Brackenridge High School Burbank High School Edison High School Fox Tech High School Highlands High School Sam Houston High School Jefferson High School Lanier High School Advanced Learning Academy St. Phillips Early College High School Travis Early College High School Young Women's Leadership Academy Phyllis Wheatley

SAISD's East Side Legacy: A Story That Must be Told

On a recent tour of Carroll Early Childhood Center James Howard, a 1969 graduate of Wheatley High School, pointed to a small plaque on a wall honoring the school's namesake, Henry A. Carroll Senior. Stopping his brisk walk for a moment, Howard (whose 21-year role as the district 2 trustee for the San Antonio Independent School District board recently ended) noted "You know when I was a kid, we had to know who our schools were named for. We were expected to know that history. Nowadays it's different."

He continued,  "Did you know what  S.J. Davis Middle School used to be Stonewall Jackson middle school? You can't escape the confederacy anywhere."

In many ways, truer words had never been spoken. 

Henry A. Carroll Senior, who served as Assistant Athletic Director for SAISD’s Athletic Office

until he retired in 1986 after 39 years in education. Click here to read Carroll's history

It is these bits of history, delivered in snippets, that remind us how complex SAISD's history truly is, and how that now more than ever it's important to share the stories and preserve the legacy of our schools and communities. The following is the beginning of a multi-part series that will highlight SAISD's sometimes-forgotten history, beginning with the story of The Wheatley Lions. 

Wheatley High School 

Phillis Wheatley High School operated for nearly 40 years on San Antonio's historically Black east side, and is one of many schools that SAISD operated before desegregation. Before Wheatley, Douglass operated as the city's first all Black high school, then became the district's all-Black middle school when Wheatley opened. The aftermath of the school closures proved to be a particularly painful period for many Black alumni, who rightfully felt that their history was being erased and forgotten.

The building that now houses the Young Men's Leadership Academy opened in 1933 as Phillis Wheatley High School at 415 Harrison Ave., (the street's former name) as a school for African American students. Named after the famous 18th century African American poet, the high school produced many star "Wheatley Lions" athletes and leaders who continue to influence our city and state. 

   

The Wheatley Lions produced numerous all-star athletes including Cliff Johnson, long-time major league baseball player, Willie Mitchell, who played in the first Super Bowl for Kansas City Chiefs, Clyde Glosson, a world-class sprinter, John “Mule” Miles, a legendary baseball player in the All Negro Leagues, and Gentris Hornsby, a 3-time Courier All-American football player and bronze plaque is mounted at entrance of Alamo Stadium. Learn more about the SAISD Sports Hall of Fame Inductees HERE.

At the end of the 1969-70 school year, due to desegregation, Wheatley High School was closed. The name and building then underwent several changes over the years. In 1972 Emerson Middle School was relocated there from its home since 1924, 1023 N. Pine St. The Wheatley name was soon transferred to a new high school which opened on the site of Brackenridge High School. In 1988 the Emerson name was removed from the original Wheatley High School location, and the Phillis Wheatley name was restored. Wheatley operated as a middle school until 2015, when the Young Men's leadership Academy at Wheatley opened as the city's first all boys' public school.

YMLA Principal Derrick Brown is determined to make sure The Wheatley history is honored and celebrated. "When I came to YMLA I instantly felt like I was at home. I am the first generation in my family not to go to segregated schools, so meeting with the Wheatley lions alumni was like being with family. It's so important that we honor this history. We need to showcase it in our hallways." he said.

Brown also made the deliberate decision to ensure that the Wheatley name was added to YMLA uniforms, an intentional move to ensure that the school's legacy was honored. Now that YMLA has grown to include high school students, it is bringing back traditions. This August YMLA at Wheatley will field its first varsity football team-- the first to represent this historic campus since 1969.

Wheatley High School at Brackenridge

Wheatley High School (aka Brackenridge HS) kept the Wheatley name until 1988 when the school changed its name back to Brackenridge. In 2017, Alia Malik wrote an article for the Express News to capture Brackenridge High School's history, including the time when it operated as Wheatley. In the article, Malik articulated how the name change did not come without controversy, as evidenced by this key excerpt:

"Brackenridge reopened in 1974 with the Wheatley High name, an attempt to appease East Side community members who thought white students should have been bussed to Wheatley. The switch infuriated Brackenridge alumni, who fought to keep the eagle as the school’s mascot over the Wheatley lion.

“Someone suggested calling the new team the Griffins, a mythological creature with a body of a Lion and the head and wings of an Eagle,” wrote Harry Page of the Express-News. The eagle eventually won out.

[Dianna] Buxkemper came to the school as a guidance counselor in 1980, when it still was named Wheatley. Seven years later, alumni of Brackenridge High and the former Wheatley High on the East Side asked the SAISD board to restore the old names to their respective buildings, setting off a battle royal documented in Express-News archives.

“Most of the students were sons and daughters of Brack graduates,” Buxkemper noted, so a student survey chose Brackenridge by a 2-1 ratio. Some told the Express-News they thought the name change would attract more scholarship money from Brackenridge alumni.

Members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People called the proposal racist and said they’d accept nothing less than a high school named for Wheatley, the first published African-American poet. About 250 people packed the Jan. 25, 1988, school board meeting, some accusing teachers and coaches of campaigning for the name change despite a board-ordered moratorium on the debate during exam week.

The board’s vote to return the Brackenridge name was divided, with its only black trustee dissenting. It brought both cheers and tears, the Express-News reported."

SAISD's East Side Schools

While the Wheatley name may no longer headline an SAISD campus, various alumni and community organizations have worked to preserve and honor SAISD's East Side story. In fact, in 2012 then Interim Deputy Superintendent Peggy Stark-Wilson organized a district-wide effort to research and document every school's history. The project charged students with researching their individual schools and authoring a written history. The individual histories were then compiled into a book, and each campus received a copy. Many of these stories now live on school web pages, including those the following SAISD schools named after distinguished Black citizens:

Storytelling Through Art and Time Capsules

The following is a short film which highlights a 2017 partnership between the SAISD Foundation and Public Art San Antonio, and includes peek into the arts program at Wheatley Middle School in its last year before it became the Young Men's Leadership Academy. SAISD alumna Mary Cantu (Brackenridge, class of '97) oversaw the partnership, and worked with local artists to develop a program that also gives us a peek in the African American history of Wheatley. Of note is a time capsule that students prepared to preserve the Wheatley legacy and history. Wheatley alumna and former alumni president Pat Harris also worked with the students to tell the history of the school as they prepared the capsule. The time capsule currently lives in the library of the Young Men's Leadership Academy.

 

Have a story to share about SAISD's East side history? Join SAISD Nation today and submit your Alumni update HERE. If you are interested in submitting a guest blog for publication, please email us at SAISDNation@saisd.net.

Read more

The Lanier Voks, The Pride of the Westside

Guest Blog by By Dr. Ricardo Romo

Photos courtesy of the University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures

Photo Courtesy The UT Institute of Texan Cultures at San Antonio No. 3086 - Ramiro Bernal, Tony Rivera, and Henry Escobedo. San Antonio, Texas   

Sidney Lanier High School Voks are known regionally for their competitiveness in sports, ROTC Drill Teams, and creative arts.  But it was the boys  basketball teams  that first brought them statewide recognition,  and in the process shattered several long held  myths and stereotypes about Mexican Americans.

San Antonio has produced many great athletes as well as many outstanding teams over the last century.  Local athletes played in the NFL, in the NBA,  and several won major tennis and golf tournaments.  In addition, San Antonio natives have won at least two world boxing championship trophies.  Unfortunately,  no one has compiled a thorough  list of the many great San Antonio athletes or teams and that  is a loss to all of us.  It is   especially a loss to young students who seek role models.

I have always loved sports,  and as a youngster I enjoyed  reading  about the great achievements of  famous sports figures such as Babe Ruth, Rocky Marciano,  Jesse Owens, and Jackie Robinson.

A few former Lanier graduates are making current youth aware of  inspiring Latino sports role models.  In this essay I would like to recognize and thank  Raul Zuniga and Noe Medina,  co-founders of  the National Hispanic Sports Hall of Fame based in San Antonio, for their excellent research and commitment to Lanier Voks athletics.   Zuniga and Medina both played sports at Lanier and have undertaken painstaking research to highlight the school’s great sports tradition over the past 80 years.  

The Lanier Voks, pride of the Westside of San Antonio, had many great athletes in various sports, but in basketball and track they achieved “best in state” status.  An important  authority on the early basketball achievement--the glory days of the 1940s-- is Dr. Ignacio Garcia, a Lanier graduate and a professor of Western American History at Brigham Young University.  His book, When Mexicans Could Play Ball: Basketball, Race, and Identity in San Antonio, 1928-1945, documents the golden years of Lanier’s dominance in basketball.  His book is a first for Latino high school sports. To my knowledge no one in the United States has written a book about Latino high school championship teams in basketball and baseball.

My family lived  four blocks from Lanier High School, and growing up I heard many stories of the great teams of the 1930s and 1940s. Some of Lanier’s great players lived in my neighborhood.  Everyone had heard of the legendary Coach William Carson “Nemo” Herrera who led eight high school teams  to the Texas Statewide play-offs.  

Photo Courtesy The UT Institute of Texan Cultures at San Antonio No. 2874 - Nemo Herrera

Coach Herrera’s Lanier  teams won two State Championship tournaments  in basketball-- 1943 and  in  1945.  Herrera was known as a “skill coach.”   He taught the fundamentals of basketball and developed  exceptional game strategies.  Among his best players were  Henry Escobedo, who led Lanier to three  trips to the Texas State Basketball Tournament. Escobedo was selected All-State twice (1943 and 1944).  Tony Rivera was Lanier’s leading scorer in 1943 when they won the State Championship.   Lanier lost the State Tournament in 1944  by one point.   Tony was selected All-State in basketball in 1942 and 1943, and also led the State Tournament in scoring in 1942.  

Herrera's 1944 team included  Joe Bernal, who  played basketball for Lanier High School. The 1944 team was undefeated until the  State Championship game, which they lost by one point, 19-18.  Bernal, who was a  5 foot 6 inch tall shooting guard,  scored 6 points in that game.  It was a low scoring game because during those years a  time clock was not  applied to basketball and teams could hold the ball for long periods of time.   But scoring was also low because Coach Herrera developed a very aggressive  full-court press which  kept the other teams from taking many shots. There were three Bernal brothers on the Lanier teams between 1942-46. [Ramiro, Joe, and Gabby].  Joe Bernal went on to become an important role model for civil rights in Texas.  

Dr. Joe Bernal and family pictured on March 1, 2019 at Alamo Stadium at the SAISD Foundation's "Run 4 Education" event. Dr. Joe Bernal is pictured with son Patrick and daughter Becky and her two sons, Joe's Grandboys.

Another accomplished  player on Lanier’s early basketball teams was David Rodriguez, an All-State selection in 1943, 1944, and 1945.  Rodriguez  led Lanier High School to  three State Tournaments in Basketball. [Lanier won two of those three].  Rodriguez   was also a Jr  College All-American and  led Tyler Junior College to the National Championship. At the U. of Houston Rodriguez earned  All-Conference honors  and  was selected to the Mexican Olympic team in 1948. [Players whose parents or grandparents were born in Mexico qualified for the Mexican teams].  

Herrera, with a 545-193 win-loss  record over his lifetime,  left Lanier in 1945  to take a coaching position at Bowie High School in El Paso.  In 1949 Herrera took the Bowie High School baseball team  to the State Championship  and won.  Lanier’s team continued to be good, but not like the glory years with Coach Herrera.  Other great players for Lanier included Mario Cortinas who lettered in football, basketball, and baseball in 1957. Cortinas  was followed by Raymond “Spider” Gonzalez who earned All-City  and All-State in 1963  and played professional basketball in the Mexican Professional League.

Fifty years later, Rudy Bernal, the son of Ramiro Bernal and nephew of Joe Bernal, coached the Lanier High School basketball teams and achieved a 567-442 won-loss record at Lanier.   Coach Rudy Bernal led Lanier High  School to the State Tournament in 2000 and 2001. Lanier finished in 2nd place in 2001 losing to Beaumont in the Championship Game. In the semi-final game in 2001, Lanier upset the nation’s number one ranked team,  Dallas,  Oak Cliff.  Bernal  currently coaches at Antonian Catholic High School teams.

The early Lanier Vok team accomplished the near impossible in winning several state basketball championships. The players came from one of the poorest school districts in the state. Many of the players had grown up in poverty and graduated from high school at a time when the majority of their classmates were dropping out to find jobs. Their history has been largely neglected. The great Coach “Nemo” Herrera, who is only one of three high school coaches to ever win state championships in two different sports, was finally inducted to the San Antonio ISD Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016, thirty-two years after his death.

 

Dr. Romo is an accomplished Author, Educator, and Latino Art Collector who graduated from Fox Tech High School in 1962. 

A native of San Antonio's Westside, Romo graduated from Fox Tech and attended UT Austin on a track scholarship. Romo was the first Texas Longhorns athlete (and the 19th American in history) to break 4 minutes in the mile, running a time of 3 minutes, 58.8 seconds in 1966. The time set a school record that lasted 42 years.

He holds a mater's degree in history from Loyola Marymount University and a Ph.D in history from UCLA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Honoring SAISD's Fallen Heroes

Of the half a million men and women who served in the Vietnam War, thousands hailed from Bexar County. 362 of these local heroes lost their lives.

Dr. Ricardo Romo, Fox Tech class of 1962, wrote a poignant essay in La Prensa to highlight the incredible effort and perseverance of a group of SAISD alumni who wanted to honor those who perished in service during the Vietnam war. 

"On a sunny Good Friday morning, April 19, 2019, the Fox Tech Vietnam Memorial Wall arrived at the front entrance of San Antonio’s Fox Tech High School. The names of 23 soldiers who attended Fox Tech and were killed in action in Vietnam are engraved on the black granite stone. The military branch of service is listed next to each name."

The beautiful memorial is constructed of the same black granite that graces the national Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., and its installation was the culmination of years of work. In early 2016, Ralph Morales, Fox Tech class of 1962 and Vietnam Veteran, proposed the monument idea to the district. Tech principal Jennifer Benavides was supportive, and the school board granted approval. The SAISD Foundation served as the fiscal agent, receiving and dispersing funds for this purpose. 

In the fall of 2010, Romo founded a research data team, Faces With Names, whose purpose was to recover names and photos from Fox Tech school and family records of casualties from the Vietnam War. FWN became part of a national projects to locate photos of each of the 58,000 names on the Washington, D.C. Memorial Vietnam Wall.

The following is a collection of photos from the memorial installation day at Fox Tech. Thank you Dr. Romo and all the alumni and committee members who rallied together to support these fallen heroes. 

All photo credits: Ricardo and Harriet Romo

Committee members including back row: Joe Sanchez, John Baines, Felipe Chavez, Bobby Corbo, Dr. Ricardo Romo, Alex Anderson, Chris Vieyra, George Abrego, David Gutierrez, Richard Garza,  Richard Garza, Charlie Calderon, Eloy Cabello Front row: Rose Mary Garcia, Irma Morales, Rafael Morales, Rosalinda Berlanga, Olga Perez, Mary Sanchez

 

 

Committee member and Tech alumni Rosalinda Berlanga, right, and Olga Perez, left, at the dedication ceremony. 

Dr. Ricardo Romo with famed artist Jesse Trevo, also a Fox Tech alumnus and a decorated Vietnam Veteran who lost his right arm and was badly injured but persevered and taught himself to paint with his left hand. He received the Purple Heart for his service. Learn more about Trevo in this recent TPR story.

Fox Tech principal Jennifer Benavides on stage at the dedication ceremony. 

Read more

Celebrating Seniors the SAISD Way

SAISD seniors, like their peers across the country, are experiencing a most atypical senior year. Instead of going to prom and walking the stage, they are finishing up their classrooms online via Zoom and Google Classroom and participating in socially-distanced school pride parades. The District has worked hard to adapt, even creating a page to celebrate all seniors, and setting tentative graduating dates this June. The ceremonies for each high school will be held outdoors at Alamo Stadium, per the following scheduled presented at the board meeting on May 18:

Click here for all the details on graduations.

High schools across the district organized sign distributions, school-based spirit parades and more to lift the spirits of our seniors and give them the celebration each and every one deserves. SAISD had yard signs made for every senior, customized to their high school. We were particularly touched by the efforts of a The Brackenridge Quarantine Alumni Facebook group which banded together to raise nearly $8500 to purchase t-shirts, bags and H-E-B gift cards for every Brackenridge senior. Last week Brackenridge High School Class of 2005 alumnus & SAISDFoundation Board Member, Amanda Keammerer, pictured below. was part of an alumni-led initiative to celebrate this year's graduates. 

The class of 2020 love is being spread all across SAISD. 

Over 40 Edison HS teachers and staff delivered 300 signs to every senior.  SAISD Board trustee and Edison parent Christina Martinez said "I think it was a such an endearing act to make sure that every single senior was made to feel special. That’s why we love this high school so much. GO BEARS!"

 

 

 SAISD Trustee Debra Guerrero helped Highlands High School staff deliver celebratory signs:

Jefferson HS created a beautiful video tribute to the class of 2020. Their parade included cutouts of every senior on the campus lawn. Photo courtesy alumnus and school board trustee Ed Garza.

Fox Tech HS held a senior parade on May 19 and is also sharing senior stories daily on Twitter @Fox_Tech_HS. Fox Tech staff delivered yard sign to every senior too and captured is all  in this video honoring the class of 2020.

Lanier HS held senior parade on May 29 and created a Senior page to celebrate the class of 2020.  See the photos or watch the video here: https://youtu.be/hUVQ3EONJ6s

Burbank HS is highlighting seniors holding yard signs on Twitter @SAISDBurbankHS.

Sam Houston HS held a virtual dinner for the top 10, which was attended by local leaders including  SAISD District 2 Trustee Alicia Perry, City of San Antonio District 2 City Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan, and State Representative for District 120 Barbara Hawkins. They will also have a senior parade on May 22.

 

YWLA is profiling each individual senior on their web site.

ALA is profiling individual seniors on social media every day.

Travis ECHS is holding a virtual spirit week; follow them on Instagram for updates at @travisearlycollegehs

ST Philips ECHS is posting updates on their web site here.

If you have a pic or story to share, please email it to us at SAISDNation@SAISD.net and we will share some on our blog and via social media! #SAISDProud #SAISDNation

And don't forget to join SAISD Nation today to stay up to date!

 

 


SAISD Nation Has Officially Launched!

May 4, 2020 — The San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) Foundation is increasing its focus on engaging alumni and friends, launching a new digital community that will help it do just that – the SAISD Nation.

Through SAISD Nation, the school district community has access to regular updates, mentor and volunteer opportunities, special events and an alumni directory. The foundation will also offer news and updates on a variety of subjects of interest to alumni through its blog and monthly email updates.

The SAISD Foundation recently conducted a survey to determine what kinds of information and services alumni and community members want from the digital community platform. The results showed that there is a strong desire for a platform that allows alumni to reconnect with classmates, attend events that allow them to give back to current students. 

“We are incredibly excited to launch this new community for our alumni, supporters and friends to get together, reconnect and stay up to date on all the wonderful things happening in SAISD schools,” said Judy Geelhoed, executive director of the SAISD Foundation. “We are proud of the fact that so many of our alumni continue to support our current students in so many meaningful ways. We look forward to ramping up our engagement as we move forward.”

Graduates of SAISD schools, along with any other former students of the school district, may sign up for SAISD Nation and receive regular updates. They may also submit their updates in the “Alumni News” section and get information on class reunions, profiles of their fellow alumni, and news on District initiatives and events.

Alumni and supporters can also learn more about how they can get involved and help SAISD’s current students.

The first new initiative, the SAISD Nation Mentorship Program, is already underway.

“We are proud to have partnered with the SAISD Office of Postsecondary Initiatives to launch the pilot SAISD Nation Mentorship program, pairing SAISD alumni, former SAISD educators and community education advocates with SAISD seniors,” said Cristina Noriega, alumni engagement and volunteer manager for the SAISD Foundation. “This program will help ensure a successful transition for our graduates as they begin their first semester of college this fall. Mentors will offer support and guidance while emphasizing the value of education to reach our goal of making all SAISD graduates high-level academic achievers who persist through college and become productive citizens.”

To explore SAISD Nation and learn more about how you can get more involved in the school community as an alumnus, visit https://saisdnation.nationbuilder.com.


SAISD Launches web site for seniors, sets tentative new graduation dates

"We know this spring semester was not the one you anticipated and may come with a sense of loss. Since spring break, you have had to navigate what was previously unthinkable – the closure of your campus and the launch of virtual learning. We want you to know that we appreciate your resilience in this time of universal crisis. Know that we are here to support you and to celebrate your milestones."

These are the comforting words posted on SAISD's newly-launched seniors-specific web site, designed to give the class of 2020 and their families guidance, tools, and important information. The Resources for Seniors page also includes an updated tentative graduation schedule for each high school, as follows:

 

CLICK HERE to visit the senior site and explore all it has to offer.

Please share this post with your alumni networks groups and remind them to Join SAISD Nation to stay in the loop!

SAISD Nation is an online community where alumni, former employees and friends of SAISD can stay connected with regular updates and articles, along with a wide range of information on special events, mentoring, and volunteer opportunities. There's also an alumni directory where you can submit your name and connect with old friends and classmates. We invite you to sign up encourage your friends to sign up for SAISD Nation today and explore all we have to offer. Thank you for being such an important part of what makes SAISD so great - the SAISD family!

 


In Remote Learning, Kindness Matters

Guest post by Jason D. Mims, Sam Houston High School Class of 1971 

Lieutenant Colonel US Army, Retired  

Bottom Line Up Front:  Remote Learning offers unlimited opportunities for us to share and experience simple acts of Kindness 

Twenty-five years before “remote learning” became a thing, I started a small business.  Opportunities Unlimited brought current technology to inner-city youth in Tampa in 1995.  We did not play games!   

I was about to retire from the US Army in March 1995.  I received an Obedience Memo.  The memo directed me to do two years of community service.  I reviewed the skills that I had acquired over a twenty-year successful military career.  Three skills stood out.   

As an Infantry officer, I knew how to train others to “kill people and break things.”  I also served as a Foreign Area Officer for Africa and the Middle East.  Indeed, it was this group of skills that brought me to Tampa in 1987.  For six of my last eight years in the Army, I worked at US Central Command.  I had a variety of assignments during my two three-year tours at MacDill Air Force Base.  All of them, though, were in the Plans and Policy Directorate (CCJ5) within US Central Command.   

My third set of skills involved technology.  The Army paid for me to get my master’s degree in National Security in 1983.  While at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, I received my first personal computer.  Every job I had since then gave me opportunities to increase my computer skills.  Nearing retirement, I realized that others might benefit by having the ability to bring information to their fingertips.   

When it came time to retire, my wife April wanted our family to return to San Antonio.  I made a command decision, though, to stay in Tampa’s suburbs. We had a comfortable home in Valrico.  I reasoned I could contribute to the Tampa community after retiring.  Jason II was in the 6th grade and Sierra was in the 2nd grade.  Both attended schools in Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS).  Jason’s school was in the inner-city.   

I was an involved parent in our children’s education.  I would meet with Jason and Sierra’s teachers.  While on active duty, I would visit schools and talk to elementary and middle-school students.  Most of these visits occurred at inner-city schools.  My late mom was a teacher at PF Stewart Elementary on San Antonio’s Eastside.  I gained the habit of visiting schools from visiting “Mrs. McCollough’s” classes whenever I came home on leave.   

Our own children had access to computers at home.  My observations back in 1995 told me that their inner-city peers lacked access to similar tools.  I recognized this as a potential threat to our national security.   

“All who have meditated on art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires [nations] depends on the education of youth.”                     -Aristotle 

My Obedience Memo caused me to create Opportunities Unlimited LLC to share computer skills with “Other People’s Children” in inner-city neighborhoods.  We opened our office in Ybor City even before I retired on May 31, 1995.  We invested our own funds in purchasing state of the art computers.  Windows 95 and CD-ROMs were the latest technology tools at the time.  Access to the internet came through local phone lines and AOL.  We had formed collaborative relationships with administrators in Hillsborough County Public Schools.  As a result, we received free software for reading, math, and social studies from the school district. 

Elementary and middle school students came through our doors afterschool and during the summer of 95. Most demonstrated an eagerness to learn—and obey our rule that we do not play games.  That summer’s experiences convinced me that providing technology to urban youth matters.  The two-year community service extended to three years.   

During our third summer, some senior citizens asked, “Jason, when are you going to teach us how to use computers?”  Two weeks later, “the Gift of Mouse Clicks” began.  For the next three years, inner-city children and senior citizens received our gifts.  They embraced unlimited opportunities to use technology to learn and connect with others through Cyberspace.  We crossed into the 21st Century with a number greater than zero of computer-literate urban youth and seniors in Tampa's urban ZIP codes.   

Now, in early 2020, The COVID-19 pandemic has created conditions for a national effort to bring remote learning to urban public school (and college) students.  Educators, parents, students, and community members have unlimited opportunities to gain and share gifts using current technology.  This transition to a new order of things will include some seemingly insurmountable challenges.  Through individual and collective efforts, however, we will again witness that overcoming them reminds us that Kindness Matters! 

  

Jason D. Mims is the founder of The MIMS Institute Fellows, Inc., an organization that help Emerging Leaders promote Academic Excellence in key urban zip codes. He can be reached at jason@mimsinstitute.com 

 


Help SAISD Close the Digital Divide Now

SAISD faces an unprecedented challenge in navigating the COVID-19 crisis given that 90 percent of the families it serves live in poverty. Families look to the school system for not just educational services, but also social services. The SAISD Academics and IT teams are working diligently to ensure they have the digital content to provide robust learning opportunities to students during this extended break. SAISD Foundation board member Connie Gonzalez talks to Superintendent Pedro Martinez about what SAISD is doing to support students and families:

Educators are quickly adapting to reach out to their students digitally - Many are already broadcasting story time and virtual PE on Youtube, posting videos for kids on Seesaw, hosting facebook live info sessions and more. We need to make sure all students have a way to see and interact with their teachers--that means having a device and connectivity.

Click on the images below to see some SAISD teachers in action!

Steele Montessori virtual PE

Bonham FB live

 

Now, we must ensure that all our students can engage in remote learning by closing the gap and eliminating the digital divide in SAISD. With the likelihood that schools will be closed for the majority—if not all—of the remainder of the year, the need is urgent to provide devices and internet access for our students. The SAISD Foundation is committed to supporting our SAISD community during this critical time, and right now our top priority is to ensure that every student has a way to connect.

While we are operating in response to this crisis, the opportunity to close the digital gap now is also a significant opportunity for SAISD students in the long-term.  The district’s strategic plan calls for having all schools operate in a 1:1 format with regards to technology, meaning that each of SAISD student would have access to a district-issued device which will allow for differentiated, blended and individual learning opportunities. The COVID-19 crisis provides a unique opportunity to accelerate these plans. You can help support this endeavor by making a donation HERE! Your gift will enable us to take action to support the immediate needs of our students, and even better, will set them up for long-term success. While the lift is large, we are already having individuals and companies step up. Join them, join us!

Together, we can help us ensure that every SAISD student has the means to stay connected and keep learning!

 


How SAISD Is Supporting Our Community

Click HERE for the latest on how SAISD is responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

The San Antonio Independent School District, along with districts across our city, state, and country, recently made the decision to temporarily close all schools until April 3 in order to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Click here to watch a video from Superintendent Pedro Martinez explaining this decision. COVID-19 may have uprooted life as we know it, but we must all work together to keep our communities safe and healthy during this uncertain time. 

SAISD Nation, part of the SAISD Foundation, is working closely with our school district to provide support as they work to serve the needs of students, families and staff. We will be sharing updates here on our blog, and also via our social media channels @SAISDFoundation as we support the district in assisting families during the extended break. In addition to offering free meals to all students which can be picked up daily from seven high schools, SAISD is diligently preparing should the need to pursue extended remote learning arise. For more detailed information, you can view the school board meetings scheduled for Tuesday, March 17 and Tuesday March 23, both at 5:30 pm, at THIS LINK.

SAISD has a free meal distribution program. Children do not need to be registered SAISD students but must be present to receive a meal. Families are asked to please bring students to pick up, but also know that meals can be accepted via drive-thru for maximum safety. 

 

In addition, individual schools have rolled out customized plans to share with families as they adapt to temporarily educating students in the home. Some campuses are offering Facebook live updates to families, preparing online tools, and also preparing printed work packets for those who may not have access to an internet-enabled device or printer. Rain or shine, the learning will continue! Remote learning began Monday, March 23 when the district launched a digital learning site for families to begin utilizing immediately. 

Here are some highlights showing how our SAISD family has come together:

A "We Miss you Video" from the staff of Schenk Elementary:

Thomas Jefferson High School cafeteria staff handing out drive-thru free lunches for families with children 18 and under:

Jefferson cafeteria giving free lunches

Poe Middle School Livestreaming morning announcements via Twitter @PoeMiddle:

 

Tafolla Middle school custodial staff going above and beyond to sanitize the campus:

Tafolla

Bonham Academy Admin team meeting virtually to serve the community:

 

Bonham admin team

 

There are so many stories of how our SAISD schools are going above and beyond to adapt during a challenging time, and we at SAISD Nation are incredibly grateful for their dedication. 

We will continue to monitor social media channels and the district web site regularly; please check back with us for updates. In the meantime, please remember to join SAISD Nation and fill out your profile today. 

 

 

 


SAISD Nation Offers a Place for Alumni and Supporters to Reconnect and Contribute

Those who have attended the San Antonio Independent School District know that our school community is a special place. It means something to graduate from one of our high schools.

As an alumnus, you can make a big impact on the lives of current SAISD students by giving your time, talents or treasure. We need your help to ensure a bright future for the next generation of learners.

That is why we are so excited to launch SAISD Nation in early 2020. SAISD Nation is a new digital community that will allow our alumni to stay up-to-date with exciting news SAISD and find meaningful ways to engage to support students. Through SAISD Nation, those that join will have regular access to news, volunteer opportunities, special events and an alumni directory of active users.

SAISD alumni, former SAISD employees, supporters and friends of the District are encouraged to sign up for SAISD Nation to receive monthly emails with the latest news on District and SAISD Foundation initiatives and events, student success stories, and alumni profiles. There is also the ability for those that join to add their names to the online directory, created to enable the SAISD Nation to more easily connect with one another.

This SAISD Nation community will empower you, as an alumnus or former employee, to stay in touch with old friends, classmates or colleagues, learn about how you can help students in those halls to today and get regular updates on all the exciting things happening in SAISD schools.

While SAISD has a rich history, we support the district's efforts to always seek ways to improve. There is exciting progress in SAISD to share and meaningful ways to contribute to the positive momentum. We ask that you engage in these efforts and help ensure a lasting legacy for SAISD and the students it serves—both now and in the future. We'll share more about how you can do just that in the weeks and months to come!

You are invited to take an online interest survey to provide feedback on the types of information that is valued within the SAISD Nation community. We are excited to get started and look forward to growing our relationship with all who are invested in the continued success of our schools, students and community.

SAISD Nation in being launched by the SAISD Foundation, a 501 © 3 public charity that for the past 15 years has been actively supporting students and teachers in San Antonio ISD schools.