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New School to meet increased demands to serve students with behavioral disorders, autism

Harris County Department of Education Officials and community members at the groundbreaking of new Behavior School.

HOUSTON, TX – April 5, 2019 – Harris County Department of Education kicked off construction on a new, 47,970-square-foot school to replace Academic and Behavior School West at a ceremonial groundbreaking April 3 at 12772 Medfield Drive in southwest Houston. County and city officials, school district leaders, staff and students attended the event backdropped by a bulldozer, shovels and hardhats.

HCDE Superintendent James Colbert said the new school is needed to provide additional opportunities for students who need specialized education services in the districts HCDE serves. Students attending AB West are challenged with behavioral disorders, autism spectrum disorder and other significant physical and emotional needs.

The new school, which will serve up to 150 students ages 5-22 with intellectual, developmental and behavioral needs, borders Dairy Ashford Road and Westpark Tollway.

“With the addition of our new school, we will have the best education facility to educate students who are autistic and emotionally disturbed from local school districts in greater Harris County,” said Victor Keys, principal at AB School West.


Sheriff holds safety forum, receives East Aldine Partner’s award

SHERIFF ED GONZALEZ holds the Strategic Partner Award, presented to him by East Aldine Chairman Gerald Overturff, as Deputies Klozik, Scholwinski, Gore, and East Aldine Board Members Patti Acosta and Gil Hoffman look on.

EAST ALDINE – The Harris County Sheriff, Ed Gonzalez, held a Safety Meeting at the East Aldine offices last Thursday evening, March 21st. The meeting was attended by representatives of various civic clubs, neighborhoods, and the Airline District.

Sheriff Gonzalez told the audience that he was depending upon their help to reduce crime, saying, “You are our eyes and ears.”

He said that his goal was to have regular monthly meetings with the community leaders and citizens, and urged attendees to bring friends and family to the next meeting.

Gonzalez made reference to his involvement with the Aldine community, noting that his 9-1-1 Call Center would be part of the new East Aldine Town Center.

The sheriff and his staff then reviewed crime statistics for the area, and discussed initiatives they planned to reduce the crime. Gonzalez said they need more staffing, but that a class of 63 new cadets was graduating this week. He said he is willing to spend overtime dollars to solve specific crime problems, but the “we want to hear of the problems” from citizens. He said they are adding several motorcycle units to the local force, which are especially effective in traffic enforcement.

Gonzalez said that they are trying to use more technology to make up for the shortage of deputies, and told about how they map “hot spots” regularly to determine where the worst problems are. Then they assign an undercover unit, and other marked unit working together to solve the problems in that area. He said he rotates his Hot Spot team around the five districts that he covers. Gonzalez thought that his office could “become more effective” by coordinating all his resources to work together.


Houstonians learn about mortgage assistance programs

Houston Mayor, Sylvester Tuner, middle, talked about NACA and city Assistance Programs at Greenspoint Mall.

HOUSTON – Mayor Sylvester Turner joined NACA’s CEO Bruce Marks, a Bank of America executive to announce a commitment of $100 million of the Best Mortgage in America to Houston homebuyers. This will create unprecedented homeownership opportunities in Houston for low and moderate income buyers by breaking down the barriers that prevent many working people from buying a home.

The NACA program features no down payment, no closing costs, no PMI, a below market fixed rate, without consideration of one’s credit score. With Houston’s financial assistance and other funds, homebuyers can buy down the interest rate to virtually zero percent.

Additionally, grants are available from the City of Houston to permanently buy down the interest rate on the loan. When combined with the $30,000 grant available from the City of Houston, a NACA homebuyer with a $200,000 mortgage can buy down the interest rate on the loan to a fixed rate of virtually zero percent for the life of the loan.

“This is one of my priorities. I want people to live and work in the City of Houston,” Mayor Turner said. “We are the fourth largest, and most diverse city in the country. We need the best and brightest to be able to afford to live in Houston and contribute to the city of the future.”


Little League season opens in North Houston with parade, games

THE LITTLE LEAGUE PARADE started at MacArthur High School, and travelled down side streets until it ended at the Little League fields at Squatty Lyons Park. Floats were judged for their appearance, and the float above, with the LADY BUMBLEBEES team members, won First Place. In all there were 14 floats in the parade, with the 14 teams that competed, and units from the EMS, Westfield Fire Department, East Aldine District, and the Sheriff’s office. See MORE LITTLE LEAGUE on page 8. (Photo by Sara Garcia)

NORTH HOUSTON – The Little League officially opened last Saturday, with a parade of teams and community units on a long trip from MacArthur High School, where they assembled, to the Little League fields in Squatty Lyons Park on East Hardy at Cromwell Roads.

Under the direction of Sara Garcia and Virginia Bazan, the parade consisted of 14 units on decorated trailers, and also a fire truck, EMS ambulance, and vehicles from the Sheriff’s office and East Aldine District.

Parade units were judged for originality and appearance, with the Lady Bumblebees, a T-Ball team, taking first place. Second place was won by the Houston Bombers, a major league team.

At the park, teams and parents had a Festival with games, food, and exhibits, helping to raise money for the teams.


HCC names Dr. Monique Umphrey next President of HCC Northeast

Dr. Umphrey will serve as the president for all of the HCC Northeast College campuses that include the North Forest Campus, Acres Homes Campus, Pinemont Center, Northline Campus, Northeast Campus, and the Automotive Technology Center.

HOUSTON (March 22, 2019) – After a nationwide search, Houston Community College (HCC) has named Dr. Monique Umphrey president of HCC Northeast, pending approval of her contract by the Board of Trustees.

Chancellor Cesar Maldonado says, “Dr. Umphrey shares our bold vision for elevating Houston Community College to new heights. She has a proven record of success as a leader in higher education and has a history of many accomplishments.”

Currently serving as Cuyahoga Community College’s (Tri-C) Vice President of Workforce Innovation and Dean for Information Technology, Dr. Umphrey is scheduled to begin her duties May 6.

At Tri-C, she provides vision and guidance in integrated academic and workforce programs for the IT Center of Excellence, increasing IT degree completion rates by seven percent.

One of Dr. Umphrey’s many accomplishments is establishing Bridge to Bachelor pathways to align college credits for Cleveland Metropolitan School District students between high school and four-year colleges.

“Tri-C is the connector and navigator,” says Dr. Umphrey. She also led the IT Center of Excellence textbook affordability initiative to utilize Open Educational Resources (OER) materials and established partnerships with the industry, including IBM and Apple. In addition, Dr. Umphrey was a member of the inaugural class of the Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, a rigorous executive leadership program led by the Aspen Institute and the Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative.


Donna Burrell, Shannon Decena named Aldine’s top educators

Aldine ISD Board President Steve Mead and Members Dr. Viola M. Garcia and Rose Avalos, along with Aldine Education Foundation Board members and Deputy Superintendent Dr. Selina Chapa posed with the Aldine’s Principals of the Year and Teachers of the Year following the Educator of the Year Breakfast, held Friday, March 8 at the Hilton North Houston Hotel. Seated are, (l-r): Raymond Stubblefield, Aldine’s Elementary Principal of the Year, LaTonia Amerson, Aldine’s Secondary Principal of the Year, Shannon Decena, Aldine’s Secondary Teacher of the Year and Donna Burrell, Aldine’s Elementary Teacher of the Year.

Donna Burrell was named Aldine ISD’s Elementary Teacher of the Year and Shannon Decena was named the district’s Secondary Teacher of the Year during Aldine ISD’s Educator of the Year Breakfast, held Friday, March 8 at the Hilton North Houston Hotel.

The four Teacher of the Year finalists were Krystle Harvey of Dunn Elementary School, Kari Dierks of Smith Elementary School, Kevin Guenther of Davis Ninth Grade School and Jarrod Fredericks of Victory Early College High School.

In addition, the district’s Principal’s of the Year were also announced at the breakfast. Raymond Stubblefield of Smith Elementary School was named the Elementary Principal of the Year and LaTonia Amerson of Eisenhower Ninth Grade School was named the district’s Secondary Principal of the Year. Elementary finalists were LaDon Ward of Conley Elementary School, and Sandra Doria of Thompson Elementary School. Secondary finalists were Jeana Morrison-Adams of Hoffman Middle School and Dr. Phyliss Cormier of Victory Early College High School.

“As a school leader, it is my responsibility to model and support structures that enhance open and honest communications,” Stubblefield said about how he sees his role as a principal. “The structures of effective communications must also be based on mutual respect and trust. I model and share my learning and goals to foster a culture of openness.”

Amerson said she believes it is imperative to develop trust with her staff and stakeholders.

“Establishing trust is key in opening the lines of communication with stakeholders,” she said. “My leadership style promotes trust, ensures a healthy culture, creates and builds partnerships, fosters collaboration, and demands respect for all people. When conversations are open and honest, our work as educators can move forward.”

Burrell believes it’s imperative that students buy into their education.

“Students are more likely to succeed if they believe that they are valuable as individuals,” she said. “I believe that students must gain ownership of their education to accomplish this goal. My desire is to ensure each of my students experience love for learning, an excitement in discovering and a secure feeling of belonging in a classroom.”

Decena said she relishes challenging her students to develop a love for math.

“My role as a teacher is to introduce students to a higher level of mathematics, which often leads to a new way of thinking about the world,” she said. “I love to teach my kids about the mechanics behind everyday items. I show them how the topic they are learning now will be applied and built upon in the next class or grade.”


“Civic Saturdays” meeting in East Aldine

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo welcomes the citizens to the Civic Saturday workshop.

East Aldine’s new Town Center was the site of a “Civic Saturday” workshop last Saturday. Hundreds turned out to talk with Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, heads of other county departments, and civic leaders.

Judge Hidalgo has planned a series of 7 of these meetings, each with a specific topic, throughout the county. She wants citizen participation in county government, and wants to hear ideas to help shape the county’s future.

These events are day-long, where constituents bring their concerns, ideas and collaborate with leaders who put change in motion. The goal is to learn from and communicate with the community.

Laura Murillo, president of the Hispanic Chamber, addresses the audience. Others pictured are East Aldine’s Richard Cantu, State Rep. Armando Walle, Pct. 1 commissioner Rodney Ellis, and Aldine ISD board member Connie Esparza. (Photos by Marina Sugg & Gilbert Hoffman)

Meetings have been planned on the following subjects:

— Health & Environment

— Transportation, Infrastructure & Safety

— Resilience & Flood Mitigation

— Children & Early Education

— Economic Opportunity & Housing

— Criminal Justice

— Resilience & Flood Mitigation (repeat)


Aldine Community meets the new Lone Star College NH/EA Dean

DEAN Dr. Luis Lucio

EAST ALDINE – The Aldine community turned out last Thursday night, to “Meet the Dean” of the new Lone Star College – North Harris/East Aldine campus. The meeting was held at the BakerRipley Reunion Hall at the Town Center.

The East Aldine District sponsored the meeting, one of its quarterly Civic Connections, Community Forums.

Dr. Luis Lucio is the new dean, and one of the first employees of the new Lone Star College East Aldine campus, now under construction and set to open for classes in the fall.

Dr. Lucio gave a very personal and candid talk about his life story, emphasizing that he was a native of Aldine and was pleased to be returning to his “roots.”

Lucio attended Aldine schools in his youth, and is a graduate of MacArthur High School. He took classes at Lone Star College, and has two degrees from Sam Houston State University. He also holds a Doctorate degree in educational leadership from the University of Houston.

Many in the community remembered him when he taught at Oleson Elementary, his first teaching job, or as principal at Carrol Academy, where the school under Lucio’s leadership won notice as Best in State for Scholastic Reading, and Distinctions in Mathematics from the TEA.

Lucio’s specialty is bilingual education, both for teachers and students. He has held a number of positions where this was a positive influence. These include a position as Adjunct Professor at the University of St. Thomas, and a senior recruiter for the Houston ISD school district.

Lucio’s goals for the new college in East Aldine are student excellence, proficiency in bilingual education, and student retention.

A part of Dr. Lucio’s presentation was a candid review of his own life story, and credit to his mother, a single parent, for guidance in his life decisions, and to the Aldine Grown Your Own Scholarship program for opening his eyes to the opportunity to go on to a college education. He explained all of this in a revealing and heartwarming narrative, to show other families and students that they have the potential to succeed from their start in life in Aldine. He also mentioned that his family was originally from the Rio Grand Valley, and Mexico.

Lucio also spoke about his experiences growing up in Aldine, including a tragic car accident. (more…)

R-U-OK? Constable’s new program for Seniors

For residents within the boundaries of Harris County Constable Precinct 3 Sherman Eagleton’s area, who have reached the age of 65, there is a specialized program which few are aware of. Seniors who sign up for this program indicate how often they would like to receive a phone call from the Constable’s staff. Some of the residents like to be contacted three times a week and there are others who stay busy and only have time for one call weekly.

The Seniors can register on-line at www.constable3.harris or pick up an application at one of the Constable’s locations. The forms are also available at any of the Coffee with a Cop Meetings or at the various Harris County Precinct 2gether Senior activities. The Seniors who wish to enrolls in the program provide their contact information as well as two other individuals who can be contacted in the event that the Senior cannot be reached. In the event that neither of these individuals answer or know the whereabouts, the staff from the RUOK? Program will then have a Deputy dispatched to check on the senior.


Senfronia Thompson files bill to improve school safety

Legislation calls for “a healthier state of mind and safer schools for Texas Children”

Austin, Texas — February 20, 2019 – Texas House Public Health Committee Chairwoman Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), a former public school teacher, has filed legislation to make Texas schools safer by improving the mental and behavioral health of Texas children. Her proposal, HB 10, calls for the creation of the Texas Mental & Behavioral Health Research Institute to be funded with voter approved bonds. It is modeled in part after the Cancer Research Institute of Texas.

The Texas Mental & Behavioral Health Research Institute (TMBHRI) will focus on increasing the number of mental and behavioral health care providers for children, rapid delivery of such care, and mental and behavioral health focused research.

“The program’s research would be administered statewide through the state’s medical schools, other Health Related Institutions, and their public-private partners to tackle one of the most important assets of our state’s future – our children,” said Thompson.

Her legislation calls for three main reforms: A) increasing the number of child and adolescent psychiatrists and specialized nurses across the state; B) creation of a telemedicine program to rapidly connect pediatricians and school health providers with trained mental health providers; and C) creation of a state funded Texas Mental and Behavioral Health Care Research Institute to develop cures and treatments.