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Champion For A Cause

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Serena Williams is Building Schools in Jamaica and Various African Nations 

Nationwide — More than just a tennis champion, Serena Williams has always been a champion for a cause. Through the Serena Williams Fund, new schools are being built in Jamaica and in various countries on the African continent.

Williams, who has a total of 39 Grand Slam titles under her belt, recently built the Marsh Elementary School in Jamaica in conjunction with the nonprofit Helping Hands Jamaica. Schools on the African continent were also built in partnership with Build Africa.

Prior to that, Williams already established grade schools in other African countries including Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Kenya.

Those efforts were part of Williams’ mission through her own non-profit organization called Serena Williams Fund “to promote equity; through education, gender, race, disability, or anything else that stands in the way of someone achieving their goals and living their best possible life.”

“The mission of this charity is to help the individuals or communities affected by to violence, and [to ensure] equal access to education,” Williams said in a statement.

According to Borgen Magazine, the sports superstar “has done extraordinary tasks using her own resources and through partnerships with the Serena Williams Fund and other foundations dedicated to providing and improving education for those in difficult conditions or developing countries. Her active role has notably left a mark on those who have had their lives changed significantly through this act of kindness.”

Williams, who is named as a Unicef Goodwill Ambassador, also founded Serena Ventures which aims to invest in early-stage companies to give them wider opportunities to grow.

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Community

School Re-opening Update

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SAN ANTONIO, TX (July 15, 2020) – Following today’s announcement from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) that local public health officials that orderTexas schools closed for in-person instruction this fall will not risk state education funding, Metro Health with the support of the COVID-19 CommunityResponse Coalition will convene a task force to make local recommendations the public health authority for Bexar County.

“We’ve heard from many parents, teachers and administrators with concerns about starting the school year with in-person instruction while cases ofCOVID-19 are surging in Texas,” said Assistant City Manager and InterimMetro Health Director Dr. Colleen Bridger. “This task force will work together to help us make an informed decision about the best way to proceed with the health and safety of our children and all school staff as our highest priority.”

School districts typically fall under the authority of the State of Texas, not the City of San Antonio or Bexar County. However, the TEA has effectively given the authority to local communities to decide whether schools will open with in-person learning, rather than just remote learning.

The task force will include teachers, parents, students, teachers’ unions, school districts, universities, pediatricians and public health professionals. The task force will meet this week and will make recommendations about the safe reopening of schools in Bexar County. Updates will be shared at covid19.sanantonio.gov<http://covid19.sanantonio.gov/>.
FOUR WAYS TO SIGN UP FOR COVID-19 ALERTS
  1.  Download the Ready South Texas app, available in the iTunes<https://apps.apple.com/us/app/ready-south-texas/id1090438177> andGooglePlay<https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.quickseries.BexarTX&hl=en_US> stores  

2.  Text COSAGOV to 55000 to receive SMS text message updates  

3.  Follow @COSAGOV on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram  

4.  Bookmark covid19.sanantonio.gov

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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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Charles Butt donates $1 million to PVAMU; Funds to support Ruth J. Simmons Center for Race and Justice

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PRAIRIE VIEW, Texas (June 11, 2020) – Charles Butt, H-E-B Chairman, announced today a $1,000,000 personal contribution to Prairie View A&M University in honor of University President Ruth J. Simmons.

President Simmons joined Prairie View in 2017 after retiring as President of Brown University where she served as President from 2001 to 2012.  She had previously served as President of Smith College from 1995 to 2001. Born in Grapeland, Texas, she grew up in Houston’s Fifth Ward where she graduated from Phyllis Wheatley High School.  She holds both a Master of Arts and Ph.D. degree in Romance Languages and Literatures from Harvard University.  Simmons chairs the Board of Directors of the Holdsworth Center for Excellence in Education Leadership.

“When I learned of Mr. Butt’s gift, I was overwhelmed,” said President Simmons. “His generosity to the children of the State of Texas and his concern for the quality of education afforded Prairie View students is inspiring to us all.  Our students can learn a good deal from his humanity and the manner in which he lives and practices his values.”

The funds will be used to support The Ruth J. Simmons Center for Race and Justice at the University.  This Center will be proposed for approval to the Texas A&M Chancellor and Board of Regents and the Coordinating Board with the following proposed mission:

The Center positions itself as a multidisciplinary effort, drawing from an array of existing programs that can, together, facilitate greater understanding of racism and discrimination on the one hand and the need for justice on the other hand to strengthen and sustain civil society.  The center’s activities will include:

  • encouraging curricular innovation that helps students better understand how racial and other biases can impact their beliefs, affect their choices and shape their opportunities in life;
  • educational programs for the public on how to combat bias in their communities;
  • expert support for government and organizations seeking to understand how they can improve upon their efforts to assure a bias-free, inclusive environment;
  • training for individuals in leadership positions who wish to improve upon their leadership for inclusion; and
  • support for scholarship and research that adds to knowledge about new areas of injustice that are in need of urgent attention from policymakers and others (such as human trafficking).PVAMU President Ruth J. Simmons

Prairie View A&M University is a state-assisted, public, comprehensive land grant institution of higher education. It is dedicated to achieving excellence and relevance in teaching, research, and service and seeks to invest in programs and services that address issues and challenges affecting the diverse ethnic and socioeconomic population of Texas and the larger society, including the global arena.

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