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Urban Camp Festival (Fall 2018)

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Imagine the gathering of all of your friends at the livest house party of all time… and then add tents, a raging river waiting for you all to tame it, laser tag, different tastes from all over the country, games that might have your children look at you differently, and lastly an open bar that’ll help you forget your antics of the evening.  Once your vision is realized, you will now be walking amongst Urban Camp Weekend, the best camping event in the world, hosted at Mount Breeze of New Braunfels, TX!

Urban Camp Weekend is the largest camping trip in the country, hosted by Urban Camp Weekend and Urban Events Global!  This camp enthralls a large community of eager travelers from all across the country to indulge in a highly entertaining activities, ranging from yoga, to river rafting, during the scheduled weekend.  Intertwined during the duration of the event are mixers for professionals eager to network while still having their fun.  This event was established by Kevin Knight, who had the vision to develop unique and non-traditional experience that allows participants to relax and make lasting connections all while in a territory never explored!

I never knew that drinks, tents, and laser tag could fit together so well.

Upon arriving, we received a warm greeting from campers all across the campsite.  All were participating in games, with laughs bellowing across the site, and immediately incorporated us into the fun!  The atmosphere of the site put people at ease, allowing them to commune with people they had never prior to that day.  The DJ curated songs from all decades, playing them in a way that younger and mature audiences could equally enjoy.  I never knew that drinks, tents, and laser tag could fit together so well.  Overall, the experience was beautifully organized, and the participants had an awesome time.  We cannot wait until next year.

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Principal Change At Sam Houston H.S.

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By LaNell Taylor

Some may call it déjà vu, but unfortunately the situation is not rumored but rather it is true. The leadership at Sam Houston High School is changing once again.  Last, week an article was published in a local newspaper and much chatter took place via social media that Dr. Mateen Diop, Principal at Sam Houston High School would no longer serve as the school’s principal at the start of the 2020 – 2021 school year. The announcement came as a surprise to some while others applauded the SAISD board’s decision.  It is believed that the decision was solidified following the class valedictorian’s graduation speech that vilified the school, Dr. Diop and his administrative team.

Not much has been shared from either party (SAISD nor Dr. Diop); however, SAISD Board of Trustee Alicia Perry did offer the following statement:

We will have a change in leadership at Sam Houston High School next school year. These changes are always made with students in mind and their best interests at heart. We value the community and will ensure that stakeholder input is considered as we search for a new leader. We will strive hard to ensure that the campus moves in a positive direction. We take the concerns of our students seriously and we want to ensure that they have a successful learning environment. District Administration will review the concerns in an effort to ensure that they are addressed appropriately.” 

As an alumna of Sam Houston High School in the San Antonio Independent School District, a former teacher of the school, a parent of a Sam Houston athlete, a tax payer in the District, I personally know that the stability of leadership at Sam Houston H.S. has been on shaky ground for at least almost two decades now.  When I taught there from 2001-2006 we had 5 principals (Donald McClure, Joanne Cockrell, John Simpson, Joanne Cockrell again, and Melanie Iglehart – Hammonds) in the five years that I was there and unfortunately that cycle of the forever changing leadership hasn’t changed much since then; therefore, making it a very systemic problem and not good for kids.

Again, not many details have been released as to why this current principal change has occurred, but for many outsiders looking in, we are in an awaken state of looking at the systematic failures of organizations and institutions that have failed Blacks (particularly Black men).  I just believe folks need to make sure history isn’t repeating itself.  In speaking to other individuals, a former principal, mentor, and friends of mine, it was expressed that if I were to dig deeper I would probably uncover evidence of suppression of Black men in SAISD. Immediately in my mind I reflected back to the likes of Mr. Donald McClure; Mr. Everett Fuller; Mr. Charles James; Mr. Lewis Barr; Mr. John Simpson; Mr. Derrick Cade; Mr. Darnell White; Mr. Stanton Lawrence; and Dr. Mateen Diop and wondered what adversities they may have faced within the system.

To all who have walked in the shoes of educators they know “Teaching Ain’t Easy” and sometimes it is not for everyone. Again, I am not defending nor agreeing with anyone on the matter; however, I know that “Great Leaders” are important, but no one leader should EVER stop a show. If ALL parties (parents, students, community, principals, administrators, board members, stakeholders, etc.) TAKE RESPONSIBILITY and are doing their part within an institution, despite the efforts of whomever the principal is, SUCCESS WILL PREVAIL! I’m part of that proof. As I mentioned earlier, I taught at Sam Houston H.S. when we had 5 principals in five years; however, as a campus we were still able to perform and on some occasions even outperform other schools in and out of the District to include areas of academics, athletics, graduating children., etc.

People should also consider that in most school systems today, most principals don’t run campuses like the days of old. Administrators, Vice Principals, Assistant Principals, Academic Deans, Counselors, etc. are the day to day faces we encounter because principals are like CEOs, they are often required to attend meetings and trainings at the District office, on and off campus, in the community, out of the city and state, perform classroom and campus walkthoughs, manage construction, manage budgets, and lets not forget those infamous “other duties as assigned.” I say all that to say that it should not be a surprise that at many campuses individuals are confused as to who is running the campus.

In closing, I’d like to note that when I worked at other schools in SAISD principal turnovers were just as frequent then as they are today, and I never understood how that was good for kids. Much can be said about schools that have or had consistency in leadership.  Shouts out to Mr. Charles Muñoz former Principal at Edison H.S. who served for two decades or more; Ms. Raquel Sosa, former Principal, Highland Hills Elementary in the 80s, and two of my current favorite principals Mrs. Natasha Pinnix of M.L. King Academy and Dr. Derrick Thomas of St. Philip’s Early College High School. Much can be said for their leadership and track records.

I challenge all to look at ALL the data in order to make best decisions.  And please let the good outweigh the bad.

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SAPD Chief’s Termination of Officer Matthew Luckhurst upheld

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Officer Matthew Luckhurst (SBG Photo)

On Friday, June 19, 2020, an arbitrator upheld San Antonio Police Chief William McManus’ second termination of former SAPD Officer Matthew Luckhurst. The former police officer was initially fired, or indefinitely suspended, for placing a feces sandwich in a food container and giving it to a homeless man. However, Luckhurst appealed to an arbitrator, and under a provision in the Collective Bargaining Agreement with police union, he was reinstated by claiming that the incident occurred more than 180 days before the suspension was issued.

Luckhurst received a second suspension for a separate incident when he purposely failed to flush feces in the toilet in the Downtown Bike Patrol women’s restroom. On the same occasion, he spread a brown tapioca-like substance on the toilet seat to give the appearance of feces. By his own admission, he took these actions because a female officer had placed a sign in the room requesting that it be kept clean. Hearing Examiner Thomas Cipolla found that Chief McManus’ decision to terminate Luckhurst’s employment was warranted due to the egregious nature of Luckhurst’s conduct aimed at women.

“This individual clearly has no business wearing an SAPD uniform, and it should never have been this hard to fire him,” said City Manager Erik Walsh. “I am pleased that this is behind us, but the contract provision that gave him more chances than he deserved remains an obstacle to the Chief’s ability to discipline officers who fail to live up to SAPD’s standards.” “The vast majority of our officers respect their oaths to serve the community, and they resent it when individuals like Luckhurst discredit the badge,” said Chief McManus. “For both the department and the community, it was critically important that he not be allowed to have his job back. Although the limits imposed on me by the Collective Bargaining Agreement made firing him more difficult than it should have been, justice was finally served in this case.”

San Antonio: America’s 21st Century City
San Antonio is a global city with a dynamic economy and workforce, deep cultural heritage and diverse communities that are resilient and welcoming. It is one of the strongest fiscally managed cities in the country, nurturing entrepreneurship, encouraging investment and funding infrastructure. America’s seventh-largest city offers a vibrant business climate and growth opportunities in bioscience, financial services, aerospace, cyber security, energy, transportation, manufacturing and healthcare. In 2015, UNESCO designated San Antonio’s 18th century Spanish colonial missions as a World Heritage Site – the first in Texas. Proudly called Military City, USAR, San Antonio is home to one of the largest populations of active duty military, veterans and crucial military commands. For more information, visitwww.sanantonio.gov<http://www.sanantonio.gov>.

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2020 Fire Chief of the Year

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Congratulations are in order for San Antonio’s very own, Chief Charles N. Hood on being named 2020 Fire Chief of the Year.  This National Award from the Metro Fire Chiefs Association is well deserved.

Chief Hood has served the City of San Antonio since 2007, and is well recognized for being the First African American to oversee the local fire department.

Chief Hood leads one of the largest fire departments in the nation, commanding approximately 1800 personnel with a budget of over 292 million dollars. He is ultimately responsible for providing fire, emergency medical, special operations, and emergency management and fire prevention to over 1.4 million citizens.

Chief Hood joined the City of Phoenix Fire Department in 1984 where he rose through the ranks. Chief Hood was a member of the Phoenix Fire Department’s Urban Search & Rescue team and FEMA’s Urban Search and Rescue’s National Incident Support Team. National responses include the 2004 Winter Olympics, Democratic National Convention, The Rodeo Fire and Challenger Space Shuttle incident and most recently served as the Liaison Officer with the City of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

Chief Hood’s progressive leadership style and vision has resulted in many achievements. The SAFD is responsible for over 310,000 Unit Responses per year. Since joining the SAFD, Chief Hood has doubled the size of both the HAZMAT and Technical Rescue Teams. In 2010, Chief Hood established a Health & Wellness Program and recently added a Certified Athletic Trainer. In addition, Chief Hood has collaborated to establish a Fusion Center; created a Safety Division, and Fitness Program which includes becoming an official CrossFit Affiliate. In 2015 Chief Hood launched a Mobile Integrated Healthcare Program which represents one of the most progressive evolutions in the delivery of community based care. In an effort to improve department communication, he implemented an annual State of the Department Address presented to all uniform and civilian employees.

EDUCATION

Chief Hood holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Fire Service Management from the University of Ottawa and has attended the Harvard Kennedy School of Executive Education. He is an Adjunct Faculty at Texas A&M University National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center.

In 2010, Chief Hood was the recipient of the Metro Fire Chief of the Year presented by the members of the Black Chief Officer’s Committee, IABPFF. In 2014, the Fire Administrator of the United States Fire Administration appointed Chief Hood to the Board of Directors of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation for a six-year term.

PERSONAL

An Arizona native, Hood is the proud father of four sons, Tevin, Jaxon, Langston and Sheridan.

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