(Editor’s note: Stephenville ISD superintendent Matt Underwood is a vocal and written supporter of transparency, and one of his his methods of achieving transparency are commentaries shared with the public through local media that are focused around current events, issues or positive achievements in the district or in the education news industry.)
Special to The Flash Today
From SISD Superintendent Matt Underwood
STEPHENVILLE (December 18, 2017) — What a Year in SISD!
As we close the books on the calendar year of 2017, it’s hard not to look back on what showcased an amazing amount of student success and District initiatives. Our staff and students are really a testament to the District’s core values of excellence, initiative, growth, personalization, integrity and relationships.
We started the year by rolling out over 550 individual iPads at Henderson Junior High in January. This was the District’s first take-home iChampion initiative. The loss rate was exactly half of the national average as staff and students embraced the new vision for learning. Staff surveys collected in May showed more than 95% of the staff felt excited about the initiative and were ready to embrace a new way of teaching and learning. In August, over 1000 devices were issued to students at SHS and, to date, we are on pace for similar outcomes at that campus. Along the way, our Director of Digital Learning (a new position for the District), Brianna Hodges won the State award for Instructional Integrationist of the Year, and Darby West was recognized as one of the best in the nation at her position. Stephenville High School also turned in a top accountability performance by garnering five stars for Distinguished Performance.
The most obvious highlight of 2017 was our excellence in UIL competition. The Honeybee basketball team started things off on the right foot by advancing to the Regional tournament. Soon after, the most amazing soccer team ever to lace up their cleats at SHS ended the season as State Champions. A few days later the Theatre Team brought home the school’s first Theatre State Championship. This accomplishment helped spur our UIL Academic Team to a silver medal performance and State Runner-Up Trophy also a first for SHS! Academic District Championships were also garnered at every competing campus in the District. Both boys and girls golf and cross-country teams qualified for the regional tournament, and boys basketball, baseball and girls softball all competed in the State playoffs. The Yellow Jacket Band and Varsity Mixed Choir also earned Sweepstakes while the final performance of the year by our Yellow Jacket Football ended with team members receiving a bronze State medal finishing in the final four in Class 4A Division I.
In activities not regulated by the UIL, our students also performed at an amazingly high level. Our FFA students finished fourth out of 1033 schools in the Texas FFA Golden Horizon Award which is a composite indicator of all student activities including Career Development Events (CDEs), Leadership Development Events (LDEs), speaking events, Proficiency Awards, Star Awards and Scholarships. The SHS Sting Dance Team brought home the State Grand Champion trophy, and FCCLA and DECA advanced students to State competitions as well. Girls power lifting also brought home the third place trophy at the Regional Competition. Our robotics team competed at the international level, bringing global awareness to our city of Champions.
Finally, a dedicated and committed group of SISD stakeholders will be recommending the need for facility upgrades at Stephenville HIgh School and Gilbert Intermediate School at this month’s board meeting. This process began in April and input was garnered by various means including telephone and internet surveys, an external facility review, and an open invitation to all residents who wanted to be included in the planning process. It’s an amazing time to be in Stephenville ISD. We look forward to all that 2018 offers and holds for our students, our faculty and our District.