Schools Need Trained Tutors to Help Students Catch Up, Free Tutor Training on 6/9

Interested in becoming a paid tutor? It's a HIT! High Impact Tutor Training, June 9, 9a-4p, Free to attendTo support educators in their efforts to help students catch up from learning loss due to COVID-19 interruptions in instruction and continue to progress, ESC Region 12 is looking for individuals to train in the High Impact Tutoring (HIT) program (opens external link in new window). The center, which provides professional development to educators and school personnel, is looking for people interested in serving as tutors in schools in person and/or virtually to attend a one-day training on Thursday, June 9, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at ESC Region 12, 2101 W Loop 340, Waco.

Through this one-day training session, ESC Region 12 specialists will prepare you to work as a school district tutor (remote or in-person). Start the day with Best Practices for Classroom Tutors, followed by your choice of break-out session specific to the tutoring curriculum from Amplify (RLA), BookNook (RLA) and Zearn (Math). Complete the day to receive a training certificate to aid your tutor job search, for the potential to make $15-50 per hour.

To register for free or for more information, visit www.esc12.net/tutor (opens external link in new window).

Three candidates file to run for Waco ISD Board

By Alice Jauregui

Candiates for the Waco ISD School Board election began filing Wednesday, Jan. 19., the first day of the filing period for two district trustee positions. Filing will open Jan. 28 for an at-large WISD Board position.

Three candidates filed on the first day. Jonathan Grant and Hope Balfa Mustakim filed to represent Trustee District 4, and Emily Iazzetti filed in Trustee District 5.

On May 7, voters will elect one person in each of those districts to serve a three-year term on the Waco ISD Board of Trustees. The deadline for candidates to file for a place on the ballot is 5 p.m. Feb. 18.

District 4 is currently represented by Angela Tekell, who announced last month that she did not plan to seek re-election. Tekell was first elected to the board in 2010.

Iazzetti was appointed to represent District 5 in August following the resignation of Allen Sykes.

In May, voters will also elect someone to serve the final year of the current term for the vacant at-large seat on the Waco ISD school board. The vacancy was created when Cary DuPuy resigned in November. The following month, the school board announced they would leave the position vacant until the May election. The filing period for the at-large position will open Jan. 28 and end at 5 p.m. March 7.

More information about becoming a candidate is available at wacoisd.org/elections. Applications for a place on the ballot can be filed with the superintendent’s office at the Waco ISD Administration Building (501 Franklin Ave., Waco).

The Waco ISD Board of Trustees recently adjusted boundaries of the single-member trustee districts to equalize the number of people in each district following the 2020 Census. A map of the single-member trustee districts along with a description of those changes can be found at wacoisd.org/redistricting.

Alice Jauregui is executive director of communication with Waco ISD.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email the ALW team — [email protected].

DuPuy resigns as at-large member of Waco ISD board


Cary DuPuy has resigned as an at-large member of the Waco ISD Board of Trustees after 10 years on the board. DuPuy was first elected in 2011 and was re-elected to a three-year term in 2020.

Cary DuPuy

In a letter to fellow board members, DuPuy wrote, “I’ve been on the board for ten years now, I no longer have children attending WISD schools, and I feel strongly that it’s time for me to step away and let someone else in the community assume this responsibility.” He noted that he made the decision to step down with “mixed emotions” and will miss the sense of camaraderie and common purpose that he has shared with fellow board members.

In his letter, DuPuy praised Dr. Susan Kincannon, Waco ISDS’s superintendent, for leading the district through a successful bond election earlier this month and for recruiting talented educators to help lead the district. He said Kincannon had positioned Waco ISD “quite favorably.”

“Lastly, I’d be remiss not to mention once more my boundless appreciation and respect for all of our classroom teachers throughout the district,” DuPuy wrote. “Your devotion to our students is inspiring.”

The board plans to discuss the vacancy at their Dec. 16 meeting. The board has the option of appointing someone to serve until the next school board election or leaving the position vacant until voters elect someone to fill the remainder of the unexpired term in May 2022.

“It is clear that Cary cares deeply about our students and educators,” Kincannon said. “While I will miss his perspective and his unique sense of humor as a board member, I have no doubt that Cary will continue to make a difference for our students and everyone else in our community.”

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster.

MCC honored for COVID response

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has recognized McLennan Community College for its outstanding efforts to respond to COVID-19.

MCC and nine other colleges and universities were recognized as Star Award recipients during THECB’s quarterly board meeting. MCC will be recognized again Dec. 2 during the 2021 Higher Education Leadership Conference in Austin.

The annual Star Awards are presented to institutions implementing exceptional contributions in achieving one or more of the state’s higher education goals. This year, awards recognized institutions’ efforts in response COVID-19.

Criteria for the awards were “a clear demonstration of how the institution implemented strategies to ensure the health, safety, and success of their campus and local community, partnerships with community-based organizations, and the innovative and creative nature of one or more of the strategies used,” according to THECB’s webpage.

“The success of our students was due to their resilience, determination, and talent,” said MCC President Johnette McKown. “Every McLennan employee contributed to student success by tapping into their creativity and expertise to ensure our students had access to all the same services offered pre-pandemic. … The challenge is not over, but McLennan will not give up as we stand McLennan Together.”

MCC’s application provided several examples of the school’s efforts:

— Loaning ventilators, hospital beds, and PPE to community healthcare institutions;

— Developing online self-assessments, self-reporting forms, instructions on exposure and testing, and safety practice modules;

— Maintaining an online dashboard of reported, positive, and active cases updated daily;

— Providing the community with free drive-thru testing and vaccination clinics;

— Designing the “McLennan Together” communication campaign in response to student, employee, and community questions on safety protocols, instructional strategies, and student success activities;

— Implementing instructional solutions to ensure safety and success, including providing online, blended, and hyflex course formats, rotating students attending class in-person, collaborating with local partners on solutions for programs requiring clinical work, simulations, internships, and other in-person instruction;

— Providing creative solutions in response to COVID-19 hardships like a curbside food pantry service, a fundraising campaign supporting emergency fund scholarships, free parking lot WIFI, a technology loan program, and virtual mental health counseling;

— Producing virtual commencement ceremonies for all 2020 graduates; and

— Implementing a student debt-forgiveness program to encourage former students to re-enroll.

Other Star Award recipients were the University of Texas at Arlington, Houston Community College, Texas A&M University – Commerce, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Odessa College, University of Texas at Tyler, Sam Houston State University, Texas State Technical College, and Lone Star College – North Harris.

For more information about the awards, click here.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

‘Behavior Basics for Teachers’ course set for MCC Continuing Education

By Corsi Crews

I am so grateful to introduce myself and announce upcoming opportunities for us to learn and grow together.

I am affectionately known as Dr. Behavior. I come by my nickname honestly, as I have been working as a behavior interventionist for more than 20 years, primarily working with the most significant behavior concerns in agencies like the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, Methodist Children’s Home, and Waco ISD. The tougher, the better … and more fulfilling!

Corsi Crews speaks at a Region 12 Gifted Education Conference.

I am a proud Tarleton Texan, as I have graduated thrice from Tarleton State University with degrees in education, criminal justice, and psychology. I also taught criminal justice for my alma mater at the University Center at McLennan Community College for nearly seven years.

The real reason you should know who I am is because I’m pretty good at connections — real, meaningful connections. The ones that make you feel the warm fuzzies in your belly when someone is near. The ones that let you know your words are heard and your feelings are respected and that even in disagreement, a resolution can be found. You know, the connections life is all about.  

Those are my jam and more importantly, my purpose.

In June, as my final school year with Waco ISD came to an end, I had a great opportunity to present my workshop, “Brave Battles with the Brain: Behavior Intervention That Works,” to the fantastic educators in our region at Region 12’s Gifted Education Conference. 

We discussed the brain and its components, especially the amygdala (our brain’s threat detector), which can perceive threats when there seemingly aren’t any and can make us feel pretty silly in the process. You see, our amygdala sounds alarms any time it feels a possible threat is near and then CHOOSES FOR US if we should fight the threat, freeze, or run away in order to stay safe. 

When it works, we stay alive. “Thank you, Amygdala!”

But sometimes, because of previous traumas and negative experiences, that alarm system can malfunction and develop a “hair trigger” that can misfire when it shouldn’t. 

That’s where I come in as Dr. Behavior. I help my students and clients understand how to identify these tricky fight, flight, or freeze responses and to practice supportive ways to RESPOND rather than REACT. You see, many of the overreactions we experience each day are related to the brain and its need to feel safe, not because somebody “made us mad.”

I mentioned a previous relationship with MCC earlier in my career, but it was actually a former Rapoport Academy colleague who connected me back to the college. After hearing about the success at the Region 12 conference, Kristi Pereira and I got to work to develop offerings for the Waco community through MCC’s Continuing Education Department. 

My first course, “Behavior Basics for Teachers,” is open for registration and will be held 8 a.m.-noon Thursday, Nov. 11, on the MCC campus. CEUs will be offered. This course is intended for teachers, paraprofessionals, counselors, and administrators and is a great classroom management course, especially for dealing with difficult students. Any educational professional would benefit from this course.

I will also be offering “Behavior Basics of the Brain for Parents and Caregivers” as a parenting support for anyone who cares for children and “Behavior Basics for Leaders” in Spring 2022. 

Join me!

I am genuinely looking forward to making new connections in the Waco community and finding ways Dr. Behavior can help in and around the community. While my courses include examples relevant for that group, the classes are not exclusionary. 

If you’ve got a classroom that’s giving you the blues or a child who struggles behaviorally or if you’re a leader who wants to be more successfuI, come join me. Everyone is welcome and can improve in connecting with others.

Course Registration Link

Keep those battles with behavior brave!

Corsi Crews, Ed.D., is a trained behavior interventionist, certified educator, and behavior coach endorsed with Texas Education Agency. With more than 20 years of experience, Crews has dedicated her career to helping children, families, educators, and leaders to improve behavior by establishing and maintaining meaningful connections and relationships. For private speaking and district training inquiries, contact me directly at 254-366-3829 or [email protected]

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Five MCC professors, staff receive service awards

By Candice Kelm

McLennan Community College has selected five honorees to receive the annual National Institute of Staff and Organizational Development Excellence Awards. The honor represents a commitment to high performance and extraordinary service in higher education.

This year’s honorees are Amy Antoninka, professor of philosophy, Arts & Sciences faculty; Boyce Wilson, associate professor of business, Workforce faculty; Becky Boggus, instructor of mental health/social work, part-time faculty; Kayla Willis, instructional designer in the Center for Teaching and Learning, administrative staff; and Lori Caceres, senior administrative secretary for Math and Sciences, support staff.

MCC faculty and staff members nominate their colleagues for the NISOD honors and their nomination remarks are included below.

Amy Antoninka

Amy Antoninka

“Dr. Antoninka’s philosophy classes cultivate our students to grow into the people they were meant to be. She is a master teacher in the classroom and wise mentor outside the classroom. Her lessons don’t just last a semester, they instill a lifetime of longing for deep knowledge and truth. She inspires them to reach higher and search intentionally for the good life they want to live. Dr. A, as her students call her, is a champion, and thankfully, our champion. We are so fortunate she is one of us.”

Boyce Wilson

Boyce Wilson

“Boyce is a helper. He is always willing to go out of his way to help anyone with any project or offer assistance to anyone who may need help. Boyce is also smart, kind, and generous with his words and his time. He stepped in to lead the Mentor/Mentee program and was a big help with the transition to online during COVID-19.”

Becky Boggus

Becky Boggus

“Becky is an incredible professor. As a social worker, she exemplifies selflessness and is committed to her students’ success. She is passionate about teaching and pours her heart out in all of her assignments and instruction. She is willing to change her pedagogy to adapt to student learning styles and goes above and beyond to ensure that they are successful. Additionally, she cares deeply for each of her students, treating each with dignity and respect.”

Kayla Willis

Kayla Willis

“I can’t say enough about Kayla. She always is going above and beyond in everything she does. Kayla worked tirelessly during the COVID-19 transition to help faculty be prepared to teach online. She is an amazing instructor and helped teach over 100 faculty during spring and summer, assisting them in their transition to online.”

Lori Caceres

Lori Caceres

“Lori is the glue that holds our department together. She always knows who to contact to solve your problem. She is extremely pleasant to work with, always calm, and just a delight. She is a Class act!”

For more information about the NISOD awards, contact Staci Taylor, Director of the Center for Teaching, at 254-299-8363 or [email protected].

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Waco ISD launches anonymous tips app for students to report bullying, threats

The STOPit mobile and desktop app empowers students to stand up against bullying.

By Joshua Wucher

As part of Waco ISD’s continual effort to ensure students have a safe learning environment at school, the district is introducing a new safety app that enables anonymous reporting of bullying, dangerous situations and other potentially dangerous activity.

STOPit is an online and app-based system that enables students, parents, teachers and others to safely and anonymously report anything of concern to school officials – from cyberbullying to threats of violence or self-harm.

“There’s always a stigma around tattling or snitching, which makes it harder for students to feel comfortable enough to speak up,” said Dr. Rachelle Warren, assistant superintendent for student services and support. “Bullies are empowered by a culture of silence, so we hope the STOPit tool will empower students and give them a new way to stand up for themselves and others.”

Once the STOPit mobile app is downloaded, users can anonymously submit an incident report consisting of an image, video and/or text. Administrators can then respond to the incident and get help to the student in need. The app also allows for anonymous two-way communication between students and administrators. While a user may choose to provide identifying information, the district will not be able to identify an anonymous submitter. 

Funding for the platform is being provided through the Stop School Violence Act by a Department of Justice grant awarded to ESC Region 12 last October. 

“We are grateful to Region 12 for providing us the opportunity to utilize this very valuable tool,” said Dr. Susan Kincannon, superintendent. “Providing a safe way for students to report any harm or if they feel in danger is just another layer of protection for their well-being. While STOPit won’t replace the relationships that we want staff to build with our students, we hope the app will encourage them to feel safer reporting bullying or other concerns and not fear retaliation.” 

More information and resources including videos and FAQs can be found online at wacoisd.org/STOPit.

Joshua Wucher is Waco ISD’s executive director for communications.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Innovative treatment for children with autism available in Waco

By Julie Ivey

As a faculty member at Baylor, I have worked extensively helping children with autism, and I’m really excited about a current project that is innovative and free to children in the area. Our team is working one-on-one with children to improve balance, gait, behavior, and language. It’s a fun experience for the children because they do this while riding a mechanical horse.

The Baylor School of Education autism team is measuring the behavioral and language effects of riding on the MiraColt mechanical horse.

You might have heard about the therapeutic benefits of horseback riding for children with autism; these experiences are believed to stimulate neurological connections because of the motion of the horse that the child must respond to. But not every family has access to live horses. If the mechanical horse can be effective in a clinical setting staffed by trained professionals, it can offer an excellent intervention to help children.

Through a grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, our Baylor autism team is measuring the behavioral and language effects of riding on the MiraColt mechanical horse. Because of this funding, the experience is free to children, whose parents sign up to attend two sessions per week for 15 weeks. In fact, families who complete the study will receive $150. The project is taking place at the Baylor BRIC. Be assured that the members of our interdisciplinary team have extensive experience working with children with autism and will help the children feel comfortable in a new setting.

We are recruiting children ages 6-12 who have a diagnosis of autism and may experience motor delays. To participate, children should be able to follow simple verbal instructions and have an IQ above 80. We are accepting participants on a rolling basis this fall and spring. While the study is in its early stages, our preliminary observations are promising, and parents have said they see improvements in their children.

For a little bit more information, you can read this story from the School of Education: School of Education Autism Research Team Studies Mechanical Horse Intervention

If you think your child would be interested and would qualify, we will begin with a meet-and-greet session to show you what it is all about, meet your child, and let you explore the space.

For more information, please mail me at [email protected]! We are excited to work with children and the community on this exciting, innovative project!

Julie Ivey, Ph.D., is a clinical professor in the Baylor University School of Education.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Waco ISD joins new, innovative Holdsworth Center leadership collaborative

By Joshua Wucher

Kincannon, Gutierrez, and Cornblum will participate in the program’s inaugural cohort, along with 13 districts from across the state, to strengthen principal pipeline.

Waco ISD is partnering with The Holdsworth Center, an Austin-based nonprofit, to strengthen its bench of future principals through a new, 18-month program called the Holdsworth Leadership Collaborative. 

Waco ISD is among the first 14 districts across the state invited to take part in the program, which the center’s materials describe as an effort to “build internal leadership capacity, with the end goal of having a strong bench of leaders ready to step into school leader positions when they arise. 

Josie Gutierrez (l-r), Susan Kincannon, and Deena Cornblum of Waco ISD participate in Holdsworth Leadership Collaborative.

“We are excited and feel blessed to be one of the few districts across the state working on school leadership development with the Holdsworth Center,” Dr. Susan Kincannon, superintendent, said. “This new program will be a pivotal part in how we build supportive systems and structures that can sustain a school leadership pipeline. Ultimately, this will help our district retain great teams to serve our kids.” 

Over the 18-month program, Kincannon, Deputy Superintendent Dr. Josie Gutierrez and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Deena Cornblum will attend learning sessions at The Holdsworth Center’s Campus on Lake Austin. They will learn best practices from organizations inside and outside of education that have built high-performing talent management systems and then work to define what great leadership looks like in Waco ISD.

“Because principals influence the working conditions and skill level of every teacher in the building, they have a huge – and often unseen ­– impact on students in the classroom,” Dr. Lindsay Whorton, president of The Holdsworth Center, said. “Waco ISD recognizes this and is committed to ensuring its students benefit from outstanding leadership.”

Founded by H-E-B Chairman Charles Butt in 2017, the center’s mission is to improve the quality of public education by supporting and developing educational leaders. The 14 districts participating in the Holdsworth Leadership Collaborative are Corpus Christi ISD and Mission and Los Fresnos CISDs in South Texas; Conroe, Tomball, Pasadena and La Porte ISDs in Southeast Texas; Eanes, Temple, Waco and College Station ISDs and San Marcos CISD in Central Texas; and Irving and Plano ISDs in North Texas. 

Joshua Wucher is Waco ISD’s executive director for communications.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Tennyson student named a finalist in national STEM competition

Guerra-Sanchez is one of 30 finalists in the Broadcom MASTERS, a premier middle school competition for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

By Joshua Wucher

Gabriela Guerra-Sanchez, a student in the ATLAS Academy at Tennyson Middle School, is among 30 finalists who will be competing for over $100,000 in awards and prizes in the Broadcom MASTERS middle school competition. Guerra-Sanchez was named a Top 30 finalist after advancing from the Top 300 MASTERS competition earlier this month. Participants in the Top 300 competition were selected from tens of thousands of regional and state science and engineering fair participants nationwide.

Gabriela Guerra-Sanchez (second from right) is honored by Waco ISD at the September board meeting. Superindent Susan Kincannon (left) and Leslie Cannon, Tennyson Middle School teacher-librarian, were among those who honored the student’s achievement in STEM research.

The MASTERS program, founded by the Society for Science, seeks to inspire young scientists, engineers, and innovators who will solve the grand challenges of the future. Each of the 30 finalists will participate in team challenges in addition to being judged on their science research project during a virtual competition in October. 

“Gabriela is a creative, out-of-the-box thinker who worked incredibly hard to execute an amazing project. As an educator, I want my students to engage and enjoy learning and to help them realize the dream to pursue careers in STEM is attainable,” said Leslie Cannon, Tennyson Middle School teacher-librarian, who herself was among 66 stellar educators from across the country recently selected for the society’s Advocate program, which provides teachers training, stipends, and year-round support to mentor underrepresented students in entering science research competitions like Broadcom MASTERS. 

Guerra-Sanchez’s winning project, titled “Can You Hear That? What Do You See?”, explores how different styles of background music can affect the way people see art. She collected data from survey responses from students who listened to music and then viewed an original abstract painting that she created. 

“We are so proud of Gabriela for this outstanding accomplishment and excited to have her represent Waco ISD and Tennyson Middle School at the national level,” said Dr. Susan Kincannon, superintendent. “Her project represents the high level of critical thinking and learning happening in our schools. And teachers like Ms. Cannon are doing a tremendous job supporting students like Gabriela who aspire to become scientists, engineers and innovators.”

Additionally, Broadcom MASTERS is awarding each Top 30 finalist’s campus with $1,000 to use toward STEM activities and providing their science teacher with a one-year classroom subscription to Science News magazine.

Joshua Wucher is Waco ISD’s executive director for communications.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].