school consistently. It's difficult for the teacher and the class to build their skills and progress if a large number of students are frequently absent. In addition to falling behind in academics, students who are not in school on a regular basis are more likely to get into trouble with the law and cause problems in their communities.

At Rockdale Elementary for perfect attendance students have the opportunity to be chosen as “Top Tigers” and have a chance to win $25 dollar gift certificates donated by the Rockdale Rotary Club. Each week classes with the highest attendance are recognized and noted with a certificate on a board by the office. At the end of each six weeks students also receive a pencil if they have perfect attendance and perfect attendance winners also receive extra recess each six weeks.  We also offer classroom incentives, when a class has six weeks of the highest attendance in their grade level they earn a popcorn party.   We are fortunate that most of our students love attending school!

2015 Nov 18: RISD’s CTE OSHA Certification Recipients

Vocational Education has always been a part of Rockdale ISD’s education program, however in the last decade the emphasis on this important aspect of education has taken a lesser role. Thankfully, in the last few years the pendulum has swung back to revitalize vocational education under the umbrella of Career and Technology Education. Rockdale ISD is very fortunate to have Sari McCoy as our CTE Director, so CTE has this week’s focus.

The weather is changing, jackets are finding their way out of the closet, and we are entering the season of celebration and thanksgiving. It is no different in Rockdale ISD. We have so many things to be thankful for and to celebrate! I would like to take a moment and share just one with you.

This year, in Career and Technology Education (CTE), we offered the OSHA 10-Hour General Industry Certification for the first time. We have just under 100 students sitting for this certification. Mind you, this is not a “modified version” of training, but the actual course that many industries require from their employees.

According to CareerSafeÒ, “The OSHA Outreach Training Program for General Industry provides training for entry level workers and employers on the recognition, avoidance, abatement, and prevention of safety and health hazards in workplaces in general industry. The program also provides information regarding workers' rights, employer responsibilities, and how to file a complaint. Through this training, OSHA helps to ensure that workers are more knowledgeable about workplace hazards and their rights.”

On October 23, 2015, we celebrated with David Costilla and Marcos Gonzales as they were the first two Tigers to receive their OSHA 10 certification. We are so proud of these two students and all of our CTE students who challenge themselves to be authentically prepared for postsecondary education and the 21st Century workforce.

The OSHA 10-Hour General Industry certification transcends all industries. Ms. Commerford, Principal of RHS, shared with me recently that one student received an advancement at work because they are now OSHA certified. The education RISD offers is truly life applicable. What a great example of this truth!

I am excited for all that RISD CTE program offers our students and am anticipating significant growth in the future. Thank you for your support of CTE and of RISD. It’s a GREAT day to be a TIGER!

2015 Nov 11: Afterschool Programs at RISD

In prior weeks I have mentioned the importance of our afterschool program at Rockdale ISD. This week Sandy Robbins, iTigers Coordinator at Rockdale Intermediate School, has information that again verifies my take on this very successful program going on at each of our campuses.

The iTigers ACE programs, (Afterschool Centers on Education), have been very busy this year on each of the campuses, striving to make a difference. The Teachers have been diligent in the daily afterschool tutorials and enrichment activities offered to students. English Language Learning classes were offered at the High School and the Elementary. iFit classes, for parents, have started on Monday and Wednesday nights at the High School. We have had “Lights On After School” showcasing activities from all four campus and we have begun a Parent Night, held on the first Monday of each month. Even with all this, we have much more planned before the RISD Holiday Break.

Please mark your calendars and come join us in these upcoming events:

  • Nov 17, Tuesday - The High School will hold a Clothing Swap/Give-away, all day long in room E 120. All RISD students and families are welcome.
  • Nov 17, 18 and 19 – The annual Pumpkin Pie Event will be happening in the Intermediate Cafeteria. Intermediate iTiger parents are invited to come and make pumpkin pies with their student each day from 4:30-5:30pm. Our goal is to make and donate 100 Pumpkin Pies to the Thanksgiving Outreach Program, which is hosted by a variety of community churches and organizations here in Rockdale.  
  • Nov 19, Thursday – a Thanksgiving Pot Luck will be held at the High School for all iTigers parents and students from all campuses. iTigers will provide the Turkey and Dressing, attending families are asked to bring a covered side-dish and enjoy a fabulous Thanksgiving meal. The meal begins at 5:40pm and goes to 6:30pm.
  • Dec 5, Saturday - iTigers will be offering free Christmas activities for all children at Christmas Down Town. We will be located by the Train Depot from 1pm – 4pm. Please come by and have some Holiday Fun!
  • Dec 7, Monday – Parent Night. The guest speaker will be Courtney Paulsen, from Little River. The Jr. High Commons will be the meeting place and the topic will be Depression. Dinner will be supplied, along with drawings for prizes.

We hope that you will join us at our upcoming events. If you have any questions, please contact one of your iTigers ACE Coordinators:

Denise Doss, High School (512) 430-6013

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

Valarie Willingham, Elementary (512) 430-0737

Sandy Robbins, Intermediate (512) 430-6226