B.E.S.T. Report 

Image of Dr. Robin Ryan
Dr. Robin Ryan
GCISD Superintendent 
of Schools

The B.E.S.T. Report is a weekly communication from our
superintendent about our schools and community.

November 1, 2018

You will often hear me say our mission is to be the BEST, and we define that as Building Excellent Schools Together. We don’t normally define BEST as blue ribbons or accolades - but in this instance, I am going to make an exception. Today, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD was named a Dallas Morning News Top 100 Workplace! In the large company category, for employers with 500 or more employees, we were named #18 best workplace. This is a tremendous honor, as we are one of only three school districts included in this year’s honorees.

More than being recognized in the community as a top workplace, what means the most to me is that this was based on feedback given by you - our employees. I’ve always known that GCISD was a special place, and it’s clear that you feel the same way too. We have a tremendous culture and we are all working towards one common purpose - providing the best educational experience possible for our students. But we also recognize that it is important to provide the best work environment possible for our employees!

Over the next few days, we will be sharing this information with our parents and community, but it was important that we share it first with the people who make GCISD so special - YOU! This is your award. I know we can all take pride in the great culture we enjoy in GCISD. Thank you for all that you do as we Build Excellent Schools Together.

BEST,
RR

October 26, 2018

Tonight is the night - the Battle of the Red Rail between Colleyville Heritage and Grapevine High Schools. While the venue may be different, the anticipation of these two teams meeting on the gridiron is still the same. There is an additional dose of Red Rail action this year as the Mustang and Panther volleyball programs will meet today at 4:30pm as well.

I would argue that this year is even more exciting because of a new tradition - the induction of influential community and district leaders into the GCISD Walk of Honor. Similar to a Hall of Fame, the GCISD Walk of Honor recognizes notable alumni, teachers, administrators, and community leaders who have served our district with honor and distinction, and the Walk of Honor will be a permanent installation at the new Mustang Panther Stadium. The inaugural class to be inducted into the GCISD Walk of Honor includes:

2018 GCISD Walk of Honor Inductees
W.F. CANNON, JR.
MADELEINE HEMLEY
RINEY JORDAN
RUSSELL KIDD
LARRY OLIVER
WILLIAM D. TATE
DR. JIM THOMPSON
TED WILLHOITE

Tonight’s festivities begin at 4:30pm at the Mustang Activity Center where we will unveil the plaques of our honorees. Then we will recognize the eight inaugural inductees immediately prior to kickoff at tonight’s game. I would like to invite everyone to attend the ceremony at the MAC, and then show your support from the stands before kickoff this evening.

This will be a fun evening celebrating our two traditional high schools in their annual matchup. I only have one question - we’re ready, are you?

BEST,
RR

October 19, 2018

We have been very fortunate in GCISD to have a tremendous partnership with American Airlines, which has provided our students with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. We have taken students and veterans to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C., experienced the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, and last week we had yet another once-in-a-lifetime moment.

On Thursday, October 11, ten of the seventy-five living Congressional Medal of Honor recipients came to GCISD as part of the Medal of Honor Foundation weekend festivities. It was a great opportunity to showcase our students as they served as greeters, servers, floral designers, chefs and presenters. Our students even had the opportunity to design the official challenge coin for the Medal of Honor Foundation event.

Then on Friday, Medal of Honor recipients traveled to Grapevine High School and Colleyville Heritage High School where juniors watched a new documentary from Gary Sinise entitled “Always Do a Little More”. Students then participated in a question and answer panel. During this time, the MOH recipients answered questions and provided students with insight into their life of service and sacrifice.

It was awe-inspiring to look around and see so many true American heroes engaged with our students in conversations where I know both parties walked away having learned something new. While these events are ones I will never forget, I encourage you to thank a service member whenever you encounter one, even if it’s at the grocery store or your child’s soccer game. Through their service and commitment to uphold the safety of the American people, we are able to continue to focus on educating the next group of service men and women and future leaders of our country.

Thank you to the former servicemen and women that now work in GCISD. Thank you to each and every one of our amazing staff members for your service to the students and community in GCISD. Thank you for your work as we continue to Build Excellent Schools Together.

BEST,
RR

October 12, 2018

On Thursday, October 4, when the bell rang at Cannon Elementary School, the students went home and enjoyed a four-day weekend. When they returned to classes on Tuesday, October 9, they received a red carpet welcome to their new building. What transpired over the course of four-days was truly amazing.

Our facilities workers were unloading equipment, stocking supplies, moving boxes to their new designated rooms and doing last minute maintenance checks of the building. Our nutrition services department was onsite to ensure that everything was set up and ready to welcome hungry students the first day of school. Various staff members from central administration and campuses across the District volunteered their time to help unpack boxes and move the Cannon staff out of storage and into their classrooms.

It was truly a group effort and it was worth it. On Tuesday, I was on-hand to escort students to their new classrooms and the looks on their faces said it all. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the morning:

“Man - this cafeteria looks like a Panda Express!”

“This is like wonderland - but even better!”

When walking through the learning commons, “This makes me want to read more books.”

If you want to see some other reactions from our students, click here.

I was so proud of the teamwork and camaraderie that was demonstrated during the move into Cannon Elementary. It truly was an example of how in GCISD we are Building Excellent Schools Together - literally!

Have a great weekend.

BEST,
RR

October 4, 2018

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the experience I had in Austin with our Elementary Teacher of the Year Joe Parthemore as he was a finalist for Texas Teacher of the Year. This past weekend, I was once again in Austin as the GCISD Board of Trustees participated in the final stages to be considered for Board of the Year. During this process, they told the story of GCISD. They proudly talked about the positive impact of LEAD 2021 and the amazing work happening in our classrooms. They talked about the team approach our district embraces, validating and honoring every single employee, and your contribution to the education of our students.

On Saturday, in front of a packed room of thousands of Texas school administrators and school board members, our Board of Trustees was named the 2018 Texas Association of School Administrators Outstanding Honor Board. There were hugs, high fives, tears and smiles from ear to ear as our Trustees were able to get up on stage and share a few words with the audience. One of the first sentiments expressed was that of gratitude to our District staff, parents and community. Our Trustees are so proud of the work that each and every one of you are doing, and they are appreciative of the countless hours that you put in to ensure that our students are receiving a premier education.

We are equally as proud of our Trustees as this is a huge honor and accomplishment. To be named the Outstanding Honor Board of the more than 1,100 school districts in Texas is no small feat, and is well-deserved for this selfless group of public school advocates. In the next several weeks we will host a community event in which we invite parents, community members and staff to join us in congratulating our Trustees. I hope you will consider attending, as it is only through working as one that we are able to Build Excellent Schools Together.

BEST,
RR

September 29, 2018

As educators, we have a responsibility to teach our students in Kindergarten through twelfth-grade a variety of subjects and lessons. One of those, is understanding their civic responsibility to vote. Beginning as early as first grade, the TEKS require that “students are expected to identify characteristics of good citizenship; including truthfulness, justice, equality, respect for oneself and others, responsibility in daily life and participation in government by educating oneself about the issues, respectfully holding public officials to their word and voting.”


As I mentioned at convocation earlier this year, we need to lead by example and model good citizenship by exercising our right to vote. You will never hear me tell someone who they should vote for, but I will encourage everyone in this room to be active, be informed and be a voter.

In order to be able to make your voice heard in the November election, you must be registered to vote by October 9. To confirm you are already registered, or to complete your voter registration, please visit https://www.votetexas.gov/register-to-vote/.

As a reminder, Tuesday, October 2 is also We Are GCISD Day. Don’t forget to wear your convocation shirt and jeans and share your photos on Twitter using #WeAreGCISD.

Have a great weekend and thank you for your continued work as we Build Excellent Schools Together.

BEST,
RR

September 21, 2018

Every once in a while, as superintendent, I have the opportunity to share in some special moments with members of our GCISD family.

Last Friday, I was able to spend the afternoon in Austin with Joe Parthemore as he was one of six finalists for Texas Teacher of the Year. I attended a luncheon with his campus principal who brought along his 5th grade teaching team to share the pride in his award. It was incredible to sit in a room full of excellent educators and watch a video that details Joe’s philosophy for teaching and his passion for education. He represented everyone in GCISD incredibly well. I’m including a link to the video here so that you may each have an opportunity to get to know Joe a little better. It was an amazing experience and one I am sure that he will not forget for the remainder of his teaching tenure.

Next Friday, I will be in Austin yet again, this time with the GCISD Board of Trustees. Our Board has been named one of the five Honor Boards in the State of Texas, and next Friday they will be interviewed to be named the Texas Outstanding Honor Board. We are so fortunate in GCISD to have a supportive and innovative Board who believes in the work we are doing and who encourages us to continue pushing and moving forward in LEAD 2021 and soon LEAD 2.0.

While those are unique opportunities that do not come around every year, this week I participated in another one of my favorite annual traditions. Every September, members of the leadership team hand deliver paychecks to our newest employees. I am sure they are happy to see us because we are delivering their hard earned salary, but we are just as excited to see them, thank them for their work and welcome them to GCISD. As I said at convocation, We Are GCISD and it takes everyone doing their part in order for us to be successful. This is just one small way that we can make a personal connection and welcome and thank our newest staff members.

From my perspective, it is easy to see that the soul, strength and success of GCISD is in our people. Every single employee is valued and has a role in providing our students with an excellent education. Thank you for all you do to Build Excellent School Together!

Have a great weekend.

BEST,
RR

August 31, 2018

We made it through yet another week of school! The excitement of the first day of school is behind us. During those first few days of school I saw numerous examples of our district’s resolve to be kind to one another. I see evidence of these important efforts to promote kindness and respect throughout our hallways and classrooms. Whether it’s holding the door open for a fellow staff member or student, helping a lost sixth-grader find the counselors office, bending down to tie a shoelace or checking in on our new staff members, it is abundantly clear that we have cultivated a culture of kindness in GCISD. That can be attributed to our district-wide initiative, Rachel’s Challenge, but more importantly I attribute it the incredible staff that we have across the District. You care about each other and most importantly you care about the students that walk through our doors. I will never be able to thank you enough for your work...but how about a three-day weekend??

I hope that you take the extra day to spend time with family and friends and to rest after a successful first two weeks of another school year.

I also wanted to remind you that Tuesday, September 4 is the first “We Are GCISD” day of the school year. I hope to see you all in your convocation shirt and jeans, sharing photos on Twitter using #WeAreGCISD. 

Have a great weekend!

BEST,
RR

August 24, 2018

Congratulations - we’ve all survived the first week of school! We didn’t just survive, we thrived! Not only was our instructional staff ready to welcome students into their classrooms, but our facilities, transportation and nutrition staff brought their A-game getting everything ready for the start of another year. I had the opportunity to visit almost every campus and at each one, I was reminded once again that we truly have the BEST staff in the State of Texas.

Speaking of the BEST, I can’t pass up the opportunity to mention our convocation. The energy in the room that morning, from beginning to end, was something that you have to feel in order to understand. That afternoon, I scrolled through my Twitter feed and I loved seeing reactions and reflections from the morning and I hope that excitement is something that we can carry on throughout the year!

There were so many great moments I could talk about from that morning (like surprising Joe Parthemore!), but one of the most powerful moments came in the last 5 minutes. I don’t know about you, but I felt overwhelmed with pride as the entire gymnasium yelled in unison “We Are GCISD”! It was an incredible moment and one that I will always remember.

After convocation was over, I had several staff members from across the District ask if there was any way that they could purchase one of the We Are GCISD shirts. We have worked with the vendor to set up an online store where you may purchase either a grey or blue We Are GCISD shirt. The deadline to order your shirt is Friday, September 21 and shirts will be delivered to your campus and or department. If you are interested in ordering a shirt, click here.

Thank you for all that you do as we Build Excellent Schools Together.

BEST,
RR

May 31, 2018

Summertime

As we wind up the school year, I am experiencing many emotions, but by far the strongest feeling is a sense of appreciation. When life is the busiest, our days can become a blur. It is during times like the whirlwind month of May when it is grounding and uplifting to reflect on just how much we have been blessed within GCISD:

Wonderful teachers and coaches in every classroom who give of themselves every day to provide all students with an excellent and personalized experience.

Amazing counselors at every campus who provide a dizzying variety of support for our students and families.

Incredible paras and support personnel who give of themselves daily because they love helping our students and staff.

Dedicated people in transportation, grounds and maintenance, Nutrition Services, Health Services, Technology Services, Communications, ECDC, & KIDZU.

Visionary campus and district leaders who work every day to lead our campuses and departments with one goal in mind: student success.

Strong, visionary leadership from seven volunteers, the GCISD Board of Trustees.

A supportive community symbolized by the GCISD Education Foundation. Just like parents and businesses all across the district, the GCEF always steps up to provide needed financial support in a time of dwindling state resources.

Of course, I am also incredibly appreciative of our students. From the youngest elementary students who are taking home notebooks full of work demonstrating just how much they have learned this year to the six graduation ceremonies (Bridges, Collegiate Academy, GHS, CHHS, iUniversity Prep, & Summer School), our students never cease to amaze me with their optimism and love of learning.

We are so fortunate to live and work in a wonderful school district.

I hope you will join me in appreciating the BEST in GCISD!

Have a great summer.
RR

May 4, 2018

Sounds of Cheers

Yesterday and today, I was treated to the beautiful sound of cheers from our students and staff. As we made the rounds announcing our various Employees of the Year, each announcement was met with loud affirmation and admiration. In GCISD, our Employees of the Year are nominated by their peers and it’s incredibly heartwarming to see the shared pride on the faces of everyone in the room when the announcement is made.

Public education is a complex endeavor with many different moving parts. Every person has a role in providing an excellent educational experience for our students and families. We all know the importance of great teachers, and this positive tradition of recognizing others serves to remind us that it takes every person in every department, doing their job at a high level, to provide the BEST education for our students.

If you see those listed below, please pass along your congratulations and admiration for a job well done. They each have personified Building Excellent Schools Together!

Joe Parthemore - Elementary Teacher of the Year (CAN)

Brooke Teeter-Stocz - Secondary Teacher of the Year (CTMS)

Stephanie Rumbelow - Paraprofessional of the Year (CTMS)

Ruth Shook - Nurse of the Year (GHS)

Julia Rottman - Extended Care Services Employee of the Year (OCT)

Roberto Arriaga - Facility Services Employee of the Year (CHHS)
Pablo Berrios - Transportation Services Employee of the Year

Stacy Haugh - Nutrition Services Employee of the Year (GES)

Have a great weekend.

BEST,
RR

April 30, 2018

Student performance is a reflection of adult behavior

One of the best parts of my job is when I get to watch our students perform. This past week, I had the opportunity to experience our students demonstrating their skills in a variety of activities. Let me recap my last 7 days:

Last Thursday I watched our GHS Lady Mustang soccer team win an exciting come-from-behind victory over a great Alamo Heights team in the semi-finals of the UIL State Soccer Tournament.

Then on Friday, I attended the CHHS vs. GHS softball game. It was a hard-fought game and in the end, the Lady Panthers not only won the game, but they preserved and upheld an undefeated record in district play and clinched the District Championship.

On Saturday, we returned to Georgetown for the State Championship game in 5A girls soccer. The championship atmosphere was tremendous. The GHS girls played all of regulation time and two overtime periods. Even though they did not prevail in the “shootout”, they played amazingly hard and incredibly well, representing GCISD and taking the silver medal.

On Tuesday, the Elementary Honor Choir performed. I should say they “put on a show”! Wow! Students from every GCISD elementary school, under the direction of Gayle Lambert and Patrick Lollis, prepared and delivered a show full of talent and fun. They even shared the stage with the Zack King Band!

Following the Honor Choir, the GCISD String Orchestra performed. This musical group is made up of beginners, intermediate and advanced musicians who attend rehearsals after school. The String Orchestra is led by Travis Sampson, Allison Bailey and Sarah Gonzales who volunteer their time after their normal teaching day to lead these students.

Also on Tuesday, the GHS baseball team traveled to CHHS for the annual grudge match on the baseball diamond. Both teams are ranked in the top ten teams in Class 5A across Texas and both teams lived up to their rankings. A capacity crowd watched CHHS prevail in the last inning. The rematch will be played tonight at GHS, and I hope to see you there. It will be a great atmosphere for high school baseball.

It has been an action-packed week! I am so impressed with the level of talent at every event I attend. I am a believer in the adage of “student performance is a reflection of adult behavior”. Our students are performing at these high levels because our teachers and coaches are performing at high levels. It has been a great week of observing the results of Building Excellent Schools Together!

Have a great weekend.

BEST,
RR

April 6, 2018

Emotions

This week, I have experienced a wide variety of emotions, from very high to heartbreakingly low.

On Monday, we welcomed the newest addition to the family, our grandson Pace Ryan Dagley. What a thrill it was to hold that little boy after he arrived, and just a few short hours later, to read to his big brother before putting him to bed for the night. That was certainly a highlight.

Another highlight was getting to brag about the work we do in GCISD as I presented at the monthly meeting of the Colleyville Chamber of Commerce. The best part of the event was observing and learning from our students who were there to represent the district. From the Bransford Elementary greeters to the Cannon Stembassadors and the Colleyville Heritage Jazz Ensemble, the stage was set for me to address the group. Wisely, I asked two CHHS seniors to help me tell our story. Allison Pappas and Zafir Patel have been in GCISD from first grade, and they were very articulate and positive about their experiences as students in GCISD. In just a few weeks, they will graduate and set out to change the world, and I have no doubt they will carry the flag of GCISD wherever they go. The presentation also included a video about students who are making their mark in a different way. They are developing their real-world skills as they rebuild a ‘53 Chevy truck. Check out the video here: https://youtu.be/kyNhhg-Nij4

As soon as the Chamber meeting was over, I then traveled across the street to the memorial service for a GCISD graduate whose life ended way too soon. The service was packed with lifelong friends from school, and adults who had been mentors and supporters of his parents and brothers. All of us were stricken with grief about his loss. Scattered throughout the mourners were numerous elementary, middle and high school teachers and administrators. As I observed this, I was reminded of the importance of relationships that our staff builds when working with students at all levels. This type of raw grief only happens when you are truly connected with your students. As I sat beside one of my sons who was grieving the loss of his friend, it was heartbreaking.

As I reflect on the week, my main takeaway is one of promise and optimism. Experiencing painful grief, years after a student has left your classroom, only happens when strong relationships are built. Watching our students perform on such a high level only happens when guided by an amazing team of educators.

I am so proud to represent the BEST staff in America as your superintendent.

BEST,
RR

March 9, 2018

Spring Break

We made it to spring break!

I am so proud of the work of our GCISD team this semester. I have seen engaging teaching, amazing professional development, expertly designed lessons using technology, successful extra-curricular activities and wonderful community involvement. Even the manner in which we have designed the tradition of "open house" has changed for the better.

Thank you to everyone for your part in the educational process. Whether you are in a support role or on the front lines in the classroom, your work is important. I know you are constantly thinking about how you can positively impact our students and community.

Our work, though rewarding, is not easy. I hope you will take time next week to be with your family and friends, and return rested and recharged for the final push to the end of the year.

BEST,
RR

February 16, 2018

Building Strong Relationships

Like you, I watched in horror this week as we witnessed the reports of another tragic school shooting. This one, at Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, took the lives of students and staff.

Everyone associated with schools: students, parents, staff members and community members feel the pain and trauma each time this happens in our country. We search for answers to questions like: "How could this happen again?" and "How can we keep it from happening in the future?"

We conduct drills and we implement security measures. We make every effort to physically keep our students safe. Most importantly, we build strong healthy relationships with students. Beginning with ‘"circle up" time in elementary schools, our students begin to build those relationships with their teachers and with each other. We also encourage everyone to report if they have a suspicion that something might be wrong. We work closely with our local police departments and school resource officers to investigate concerns quickly and thoroughly. We communicate with staff, parents and the community when matters arise that need a wider response.

We will continue to practice and refine our safety and security measures. In addition, I encourage all of us to reach out to our students daily, to continue to build strong positive relationships with each one, and to speak up if something seems out of the ordinary. Preparation and a personalized environment will help GCISD remain a safe place to learn as we continue to Build Excellent Schools Together.

BEST,
RR

January 26, 2018

It's Musical Season!

We enjoy so much talent in GCISD. From academics to athletics and the arts, our students and teachers amaze me with their level of talent. It is "musical season" and I attended a performance last night that was a tremendous example of the talent in our district.

The CHHS Theater Department performed "The Sound of Music" to a standing ovation. From Maria and Captain von Trapp to the incredible cast (which included elementary, middle and high school students) to the orchestra, to the techies backstage and the folks in the sound booth, it was an amazing team effort. Clearly, the performing arts are on display at a high level.

This week, you can enjoy The Sound of Music (tickets at https://www.chhspanthertheatre.com/) and next week, you can catch "Into the Woods" at GHS (tickets at http://www.ghstheatre.org/). You will be impressed!

BEST,
RR

January 19, 2018

Education Foundation

We've all been there. Buying extra classroom supplies with our own money because we want our students to have everything they need to be successful. Fortunately, there is some relief for staff and it comes from our friends at the Education Foundation.

The Education Foundation is an organization outside of GCISD whose sole purpose is to raise funds for needed programs and projects for GCISD teachers and students. The leader of the Foundation for the last 14 years has been Janice Kane. Janice is responsible for bringing millions of donated dollars to thousands of students and teachers in GCISD. Janice is retiring at the end of the month, and we are so fortunate to have benefitted from her leadership as she arguably has been GCISD's # 1 cheerleader.

We will miss Janice and her dedication and service to our district. The Foundation is strong, and will keep getting stronger each year, due to the wonderful leadership legacy of Janice Kane. If you have received support from the Foundation, I hope you will drop Janice a line and thank her for her untiring work on behalf of our teachers and students. It is just another way GCISD is Building Excellent Schools Together!

BEST,
RR

January 12, 2018

Building Excellent Schools Together!

Did you watch the National Championship game last Monday night between Georgia and Alabama? Millions of people around the country watched until the last play of the game, which was either thrilling or heartbreaking...depending on who you were hoping would win.

Interestingly, we all had several choices for how we wanted to watch the game. You could choose to watch the game the "old fashioned" way with two TV broadcasters describing the action. You also could choose to watch the game on the Coaches Film Room view, where several college coaches sit around a table eating pizza and commenting on the details of each play. You could choose the Homers Telecast, led by former players from Alabama and Georgia. There was the Finebaum Film Room, where Paul Finebaum and friends commented and took viewer calls during the game. You could choose to watch the Command Center view, with a split screen and multiple camera views and isolated camera feeds on both head coaches. You could watch ESPN Deportes to hear the commentators in Spanish. You could watch the game online from the SkyCam angle and an even higher angle that showed all 22 players on the field at one time. You could even go "old school" and listen to the game on the radio.

Our society wants to have input on just about everything, even how to watch a football game on TV. Luckily, in GCISD we also provide choice and opportunity for feedback. Many of our students have choices about the programs in which they are involved. Our teachers have been pioneers in the Student Voice initiative, uniquely empowering our students to have a voice and choices in their education. We have instituted Arena Scheduling for our high school students to choose their exact schedule, much like in college. And the GCISD Learning Institute provided our staff a voice and choice in professional development opportunities.

I am proud to work with such a dedicated staff who understand the demands of 21st Century Learning and who are meeting those challenges with innovative solutions. It's just another way we are Building Excellent Schools Together!

Happy 2018!
RR

November 17, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

It's hard to believe...but we made it to Thanksgiving Break. We have a lot to be thankful for in GCISD, but I want you to know how thankful I am for each and every one of you. And I'm not the only one who appreciates you. Please watch this special holiday message from our Trustees. It doesn't include a jeans pass, but it does include something that I think you will want to hear.

I hope you have the BEST Thanksgiving with family and friends.

Holiday Message

BEST,
RR

November 10, 2017

Veterans Day

You have heard me say time and time again that Convocation is one of my favorite days of the year. Another one of my favorite days is Veterans Day. It has special sentiment to me as a retired Army Reserve officer, but the thing I love the most is how our students, staff and community come together to honor those who served our country. Each campus has their own unique way of celebrating Veterans, but each and every celebration is special, heartfelt and full of gratitude. It's an opportunity for our students to see that we have Veterans in our community who are taking the lessons they learned during their military service and applying them to their daily lives. The characteristics that make a good servicemember - sacrifice, courage, commitment, patriotism, integrity and citizenship are also traits we are trying to instill in our students.

These six character traits listed above are the foundation for the Medal of Honor Character Development Program, and they serve as the guiding principles for this years' American Airlines Sky Ball. A fundraiser for the Airpower Foundation, this event features military dignitaries, celebrities, Veterans, volunteers and this year...seven of our students. These seven students were selected to design the official challenge coins for Sky Ball - a tremendous honor as there will be nearly 5,000 in attendance. To learn more about these students and their challenge coin designs, click here.

Just as I have come to you in previous weeks with a challenge to be a good local citizen, I am also going to echo the words from President John F. Kennedy: "as we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." Let's work to ensure that the respect, honor and appreciation demonstrated by our students today is not a one-day event, but rather a daily occurrence.

We have tremendous students, staff, parents and community members in GCISD, and we are all part of Building Excellent Schools Together.

BEST,
RR

October 27, 2017

Which side will you be sitting on at the game?

Tonight is the annual "Battle of the Red Rail". The football game between Grapevine and Colleyville Heritage is certainly a big event. Of course, there is the game played on the field, but there is also a host of students who participate in other ways. Bands, Drill Teams, Cheerleaders, Pep Boys and Spirit Rustlers will perform before a huge crowd of students, parent and community members on both sides of the field.

I'm sure many of you may be wondering why the game is called the "Battle of the Red Rail". The Red Rail trophy is symbolic of two things that connect people in our district. The railroad connects both the cities of Grapevine and Colleyville and the color red is found in both high school's official colors.

Outside of the two festivals hosted by the City of Grapevine, those in attendance tonight will make up the largest crowd assembled in our community for the entire year. It is a fun, positive way to support our students, our schools and our community.

I hope to see you tonight at the Battle of the Red Rail.

BEST,
RR

October 13, 2017

Student Voice

When our kids were very young, Cindy and I tried to provide opportunities for them to make choices. In my opinion, one of the best things we can teach our children is how to make decisions and that begins long before they are in high school. So the first choices were about clothes to wear. "Today, do you want to wear the white shoes or brown shoes?" "Do you want to wear the solid maroon shirt or the maroon shirt with white stripes?" Getting dressed seemed to go a little better when they had a voice or choice about what to wear.

In GCISD, we have built an entire initiative around student voice, asking students their opinions about how to make their learning better, or to choose assignments based upon how they best learn. I am so proud of our staff who have worked hard to develop what Student Voice looks like in GCISD. It is much bigger and more important than what color of shirt you want to wear. Student Voice is about our core business: learning. When students own their learning, they benefit by challenging themselves to reach new heights. Student Voice is powerful!

Thank you for having the courage to try something new. As I observe what is happening in our classrooms, Student Voice is just another way we continue to Build Excellent Schools Together!

Have a great weekend.

BEST,
RR

September 29, 2017

Annual Traditions

For some, Homecoming Week is one of the favorites of the year. With hall decorating contests, parades, coronations and the victory on the field of play, homecoming is always a memory-making event.

For me, the best part is the community and student involvement in our schools. Thousands of students and families take part in this annual tradition, which this year takes place during the same week for Grapevine and Colleyville Heritage High Schools. At first, I wasn't sure how two homecomings in one week was going to work, but thanks to the planning of student leaders and sponsors, it has been truly fun and successful.

The ideals of celebration, tradition and school and community pride are important and alive and well in GCISD! They bind us and connect us from one generation to the next and is one way we continue to Build Excellent Schools Together.

BEST,
RR

September 22, 2017

What Stories Would You Tell?

If someone asked you to talk about your experiences with GCISD, what would you say? What stories would you tell? What if someone asked our students about GCISD? What would our students say?

In my role, I get to talk to students, staff and parents every day. I often ask them to tell me how things are going and what they like about GCISD. I also get to speak to numerous groups in our community and often show a video to help tell our story. So, we recently asked a few questions of some of our students and staff and had the camera rolling. The result is what I would call "GCISD gold." I hope you will click on and view this video.

I am so proud to serve our students alongside tremendous professional educators. All of us have a GCISD story to tell, and this is an example of excellent storytelling. If you see the students or staff featured in this video, please tell them "thank you" for sharing our story so well.

BEST,
RR

September 15, 2017

Why GCISD is the BEST!

Every day, all across GCISD, I see examples of Building Excellent Schools together. This week, two such examples come to mind that are very special.

On Thursday, principals, PTA presidents and other administrative and parent representatives gathered for the annual GCISD PTA Principals' Breakfast. It is a time each year when representatives from two important aspects of education, parent leadership and campus leadership, gather to symbolically begin working together as we start the new school year.

Today, our Trustees gathered to walk through the numerous construction sites in GCISD. Whether it be updated Learning Commons, additional classrooms, maker spaces, Multi-Purpose Activity Centers or the Mustang-Panther Stadium, our Trustees received an in-person update to the progress we are making with some of the results of the 2016 Bond program.

Both of these examples show the community's commitment to an innovative and personalized education for our students. Our Trustees and parents represent an important part of our community. We cannot provide an excellent education for students by ourselves, we must have community support. These are just two examples of why GCISD is the BEST!

Have a great weekend.

BEST,
RR

September 8, 2017

Lean on Me!

Sometimes in our lives we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there's always tomorrow


Most people recognize the opening lyrics of "Lean on Me" by Bill Withers. Many have sung it, even if it is in their own personal version of Carpool Karaoke. Music is powerful. It tells a story. Throughout history, music has played a large part in almost every society.

This week, music from Texas took over YouTube. Through the tragedy of Hurricane Harvey, a spontaneous outbreak in song at a relief shelter has caught the attention of every major news outlet in the country. From the video, it is clear that this gift of song brought immediate relief to everyone in the shelter.

Texans across the state have come together to do their part to gather supplies, donate money, send personal thoughts and prayers, write notes, and make deliveries to the thousands of fellow Texans in need. I am very proud of our schools and community for doing their part to help others carry on.

After the video hit the news, (see attached CBS clip), the singers were invited to sing "Lean on Me" on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (see the second clip).

Every day, through good times and bad, we make a choice about how we live our lives and how we treat others. This is an example of using the gift of music. We will continue to provide help for those affected by Harvey, and each of us can use our gifts every day in GCISD for our students, for our families and for our communities. It takes all of us to Build Excellent Schools Together, all across Texas.

Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on

BEST,
RR

September 1, 2017

What is the Biggest Story of the Week?

What is the biggest story of the week? Is it the devastation from last weekend's storm? What about the second version of Harvey doing even more damage to the coast? Maybe it is the long lines of cars waiting to fill up with gasoline? Could it be the Cowboys and Texans cancelling their football game?

It may not be the biggest, but to me, the best story is about the response of Texans and others. There has been an outpouring of help and hope from all across our country. People helping people and each of our schools are doing their part to help. I have been so proud to see various campuses using the #GCISDhelps throughout the week to showcase the tremendous heart of this community to come together to support those in need.

Tonight, across the state of Texas, football teams, bands, cheerleaders, drill teams, fans (and even referees) will gather for the opening game of football season. Only this time, at almost every venue, relief efforts for those impacted by Hurricane Harvey will take place. Yes, football is important in Texas, but so is taking care of each other. So is teaching the lesson that the first step toward being a good global citizen is being a good local citizen.

It is a fact of life that difficult, terrible, & challenging things sometimes happen. It's how we respond to adversity with grit, resilience and determination that teach important lessons. I am proud of everyone in this district each and every week - but especially this last week. Thank you for your continued efforts as #GCISDhelps those in need.

BEST,
RR

August 25, 2017

Great First Week!

Whew! It has been a wonderful first week of school across GCISD. I know there have been bumps in the road, but overall, this week was tremendous. The fact that the week was so spectacular is not an accident. It is by design.

From the planning last spring to the hiring process and professional development in the summer, preparation for the beginning of a new school year was excellent. Many people gave of their time and talent for our students to have a great first week. From facilities to teachers, nutrition to coaches, technology to curriculum and instruction...it was a truly united effort.

Thank you for doing your part in Building Excellent Schools Together. Get some rest and we'll see you Monday for Week 2!

BEST,
RR

August 18, 2017

Back to School

It's here! On Monday morning we will begin fulfilling our purpose by beginning another school year. For some of you, this may be your first day of school in GCISD. For others this is nothing new, but that doesn't mean it's any less exciting. As I mentioned Tuesday, this will be my 50th first day of school and it remains one of my favorite days of the year. With all of the excitement of next week, I want you to remember a few things in those moments of nervous energy:

We are prepared.

We are motivated.

We are excellent at what we do.

This is going to be a terrific year for our students and families whom we serve. Each one of us will do our part to Build Excellent Schools Together!

See you Monday!

BEST,
RR

May 12, 2017

2017 Employees of the Year

They were humble. They were surprised. They were a little embarrassed by the attention.

This week, we recognized the GCISD Employees of the Year in many categories. Each time, a small group accompanied me to the employee's campus and interrupted their day to make a brief presentation and tell them how much we appreciate the work they do on behalf of students and families in GCISD.

After a brief pause and a few pictures, each Employee of the Year just wanted to get back to their job serving others. In addition to the support and applause from the students, what also struck me was the level of support from their peers. People cheered loudly, gave hugs, clapped and even shed a few tears of joy for our honorees.

Our newest Employees of the Year will have their portrait on the Wall of Honor at the PDEC so that all visitors may take a moment to learn a little bit about these recognized individuals. Additionally, our two Teachers of the Year, Will Boykin from Glenhope Elementary and Jon McCormick from Colleyville Heritage, will now advance to the Region 11 competition. The entire list is below. If you see one of these amazing GCISD employees, it might embarrass them a bit, but please thank them for a job well done. We all know that it is the people that make GCISD the BEST!

BEST,
RR

2016-2017 Employees of the Year

Secondary Teacher of the Year: Jon McCormick
Colleyville Heritage High School

Elementary Teacher of the Year: William Boykin
Glenhope Elementary School

Paraprofessional of the Year: Heather Hedges
Colleyville Heritage High School

Nurse of the Year: Kendra Consilio
Cannon Elementary School: A GCISD STEM School

Extended Care Service Employee of the Year: Jill Dashner
Early Childhood Development Center

Facilities Services Employee of the Year: Hilberto Urtiz
Administration Building

Nutrition Services Employee of the Year: Cathy Clayton
Heritage Elementary School

Transportation Services Employee of the Year: Cliff Kosec

May 5, 2017

Educator Appreciation

How many students and families could you positively impact in 972 years?

That may seem like a strange question, but 972 is the total number of years of service for the district's educators who are retiring at the end of the 2016-2017 school year. More impressive, 778 of these years were served right here in GCISD!

It is appropriate that during our observance of Teacher Appreciation Week, I attended two special events to celebrate the lasting impact of GCISD teachers. The first was at a local congregation where more than 70 students invited their favorite teacher to be their guest. The students provided their teacher a nice meal, and then students took the microphone and spoke from the heart about the positive impact their teacher had on their lives. It was incredibly moving and a tremendous honor for those in attendance.

We also held the annual GCISD Retiree's Dinner, sponsored by the GCISD Education Foundation. We honored the service of the amazing professional educators who have given of their time and talents to shape the future for children.

Those in education make a choice to impact the future. Clearly, it is our people that make the difference and are the key ingredient in Building Excellent Schools Together!

Have a great weekend.
RR

April 28, 2017

Students First

A few days ago I was walking the hallways of a school and was told about a group of students gathered in the library. They were working through the last details of a business they had created: making bracelets out of rubber bands. This is a skill I do not possess. I told the students that I wear a bracelet every day to honor my wife and her battle with cancer, and I quickly placed my order for a pink and black one. (Cindy is five years cancer free and doing well.) They charged me $2 and I was on my way.

I traveled a few more steps down the hallway and came upon a first grade PLC, so naturally I invited myself in to observe...I am sure they were thrilled. What I found was impressive. Teachers were meeting with an instructional coach and assistant principal going over student data for the year and planning next year's adjustments to their teaching. Remarkable! That's planning ahead!

While this was impressive, I know these types of activities happen in every school in GCISD. Students learn from real-world examples about their business, customer service, goal setting, monitoring results, quality control and working together as a team...just like our teachers do in PLCs.

I am so proud to work with professional educators who always put students first! That is how we Build Excellent Schools Together.

BEST,
RR

P.S. What about my bracelet? Three days later, it was delivered and I am wearing it today!

March 31, 2017

A Close-knit Family

The season after spring break seems to be moving at warp speed this year. I suppose it feels this way every year, and when you combine springtime storms with student testing, well...it is just icing on the cake.

For me, when things seem to be moving too fast, it is easy to get caught up in the stress of it all. When I feel this happening, I try to take a deep breath and spend some time thinking and reflecting. Lately, I have been thinking about all we have accomplished in GCISD in the short few years since LEAD 2021 was developed. Just as important, I also have been thinking about the incredibly positive culture we enjoy in GCISD, even in the face of limited resources

This week, I received a note from a colleague who is retiring after serving students and families for 39 years in public education. (What an incredible legacy!) The note said, "Having completed my years in GCISD, I have been a part of the most robust, innovative organization in my career. We have a team that acts different, acts like a close-knit family and embodies the principles of servant leadership. I believe GCISD is truly redefining education and I am proud to be a part of it!"

Wow! I was so honored by these words because they speak to the work of everyone in our organization, from the first year teacher to the folks with 40 years experience. So, in this crazy season, if you see a colleague who seems to be a bit stressed, I hope you will continue to be a close-knit family by doing something for them that might help them feel a bit better. It takes all of us taking care of each other to truly Build Excellent Schools Together!

BEST,
RR