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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.

Art

Downtown SA Lights Up for the Holidays

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Downtown San Antonio will sparkle this holiday season with an array of lights and holiday events. 

Set against the backdrop of one of the city’s most historic and charming walkways, five blocks of Houston Street will buzz with twinkling lights, decorations, entertainers, and vendors from Nov. 24 and runs through January 2. 

 Additionally, on Nov. 24, kick off the holiday festivities with the Annual H-E-B Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Travis Park. Festivities begin at 4 p.m. and include live entertainment, food trucks, letters to Santa, giveaways, holiday crafts, a special visit from Santa, and a movie screening of “The Grinch.” The tree-lighting ceremony begins at 6 p.m., followed by the movie at 7 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. 

Get front-row seats to the 42nd Annual Ford Holiday River Parade, which offers a spectacular one-hour parade along the San Antonio River Walk starting at 6 pm at the Tobin Center. This year’s theme, “Holiday Stories,” will kick off the San Antonio tradition. Always held the day after Thanksgiving, the parade and river lighting ceremony will feature 28 illuminated floats and over 100,000 lights (2,250 strands) illuminating the River Walk. The lights turn on from sundown to sunrise every day until the weekend following New Year’s Day. Seating ranges from $15 to $40. It is broadcast live at 7 p.m. at the Arneson River Theatre.

The Rotary Ice Rink, presented by Valero, will also return this fall at Travis Park in downtown San Antonio. Since 2019, nearly 200,000 people have enjoyed the rink and surrounding festivities. For more information, including hours of operation, pricing, and specials, visit (rotaryicerink.com).

For more events, go to (VisitSanAntonio.com).

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Black Life Texas

Carver Annual Fundraiser Dec. 2

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The Carver Development Board presents the Cavalcade of the Stars on Saturday, Dec. 2, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Center. 

This annual fundraiser benefits the Carver’s School for Visual & Performing Arts’ Artist Residency/Master Class Program, summer camps, Youth Matinee Series, and supports the education programs of the Carver Community Cultural Center. The title fundraiser is Valero.

The night will start with a reception and silent auction at 5:30 pm. Dinner is served at 6:30 pm, and the show begins at 8 pm featuring Kiland Kyham, also known as Mr. Houston. Kyham is a gifted and powerful author, singer, and songwriter. He has performed and produced with such music legends as Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Johnathon Butler, and Smokey Robinson. He has written over 400 song jingles and has produced numerous projects. 

For over 75 years, The Carver Community Cultural Center (“The Carver”) has served as the San Antonio Eastside’s foremost gathering place of cultural exchange and performance arts. It was originally erected in 1918 as a community center for African-Americans. By the 1930s, the building was repurposed as the Colored Library and renamed the Carver Library and Auditorium in honor of Dr. George Washington Carver. From the 1940s through the Civil Rights Era, prominent African-American entertainers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Louis Armstrong played at the Carver. 

Individual tickets for the Cavalcade of the Stars are $250 or $2,500 per table. For more information, visit (TheCarver.org).

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Black Life Texas

Free Native American Festival at the Briscoe

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Highlighting the continued vibrancy and artistic traditions of Native American communities – and the local tribes who helped shape San Antonio – the Briscoe Western Art Museum invites everyone to enjoy its annual Yanaguana Indian Arts Festival on Saturday, Nov. 11, from 10 am to 4 pm. 

The event is free and includes admission to the Briscoe, making it a perfect way to celebrate the vital role Native Americans played in shaping the West while enjoying art and artifacts that highlight Native American history.

The community festival features live performances, storytelling, artist demonstrations, pottery and carving, as well as Native American-inspired food, including REZR’vation Only, a food truck featuring Native American-inspired cuisine that is owned and operated by a registered member of the Navajo Nation. The event starts with a Native American spiritual blessing, followed by a ceremonial drum circle that invites everyone to join. 

The annual event is named in honor of the Payaya people, who were indigenous to the San Antonio area. “Yanaguana” was the word they used to describe what is now known as the San Antonio River. The festival has been held annually since the museum opened, with 2020’s event taking place virtually. 

To learn more, visit (BriscoeMuseum.org). 

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