|Photo courtesy of Raise Your Hand Texas|
Valley Oaks Elementary Principal Gary Henry and several students are featured in the most recent blog posting and video compiled by the Austin-based public education group, Raise Your Hand Texas.
The video and posting, titled “Giving Students a Stake in Their School,” retells through Principal Henry and student voices how the school’s SPARK Park playground was rebuilt by including students in the playground design process.
“Everyone in education says they put students’ interests first. But not everyone asks students what they think, what they need, and what they want,” the blog posting states. Valley Oaks Elementary was one of 13 elementary schools rebuilt under the 2007 SBISD bond plan. The blog posting also describes how the entire community – staff, students and parents – were involved in the redesign of this new campus. The new Valley Oak Elementary opened in January 2015 at the intersection of Westview and Pech.
Raise Your Hand Texas’ recent blog posting also includes a link to a Houston Public Media radio news story about SBISD’s decision last year to become a District of Innovation. The district was one of the first public school districts in state to make such a proactive move toward greater local control and innovation.
Principal Henry is not the only SBISD leader praised by the Austin group for innovative thinking and practice. Sherwood Elementary Principal Stefanie Spencer was featured earlier by Raise Your Hand Texas in a question-and-answer style blog posting. That interview focused on her passion for giving all students access to quality education, describing her as both an “idealist and doer.”
Spencer, like so many of her SBISD principal colleagues, is a graduate of the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program (REEP), a business certificate program for educators based at Rice University. Raise Your Hand Texas is a sponsor of the REEP program.
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