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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

2019 Mar 13: Effective Sleep Habits

Yawning as I am writing this intro.....Sometimes we as adults find it difficult to get enough sleep during the week or even on weekends. In my youth, I wanted to stay up until midnight and sleep until noon if allowed, but of course that never happened. In the last 20 years, I’m doing good if I make it to 7am no matter what time I went to bed! This week Ms. Alesha Eoff, RES Principal has some valuable information regarding sleep habits for our younger students, and how it impacts learning.

Ask any elementary teacher around, and they will tell you how important that it is for child to get a good night’s sleep.  Unfortunately, a lot of our students come to school without a proper night’s sleep. When researching what is the recommended amount, the following was found:  

Preschool Students (3-5 years) are recommended to have 10 to 13 hours of sleep a night.

Elementary Grade Level Students (6-13 years) are recommend to have 9 to 11 hours of sleep.  

Babies, Children, and pre-teens need significantly more sleep than adults to support their rapid brain and physical development.  Children, unlike adults, don’t necessarily slow down when they get insufficient sleep. Often, they wind up and improper sleep can look very similar to hyperactivity.  This can make evenings difficult for parents, or can make the morning routines difficult and it can carry over into the school setting. Most parents feel that sleep directly affects mood, but research has found that lack of sleep has a big impact on learning and behavior.  In addition, pediatric researchers state that sleep is essential for good health and may lower the risk of becoming overweight and developing diabetes as well as other learning problems and attention issues.  Researchers have found that sleep allows the brain to flush out disease-causing toxins and some believe that it is as important as proper nutrition and exercise for the overall health and well-being of the child.  

There are ways that you can set the stage for a good night’s sleep for your child.  Most children should aim to have a bedtime around 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Providing a consistent bedtime and wind down routine such as taking a warm bath, brushing teeth, reading a book with a family member, or simply talking about the day will help to calm the child and prepare them for sleep.  Ideally, the wind down time should be without electronics or screen time from tablets, phones, gaming systems, or TV. Research also suggests that as little as two hours of light generated by tablets and computers before bedtime can reduce melatonin, a chemical that occurs naturally at night that signals the body to sleep, by twenty –two percent.  Often we are busy with after school activities, work, practice schedules, or other things that get in the way of a maintaining a consistent early bedtime, but it is key to helping your child develop good sleeping habits. Setting a solid nightly routine is especially helpful for preschoolers, who are transitioning away from naps. They are often especially tired, and a good night’s sleep helps them at home and at school.  If your child is dozing off in the car, on the bus, or on the couch while watching tv, it is likely they are not resting enough at night. Try to purposefully develop a consistent, early bedtime to help set your child off on the path to success. Their brains, bodies, and teachers will thank you for it!

2019 Mar 6: How to Balance Your Time in High School

This week Mrs. Tiffany Whitsel has tips for how high school students can balance their time due to the various activities they can be involved while in high school.

 

With so many different components to consider in applying to college GPA, test scores, extra-curricularsessays  it’s difficult to know how exactly how much time should go into each. It’s important to take a challenging course load, but earning good grades in challenging courses can be extremely time consuming. Heavy involvement and leadership positions strengthen your application, but between club meetings, volunteer activities, and out-of-town competitions, there’s very little time left for school. Factor in studying for standardized tests, having a social life, and getting enough sleep, and you may feel like you have no free time at all!

 

There’s so much to juggle in high school if you’re serious about being admitted to a tier-one university, which is only complicated by the fact that you don’t just need to perform respectably in every area to gain admission – you need to excel. The mistake many students make is that they fail to balance their time, devoting excessive energy and hours to schoolwork or extra-curriculars or studying without taking the time to fully develop other, neglected components of their applications. This can be disastrous when it comes time to report your shaky GPA or (lack of) extracurricular activities on college applications.

 

A mistake many students make is overloading their schedules with difficult classes in the race for the perfect GPA or the honor of being named valedictorian. While taking 5 AP classes, might seem like a foolproof way to impress a college, it can hurt more than help. Devoting all your time to one aspect of your application, your GPA and class rank, leaves other, equally important factors neglected and results in an application that ultimately seems one-sided.

 

Another common mistake is overcommitting to extra-curriculars and allowing academic performance to suffer. Being a dedicated, passionate member of a club takes time; being a dedicated, passionate member of 5 clubs takes 5 times as much time; being a dedicated, passionate leader of 5 clubs can take up all your time. Demonstrating involvement and leadership in multiple activities is important, but you shouldn’t be so involved in extra-curriculars that your grades take a hit as a result. Grades aren’t the only thing that can slip when you overcommit to activities; membership or leadership positions in too many clubs, teams, or activities compromises the quality of the work you put into each of them. If you’re struggling just to complete the minimal requirements for each activity, that’s a red flag that you’re spreading yourself too thin. It’s smarter to seriously commit to only a few activities and perform at your best than complete subpar work in many because you don’t have sufficient time to devote to each of them. It’s easy to get caught up in a tough schedule or overcommit to extra-curriculars without even realizing it.

 

Understand the Returns. Class rank and GPA don’t matter a whole lot beyond a certain point. The difference between a 4.4 and a 4.5 GPA; either way you’ll have demonstrated significant academic aptitude and a capability to complete college level work. The effort you spend jumping your class rank by 2 spots could be better spent on developing your extra-curriculars, applying to scholarships.

 

Choose a few activities and stick to them. The quality of involvement is more important than the quantity. Don’t join groups just because you think they’ll look good on college applications, and don’t apply for leadership positions just because there’s an opening. Pursue lengthy, meaningful commitments to groups you actually care about and that are relevant to your potential major or career field. If you’re involved in too many activities at once and you can tell that the quality of the work you’re putting into each is dropping, don’t be afraid to reprioritize and drop one or more activities.

 

Utilize your summers. Summers provide an excellent opportunity to compensate for areas of weakness in previous years. If you had an extremely rigorous schedule and excellent grades the previous year, but your extracurricular involvements were scanty, consider spending your summer volunteering or interning to build your resume. If your extra-curriculars were strong, but your GPA wasn’t, academic tutoring for the classes you’ll take in the fall can boost your GPA. Taking a challenging class or two at your local community college that are relevant to your academic interests can also help the academic component of your application. If you have summer homework, use the few months to begin developing habits that will bring you success during the school year and ensure your initial grades for your classes will be strong. Not putting off all your work until the week before going back to school is a good start!

 

Get organized. Time management is one of the most important skills you’ll learn in school and in your career. Find a system that works for you a planner, calendar on your phone, or a to-do list and document your academic and extra-curricular responsibilities. Remembering homework assignments, test dates, and deadlines for major assignments can be overwhelming, and writing or typing it all down is a smart way to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. Scheduling out your time is also a great way to hold yourself accountable and to ensure you don’t spend an undue amount of time on any one task.

 

Give yourself a break. While this article is about how to balance school and extra-curriculars, these shouldn’t fill your every waking moment. Give yourself to spend time with family and friends, to develop hobbies, to think about things other than school or college! If you don’t allow yourself reasonable breaks and a decent amount of sleep, you won’t be able to perform at your best in school or in extra-curricular activities

2019 Feb 25: Celebrating CTE Month

For the Rockdale ISD column this week, Mrs. Britina Pesak has the opportunity to give us a run down on the Career and Technical Education program she heads up, and how our school district and community benefits from this vital part of education.

Students and faculty at Rockdale ISD have joined others across the nation during the month of February to celebrate national Career and Technical Education (CTE) MonthTM.  This year’s theme is “Celebrate Today, Own Tomorrow.” CTE Month provides CTE programs across the country an opportunity to demonstrate how CTE educates students to be college- and career- ready and prepares them for high-wage, high-demand career fields.

CTE programs are based on the most current industry skill standards.  Students who complete CTE programs in high school gain valuable experience in the workplace and can earn industry-based certifications and licenses.  Many colleges partner with CTE programs and award college credit to high school students. CTE programs even help college students acquire skills and knowledge needed in cutting edge career fields AND acquire new or advanced skills in an existing career path.  CTE courses offer rigor and relevance in a way that really connects with students. By partnering with the business community, we are investing in students’ lives with the latest technology and skills that will prepare them to become successful employees as well as future leaders.

Approximately 94% percent of high school students and 13 million postsecondary students are engaged in CTE courses in the United States.  This includes students in high schools, career centers, community and technical colleges, four-year universities and technical trade schools.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly one-third of the fastest growing occupations will require an associate’s degree or a postsecondary technical certification.  At a time when opportunity for employment is so critical, CTE programs in every community are ensuring students are adequately equipped with the necessary skills and education to successfully enter the workforce.  The student leadership organizations that correspond with these programs (FFA, SkillsUSA, HOSA) each provide a unique opportunity for students to practice their college- and career- ready skills through in-class of out-of-class activities and programs.

CTE is a powerful motivator for Rockdale’s young people and a valuable part of the Texas economy. When students can see a pathway from classrooms to careers, they are more likely to graduate high school with the skills and experience they need to succeed and to help our businesses succeed.

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!

2019 Feb 18: RHS iTigers (ACE) Program Update

Martha Gonzales, RHS iTigers (ACE) Program Coordinator, would like to give us an update on what is happening with the Rockdale ISD iTigers program. The program coordinators on each campus welcome any comments or suggestions to make their program even more successful, so please be sure to attend their monthly ACE/iTigers Parent and Community Advisory Committee meetings to share or provide input to their programs.

iTigers is in full gear for our second semester.  Testing preparation, intensive tutorials and homework help are being held before and after school at our campuses. Our iTigers program strives to give our participants every opportunity possible to aid their preparedness in their school day classroom and end of year testing. Please encourage your student to attend these academic enrichment opportunities.  iTigers would also like to remind you that our spring program runs through May 17th.   If your student is in need of after school bus transportation, this semester, please contact your campus coordinator as soon as possible.

This month, the iTigers program is highlighting our parent involvement activities.  Are you aware that we have an ACE/iTIgers Parent and Community Advisory Committee? Our parents are always invited to attend these meeting each month. We provide guest speakers, information, resources, as well as, seeking feedback and suggestions on how we can make our program better.  This past month’s meeting was held on February 5, 2019. Parents and community members were provided information by several guest speakers. These speakers included Ed2Go- Temple College, RISD PTO and RISD Food Services. Each of our speakers discussed valuable information and gave examples on how their services help our students and parents.  Specifically, ED2Go Temple’s representative speaker, Ms. Tonda Turner, explained in detail, the online courses offered through Ed2Go- Temple College. These courses are available to our iTigers parents/guardians this semester and a handful of scholarships are available. RISD Food Services, Ms. Wheeler, discussed the meal and snack plan offered to our students after school. Please encourage your student to partake in the snack or meal provided at iTigers.   If you are interested in finding out more about these meals/snacks, please contact your campus coordinator.

In addition, iTigers will also be working closely with PTO to offer many more opportunities for our parents to get involved in our after school programs.  Watch our iTigers Facebook Page, PTO page and your student’s campus page, for these exciting events. The list below, features our current opportunities for parents/ guardians of iTiger students. Please sign up, take advantage of these opportunities, and help us reach our parent involvement goals.

  1. ESL- Mondays at Rockdale Elementary School- Ms. Orozco. 6:00-8:00pm.
  2. Adult Knitting- Monday’s -5:15-6:15pm @RHS.
  3. CPR Classes- Wednesdays for 4 weeks, starting February 13, 2019. 3:30-4:30pm @RHS.
  4. Parent and Community Advisory Committee- Our next meeting is March 5th, 5:30- 6:30pm @RHS.
  5. iTigers, PTO, and Texas Workforce collaboration event for RHS Students. “Spring into the Future.”  Tools you need to succeed outside of high school. Be on the lookout for dates and times.
  6. ED2Go- Temple College Online Courses. Continuing Education. – Contact Campus Coordinator.

We hope to see you at our next meeting. If you would like to get enrolled in these classes, or would like to volunteer for any of our upcoming events, please contact your iTigers Coordinator, below is their contact information:

Valarie Willingham-Rockdale Elementary- 512-430-6030 x5130.

Sandy Robbins-Rockdale Intermediate- 512-430-6200 x4130

Leesa Perez- Rockdale Junior High- 512-430-6100 x3130

Martha Gonzales- Rockdale High School -512-430- 6140 x2130

2019 Feb 11: Planning for High School

This week Ms. Kelly Blair, RJH Principal, would like to share information regarding the Lunch and Learn Program her students will benefit from during the upcoming weeks. See attached.

It’s never too early for students to start planning for high school, college and career options.  At Rockdale Junior High, we are launching a new program in partnership with Perry and Perry construction that will provide students with valuable life skills for their future.  Beginning this week, students will participate in a ‘Lunch and Learn’ session where they will be introduced to a variety of trade skills.  These sessions will continue throughout the year during ‘Lunch and Learn’, with some trade skills being offered after school through our itigers program.  Students will be introduced to basic welding skills, financial planning sessions, interview skills, construction and engineering, sewing, auto mechanics, along with a variety of volunteer service opportunities. The timing of this program could not be better, as our 8th grade students are in the midst of high school course selections, a tour of Temple College, and CTE rounds to explore programs of study at Rockdale High School.  

Students interested in participating in the ‘Lunch and Learn’ and iTigers partnership, can sign up in the RJH front office.  The first session will be held on Wednesday, February 13th from 11:45-12:45.  All 7th and 8th-grade students are encouraged to participate. 

2019 Feb 6: Kids Heart Challenge

Rockdale Intermediate School is conducting a fundraiser and fitness program this month. This program emphasizes the need for cardiovascular fitness and provides a great opportunity for an effective fundraiser to fight deadly heart diseases. Kathy Pelzel, RIS Principal, has important information regarding this national program, and the contribution her campus makes to support this worthy cause.

Kids Heart Challenge, formerly known as Jump Rope For Heart, is an educational fund-raising event. It’s held each year in thousands of elementary schools across the nation by the American Heart Association and the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.  Kids Heart Challenge raises funds for medical research and for programs such as HeartPower! that help prevent heart disease and stroke.  Kids Heart Challenge teaches students the benefits of physical activity, how to keep their heart healthy, and that they can help save lives right in their own community.   Kids Heart Challenge was developed in 1978 and has raised more than $810 million for cardiovascular research and education programs. 

Kids Heart Challenge offers students many benefits by engaging school age children in community service while promoting the benefits of lifelong heart-healthy lifestyles. Rockdale ISD has participated in the program for over 29 years. Our community was very giving last year as Rockdale Intermediate School students raised almost $6454. This year, we have set our goal at $5,000! Please help support our students as they work to meet this goal. Fundraising will begin on Friday, February 1, 2019 and will continue through Friday, February 27, 2019 when our jumping event will take place. Please contact Reagan Fritsche at rfritsche@rockdaleisd.net or 512-430-6200 for more information or to make donations.

2019 Jan 30: RES Student Attendance

During the winter months, we unfortunately have a higher risk of sickness that always has an impact on student attendance and learning. This week Ms. Alesha Eoff, Rockdale Elementary Principal, has the opportunity to share the importance of good student attendance, and tips to help insure your child receives a high quality education by being in school.

As we enter into the second semester, we face the challenge of keeping our students healthy so that they are able to regularly attend school.  Students who regularly attend school have been shown to achieve at higher levels than students who do not have regular attendance. Research shows that attendance plays an integral role in student achievement.

Chronic absenteeism is detrimental at every grade level, but it is especially concerning during the early elementary formative years. Research shows that students who are chronically absent during early elementary grades, when class time is mainly focused on developing the foundations for academic success through math and reading skills, are less likely to be reading on grade level by third grade. It’s difficult for students to build their skills and make adequate progress if they are frequently absent.  Frequent absences result in students falling behind, and produce gaps in the child’s learning. Missing even one or two days can put a student behind in their learning.  This can be not only hurt a child’s future academic success, but may also increase a student’s likelihood of dropping out of high school.  The attendance rate is important because students are more likely to succeed in academics when they attend school consistently.

Another factor that we monitor closely is tardies.  Our students are expected to be in their classrooms ready to learn at 7:50.  At the elementary, we provide breakfast for all students, and if a student comes in late, he or she may miss the opportunity to have breakfast with their class.  When a child comes into class late, especially elementary age children, it throws off their routine. They are often scrambling to find their homework folders, locate assignments, and get settled into class.  This can be avoided by making sure that students arrive on time, and are ready to begin their day at 7:50.

Along with tardies, we also closely monitor students who are taken out of school prior to our dismissal time.  We strongly encourage you to avoid making appointments prior to dismissal. Our learning time is from the time the bell rings in the morning until the students dismiss in the afternoon.  When a child is continually pulled out of the classroom to leave early, it can cause them to miss getting their homework assignments, or cause them to have gaps in certain subjects, or in their learning interventions.  We provide classroom instruction and intervention in the afternoons, and when students are absent or are pulled early for errands or other events, then they are missing quality instructional time.

If your child is ill, we ask that you contact the school so that we can document the reason for their absence.  With flu season upon us, we want to make sure that our children are seen by doctors and that we keep all of our students healthy.  If your child is running fever, or shows signs of the flu, please make sure that they are seen by a doctor, and are fever-free for 24 hours before returning to school.  This will help to keep all of our students and teachers healthy this semester. Also, if the child goes to the doctor or has an appointment, we ask that you provide the school with a note so that we can place it in their file.   At school and at home, we want to encourage frequent hand washing with soap, coughing into their elbows, using tissues, and never drinking or eating after our friends. We appreciate your support in teaching these basic hygiene skills that we model at school.  

Our teachers do a wonderful job of creating a caring school climate for our students, and the students know they are missed when they are not at school.  To further encourage attendance, our teachers provide things such as stickers, treasure chest choices, and other classroom incentives for our students. We have even created classroom competitions to encourage the importance of attending school.  At this age, we know that it is parent support that plays the biggest role in our children having regular attendance. We ask that you work with us to provide our children with the best opportunities to learn and grow so that all of our kids are successful.  

2019 Jan 23: Parental Expectations

When considering our children’s abilities, sometimes it is difficult to determine what their level of performance or success should or will be as they grow and develop. Being a parent of two very different sons, I sometimes struggled to avoid comparisons with both academic and athletic skills. On one hand I wanted/expected high levels in both areas, but on the other hand I knew there were limitations due to their specific abilities.

How important is it to have high expectations for our school aged children? According to a number of specialists it is extremely important to set expectations that are high, but reachable for our children. This is true not only at school, but also at home. Sometimes parents tend to set expectations too high, and their children see themselves as failures and find ways not to perform whether it is in the classroom or in athletics. However, if expectations are too low, our children tend to become bored, uninterested and/or lazy.

Expectations are, and should be, different for each child depending on their abilities. An exceptional athlete who is bored in a P.E. class can still make a good grade, but not reach his or her full potential by not being challenged. However, a student who has difficulty reading will struggle to pass the STARR Reading test due to the standard being too high or out of reach. Neither of these students can be experience their unique level of success due to the inaccurate expectations set for them.

There are many ways parents can provide high but reasonable expectations for their children. First, expect the best from your child keeping in mind his or her abilities and interests. Second, ask children what they expect from themselves, so they can verbalize or say how well they can perform a skill or task. Also, encourage your child to tackle subjects and hobbies that are challenging, but not above their ability levels. Finally, be sure to work with them by spending valuable time helping them to develop confidence and skills to be successful. Parents should always remember to tell their children when they do something well, and avoid being overly negative when they make a mistake or their performance does not meet their expectations.

2019 Jan 16: Rockdale ISD's ACE (iTigers)

The Rockdale Junior High’s ACE (iTigers) Program’s coordinator Leesa Perez has the spotlight this week, and she would like to provide us with important information regarding the iTigers Program at Rockdale ISD. iTigers provides additional instruction and enrichment for our students who may need extra help and support.

Happy New Year from the RISD ACE (iTigers) programs! A new semester is upon us, and the ACE (iTigers) programs on each campus are preparing for after school activities to begin on January 14, 2019. Students and teachers have worked diligently across campuses to make the first part of the year a memorable learning experience.

iTigers would like to remind students and parents that this upcoming semester is critical. The STAAR test is upon us, and teachers will be working in overtime to make sure that students are prepared. Students must be sure to take advantage of tutorials and homework help that are immediately available to them during iTigers hours before and after school.

Once the academic session is over, students may stay for the enrichment activities. Please note that each campus offers different activities, which are designed to meet the needs of that campus’ specific age group. For example, Rockdale High School  ACE (iTigers) is offering Drivers Education Classes, beginning February 4, 2019. Please contact the high school coordinator, Martha Gonzales, for more information. Your child’s campus iTigers coordinator is happy to answer any questions or provide a more detailed list of classes offered on their campus. Coordinators may be reached at the following numbers:

RES- Valarie Willingham- 512-430-6030, 5130

RIS- Sandy Robbins- 512-430-6200, ext. 4130

RJH- Leesa Perez- 512-430- 6100, ext. 3130

RHS- Martha Gonzales- 512-430- 6140, ext. 2130

In addition to activities for students, iTigers hosts events for parents and families, as well! In fact, RJH hosted a Parent/Student painting event before the Winter break. Twelve parents attended with their students, and left with their own piece of beautiful artwork. RJH will host another parent/student painting event this semester. Also, stay tuned for other exciting parent/students events for iTigers families at RJH!

District wide ACE (iTigers) parent events include the following:

~ Adult Knitting Club – beginner to advanced levels – RHS – Mondays, beginning January 28th

~ PELLs (Parent English Language Learners) Class – RES – Mondays, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

~ Parent Advisory Committee – next meeting to be held at RHS Library – February 5 at 5:30 p.m. (light refreshments will be served)

~ Ed2Go classes – contact a campus coordinator for more information on this amazing opportunity!

We are looking forward to a wonderful semester. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your child’s education and well-being!

2019 Jan 9: The Role of Rockdale ISD Career and Technical Education in Improving Local Economy

Opportunities for Rockdale High School students continue to grow each year. The need for skilled labor workers continues to increase, and Rockdale ISD is committed to provide as much as possible to meet the needs for our state and local community. This week Mrs. Britina Pesak has important information regarding the Labor Market for Rockdale as well as the rest of Texas.

According to The Labor Market & Career Information Department (LMCI) of the Texas Workforce Commission, Texas' unemployment rate is at 3.7 percent and holding, a historic low. For Milam County, the percent is only a bit higher, sitting at 4.8 percent (LMCI, 2019). With these small rates, it may seem that jobs would be lucrative, and hard to find with the vast majority of sought after jobs being filled by workers before a notice can be posted. But ask many employers in the area and the job market managers will tell you there are many jobs available. It is skilled employees that are hard to find.

Texas Labor Market Projections for Central Texas for a ten year period expect significant growth in healthcare, information technology, construction, business and administration, education, and manufacturing. All of these areas include not only a significant increase in the number of jobs expected to open annually, but in the percentage of growth as well.

Enter the role of the local High School, a premier college and career readiness curriculum, and Career and Technical Education (CTE). This is not your mother’s first period study hall, and definitely not your father’s wood shop. The rigor of the CTE classroom has been raised to meet the needs of all students to focus on high-skill, high-wage occupations whether that leads to a four-year degree or a 6-month certification post-graduation.

In order to ensure Rockdale ISD is preparing students for post-secondary success in a career in which they can expect to find quality employment, it is important to partner with local businesses and community members to implement high-quality programs.

Our construction and manufacturing (welding) program students often work with local builders to listen to the experts and hone their craft while building road-quality trailers, building tiny homes, and earning industry certifications.

Until recently, our health science students had been observing surgeries, learning patient care, and beginning the final stages of earning the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) certification. With the close of the hospital, we will be seeking other prospects for learning, but are glad to have had the opportunity to work with the Hospital.

In each of the other Program Areas, we also work with great businesses across Rockdale and Milam County to grow our students as citizens and future employees by developing pathways to desired certifications and potential onsite work studies. We believe all of these partnerships are the key to working together to improve the local economy.

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!


SOURCE: Texas Labor Market and Career Information Department online. https://tracer2.com (January 2019).

2018 Dec 26: RISD's Christmas Round-up Support

Rockdale Christmas Roundup was another huge undertaking again this year, and Rockdale ISD provided it’s much needed support for the success of this event. As in many prior years, students and staff members from all four Rockdale ISD campuses had the opportunity to volunteer or donate food items and cash during our annual Rockdale Christmas Roundup.

The Annual Winter Wonderland & Parent Involvement Night hosted by Rockdale High School with Rockdale Elementary, Rockdale Intermediate School staff members was held on Dec. 4th. A variety of games and fun activities were provided for students along with hot cocoa and cookies. Parents were given the opportunity to receive information on Title I, English as a Second Language, Gifted and Talented, Advanced Placement, Dyslexia, Every Student Succeeds Act, Technology & Food Service. Door Prizes were given away during the event and a 39” LED Smart TV was the major door prize given away at the end of the evening. The winner of the TV was Richard Taylor. This year Winter Wonderland raised $561 in cash and collected over 300 food items donated to Christmas Roundup.

The Rockdale Intermediate School led the way in cash and food donations.  RIS Student Council donated $300 dollars and RIS students donated $106 for a total of $406 in cash for Christmas Roundup. Rockdale Intermediate School Teachers donated $640 dollars in cash in support of Christmas Roundup, so the total of cash donations from the Rockdale Intermediate School was $1,046. Also, the campus collected 115 boxes of Cocoa Mix, 233 boxes of Jello, 422 boxes of Mac & Cheese, 143 Cans of Chicken, 68 cans of corn and 76 cans of Green Beans with a total of 1,072 food items collected. Student Officers from the Early Act First Knight (Sponsored by the Rockdale Rotary Club) and RIS Student Council helped pack boxes on Tuesday December 17th at the KC Hall during Christmas Roundup.

The Rockdale Elementary School took part in a competition that encouraged student donations this year. Collection bins labeled with 3 staff member names Principal Alesha Eoff, Asst. Principal April Eschberger and P.E. Teacher/Coach David Monroe were provided, and the two staff members with the most items in their bins, received a pie in the face. The lucky staff members were Ms. Eoff and Coach Monroe. The food total donations by students were 173 cans of Corn, 214 cans of Green Beans, 67 cans of Chicken and 46 miscellaneous items. The collections began the first week of November with a total of 500 food items collected. Rockdale Elementary School Teachers donated $300 dollars to support Roundup as well.

The Rockdale Junior High campus collected 51 bags of Pinto Beans, 68 bags of Rice, 118 Cornbread Mixes, 32 Cans Chicken and 6 miscellaneous items for a total of 275 food items collected. Members of the Leo Club (Sponsored by the Rockdale Noon Lions Club) sorted and counted food items donated at the junior high, and worked on Tuesday Dec. 17th at the KC Hall to help with the packing of boxes with food and toys. Rockdale Junior High staff members donated $120 in cash for Roundup.

Rockdale High School Peer Assistance Leaders (PALs) assisted with sorting, boxing and counting food items on the Elementary and High School campuses again this year. RHS classes collected 103 Cans of Chicken, 181 Cornbread Mixes, 59 Instant Potatoes and 409 Ramen Noodles with a total of 752 food items collected. The RHS Student Council was another group of students who helped with packing boxes on Tuesday December 17th, and RHS Cheer donated $50 cash to Christmas Roundup this year.

Along with the students, a number of Rockdale ISD Staff Members volunteered throughout the days of Christmas Roundup, and helped make it a huge success again this year. Rockdale ISD donated a total of 2,300 food items and almost $2100 dollars in cash for the 2018 Rockdale Christmas Roundup. Rockdale ISD appreciates the opportunity to give back to our community especially during this time of year.

The Christmas Holidays are always very special for the staff and students of Rockdale ISD as we have the chance to spend time with our families and friends. Our holidays began on Monday December 24, 2018 and will end on Friday January 4, 2019. On Monday January 7th, staff members will be back at work for a Professional Development Day, and on Tuesday January 8th, staff members will report for a Work Day. Students will return to regular classes on Wednesday January 9, 2019.

On behalf of the Rockdale ISD Staff and Students, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Community of Rockdale for your continued support, and it is our hope that you have a Safe and Enjoyable Holiday Season.                                                                  

                              Happy New Year!!

2018 Dec 19: RIS Student Council

The Rockdale ISD campuses are always looking for ways to keep school interesting and fun especially around the holidays. Rockdale Intermediate School Counselor Keely Reisner has a report this week on the RIS Student Council and their latest activities.

Here at Rockdale Intermediate our Student Council has been quite busy! For the 5th year in a row our Student Council held a fundraising campaign selling turkey feathers.  For seven school days leading up to the release for the Thanksgiving Holiday, Student Council officers and members arrived at school each morning by 7:15 to sell turkey feathers.  The three teachers with the most feathers at the end of that time had to dress up like a turkey the Friday we released for the holiday. They not only had to dress up and help with dismissal wearing the costume but they had to dance to the Turkey Hokey Pokey that morning for the entire student body wearing their costumes.  Student Council raised over $450 dollars selling feathers! Mr. McMahon, Mr. Headley and Mrs. Pickel were the winners and did a fabulous job supporting our Student Council in their challenge of raising money to donate to Christmas Roundup. Because of the amazing support by our teachers and students we were able to donate $300 to help with toys and food for Christmas Roundup.  Later this month our officers along with the officers from Rockdale Intermediate EAFK Rotary Club officers will go over and help pack boxes for Christmas Roundup Delivery. Thanks again for all the support we received!!!

2018 Dec 5: Holiday Happenings at Rockdale Elementary School

The Holidays are always a very special time of year for all students, but it seems to be extra special for our elementary students. Ms. Elesha Eoff, RES Principal, has the opportunity this week to share what is happening on her campus, so read and enjoy.


November and December are exciting months for our students at Rockdale Elementary.  We had several events for our students that centered around Thanksgiving, celebrating the season, competing in events, and giving to others.  


One of our events was the annual Pre-Kindergarten Extravaganza.  Seeing our PreKindergarten students dressed as turkeys, Native Americans, and Pilgrims is a highlight of the show.  Everyone is impressed with the work they put into the show, and we are always amazed by the singing, dancing, speaking parts, and work that goes into making this show such a delight to watch.  Families and friends came to watch them perform and they put on a great show!


Another fun learning event that happened was in Kindergarten.  The Kindergarten teachers paired up and provided rotation stations involving retelling of the first Thanksgiving.  Other stations included math and science graphing and sorting as well as writing stations. It was a fun way for the students to learn about customs, tradition, and the reason we celebrate the holiday.  The kids loved it and learned a lot! They ended the rotations with their annual feast where they dressed up, talked about manners and being polite, created table cloths, brought snacks for their friends, and shared why they were thankful for each other.  It was a nice culminating activity to lead them into the holiday.


        Looking into December, it is filled with many activities for our students.  Our older students are currently working on their UIL events and preparing for competition in December.  They are working after school and putting in many hours to make sure they are able to compete well.


Another exciting family event we enjoyed this week was the Winter Wonderland held on December 4th.  This is the annual event for all students and families to come read, play games, do some fun learning activities, and celebrate the season. This very enjoyable experience was at the Rockdale High School campus.  


Another seasonal event is our Second Grade students are involved in is beginning to prepare for their Christmas Variety Show.  This is their annual performance which includes, singing, dancing, acting, and a whole lot of fun! We encourage you to come out and watch the performance on December 20th at 9:30.  Please call ahead to have your badge ready.  


In addition to these things, as we continue in the spirit of generosity and giving thanks, our campus is focusing on giving back to our community through our canned food drive for Christmas Round Up.  Our elementary is donating cans of chicken, corn, and green beans. Currently, the classes are in competition to see which class can bring the most cans. Our collection is growing, and we encourage the children to think of others during this holiday season.  Our hope is that these activities will foster a love of wanting to help others less fortunate than themselves as they grow. At RES, we focus on teaching to the whole child and creating valuable learning experiences that our students will hold onto for a lifetime.  

2018 Nov 28: iTigers is an ACE for Rockdale ISD

The Rockdale Intermediate School’s iTigers Coordinator Sandy Robbins is very proud of her program at RIS, and the impact it has had on the intermediate campus. iTigers programs are available on all RISD campuses, and according to Sandy, our school district has benefitted from these programs for well over 10 years.

The Texas Afterschool Centers on Education Program (ACE Program) has been working with Rockdale ISD for the last 13 years and has touched almost every student in Rockdale in one way or another.  ACE is a federally funded grant that awards approximately $500,000 a year to Rockdale ISD.  This Grant is intended to promote success in six areas: grades, attendance, behavior, promotion rates, graduation rates, and college and career readiness.  The ACE Grant is awarded through the 21st Century CLC program supported by the US Department of Education.  In Rockdale, the program is better known as the iTigers program.  

iTigers is more than ‘just an after school’ program.  Most people are only aware of the after school academic tutorials and homework piece of the grant.  For grades K-12, the grant requires that ACE/iTigers must run 36 weeks of the school year. This includes four days a week after school and five days a week before school, as well as six weeks of summer school.  However, the grant also requires an ongoing parent involvement activities and one-time parent events.  ACE/iTigers offers ESL (English as a Second Language) to parents, ED2Go Classes from Temple College, Family-event nights, Parent Fitness workouts, and Parent and Community Advisory Committee meetings.  Furthermore, ACE/iTigers is involved in the Rockdale community. We support our community by preparing monthly lunches at the Senior Citizens Center, donating time and support at community events such as: the Music Festival, the Rockdale Fair, the Fall Festival, Rockdale ISD PTO meetings and events, the RISD Winter Wonderland, at the Community Easter Egg Hunt to name a few.

The grant funds pay for a many services and resources for RISD students and parents:

  • Academic tutorials, homework help, and enrichment facilitators pay
  • Supplies, academic materials, and school technology
  • After school and summer school bus transportation
  • Driver‘s education and various certifications for RHS programs
  • UIL academic practice and competitions
  • Summer camps and Summer school staff
  • Staff development and travel
  • Site Coordinator’s salaries
  • Recreational sports
  • Parent education services and fitness programs

So while you may see the ACE/iTiger program being heavily focused on afterschool academic tutorials and homework help at each campus, just remember, it is SO MUCH MORE!

2018 Nov 21: What is AP?

What Is AP?


The Thanksgiving Holiday is here, and before you know it, St. Nicholas will be making his rounds. This week we have a little food for thought (pun intended) during this week off for Rockdale ISD. Rockdale High School’s Patti Darby is glad to assist our readers in answering the thought provoking question.  What is AP?


For those of you with students in AP (Advanced Placement) classes I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that they are difficult and time consuming to say the least. But do you really know what it takes for your student to be successful? As the current AP Biology teacher at Rockdale High School here are a few of my tips and tricks that I tell my students so that they can be successful and earn that coveted college credit.


  1. The success tangle is real. What I mean is that we all get caught up in extra-curricular activities, homework and life itself. Sometimes that means we get so overwhelmed we can’t seem to find our way to a place of peace. In my class we call that the success tangle. You don’t get to be successful without a few hardships along the way. Helping your student recognize when they are in that success tangle and to ask for help is critical to their success. No one is in this by themselves.
  2. Writing is crucial. On the AP Biology exam there are eight FRQ’s (Free Response Questions). These questions can ask students to simply identify information or have students develop an experiment and calculate the statistical probabilities of their experiment. Having students write in concise and complete sentences is vital to their success on the writing portion of the test. Like with anything, practice makes perfect. The more your student writes, the easier it will be, come test time. 
  3. Vocabulary. Science is essentially a foreign language because of its vocabulary. You can help your student learn key vocabulary terms by making flashcards or utilizing the online program, Quizlet, and quizzing them a few nights a week. Being able to fluently utilize vocabulary will increase not only their test scores but will help their writing as well.

For more tips and tricks on how to help your student earn credit on their AP exam or to see what we’re doing in class, follow us on Twitter @scienceanddarbs.