Monthly Archives: November 2017

Blessed Beyond Measure, But Need Your Help

I have recently been notified that I have been nominated for National Life Group’s 2017-18 Life Changer of the Year Award by one of my Degan families.  I am honored and humbled by this nomination, but must acknowledge that is our students, staff and Degan Community who make this honor possible.
This award gives Degan another possible way to show the world what a great school we have of diverse populations that come together and value each other, collaborate, and solve problems in productive ways to grow and become better every day.  Additionally, there is a monetary award.  Personally, this award would assist me continuing my graduate studies.  Doctoral school is an expensive endeavor and having a high school senior that is about to begin his own college pursuit, any amount helps.  Additionally, depending on the level I might achieve, Degan could receive up to $5000 which would go a long way to purchase much-needed headphones for our students.
Judging is based not only on the nomination but also the comments on my Life Changer of the Year profile page:
 I hope you might take a moment to go to this page and leave a comment, maybe it is the impact you have received through this blog, our collegial relationship in education, or things you have heard or seen about the great things going on at Degan.  Your comments matter.  Taking just a moment can have a huge impact on our campus and community to spread the greatness of Title I Schools and public education.  I have recently been reading stories of how they have had nominees on the Today Show sharing their stories, and you know how I love to tell everyone Degan’s great story and advocating for Title 1 schools.  You can also request support for me and for Degan by sharing this link on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.  Please use the #LCOY and the judging committee can see those posts as well.
Thank you again for your consideration and support. Being principal of Degan is the best job ever and my dream come true.  I  wish you all a blessed Thanksgiving holiday.


Vanessa Stuart

What Really Makes a Great School

So, I talk a great deal about my amazing students, my incredible staff. All true. Today I am grateful for my unbelievable parents. Last night, I shared a situation at our PTA Meeting and 5th-grade performance, I shared a situation with them and asked for their support. Their commitment to our school and community is unbelievable. This might be a given if you were talking about a roomful of people from the same backgrounds. I have families from all walks of life, all different viewpoints. One thing is undeniable-they love our school. I had a situation where an outsider made some judgments based on paper scores and a school rating website. I asked them to be more vocal about Degan and they stepped up to the plate.

And just as a public service announcement, STAAR is only as good at telling you about a school as you compare apples to apples. It doesn’t tell you that my current fifth graders entered 1st grade with only half knowing their letters and sounds. (Because some of these kiddos just didn’t have the opportunity to have quality learning experience before coming to school and not because their parents didn’t love them with all their hearts. It’s all about access to resources!!). I can tell you that these same students were only about 61% passing STAAR on math as third graders. These same kids were over 70% passing in math last year and after our first district benchmark was over 90% and ABOVE the district average.

Before you judge a book by its STAAR scores you might want to dig a little deeper to see the untold story. Does the TEA accountability report tell you that? Does it tell you how my diverse students wrote their own performance? Does it tell you how they “circle” and as a group work through their issues with each other and show value? Does it tell you about how innovative they are and how they use technology to create products to show their thinking or that one of my students is creating a documentary on being an NEU school and how that has affected her? I mean really, if kids could pass the test when they walked in the door does that prove a school is good versus one who grew kids like I described?

Oh, don’t worry. We are taking care of STAAR too. Not with test prep or drill and kill. But rather by deep learning. My students will accomplish whatever they dream of because they are amazing, they have incredible teachers, and because of our parents….they are the best in the world and support their school. They aren’t afraid of diversity and are willing to do whatever it takes, too.