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Posts published in “Day: July 24, 2012”

Aldine ISD Trustees honor former Nimitz High softball coach Irene Hopkins

For 33 years, Irene Hopkins dedicated herself to the students and athletes at Nimitz High School serving as a teacher and coach at the Aldine ISD school.

She started the softball program at the school and served as its only head coach until her retirement in December of 2011. She was one of the most respected softball coaches in the Houston-area during her tenure and cherished teaching the sport she loved to the many players that passed through the program over the last 33 years.

Although she is no longer a part of the program, her name will forever be linked to the softball program at Nimitz High School and in the district as well thanks to action taken by the Aldine ISD Board of Trustees at their July 17 Board meeting.

On that night, Aldine’s Trustees unanimously voted to rename the softball field at Nimitz High School after Irene Hopkins and in addition, the district’s annual Varsity Invitational Softball Tournament will also bear her name beginning with the 2013 event.

Hopkins, who served as a teacher and coach for 43 years in Aldine, began her teaching/coaching career in 1969 at Aldine Junior High (now Aldine Middle School). She transferred to Nimitz High School in 1978 and was part of the original staff that opened the building. When she retired, she was the last original member of the staff that opened the school in 1978.

She was known among her peers as a pioneer and when she retired she was the longest serving coach in the history of Aldine ISD.

Irene not only shared her knowledge of the game with her players, but she also gave of her personnel time and resources to keep the softball field at Nimitz in the best condition possible for her teams to play and practice on. As a matter of fact, she loved coaching so much that for the first seven years of her tenure, she volunteered as the team’s coach without pay.

In addition to coaching softball, Irene also coached basketball, track and volleyball and served as a health teacher.

Nimitz High principal Alex Jordan, who worked with Irene for more than 20 years, said she was most deserving of the honor the Aldine Board bestowed upon her during their July meeting.

“I can’t think of a more deserving person for such a wonderful honor,” Jordan said. “It has been a pleasure to be a colleague of Irene for more than 20 years. She embodies all of the characteristics that professional educators should possess.

“Her commitment to excellence, love for students, rigorous standards, patience and support for all will be missed by Nimitz High School and Aldine ISD. Coach Hopkins was a role model for all students. She believed in both processes and people with little tolerance for anyone who failed to work hard each and every day. I am a better man and a better principal for having known her.”

During her 33 years at Nimitz High, many of her former students and players received scholarships and went on to become coaches themselves. Her peers honored her during the 2008-09 school year when they voted her Nimitz High’s Teacher of the Year.

The recommendation to rename the softball field at Nimitz High was made by Trustee Steve Mead, who chairs the Board’s school names committee. He was joined on the committee by fellow Trustees Dr. Viola M. Garcia and Rose Avalos.

HISD graduation rate rises, drop outs decline

By Christine Nguyen

The Houston Independent School District’s graduation rate has risen for the 4th consecutive year, while the dropout rate hit a record low, the district reported Monday.

The Class of 2011 graduation rate reached 78.5 percent, while the dropout rate fell to 11.8 percent, the best figures HISD has seen under the accountability system put into place in 2007, according to preliminary figures released by the Texas Education Agency.

The figures have improved from a 64.3 percent graduation rate and a 22.1 dropout rate for the Class of 2007.

The district credits the improvements, in part, to Grad Lab, an online program that allows students to make up credits at their own pace, and other dropout prevention efforts, which include assigning student case workers to “at-risk” students and a computer-based warning program that uses student data to track students who show signs of becoming dropouts.

“The Board of Education and administration come up with the initiatives to drive student achievement,” HISD Superintendent Terry Grier said in a press release. “But it takes strong professional educators in the schools and classrooms to make these plans work and produce the kinds of results we are seeing.”

Although TEA has not released statewide averages for the Class of 2011, HISD has consistently trailed state averages for graduation rates. Likewise, the district’s dropout rate is far from reaching state averages. According to the TEA, the Class of 2010 state graduation rate for high schoolers was 84.3 percent, while the dropout rate was 2.4 percent.

HISD’s neighboring school districts, which include Aldine ISD and North Forest ISD, have yet to release their recent stats.

North Forest ISD was rated “Academically Unacceptable” in 2009 by TEA and, after being scheduled to close in 2012, was given another year to improve its finances and 2009 59 percent graduation rate.

Aldine ISD’s 2010 data showed that its graduation rate had improved from 69.2 percent in 2009 to 71.4 percent in 2010, an improvement, but still significantly below state averages.

“We all know the dropout rate remains a critical problem in our city, but we are making strong progress,” HISD Board President Michael Lunceford said in the release. “The students, with help from the school administrators and teachers, have made a concerted effort to stem the tide of dropouts.”

Although having stats below state averages, Houston public schools tend to have a larger portion of students who are low-income and minority students, and have been recognized for their achievements in educating this student demographic.

This year, HISD is a finalist for the Broad Prize for Urban Education and will find out in October if it wins.

HISD secondary schools in the Northeast News coverage area include: Houston High School, 9400 Irvington 77076, Henry Middle School, 10702 E. Hardy 77093, and Fonville Middle School, 725 E. Little York 77076.