A word from Victoria I.S.D. Superintendent Quintin Shepherd

Closing thoughts; A visit from Commissioner Morath

The following is an article provided by Supt. Quintin Shepherd of the Victoria I.S.D.

Last week I shared that Commissioner Morath was coming to Victoria ISD to visit some of our innovation campuses and I wanted to follow up this week with more detail. Unfortunately, we did not have the time to visit all VISD campuses where amazing things are happening every day. I consider us very blessed to have so much positive news to share and three hours just isn’t enough time to cover everything… I guess we’ll have to invite him back! When I think about all VISD campuses, I think we have much to celebrate. We have some true “honor roll” campuses that are high achieving and should be celebrated. We have some other campuses that are “on-a-roll” campuses and showing some amazing growth. My thinking is that we should roll on with all the success at all our campuses!

Elected officials at the event included VISD Trustees, Representative Morrison, State Board of Education representative Ruben Cortez Jr. and City Council members Soliz and Loffren (Districts 2 and 6, respectively). Also present was Dr. Kent (President of VC), Executive Director Lyon from Region 3, Executive Director Titus of VEDC, and several members of the TEA staff. Senator Kolkhorst and Representative Cloud sent representatives from their offices as well.

We started our day at the VISD Connections Center. This newly opened (repurposed) facility will undoubtedly become a crown jewel for our community as the place where we forge deep connections between our families and our schools. We provided a brief welcome and introductions and then we heard about P-TECH Healthcare from Mrs. Hughes, our P-TECH Administrator. As you know we have had several P-TECH launches in the last couple of years and Healthcare was our first. The commissioner was given the opportunity to hear from some of the students in our 2024 Healthcare Cohort as they shared their experiences and future goals. Our P-TECH programs now serve a total of 120 students in 4 programs: Healthcare, Engineering, Computer Science, and Education & Training.

Kelly Gabrysch, Principal of Shields Elementary School who shared “The Case for Change,” with Commissioner Mike Morath and what Personalized Learning looks like on the Shields Campus. With academic growth being a central focus on their campus, Gabrysch stated the success she has seen in both academic and social emotional intelligence since implementing the Personalized Learning model. Data-Driven Instruction is key when meeting students at their current level of academic success and growing them. “It is all about being intentional and celebrating both small and large accomplishments along the way,” Gabrysch shared. Aside from Data-Driven Instruction, the heart of Personalized Learning comes from educating the child in their entirety. Mrs. Gabrysch explained the importance of educating the Whole Child and stated how the students of Shields begin each morning with Strong Start routines that they care with them throughout the school day.

At Smith STEM, we observed a campus-wide “Design Time,” during which teachers and students took an everyday Fairy Tale, and turned it into a Project Based Learning Unit, complete with cross-curricular learning skills and challenges. Principal Absher highlighted the students’ application of the Engineering Design Process and their 21st Century Career Skills as they planned and designed a home that could withstand the “huffs and puffs” from the “Big bad wolf.” Students tested their designs and identified ways to improve them. Smith STEM students not only thought like professional engineers, they also dressed the part.

From Smith STEM, we departed back to the Connections Center. At the Connections Center, Commissioner Morath spoke to the group, followed by Mrs. Correll (our Chief Innovation Officer), who gave an overview of why this work is so important to us. I presented some of our strategy work over the past five years, our working theory of community involvement in transformative change and highlighted our successes and failures along the way. We then opened for dialogue and questions.

By Supt. Quintin Shepherd of the Victoria I.S.D.