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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

2020 Jan 15: Rockdale High School's New Principal

This week Rockdale High School’s “New” Principal, Mr. Brent Hasselbach would like to share some thoughts and ideas regarding his tenure as Rockdale High School Principal.

Many of the students have already been asking which rules I am going to remove.  Others have been offering ideas as to what I can add or change. What they don’t realize is that many of the policies have been in place since I first started teaching in Rockdale nearly sixteen years ago.  So what can they expect?

As part of the transition process, I am going to evaluate what we are currently doing.  I am going to visit with teachers and students to get their input and review our systems and policies.  I expect this to take some time but will ultimately reveal the direction we need to go.

So the answer is no, there will not be any major changes right away.  However, I hope to start changing the culture and attitude on the campus.  I am going to focus on four principles that I believe will create a championship culture at Rockdale High School: build relationships, maintain high expectations, be accountable to self and others and take care of the little things.  

What exactly does this mean?

It is the relationships we build at RHS that we will remember the most.  I hope that we can all have positive relationships that will last far beyond graduation.  Relationships built out of caring for each other will only develop with the understanding that we are all different and we are all valuable.

Staff members should expect our students to perform at a high level.  They are capable and we can’t sell them short. Students need to set goals and believe they can take on any challenge without the fear of failing.   

Staff members and students have to be accountable for what the students take away when they graduate.  Are we giving our best effort each day?  

Finally, sometimes we focus on one thing that makes it seem like a task is impossible.  When you look at all of the little things and take care of the little things you can control, the big things will take care of themselves.

When we focus on these principles, there is no limit to what we can do.  By building a championship culture, we will prepare our students to be successful now and after they graduate.  

2019 Nov 27: First Grade News

Rockdale Elementary School continues to provide a strong foundations for our student in their early years of education. This week our First Grade Teacher would like to share what is going on in their classes. 

Written by our Fabulous First Grade Team of: Lorrie Birkhead, Jenae Byrd, Sharon McDaniel, Valarie Willingham, Julia Wulff

It is hard to believe that our first graders have already completed the first two six weeks at Rockdale Elementary School! The year began with reviewing school rules, creating classroom social contracts, and learning to become responsible for our own behavior. Each class spent time reviewing letters, sounds, and sight words, but now our students are focused on the process of learning to read.  First grade is an exciting year that will show so much growth. Students start out knowing basic sight words, but become reading machines by the time they head to second grade!

First grade is also where students are first introduced to the Accelerated Reading Program.  Students are able to earn points by taking quizzes on their library books and books they have read with their teachers. The most important thing you can do to help your child is to practice reading every night at home. By meeting their reading goal, students will be able to attend A.R. parties at the end of each six weeks. This is such a motivator for beginning readers. We will also honor our top readers at the end of the year.  We cannot wait to see who will have the most A.R. points!

Although reading is a very important part of first grade, our students still focus on Math, Science, Social Studies, and Writing. We learn about place value, skip counting, addition, subtraction, and even money. Much of this is learned through activities and games in the classroom, but parents can help by practicing weekly math facts at home. Our students have also participated in several science experiments this year.  We enjoyed making homemade playdough and building ice castles and watching them melt! 

Our first graders will also be able to attend two field trips near the end of the year.  A favorite trip is to the Mayborn Museum in Waco, Texas. The museum offers many exploratory rooms for the children: the sound room, the water room complete with giant bubbles, the weather room, and many more.  This year the special program will be The Lion King Exhibit so the students are in for a day of science and fun! We will also travel to our city park and meet our community leaders, such as firemen, police officers, and EMS workers.

One of the most memorable highlights of First Grade is our Texas Program.  It has been a long-held tradition for our students to share songs, symbols, and traditions of Texas with our parents and friends at school.  It is always a fun time for everyone and a great way to end the school year!

2019 Nov 13: RHS Senior Year Tips

The last year of high school can be a year filled with excitement, nervousness and reflection. This week RHS Principal Tiffany Whitsel has some important points for students during their Senior year of high school.

This is the time of year that I hear from many senior parents and students that this is the last time for… as many wrap up their last year of high school here are some tips as you progress through senior year:

Embrace the rekindling of old friendships, but remember your real friends. Senior year starts, and suddenly part of your old group from elementary school is trying to be friends with you again. Sure, you’re wary at first and unsure of their intentions. But, they’re simply aching for acceptance and missing their friends that graduated in the years prior to this one, just like you. But by no means should you ignore your underclassmen friends just because Miss Popularity that ditched you in middle school decides she wants to hang again. Find a way to balance your new friendships with your “old” friends, but don’t leave your real besties behind.

Spend time with your teachers.  What?! You don’t want to be a teacher’s pet during your senior year? It’s important to remember that the bonds you make with your teachers now are ones that could last a lifetime. By spending a little extra time getting to know them while also getting homework help or a quick study session in, you’re creating an opportunity for them to become your mentors for life. Friendships with teachers or other adults that you can look up may often last longer than the friendships you form with your high school friends.

Be nice to your family. This was one of the biggest things I struggled with during my senior year. My relationship with my parents was difficult as we began coping with the fact that I was experiencing things for the last time. But, you have to remember that you’re graduating, not leaving forever, and you’ll continue having new experiences for the rest of your life! Talk about problems that you’re facing with your family, and spend a little extra time with grandma and grandpa or your aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, and cousins they are also coping with the fact that change is about to happen too. You might be going to school nearby or six hours away next year, but either way, you’ll appreciate the bonds you’ve formed and begin to recognize the support system you’ll always have waiting for you in your hometown.

Don’t forget to have fun and try something new. Take pictures, de-stress, binge a little Netflix, and celebrate your lasts instead of dreading them or being sad about it. Your senior nights should not be spent crying! Leave that to your friends that won’t get to see you play or perform next year. You should be having fun, being proud of your accomplishments in the last four years, and thinking about leaving it all out on the court or field.  If you haven’t been involved with many things throughout high school, then senior year is your last chance to do it! Join that club you’ve been eyeing for years or convince your friends to do some community service! This is your last chance to experience many traditional high school rites of passage, so don’t skip out on sporting events, activities, or prom. 

Take the pictures and smile.  Be patient when mom, grandma, and every person you know begs for one more picture.  I remind you of this as you head into the “last” game, prom, and graduation. Take a few extra minutes and pose with family and friends. Most of you Snapchat throughout the day so you have practiced poses and can handle the family’s picture request. We may not be on Snapchat but we still like to brag about you the old fashioned way on Facebook.  As I get older I have truly cherished the pictures of family and friends that are no longer with us and feel bad at all the time I rolled my eyes and made fun of my mom as I ran off to my friends during pictures.

Get involved, and make some new memories before it’s all said and done.  

2019 Oct 30: CTE Teacher shares experience and passion for graphic design

Career and Technical Education can impact students in many different ways, and can reach students who don’t always “fit the mold”. This week Mrs. Britina Pesak, RISD CTE Director, has a great example of just how important CTE classes are at Rockdale ISD, and how a passion can be developed into a career. 

Rockdale ISD Graphic Design Teacher Gimel Peterman has a lot of valuable experience to draw upon to prepare his students for the future. Art was a part of his life from an early age and as a senior in high school, Peterman had his own art gallery. During his service in the Military, he did mural work (pro bono, of course!) and his other work included t-shirt designs and art classes. At one point, he worked for the Killeen Daily Herald as a page-layout designer and owned his own caricature business called Artistic Sarcasm. During his last year in college as a part of his internship where he designed children’s activity books, he wrote, designed, and published a children’s book on Amazon.

Teachers like Peterman, or Mr. Mel, as the students have come to know him, are critical for helping the district ensure that the CTE courses being offered are both rigorous and relevant. The Graphics Design program of study prepares students to be proficient in industry-preferred software such as Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, AfterEffects, and Premiere. Students are also introduced to similar programs that can be used online and with comparable features to work on transferrable skills. The goal is for students interested in careers in Graphic Design like Logo or Character Design, Video Game Design, Ad Marketing, etc. to have the certifications and enduring knowledge to be ready for the next level.

All CTE programs focus on employability skills, and Graphic Design is no exception. This year, Peterman is focusing on the need for artists to have the ability to listen, draw, collaborate, and problem-solve. Certainly, technical skills are always in demand, but Google and YouTube can solve that problem in a pinch. The true skills are those that require students to build over time and the tenacity to do so.

Student testimonials, along with enrollment numbers, reflect students’ positive attitudes towards the district’s growing Graphic Design program. Most of that can be attributed to Mr. Mel’s passion for the subject.

“I have always loved to draw,” said 16-year-old Emma Mirales, who is a Junior at Rockdale High School. She’s taken Principles of Arts, Audio-Visual Technology and Communications, and Graphic Design I. She is currently enrolled in Graphic Design II. “I just finished a describe and draw project and I am amazed at how far my skills have come. Mr. Mel has really pushed me to become a better artist and designer.”

What does the future of the industry look like for the world of graphic designers? Peterman says, “The world will always need the graphic designer. The Graphic Designer is one of the jobs that support and bring to life ideas, businesses, communities, and laws. The core of Graphic Design is to create awareness and provoke action. In the city of Austin alone, the industry is thriving.”

Mr. Peterman is in his second year of teaching at Rockdale High School and has made a positive impact on the lives of students. He says, “I’m really grateful and honored for the opportunity to share my passion as a teacher at RHS.” 

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

2019 Oct 16: Second Grade Happenings

Rockdale Elementary’s Super Second Grade Teachers, Jenah Campsey, Erin Countryman, Jana Dood, Whitney Pounders, and Melanie Moody wrote the column for Rockdale Elementary this week.  So, enjoy hearing about all of the fun learning opportunities that Second Grade has in store for our students.  

Second grade is an exciting time to be a Rockdale Tiger!  You finally get to be the leaders of the campus.  No more tiger tails and bubbles, now it’s time for A.R. parties, programs, and the famous tug-of-war battle during field day.  Check out all the fun we have to offer right here at Rockdale Elementary School in second grade.

With the first six weeks already finished, your child’s classrooms are already deep into instruction.  Our mathematicians are busy representing numbers, up to 1200, various ways.  Students use many strategies to compare, order, and build numbers.  Place value is the foundation of math so our students are busy building a strong foundation for success the rest of the year! 

Our scientists have been busy exploring matter and various forms of matter.  What is matter?  Well just about everything! Ask your young scientist to make you a root beer float and explain not only the 3 types of matter, but how matter changes.  In second grade we not only read, and discuss science, we get to be real scientists as we work through the inquiry process and conduct experiments.  

Our campus implemented a new character education program called, “Capturing Kids Hearts.”  This new program has gone hand in hand with our beginning of the year social studies curriculum as we learn about good citizenship.  Each classroom has built and implemented a social contract.  Your child is learning life skills as they greet their teacher and classmates each morning with a handshake and a smile.  Students are learning how to be responsible for their actions and attitudes, as well as how to affirm each other.  

One of the favorite parts of second grade is the Accelerated Reading program.  Our students are transitioning from learning how to read, to reading to learn.  What a powerful time!  Each six weeks students are able to attend an A.R. party if they reach their goal. Students love being able to check out books on their reading level and monitor their progress toward each goal.  At the end of the year our top readers are recognized with medals for earning 100 A.R. points.  

It wouldn’t be elementary school without field trips and programs.  In second grade we are lucky to have two of each.  We will take one out of town field trip and one in town field trip.  We have our famous Christmas program in December, as well as the “American History Program” in May.  

Perhaps the most favorite part of second grade is our field day.  This is because every year we end our fabulous field day with a little friendly tug-o-war competition.  The winning second grade class gets the famous trophy until next year!  

2019 Oct 2: Student Attendance -- First Key to Success

For your child to gain the greatest benefit from his/her education, good attendance is necessary.  Rockdale ISD can provide assistance, answer questions and connect you with resources that can help your child avoid excessive, unexcused absences and tardies. We have some effective tips for parents to help improve their child’s attendance. First, reinforce the value and importance of good attendance from the time your child enrolls in school. Encourage and help your child prepare for school each evening.  Packing backpacks, preparing lunch and selecting clothes the night before can reduce morning stress. Designate an appropriate bedtime for your child and be consistent. Praise your child when he/she exhibits good attendance and promptness. Perfect attendance is one way to help insure student success.  When a student is absent s/he misses vital instruction time, however we understand that students, due to illness or emergencies, will miss school from time to time. During these circumstances, please be sure to follow these important steps:

  1. Call the school to let them know your child will be absent.
  2. If your child is absent due to illness and visits the doctor, remember to ask for a physician statement.  This excuse should state the child was too ill to attend school.   
  3. Many times children will “forget” to turn in the doctor’s statement once they return to school.  Please check to see if your child did turn the note in to he/she teacher or the school office.
  4. If your child must miss school due to a dental/orthodontist appointment, please turn in the statement from the dentist/orthodontist so this may be an excused absence.
  5. If your child is tardy (arriving late, leaving early or returning to school after an appointment) an adult must sign him/her in/out at the school office. 
  6. A written explanation of an absence is required upon the student’s return to school.  

Parents must always be willing to encourage proper attendance, and help manage their children’s time and their understanding of good attendance. Please keep the Student Handbook in a safe place, so you may refer to it throughout the year.  This handbook is very helpful to clarify attendance issues and questions that may arise regarding other school district policies.

2019 Sept 25: RISD Career and Technical Educational Students Prepare for College and Career

Planning for the future is always a challenge, so it is very important that our students are exposed to a variety of interests and opportunities. The Rockdale ISD Career and Technical Education Department fully understands this need, and works very hard to determine student interests, and provide support and skill training to help prepare our students for their future. This week CTE Director Britina Pesak has the opportunity to give some insight to this vital program at Rockdale ISD. 

With the rapidly changing job market, we cannot prepare students for the jobs that exist today. Occupations that exist today may not exist tomorrow and the jobs that today’s elementary students may one day thrive in have not even been thought of yet. To best prepare our students, this year’s graduating class of 2020 will be entering the workforce throughout the next 5 years armed with a set of employability skills covering academic knowledge, technical expertise, and effective workplace relationships. All industries want to put forth a quality product. In K-12 education, the end goal is producing students that are “ready.” But what does that even mean?

The industry has been talking about the technical skills gap for the last decade or so, and have more recently begun to discuss the soft skills that are equally as important. Rick Stephens, Senior Vice President of the Boeing Corporation famously says, “We hire for hard skills. We fire for soft skills.” Employers want workers who can show up on time, follow instructions, problem-solve, work effectively with a team, and independently. These are just some of the many employability skills that students in Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses are focusing on to become highly-sought after employees and career-minded individuals. Students with employability skills are Career Ready. But is that all it takes?

Dr. David T. Conley is considered one of the leading authors on College and Career Readiness (CCR). He defines CCR as the ability to “qualify for and succeed in entry-level, credit bearing college courses leading to a baccalaureate or certificate, or career pathway-oriented training programs without the need for remedial or developmental coursework” (Conley, 2012). Within this definition, we still have room for improvement to ensure all students are College Ready. However, he highlights that not every student excels in every area, so a single cut score on a test is not the best measure of CCR. Student success should be measured in their chosen field of study.

Many key elements of both college and career readiness are the same: time management, perseverance, critical thinking. Support at the collegiate level to help students with these skills is often overwhelmingly available, but the student does have to accept the help. The difference is that for young men and women entering the workforce, the support system in career systems is a much smaller net.

While the programs of study offered through the Career and Technical Education (CTE) department at Rockdale ISD train students to be prepared for all levels of postsecondary education, ultimately, employers will be looking for both the technical (hard) skills and employability (soft) skills to fill those empty positions of the future, and our Tiger graduates will be READY!

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

2019 Sept 19: RJH HERO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2019 May 15: RISD iTigers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2019 May 8: RJH End of Year Celebrations

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

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

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

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

2019 May 1: Summer Vacation and Summer School

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

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

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

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

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

2019 Apr 24: RHS Advanced Placement Courses

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

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

Stand Out in College Admissions

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

Earn College Credits

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

Skip Introductory Classes

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

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

Build College Skills

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

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

2019 Apr 17: Pre K and Kinder Round-up

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

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

*an official Birth Certificate

*Social Security Card

*Immunization Record

*Proof of Residency (utility bill)

*Parent Driver’s License

*Proof of Income (Pre-K students only)

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

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

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

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

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

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

2019 Apr 10: RISD iTigers

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

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

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

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

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

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