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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

2018 Oct 10: RHS - The College Search

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

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

The Big College Experience

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

Here are some of the benefits associated with big colleges:

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

Things to Consider

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

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

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

The Small College Experience

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

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

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

Things to Consider

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

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

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

Start Your Search

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

2018 Oct 3: RISD's iTigers ACE Program

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please contact me, Britina Pesak, Director of CTE (Career and Technical Education) at bpesak@rockdaleisd.net or 512-430-6027 if you would like to find out more about any of our CTE programs!

2018 Sept 17: Transformational Year for Rockdale Junior High

This year Principal Kelly Blair and the staff at Rockdale Junior High are making significant changes on the junior high campus that will benefit all students. Ms. Blair would like to highlight those changes for you in this week’s RISD column.

The 2018-2019 school year is underway and the standard for student success at Rockdale Junior High has never been greater. We have begun this school year with clear, measurable goals for the success of every person in our building. This success is not measured by grades alone, but by the imprint, each individual leaves behind.

Our teachers began this year’s transformation with a continued focus on using high-quality curriculum resources. Rockdale Junior High Teachers have new and improved tools to help them engage your students in meaningful and valuable learning across all state assessed subjects. Additional training in the areas of professional learning communities is an extra support to help your local teachers increase skills in analyzing student achievement data, as well as improve campus-wide professional growth and student engagement.  Our PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) team has grown and continues to seek ways to celebrate all students that are doing the right thing and showing true Tiger Pride. Additionally, RJH teachers began training in a world-renowned program called Capturing Kids Hearts. It is through CKH, that we are striving to create student-teacher relationships that give teachers the chance to impact all students.

What does all of this translate into for the students of Rockdale Junior High? The team at RJH is working harder than ever to focus on learning, but a large part of learning at this age means feeling supported and heard socially. CKH and PBIS work together to do just that. Every student matters and every student should know and believe that. Every student is greeted warmly and professionally throughout the day, and "good things" is a way to have students share about the positive things in their lives.  Our students are guided in a process to build social contracts within each class with the intent of taking ownership of the class and holding each other accountable to reach classroom success.

PBIS has framed all of our student expectations from the perspective of being Safe, Respectful, and Responsible. By simplifying and framing student behavior in this way, we can easily celebrate the students that meet high expectations, as well as provide a clear reason "why" for our students that don't understand the importance of school day structures.

We are so excited about the great things that are happening on campus and throughout our communities. We are blessed to have new faces on campus that are skilled and experienced in helping our students grow and learn. We also invite you all to join us on Wednesday, September 19th for Open House from 5:30 to 6:30 pm to meet familiar and new faces yourselves. As always, thank you for supporting all of us at Rockdale Junior High and we thank you for the opportunity to support you and work with your families.

2018 Sept 10: Reading is IMPORTANT at Rockdale Intermediate School

This week Rockdale Intermediate School Principal Kathy Pelzel has some very important tips on improving your child’s reading skills. The development of a strong reader will be a benefit for your child over their entire lifetime.

 

Reading is important! I think that is one thing that everyone can agree on. However, have you ever thought about what benefits children get from reading daily? Best Books for Kids recently listed the Top 10 Benefits of Reading. (http://www.best-books-for-kids.com/benefits-of-reading.html)

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

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

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

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

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

 

These are just some of the benefits of reading. Taking time out of our busy schedules to read with our children is clearly an investment in their future that can be enjoyable for the entire family. Rockdale Intermediate School is committed to improving reading for all students by providing reading materials that are of high interest for our students. Students are RIS are required to read nightly and to log their progress. Parents can support their students by not only ensuring they meet this requirement but by also talking to them about what they are reading. Parent involvement in reading is a huge indicator of individual student success.  The National Education Association reports that "the substantial relationship between parent involvement for the school and reading comprehension levels of fourth-grade classrooms is obvious, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Where parent involvement is low, the classroom average (reading score) is 46 points below the national average. Where involvement is high, classrooms score 28 points above the national average - a gap of 74 points." You can make a difference - get involved!

2018 Aug 27: The Rockdale Elementary New Staff Members & Focus for 2018

The Rockdale ISD is off to a great start to another exciting school year full of challenges and high expectations for our students and staff. This week we want to highlight the Rockdale Elementary School, and Ms. Alesha Eoff is proud to introduce to you new staff members on her campus, and give you some insight regarding the focus for RES through out the upcoming school year.


Rockdale Elementary is pleased to introduce you to our new teachers and staff who are joining us for the 2018-2019 school year.  First, is Mrs. Hannah Noel who is transferring to us from Buckholtz ISD. She has previously taught a mixed class of PK & K children, so she will be a great fit for our PK team.  Her husband is also a teacher and coach for Rockdale ISD. They have one infant son. Our next new hire is Miss Brynne Daniels. She is beginning her teaching career with us. She is a graduate of Thorndale High School, and has previously been an instructional para-professional in Georgetown ISD.  She is eager and excited to begin teaching Kindergarten with us. Joining our First Grade team is Mrs. Annetta Terry. She currently lives in Rockdale with her husband and two children. She was previously a 1st grade in Round Rock ISD, and we are excited for her to bring her knowledge and experience to Rockdale!  Also joining the 1st grade team is Miss Jenae Rhoades from Gregory-Portland ISD.  She has some great ideas for her team and is transitioning well to teaching 1st grade!  


In addition to these amazing teachers, we have Mrs. Brooksy Fisher who is now our Rockdale Elementary Counselor.  She will begin a new chapter in her career as she leaves the classroom to become our Counselor. We are excited about the student support and character education that she will provide for our kids.  In addition, Miss Cristal Gallegos is also joining our staff as an Academic Coordinator. She was the Math Specialist RJHS, but will now have a new role that will split her time between Rockdale Elementary and Rockdale Intermediate.  We are eager to see the things that she will help us to put into place this year. We are so happy to have these new additions to our staff!

For of you who are new to RES, you will notice a nautical theme throughout our school on newsletters, correspondence, on bulletin boards and in the hallways, this means much more than just a cute theme to us.  This nautical theme represents our focus for this year which is, “Seas the Day”. This play on words reminds us to “Seize the Day” every day with our students. We will seize every opportunity to give them the love, guidance, knowledge, skills, and the foundation that they need in order to be successful in school and in the future. We know our students deserve our best every day, so we are making the commitment to raise our expectations not only for ourselves, but also for our students.  We know that we must take every opportunity to build foundational skills, and create a depth of knowledge that will continue to develop throughout their educational careers. The future starts with us, and we are continuing, as a campus, to transform the learning that takes place within our elementary.


Our teachers have worked hard over the summer to revamp their lesson planning process to create more engaging lessons, create positive learning experiences, and to provide not only interventions but also extensions of learning in their classrooms.  They are working collaboratively through Professional Learning Communities to hold not only themselves, but also their students accountable by being the best that they can be by “Seas-ing the Day”. Over the last two years, we have committed to being “Anchored in Excellence” in all that we do, and now we are celebrating our success and building upon it as we enter into the 2018-2019 school year.  We have an awesome learning adventure awaiting our students and we invite you to set sail with us on this voyage as we, “SEAS THE DAY!”

2018 May 16: Check out CTE Certifications

The Rockdale ISD continues to improve the offerings and opportunities for our students in our Career and Technical Education classes, and this week Mrs. Britina Pesak has more information regarding our CTE program and certifications available to our students.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) has been the part of school that connects students to the changing needs of our industrialized world for over 75 years. It continues to prepare students for the high skill, high demand, and high wage jobs of our future, including many that do not not exist with technologies that have yet to be invented. CTE does this by developing the problem-solving and applied thinking skills of students through experiential learning. In order to confirm that students are meeting rigorous standards, we develop connections between businesses and higher education institutions. Through these partnerships, we determine the most applicable industry-based certification that will ensure our students are career-ready in that particular line of work.

The benefits of industry-recognized credentials for students include: finding skilled employment, the potential for increased wages, and the step toward higher certifications/degrees. The benefits for the employer include: a higher skilled workforce, and often a safer workforce, which can save money!

Both the federal and state legislatures know the importance of building our skilled workforce, and have made it a priority by including it as a part of school accountability. Federally, certifications are a part of the Carl D. Perkins Grant that schools receive to use for CTE programs. This money is a relatively small amount compared to the amount received from the state. From the state, industry-based certifications are a significant part of the piece that defines what makes a student College, Career, and Military Ready (CCMR).

According to the Texas Education Agency (TEA), students can earn the distinction of CCMR in a number of ways including obtaining a state-, nationally-, or internationally-recognized certification that is vetted by the Texas Workforce Commission. These certifications represent a culmination of knowledge and skills achieved through the completion of a program of study in CTE. To be valid, they must also seamlessly transfer to postsecondary institutions or industry, and be valuable to industry in obtaining entry-level, high-wage jobs with growth potential.

Rockdale High School currently certifies students in NCCER Core, NCCER Carpentry Level 1, and NCCER Welding Level 1 through our Architecture & Construction and Manufacturing career clusters. Through our Business Management & Administration career cluster, students have the opportunity to become Microsoft Office specialists in Word and Excel. The Health Science career cluster certifies students as Certified Clinical Medical Assistants (CCMA) upon completion of clinicals. In the 2018-2019 school year, we anticipate adding the following certifications in their respective career clusters (in parentheses): Texas State Floral Association Level 1 (Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources), Adobe Certified Associate (Arts, Audio-Visual Technology & Communications), Certified Pharmacy Technician (Health Sciences), CompTIA A+ (Information Technology).

It is never too early to prepare students for the workforce. Whether a student is going to four years of college, or directly to the workforce, employability skills and technical skills are useful in the present and long term.

Please contact me, Britina Pesak, Director of CTE (Career and Technical Education) at bpesak@rockdaleisd.net or 512-430-6027 if you would like to find out more about any of our CTE programs!

2018 May 9: RHS Seniors...The end is just the beginning

Time is a major part of all of our lives, and as I was told in my youth, the older you get the faster it (time) goes. In education, we have the challenge of using time in the most beneficial way to prepare our students for their future. I can understand the feelings, due to my years in education, of  Ms. Tiffany Commerford, RHS Principal when the month of May arrives, hoping we have done everything necessary to prepare our Seniors for their next step in life.

It is hard to believe that it is May.  The end of school is always bittersweet for me; while there is an undeniable sweetness to seeing students move on and accomplish their goals, it is bitter because they are such a big part of our every day.  We are currently in the process of saying good-bye to one group of students as we prepare the next group to take their place. This group of seniors has a special place in my heart because they were the first group I have had for four years at Rockdale High School.

With every end of year ceremony, the next group of leaders are stepping up and getting ready to make new memories.

I am sure you think teachers are celebrating at this time of year. You're not wrong. However, unless you are a teacher, you cannot appreciate how bittersweet the end of school is. We will miss the easy rapport we have built with the students. We have become a sort of family after spending so much time together. We will miss the inside jokes and remembering the great moments that have happened this year. I will always think of the camaraderie of the football season that went all the way to state.  We will miss celebrating their successes with them. We will miss seeing how far they are able to go and the hearing about their plans for the future, but at the same time, I am excited to see what they do with everything they have learned while they were a part of Rockdale ISD.

Sure, the prospect of time off is welcome. Honestly, we are all beyond exhausted and ready for a break. Still there is sadness at saying "goodbye". While it is true that we will see many of them at events next year, it will not be the same. It's never the same. As we say goodbye to this group of seniors, I am thankful for all they have done for Rockdale High School. We are proud as they move on and we are excited about their next adventure.

When we come back to school in August, there will be a new batch of students and we will start over again.  While the end of school is always bittersweet, one of the things I love about school is that every year is a fresh start!

208 May 2: Family Community Services

It's easy to feel disconnected, as many parents juggle work, school, kids, and activity after activity. One of the most satisfying, fun, and productive ways to unite is volunteering for community service projects. One great way to feel a part of the Rockdale community is to take part in the annual Earth Day event held here in Rockdale. Weekend before last we had a number of high school students who were involved in the citywide clean up, and the opportunity to help make this event successful was very rewarding to them. This is one easy way to plan an community service activity with your family, and enjoy the time together and give back to our community.

Why should your family lend a helping hand? It feels good. The satisfaction and pride that comes from helping others are important reasons to volunteer. When you commit your time and effort to an organization or a cause you feel strongly about, the feeling of fulfillment can be endless.

  • It strengthens your community. Organizations and agencies that use volunteers are providing important services at low or no cost to those who need them.
  • It can strengthen your family. Volunteering is a great way for families to have fun and feel closer. But it can be hard to find the time to volunteer. You could select just one or two projects a year and make them a family tradition.

If volunteering begins at an early age, it can become part of kids' lives — something they might just expect and want to do. It can teach them:

  • A sense of responsibility. Kids and teens learn what it means to make and keep a commitment. They learn we're all responsible for the well-being of our communities.
  • That one person can make a difference. A wonderful, empowering message for kids is that they're important enough to have an impact on someone.
  • The benefit of sacrifice. By giving up a toy to a less fortunate child, a child learns that sometimes it's good to sacrifice and that there are important things besides ourselves and our immediate needs.
  • Tolerance. Working in community service can bring kids and teens in touch with people of different backgrounds, abilities, ethnicities, ages, education and income levels. They'll learn that even the most diverse individuals can be united by common values.
  • Job skills. Community service can help young people decide on their future careers.
  • How to fill idle time wisely. If kids aren't involved in traditional after-school activities, community service can be a wonderful alternative.

The Internet offers lots of sites with information about volunteer opportunities. You can also call a favorite charity, hospital, or church directly to see if they have any needs. When looking for a volunteer position, remember that it may be difficult to find the perfect volunteer slot. Be flexible. It may take a while to find a perfect fit, but once you do, it will be worth it.

Families can do many volunteer jobs. Even the smallest child (with adult supervision) can pick up garbage at the park, playground, or beach. You don't even have to be part of a big effort to do this. Or become involved in repair and renovation efforts for low-income residents. Younger kids might not be able to do the big jobs, but helping out by fetching a paintbrush or holding the nails involves them just the same. Work at Rockdale Heavenly Treasures Thrift Store or Christian Services Food Pantry as a family. Volunteer for Meals on Wheels or Senior Citizens that serves the elderly to take food to people who are homebound and visit with them. Your kids can brighten a lonely senior's day instantly. Help plant flowers or trees. The possibilities are endless.

Whatever you choose to do, volunteering and community service can benefit both the community and your family. Get involved today!

2018 Apr 25: RJH STAAR Ready

Rockdale Junior High School completed their first round of STAAR testing a couple of weeks ago, and are fired up and ready to finish their second round in two weeks. Ms. Kelly Blair, RJH Principal, and her staff have been working diligently all year to prepare their students for high school, higher education and careers, and through that process be STAAR ready as well. This week Ms. Blair would like to share information regarding the special preparation currently going on at RJH.


With only a few days left until STAAR testing, our teachers have been hard at work preparing students through a variety of STAAR camps after school and, in some cases, on Saturday!  Mrs. Mynar and the science department held a camp this weekend titled S.O.S (Science on Saturday). Forty-two eighth grade students attended the 3 hour session from 10:00-1:00. Students participated in a hands-on comprehensive review in which they created the famous “infinity cube” in their favorite color.  Students will use the cube to review key concepts in the final few days before testing.


Algebra I students are invited on Saturday, May 5th for a Cinco De Mayo themed review camp.  During the “Nacho” average review, students will travel through multiple stations with an expert teacher leading each skill.  At the conclusion of the session, students will leave with a Skills report card, complete with additional practice for areas of difficulty.  


Over the next two weeks, our 6th and 7th grade students will have an opportunity to attend STAAR camps for Math and Reading after school.  Door prizes will be awarded throughout each session. Math will be held on Monday and Tuesday from 3:30-5:00 and Reading the following Monday and Tuesday, May 7-8.  


Our 8th grade students will have one final opportunity to prepare for Science and Social Studies on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 8-9 from 3:30-5:00.  We encourage all students to attend these after-hours sessions!


For those who are unable to attend, teachers have prepared engaging review activities for the final 10 school days prior to state testing.  We are excited to announce our 10-day Rockin’ Review! The launch begins on Thursday, April 26th and continue through May 9th with special attire each day.   


4/26 - Hat Day – Let students break the dress code and wear crazy hats!

4/27 – School Colors Day – Sure, students can wear school shirts, but make it more fun by seeing who comes up with the craziest outfit!

4/30 - Nerd Day – Are your students the smartest around?  Prove it!

5/1 - Wacky Socks – See which student has the funniest socks

5/2 – Neon Day – Everyone can dress up in their favorite bright colors

5/3 – Sunglasses Day – Everyone wear shades and be extra cool!

5/4 – Inside Our Day – Wear your clothes inside out

5/7 - Weird Shoes – Wear the silliest pair of shoes possible

5/8 Tie-Dye Day – Let’s make our school look like a rainbow!

5/9 – Decade Day – Pick a decade (50’s, 60’s 70’s, or 80’s) and have a great time remembering the fashions of the era.

2018 Apr 18: RISD Summer School

Rockdale ISD campuses are in their last six weeks of school, and there are plenty of activities that occur at the end of every school year. However, on May 24th, Senior Graduation day, our schools don’t completely close their doors until August. This year the designated campuses for RISD Summer School are the Rockdale Intermediate School and Rockdale High School. Elementary and intermediate school students will have classes at RIS.  Junior high and high school students will have classes at RHS. This week Rockdale Intermediate School Principal Mrs. Kathy Pelzel has very interesting historical and research based facts regarding the summer and educating our youth.


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.

Finally, consider that 20 million students in America receive free lunch through the National School Lunch Program. It is much more difficult to serve those in need during the summer since we do not always have access to these students. Summer education puts them right where they need to be so we have an opportunity to ensure they are nourished both mentally and physically.

The summer education programs around the state provide a plethora of benefits to a large number of students. Rockdale continues to contribute to these efforts. Our goal is to graduate highly educated and prepared young adults. This benefits all of us in many ways and we appreciate all the community support we receive to make this happen.

 

2018 Apr 11: Elementary PreK and Kindergarten Roundup 2018

Rockdale Elementary Pre-K and Kindergarten Round-up will be held later this month. RES Principal Alesha Eoff has some very important information to share with you this week regarding Pre-K & Kindergarten and this special event.

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 Round Up at the Rockdale Elementary Cafeteria.  The big event will be Tuesday, April 24th from 3:45-5:25.  All children that will be four years old on or before September 1, 2018 will be eligible to register for Pre-Kindergarten, and all children that will be five years old before September 1, 2018 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)

This will be a great opportunity for your little ones to meet their teachers and aides, and start to become familiar with our school.  Daycare will be provided from our Pre-Kindergarten Instructional Aides. We are also grateful that the Milam County Health Department (One Stop Center) will be open at the same time for immunizations for those who need it.  

We have an amazing Pre-Kindergarten program at Rockdale Elementary.  Not only do we have excellent teachers, but also we have increased the quality standards of our Pre-Kindergarten program according to House Bill 4.  Our curriculum is aligned with the Prekindergarten Guidelines, we increased prekindergarten teacher training and/or qualifications, implemented student progress monitoring, provided 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.  In addition to these things, our students have benefitted from having technology access through IPAD’s for the classroom, as well as the addition of educational software and programs. Our teachers have also worked on several parent and community engagement pieces including a new app which connects parents to student learning immediately. It also provides a digital portfolio which monitors student progress. It is another opportunity for parents to see the wonderful things that our teachers are doing to help our kids and to see what our students are learning.  

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.  In the near future, the students will participate in the annual QU weddings, 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 provides the anchor for an excellent start at R.E.S.

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!

2018 Apr 4: RISD Career and Technical Education: Get to Work!

The importance of being “career ready” is a major factor of  Rockdale ISD’s Career and Technical Education program. The RHS CTE staff and high school administrators understand how important this factor is to our program, and work extremely hard to provide the support needed for its success. CTE Director Britina Pesak has the spotlight this week, and highlight this very important program at RHS.  

Ask any employer what entry-level employees are lacking these days and the overwhelming response is: soft skills! To be fair, the words employers actually use are, “customer service skills,” “time-management,” “professionalism,” “problem-solving,” and “the ability to take feedback” among others. This all boils down to a collection of skills known as employability or soft skills. These are the skills that allow a person to be successful in any line of work and include communication, listening, a positive attitude, and general people skills. And these are what our human resources representatives tell us they are in desperate need of in industry.

How can we help our youth develop these skills prior to being thrust into the workforce? Once upon a time it was the norm for students to have part-time jobs in high school. Without doubt many readers can relate to developing some of those soft skills mentioned above at a part time job in high school at a fast-food restaurant or on the farm. For the majority of students these days, that is not the case. Why are fewer students engaging in work these days? And is that detrimental to their long term career goals?

Certainly students have many more opportunities and commitments in school than perhaps they once did. But at the cost of transitioning from school to work one day, perhaps we need to include gradual exposure to the world of work during adolescence as a part of their education.

Beginning in 8th grade, students investigate their own likes and dislikes in careers and develop a four year plan for high school that is congruent with their interests. In many cases students can include job shadowing, job internships, and/or job placement as forms of work placement in their four year plan enhance their understanding of the career path, gain valuable employability and technical skills, and develop lasting professional networks.

The benefits of work during high school years includes learning the value of the dollar, developing the knowledge and skills required for obtaining and maintaining a job, and especially if the job is related to the career interest of the student, transferring academic knowledge to working knowledge.

Work experience is important for all youth, and there are so many opportunities available that allow students to gain those important soft skills. Not only can students become better employees, but they might just find their passion as well.

Please contact me, Britina Pesak, Director of CTE (Career and Technical Education) at bpesak@rockdaleisd.net or 512-430-6027 if you would like to find out more about any of our CTE programs!

2018 Mar 28: Elementary iTigers Spring Update

Spring is in the air, and in less than two weeks, Rockdale ISD will be set to begin our final six weeks of school. We will also begin our STAAR Testing in a few weeks as well, where our campuses hope to excel. One valuable program to help insure student success on all of our campuses, is our iTigers program. It provides tutorials and enrichment for our students who need additional help and/or support. This week Rockdale Elementary iTigers Coordinator, Mrs. Valarie Willingham, has helpful information regarding upcoming iTigers activities.  

Many of you know about iTigers at Rockdale ISD.  You might have a student who attends our tutorials, after school activities, or before school tutorials.   Maybe you yourself have attended some iTigers parent activities like our ELL classes or our workout classes.  No? Well surely you have seen iTigers offering children’s activities at community events. The iTigers program touches so many not only in our schools, but in our community as well.  We are excited to share a few upcoming dates for students, the community, and parents.

Look for iTigers at the Community Easter Egg Hunt March 30th at Fair Park starting at 10:00 am.  We will have buckets for kids to decorate and face painting.

The last day for after school iTigers classes for the spring semester will be Thursday, May 17th and the last day for morning iTigers classes will be Friday, May 18th.  This is for all campuses so please make other arrangements for your students after these dates.

Summer iTigers classes will begin Tuesday, May 29th and will continue until Thursday, June 28th.  For more information please contact the iTigers coordinator at your student’s campus.

2018 Mar 21: Advanced Placement at RHS

The Spring Semester is always a very busy time. Along with all of the activities going on, planning for a new school year is in high gear at Rockdale High School, and valuable decisions are being made that can impact a student’s educational career now and later in higher education. This week, Ms. Tiffany Commerford has information regarding the benefits of Advanced Placement courses on her campus to help parents and students in making these important decisions.

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 or a Dual Credit 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 and universities 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. AP can transform what once seemed unattainable into something within reach.


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 exciting 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.

Advanced Placement and Dual Credit classes are just one way that Rockdale High School is preparing students for College and Career Readiness.