Students head back to school Monday for ‘commitment’

Its hard to beleive we start another year of school in just a few short days. Where did the summer go? I know parents are excited about getting their children back in school and getting them back into some sort of structured daily regime. The class of 2014 is preparing for graduation and they have had many great things happen in their years of school.  I hope you join me as we support them and their parents as they begin their senior year which is an important leg of the journey called “LIFE”. Equally important to us are those  little first year “newbies” that start school and begin the journey as a future Lady Jack or Lumberjack and everyone in between.
We recently received our results on the initial STAAR test results. We are extremely proud of our students and staff on the overall performance of this initial assessment. We thank everyone for their hard work and commitment. This assessment gives us a baseline for continued improvement toward our goals for providing a great education for all Diboll ISD students.
The question that I get most of the time is: What’s been going on in Diboll ISD this summer? I am asked how I enjoyed the summer and all of that time off. I sometimes look quizzingly at the person who asked, but I also understand how hard it is to understand school work calendars and the difference between a teacher’s contract and other district workers. The summer is one of the busiest times for most school districts in Texas as they prepare for the upcoming school year. We have a number of employees who work during the summer months who are considered 12 month or 226 day employees. They do get some vacation time in the summer and it is much deserved. These employees are responsible for the day to day operations of the district, closing out the previous school year, and planning and preparing for the next school year. A great big thank you should go out to our campus secretaries and administrators ,student services, business office, operations department, transportation department, custodial, and  food service departments and family literacy staff because they have worked extremely hard to get our district ready for the 2013-2014 school year. Many of them are the 12 month employees who go unnoticed in all of the hustle and bustle of a school year. They again did a wonderful job this summer and I am proud to work beside each of them! As we say in East Texas ‘the hay is in the barn’ and we are ready for the new year to start.
Let me just bullet a few of the exciting things that we have been working on this summer:
●    “COMMITMENTS” -The school board and our administrative team had three “goal setting” meetings to clarify the expectations for our district and instructional staff  as we move into the 2013-2014 school year. These goals are basically our new “Commitments” and you can view them on our district website. It really opened the door for dialogue about what is important to our Diboll people and what they want a Diboll graduate to be ready for in this ever changing world. Exciting opportunities await our students! I hope each student seizes the wonderful opportunities that await them.
●    Professional Development “PEAK Training”- Each year our teachers are required to attend 7 days of professional development as part of their 187 day contract. This year we changed the professional development calendar to have 5 days of professional development (PEAK Training) in early August. PEAK stands for “Performance Excellence for All Kids! Believe me it was different and exciting!  It was a GREAT week of fun, interactive and motivating professional development for all of our administrators and teaching staff! The theme was: Our Kids are Worth Whatever it Takes! Our teachers took part in hundreds of strategies that they could take back to the classroom to help our students become successful. I hope your child will come home talking about exciting and most of all “different things” that teachers are doing to improve the instruction and most of all the relationship they have with each other. Many of our staff believe it is one of the best professional development programs we have offered in many years! Stay tuned because we are all in and committed as a district!
●    High School Facility Upgrades- Each campus had regular maintenance work completed this summer but the majority of our commitment this year was at the High School.The board facility committee made a commitment to the HS campus this summer and in response we completed the following projects: 23 classrooms were repainted and the carpet replaced with VCT tile. The main hall bathrooms and some auxiliary bathrooms were renovated as they are over 20 years old and even though they have held up well it was time to change partitions, upgrade lighting, and do some cosmetic work. We still have some planned touch ups to do in other bathrooms as we go into the year but they are minor and will be done in house. The HS Library and Band Hall carpet was replaced, the fire alarm system was checked and upgraded, new updated digital security cameras were added and secure access points on multiple outside doors were added to help control access to the campus. Gym bleachers were replaced because they too were over 20 years old and had become a maintenance and safety issue, especially for our elderly sports fans. The bleacher project should be completed by mid September and should really enhance the experience our fans and visitors see in our HS gym.
●    Safety and Security -Our Diboll ISD Police Chief Jason Burrous started the new process of meeting each summer with some of our local first responders and hosted the department meetings at our campuses to familiarize them with our buildings and have mock drills to be better prepared for situations that could occur. Our district police chief has made a commitment to collaborate with our fire department, city police and all law enforcement entities on drills and trainings for this upcoming year and beyond. We made a commitment to be “proactive” and not “reactive” as we update our emergency plans each year.
●    District Finances – The Diboll ISD Board of Trustees commitment to putting money in quality instruction was evident with the board unanimously approving raises for our teaching and professional staff.  This keeps us financially competitive as we hire new staff each year and keep the ones we have. A quality instructor in any program is the number one reason for student success. Diboll ISD was again awarded the highest rating of “Superior Achievement” for our financial diligence and planning based on the State of Texas “FIRST”report which is short for Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas. We will continue to make sound financial decisions that keep our district moving forward.
●    Legislative Changes- HB 5 created a number of educational changes that we have had to deal with this summer. We are committed to communicating these changes to our staff and parents, and how these changes affect our students. We support the changes and will do everything in our power to make them understandable. Please discuss these changes with your child’s principal and also call me or send me an email if you have questions.
●    New Staff Positions Created: Our board was very supportive and committed to adding new positions which we feel will help our students and parents. We added a second counselor at the high school especially with all of the new legislative changes and requirements. High school parents and students will now have Mrs. Carol Mettlen and Mrs. Candice Hardin to help them through the HS process. We added a full time TECHNOLOGY Director in Mr. Robbie Young from Taylor ISD. Mr. Young brings years of educational technology experience to our district. This is the first time Diboll ISD has had a full time position in Technology and we already see the progress this position will help us make as we continue helping our students in this digital age. Our new Assistant Superintendent, (Daniel Lopez) is no stranger to our district and will be instrumental in helping us move forward with our instructional programs. Daniel knows our students and parents and is committed to their success.
●    City/School Collaborations – Last and certainly not least,  is the high level of communication we currently have with our city leadership and community committees. The Diboll Civic Club, Diboll Business Association, Design 4 Diboll Committee, Keeler Grant Committee, and Diboll Booster Club have all been part of our continued success and we are proud to be a part of the exciting things each one brings to our community! The city and school have always had a very good relationship but over the last year I have seen a renewed commitment and “CAN DO ATTITUDE” in making our community a place where people want to live. Thank you Mayor McClain, Diboll City Council, City Manager Dennis McDuffie, Police Chief Rick Conner, and all of the city departments for your commitment to our school district.
These are just a few of the things that make me feel so blessed to work with each of you as we make a commitment to the children of Diboll. I leave you with a couple of quotes as we start the 2013-2014 school year:
“There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses – only results.”
― Kenneth H. Blanchard
“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.”
― Peter F. Drucker

Thanks for your commitment and support!

Gary Martel
Diboll ISD
Every Child! Every Day! Every Way!