There has not been anything quite so special in recent RISD history than celebrating it as a “recognized” school district. The recognition is based upon the substantial achievement gains across the district on last spring’s TAKS tests. In Lake Highlands, all elementary schools in the high school attendance zone are designated either exemplary or recognized.

With RISD’s 35,000 students and more than 50 campuses, it takes a unified commitment to accomplish a mission like becoming recognized: strong leadership, student-focused teachers, committed paraprofessionals, caring staff, supportive volunteers and, of course, a great group of kids.

Although we often talk about a TAKS-based “label” as our district’s mission, I really think that we have 35,000 missions. Our missions include:

  • The boy who should ace his TAKS tests, but does not.
  • The fourth-grade girl who comes to school hungry…every day.
  • The kindergarten boy who can read any book off the shelf.
  • The 16-year-old sophomore who lives by himself, attends classes, and then works 20 or more hours a week for minimum wage.
  • The honor student whose toughest dilemma is deciding which college to attend.
  • The child for whom school is a refuge from crime and violence.
  • The musical prodigy who struggles with basic academics.
  • Every child who is in desperate need of a dry shoulder and an open ear.

You know their stories, and their faces are familiar – they are our neighbors.

Yes, we celebrate the TAKS results, but “recognized” is not our be-all and end-all. Our mission is to unlock potential and prepare children for a lifetime of success and joy.

To learn the basics, yes.

To excel when able, yes.

And always teaching our children to create, to perform, to play, to compete, to care. We must continue our efforts for each child. One student at a time, one smile at a time, one tear at a time, one day at a time.

By the way, notice that standardized tests and accountability systems are not among the RISD vision, goals and beliefs. Each of us has a role to serve as we continue on our mission of serving the students, families and community of RISD. I encourage you to do your part with pride and excellence.

Have a wonderful year.

See you at school.