Texas Graduation


When they enter high school next school year, all current 8th graders in Texas will be under a new graduation plan called The Foundation Plan.  In addition, each student will have to choose an Endorsement (students may be able to get multiple endorsements) from the following areas:

  1. Business & Industry
  2. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
  3. Arts & Humanities
  4. Multidisciplinary
  5. Public Services

All students will take the required courses from The Foundation Plan along with certain courses that will satisfy the requirements for the Endorsements and they will graduate with at least 26 credits.  Students, along with their parents/guardians, are required to meet with the high school counselors and determine in writing which endorsement they want to get.  It is also important to note that this choice of endorsements is not set in stone and can be changed by the students and parents.

We have been working with the Texas Education Agency, various Education Service Centers, and other school districts to put together a plan for what we will be able to offer at Ore City High School.   We are now ready to present to the parents and to the students so they can make informed decisions about their future.   We will set a date in the very near future to have a series of meetings with parents and students to discuss this new graduation plan and each endorsement that we will be offering at Ore City High School.

The following information is what I will be using when we have our meetings. Click on this link –>  Ore City High School Foundation Plan with Endorsements

I am including it in this post so you will be able to look it over and get a preview of the new information for The Foundation Plan and each Endorsement for Ore City High School.  IT IS IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND THAT THIS IS INFORMATION IS SPECIFIC TO ORE CITY HIGH SCHOOL.  Each school has to determine what it will be able to offer, and not all schools will offer the same endorsements and the same pathways to get the endorsement.

I am fully aware that this will be somewhat confusing and you will have many questions, especially for those of you who have students in high school now or had students already go through our high school.   Please do not hesitate to ask any questions.  My goal is to make this as easy of a transition as possible for both the students and the parents.

Although this is a completely new graduation plan, I really believe that it is good for all students.  As you know, all students are different and have different interests and this gives them choices and flexibility.  I am excited about the opportunities this new graduation plan offers.


This post is taken from Jon Gordon’s weekly newsletter, Positive Strategies to Fuel Your Life and Career.


Jon Gordon's Weekly Newsletter


While watching the Oscars I noticed that almost every award winner said they couldn’t have done it without their team, family, and the support of others. The fact is no one achieves success alone. We all need a great team to accomplish great things. We are at our best when we are surrounded by those who want the best for us and when we are bringing out the best in others. In this spirit I want to share 9 ways to be a great team member.

1. Set the Example - Instead of worrying about the lack of performance, productivity and commitment of others you simply decide to set the example and show your team members what hard work, passion and commitment looks like. Focus on being your best every day. When you do this you’ll raise the standards and performance of everyone around you.

2. Use Your Strengths to Help the Team - The most powerful way you can contribute to your team is to use your gifts and talents to contribute to the team’s vision and goals. Without your effort, focus, talent and growth the team won’t accomplish its mission. This means you have an obligation to improve so you can improve your team. You are meant to develop your strengths to make a stronger team. Be selfish by developing you and unselfish by making sure your strengths serve the team.

3. Share Positive Contagious Energy - Research shows emotions are contagious and each day you are infecting your team with either positive energy or negative energy. You can be a germ or a big dose a Vitamin C. When you share positive energy you infectiously enhance the mood, morale and performance of your team. Remember, negativity is toxic. Energy Vampires sabotage teams and complaining is like vomiting. Afterwards you feel better but everyone around you feels sick.

4. Know and Live the Magic Ratio - High performing teams have more positive interactions than negative interactions. 3:1 is the ratio to remember. Teams that experience interactions at a ratio equal or greater than 3:1 are more productive and higher performing than those with a ratio of less than 3:1. Teams that have a ratio of 2:1, 1:1 or more negative interactions than positive interactions become stagnant and unproductive. This means you can be a great team member by being a 3 to 1’er. Create more positive interactions. Praise more. Encourage more. Appreciate more. Smile more. High-five more. Recognize more. Energize more. Read more about this atwww.FeedthePositiveDog.com

5. Put the Team First - Great team players always put the team first. They work hard for the team. They develop themselves for the team. They serve the team. Their motto iswhatever it takes to make the team better. They don’t take credit. They give credit to the team. To be a great team member your ego must be subservient to the mission and purpose of the team. It’s a challenge to keep our ego in check. It’s something most of us struggle with because we have our own goals and desires. But if we monitor our ego and put the team first we’ll make the team better and our servant approach will make us better.

6. Build Relationships - Relationships are the foundation upon which winning teams are built and great team members take the time to connect, communicate and care to build strong bonds and relationships with all their team members. You can be the smartest person in the room but if you don’t connect with others you will fail as a team member.(Tweet This) It’s important to take the time to get to know your team members. Listen to them. Eat with them. Learn about them. Know what inspires them and show them you care about them.

7. Trust and Be Trusted - You can’t have a strong team without strong relationships. And you can’t have strong relationships without trust. Great team members trust their teammates and most of all their team members trust them. Trust is earned through integrity, consistency, honesty, transparency, vulnerability and dependability. If you can’t be trusted you can’t be a great team member. Trust is everything.

8. Hold Them Accountable - Sometimes our team members fall short of the team’s expectations. Sometimes they make mistakes. Sometimes they need a little tough love. Great team members hold each other accountable. They push, challenge and stretch each other to be their best. Don’t be afraid to hold your team members accountable. But remember to be effective you must built trust and a relationship with your team members. If they know you care about them, they will allow you to challenge them and hold them accountable. Tough love works when love comes first. Love tough.

9. Be Humble - Great team members are humble. They are willing to learn, improve and get better. They are open to their team member’s feedback and suggestions and don’t let their ego get in the way of their growth or the team’s growth. I learned the power of being humble in my marriage. My wife had some criticism for me one day and instead of being defensive and prideful, I simply said, “Make me better. I’m open. Tell me how I can improve.” Saying this diffused the tension and the conversation was a game changer. If we’re not humble we won’t allow ourselves to be held accountable. We won’t grow. We won’t build strong relationships and we won’t put the team first. There’s tremendous power in humility that makes us and our team better.

Graduation Options

When House Bill 5 was being debated in the Texas Legislature, at first the main focus was the reduction of required number of STAAR End-of-Course exams from 15 to 5.   Students are now required to take EOCs in US History, Biology, Algebra 1, English 1, and English 2.

Now the main focus is on the new graduation requirements, which will affect all current 8th graders as the begin high school next year.

What we have now is called The Foundation Plan.   In addition, each student will have the option of graduating with an endorsement (possibly more than one).  The five endorsement areas are …

  1. STEM
  2. Arts and Humanities
  3. Business and Industry
  4. Public Service
  5. Multidisciplinary

Foundation Plan with Endorsements

We have had numerous meetings with administrators in our school district as well as with administrators for other school districts.  HB5 is very detailed and somewhat confusing because of all the options it allows.   However, I really believe that this is a great law that will benefit our students.  It gives choices and allows for differences in student’s interests.

We have been working hard to understand and plan for what we will be able to offer at Ore City High School.   We are now in the final stages of getting it all together in a package that we can present to the parents and to the students so they can make informed decisions about their future.   We are working on specifics as to exactly what courses we will be able to offer at OCHS and where exactly those courses fit into each endorsement area.

Once everything is completed, I will post again.



The other night, I had a conversation with a superintendent and principal from another school district about all of their administrators and many of their teachers being on twitter.  We talked about being on twitter and how they have all grown as professionals.  We talked about the advantages of all of them being connected.  We talked about the process of getting others to be connected through twitter and how some people are hesitant while others are not.

This is the text of an email I sent to all the other administrators in my district.

I have talked about this before in our Admin. Meetings, but I want to take one more opportunity to get out the message about the benefits of our administrators being on Twitter.

It is a great place for each of us to find information that we can use in our respective schools and departments.  It is also a great place of each of us to share information for others to benefit from what we are doing and what we know.   Twitter is a great place to tell everybody about all the good things that are happening at our schools and district.




I think the most important part of this all, is that by being on Twitter, we would grow as professionals.  By growing, we are able to help our students, teachers, schools, and the world.

We would be leading by example.  Our teachers (and maybe some of us), I think, don’t value professional development in its current state because it is, in most cases, a one-size-fits-all approach.  Twitter can change this if we let it.  If we model this approach to professional development, then our teachers will see that we care about learning and then they may start caring a little more about learning.  Then our students will benefit and they may also start caring a little more about learning.

If this happens, our schools and our district will only get better.

If you are interested, I’ll help you however I can.  If not, please let me know and I won’t bother you anymore about this.

Social media buttons

How many of you are actively and regularly using twitter and /or some other form of social media for professional development and growth?  If not, I would like to highly encourage you to use any or all of these tools for your personal professional development.

Personal professional development is one area that all of us can improve on. We need to be a positive example for everybody in the district, an example not only for the other professionals but also for the students. When you model learning the students can begin to value learning more. This will only help to make our schools better. If we can model this type of professional growth to the teachers and students at the other campuses then when these students get to high school, the transition to our types of learning expectations will be easier and will make it better for all.


As we prepare to transition in Texas to the new graduation plans with endorsements, this is a perfect time for all of us to reflect on our own practices, our own teaching styles, our classes we’ve always taught, our willingness to accept new classes to teach and make a conscious decision to embrace new challenges and to take on more responsibility in our own professional growth.   All the while understanding that the educational system we’ve all grown so accustomed to is changing, our students are changing, and that we must begin to change our views as well (even though we are all reluctant to do so).

Welcome to 2014

Posted: January 5, 2014 in Uncategorized


Originally posted on my school blog — The OCHS Principal Blog

Originally posted on OCHS Principal Blog:


I hope everyone has had a wonderful Christmas Break and a Happy New Year.  Two weeks off was nice!!

On Monday, January 7, 2014, we return to school from this much-needed break and before long, we will be calling names out for graduation.  This part of the school year goes fast!!

We still have three weeks left in the first semester — January 24th is the last day of the third six weeks and the last day of the first semester.  I still haven’t decided exactly how we will do the first semester exams during the week of January 20 – 24.  As you know, we are trying to not overuse testing, and to be very honest, I am just not sure how I really feel about semester exams now anyway.  I will get a team of teachers together and we will discuss the pros and cons and go from…

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William Polard Quote

I read a blog post written by Scott Rocco (Our Future Will Not Look Like Our Present) where he described education being in a transition going in many different directions.  There are many reasons that our education system is going in different directions, but to me, the main reason is because our students are demanding it.  They are demanding it because they are different.  Times are different.  The world is different.

Is our educational system different?  Has it evolved with the times?   May a little.  Probably not totally.  For many, the answer is no.

Students still must learn to read, write, and do math.  These are basic skills that are the foundation to everything we do in life.  Students must also learn to think for themselves.  They must be allowed to make mistakes as well as learn from those mistakes.

I would argue that many teachers, administrators, and many parents would agree with these previous statements.  I would also suggest that many of the same teachers, administrators, and parents think that they got a decent education and that if it was good enough for them, it ought to be good enough for students today.

We can’t be that arrogant!

In his blog, Scott Rocco states, “Just because how we taught yesterday worked doesn’t mean that we can teach that way for tomorrow’s world.”  I would also add that just because how we learned it worked for us, that doesn’t mean that it will always work for students today or in the future. (Read the chapter, answer the questions at the end, and have a test on Friday!!).

Where do we start?

I don’t know if there is a magic age or grade level, but I do know that it can’t wait until high school.  We have to have teachers and administrators who don’t want to keep doing the same thing they have always done (because it’s easy to be comfortable).  And we must have parents that understand that the way they did things in school (although it may have worked for them) is not the way that students today should have to do things.  It’s OK for school to be different.  It should be because the world is different.

Albert Einstein once said about INSANITY,


We can’t continue to do the same things over and over and expect our students to do the same things over and over and expect them to be prepared for our world today or our world tomorrow.

So what do we do to keep from going insane?

There’s not one correct answer, but there is a wrong answer !