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Houston School District's Tony Cook Named Mississippi's Superintendent of the Year

12 months ago

By: Lisa Karmacharya, Director of MASA

“A dynamic, driven and dedicated leader that promotes excellence in our students, teachers, school leaders and community” are the words one administrator used to describe Mississippi’s 2018-2019 Superintendent of the Year. The Mississippi Association of School Administrators (MASA) is pleased to announce Mr. Tony Cook, Superintendent of the Houston School District, has been selected as the 2018-2019 Superintendent of the Year for the state of Mississippi.  


In the spring of 2015, Mr. Cook was given the opportunity to return to his hometown of Houston as the superintendent and has since led the school district in achieving its highest rating in history.  An incredibly passionate and child-centered leader, Mr. Cook is not one for excuses, but rather, one for solutions.  By engaging his local community for support, the Houston School District has been able to overcome some of the challenges that rural and high poverty districts face.  Mr. Cook believes in working alongside his staff and provides them with the support they need to ensure the success of children as evidenced by the ongoing improvement of student outcomes.

Mr. Tony Cook pictured with State Superintendent Dr. Carey M. Wright.

An educator for more than twenty years, Mr. Cook understands the challenges and opportunities in the public school arena and is dedicated to providing a quality learning experience for all children.  He continues to engage in his own professional learning, demonstrating his belief in continuous improvement by modeling and leading by example.  Mr. Cook is a servant leader who understands and respects the value of experience and collective wisdom.  He has been honored to serve on many state and local committees including the state accountability task force and the state superintendent’s advisory committee.  In 2009, Mr. Cook was selected as Administrator of the Year for the Pontotoc City School District.  Mr. Cook’s thoughts about his move back home and the successes they have seen is summed up in this quote “I'm so proud of my hometown and my home district. Once a Topper, always a Topper.”

Mr. Cook is married to the former Ms. Pam Kyle of Pontotoc. 

MASA’s Superintendent of the Year Program provides our school district leaders an opportunity to share their successes in the areas of leadership for learning, communication, professionalism and community involvement with the winner competing during The American Association of School Administrators, The School Superintendent’s Association Annual National Conference on Education.  This year’s competition will be held in Los Angeles where all state affiliate winners will be honored.  On behalf of the entire MASA membership and Board of Directors, we are incredibly proud to have him representing the great state of Mississippi and we wish him and the Houston School District continued success! 

Attendance Policy Regarding Graduation
Students with 12 or more unexcused absences will not be allowed to participate in graduation exercises. (See p. 12 of the student handbook.)

Student Release Policy

about 1 year ago

Student Release Policy

 

It is the policy of the Houston School District to educate all students who legally reside within the boundaries of the District. The District will not release students who are residents of the District to attend another public school district. For the students who have been released in the past, the District will grandfather those students who are are in grades 6 through 12 and who have been released for at least two consecutive years. All other students who have been released in the past will no longer be released. Once all grandfathered students have completed their education in the Houston School District, no further transfers will be allowed.

 

Out-of-District Students Policy

 

The Board adheres to provisions as set forth in state law 37-15-31 concerning non-resident students. Site administrators, in consultation with the superintendent, may refuse or delay the enrollment of out-of-district students.

 

Admission of out-of-district students will include an analysis of grade, behavior, and absenteeism.  The student must have and maintain a “C” and be making satisfactory progress toward promotion or graduation, in order to transfer into our district. The school principal and/or a deignee will review the merits of a student’s application prior to acceptance in our district as an out-of-district student. If admitted, grades, behavior, and attendance will be monitored. If a student becomes involved in a serious discipline issue or becomes a chronic discipline problem, they will the loose the privilege of attending Houston School District. Also, if a student has excessive absences, if their grade falls below a “C” average, or they are not making satisfactory progress toward promotion or graduation, they will loose their privilege of attending Houston School District. Out-of-district students who have been retained more than once in previous grades will not be accepted into Houston School District.

 

All decisions as to whether to accept out-of-district students will also be based on student-teacher ratios. This will be closely monitored, expecially at the elementary level.

Houston CTE News

6 days ago

Students of the 1st 9 Weeks

Houston CTE celebrates the achievement of our students.  Each 9 weeks we will select students who are high achievers both in academics and in attitude. Congratulations to these students for this honor.  They will be having lunch today with  Dr. Tony Horton.

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Happy Bosses Day!


Dr. Tony Horton is a great leader, and we are proud to have him as our boss.  Wish him happy Bosses Day if you see him around today!

Culinary Class Visits Seafood Market

The Houston CTE Culinary Arts II Class visited the Ocean Fresh Fish Seafood Market in Tupelo, MS to learn about how to safely handle and prepare fresh seafood. Chef Neville and Feather Burns of Woody's Restaurant help make this possible.  The students learned how to fillet a whole Red Fish and Speckled Trout. Instructor Joan Parks and her students enjoyed the gumbo that was prepared for them to sample. 



2019 College Day

Students were able to visit with local colleges and universities to discuss majors, financial aide, housing, meal plans, and much more during the 2019 College Day at Houston CTE.  The Houston and Houlka Seniors and the Houston Juniors were in attendance.

 

 

 

 

Safety Training

Jonathan Blankenship spoke to students about fire safety in the home and in the workplace.  He discussed the different types of fires and the different types of fire extinguishers. Houston CTE is grateful for community members willing to help teach our students the importance of safety.

Houston CTE Health Science Career Fair

Houston CTE offered parents and students the opportunity to meet with local people who are in the health care industry and with local college and university representatives who offer health care programs.  Houston CTE is offering a health care tract to help students gain admission into these highly competitive programs. If you were unable to attend, please contact Houston CTE and we will provide you with information offered at the fair. 

Damien Townsend talking to representatives from the Eye Clinic of Houston about careers in Health Science.

Representative from the Health Sciences Department at ICC talking with parents and students about opportunities in Health Science and scholarships offered at ICC.

High CPAS Scores

This year Houston CTE had students who worked hard and made high scores on the Mississippi CPAS test.  The students represented the school well in making some of the highest scores around.  Thanks to the students who make it happen, and the instructors, without whom this would not be possible.

Dr. Tony Horton

We recently honored our CTE Director, Dr. Tony Horton, with a reception for earning his Doctorate of Education from Mississippi State University.  Dr. Horton was greeted by faculty and staff of Houston School District, along with many people from the community.  Congratulations Dr. Horton for this great honor!

The Real World at Houston CTE

Students participated in "The Real Word" at Houston CTE.  Students were given a career and a salary, with a family situation, and they were expected to pay their "bills" for a month.  The "bills" included taxes, transportation, childcare, housing, entertainment, communication, and many others.  Blake Long, student, said "I've learned that I had better be careful with my money if I want to be able to pay my bills."

DECA Students Attend Conference

Business and Marketing students attended the State DECA conference in Jackson Mississippi on February 14-15, 2019. Students participated in Business and Marketing events along with Hospitality and Tourism events.

Houston CTE with HHS present a Career Cafe

During lunch students were given the opportunity to meet with local business and industry to talk about careers.

Franklin Corporation shared career expectations with students. Students were surprised at the technology involved in the furniture industry.

The Houston Fire Department answered questions about careers during the Career Cafe.

Electrical Skills/Employment Skills

The Construction/Electrician Class has been busy applying the skills they have been learning.  Students designed, measure, cut, wired, and displayed their work in class by making this class sign. They used electrical skills along with measuring, math, mechanization(sigh blinks), and construction. 

FFA Students EXCEL

The following students placed in FFA Federation Contests last Friday: 

 

Jessica Torres - 1st place Creed Speaking

 

Markerra Williams - 1st place Jr. Prepared Public Speaking

Santanna Hughes, Sarah Brassfield, Amber Ruth, Zalexus Actkinson, Kaliyah Prophette, Bre Coleman - 2nd place Parliamentary Procedure Team

Sammy King, Magers Carr, Mackenzie Criddle - 2nd place Welding Team

DECA Competitors Win Big

The Houston CTE DECA Chapter (Business and Marketing Class) competed at the district competition at ICC Belden Campus, with many students placing in their areas.

1st place in Travel and Tourism: Kaitlyn Murphree and Zalexus Actkinson

3rd Place in Entrepreneurship: Paige Kilgore

3rd Place in Business Law and Ethics: Nathan Shoemaker and Dean Blansett

3rd Place in Quick Serve Restaurant Management: Janeia White

3rd Place in Hospitality Services: Aniston Criddle and Lindzee Jo Mixon

5th Place in Hotel and Lodging Management: Haylee Walters

5th Place in Apparel and Accessories Marketing: Alyssa White

5th Place in Retail Merchandising: Juilianna Gonzales

5th Place in Sports and Entertainment Marketing: Julius Bell and Gage Harrington

Culinary Students Hard at Work

Culinary students enjoyed the season with designing and building Gingerbread houses.

Culinary Students use math skills to design Gingerbread Houses. Student learned how to measure angles and use some of their Algebra skills. They used graph paper because they learned it made building the design easier.

When their design is finished they created the Gingerbread Houses. This used the skills they have learned so far in Culinary Class. They were able to bake the "walls" and melted candy to make stained glass windows.

Students displayed their creations at Floyd Dyer Nursing home and sang carols. From start to finish the students were learning skills that they would use in the Culinary Industry.

Environmental Science Class hosts Speaker

Mrs. Debby Carnathan of the Chickasaw County NRCS spoke to the Environmental Science l class of the AEST Program about you the importance of protecting our soil and how soil texture affects land usage.

FAFSA Completion Day at HCTE

Mrs. Ivy and Mrs. Moore hosted a FAFSA Completion Day for seniors with representatives from ICC Financial Aide Marty Cooper and Terry Bland on hand to help parents and students with any questions they had. The event lasted from 8 am to 5 pm.  If you were unable to attend, please feel free to contact Mrs. Ivy or Mrs. Moore at Houston CTE to schedule an appointment.  The FAFSA is completed on-line and is the way students can receive the federal pell grant. A grant is money that will not require repayment. Most who attended received the full pell grant, which is over $6,000.00 per year.

Veterinary Student Visits Animal Science Classes

Alex Moore, third year student at MSU College of Veterinary Medicine, came to speak to Mrs. Cook's class about what it takes to get into vet school and what to expect when you are a vet student. She talked about the different fields of vet science, what is required of each, and how to specialize in vet medicine. Moore also encouraged students to form good study habits in high school so that they can be successful in college. She also talked about the struggles of time management, and the dedication it takes to become a veterinarian.  

Houston CTE Hosts College Fair

Houston CTE hosted it's yearly College Fair on September 11, 2018. Fifteen colleges from all across the state and one from Alabama along with representatives from military merged together at CTE to offer students and opportunity to ask questions about options for when they graduate from Houston and Houlka High Schools. Students were able to visit with representatives and ask questions about things such as financial aide, housing, scholarships, etc.  Mrs. Ivy stated, "We like to give students this opportunity to give them a better understanding of what they will face post-high school."

Health Science Students help screen sight and hearing at HLES

Mrs. Earnest's class performed hearing and sight tests at HLES.  Health Science students were first trained in how to perform the tasks, and then were responsible for screening students. The true "hands-on" learning will benefit these students as they pursue a career in the health care industry.

CTE Classes visit Vance Farms

Several classes from CTE recently took a field trip to Vance Farms in Thorn, MS. Students saw first hand the means of running a business. Harvesting both sweet potatoes and beans for the local market, as well as far north as Canada, Vance Farms must follow the procedures, rules, and regulations of OSHA Certification, GAP, and FDA to name a few. Students also received information on the nutritional values of a sweet potato, and especially its significance in the push for a healthier society. Last, but not least, farm and workplace safety was discussed. All in all, the day was a success and allowed students to participate in hands-on learning experiences that will impact learning for a lifetime!

Solar Car Receives Donation


Representatives from Natchez Trace Electric Power Association came by and presented a donation from TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) to Mr. Jay Alford that will be used to help fund the trip to compete in the Dell Winston Solar Car Challenge this summer.

Houston CTE Honored at ICC

Houston CTE students were honored at ICC for their high scores on the CPAS state test. These students received recognition as well as opportunities for scholarships. Congratulations students and instructors for a job well done!

 Teachers encourage the students to be CPAS Superheros.

Students join in on the fun.  Reviewing for CPAS, and ready to change the world.

Teachers are getting into the spirit of testing.

Houston CTE Instructors and Staff are trying to inspire students to succeed on the CPAS by having a CPAS spirit week. The idea is to give the kids a smile during crunch time right before the tests, and help them remember to do their best.

A Taste of "The Real World"

 

“The Real World” came to HCTE on February 13, 2018.  Angie Abrams and Erika Cooksey from Mississippi State University Extension Service came Thursday to introduce students to “real world” money issues.  During the event students learned to budget money on expenses such as  Housing, Transportation, Entertainment, Child Care, and even unexpected expenses. It was amazing how students learned the expense of taxes, and how they wanted to bypass the tax station.

FFA Students Visit the Capitol


Senator Russell Jolly and Representative Preston Sullivan visited with Future Farmers of America from Houston, at the Capitol on Wednesday, February 21, 2018, following their legislative breakfast.

Houlka Students Tour HCTE

Students from Houlka were on campus Tuesday to learn what Houston CTE has to offer. They toured our programs to determine if they would like to attend HCTE next fall. Shown here is Demetria Shephard telling the students about our Engineering and Robotics Program. They also toured Construction (Electricity), Health Science, and Business.

HOSA Students Compete in Orlando, FL

HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) students from Houston CTE placed 1st at State HOSA Competition. They went to Orlando, FL this summer to compete in the International HOSA Competition. Their skit included a mosquito, a patient, her friend, a nurse, and a doctor who prompted the discussion for the CDC hazard Zika Virus.  The students wrote and performed this at the state and national level.  Students from left to right: Stacy Gillispe, Lexie Hooks ,Wendy Hillhouse, Caroline Blakenship, and Sharia Moore. These students will receive scholarships as a result of their success.


Students had the opportunity to talk to representatives from several local Colleges and Universities on September 8, at Houston CTE. This annual event is for both Juniors and Seniors, and is a great opportunity for students to ask questions about financial aid, housing, and scholarships.

 

College Day at Houston CTE

Students from both Houston and Houlka attended the event on Friday.   We are committed to connecting greater numbers of students to college success and the opportunity it provides. The College Day connects the              


students with the people who can help make their transition to college happen smoothly.  

Coming up: On October, 19, 2017 the Houston CTE will be having a Financial Aid/Scholarship Workshop for students and parents. Check back here for more details!

Farm Safety Day at Houston CTE

Mr. John Hubbard, representative of Farm Bureau Insurance, came to speak to students about farm safety.  His presentation included electrical safety, 4-wheeler safety, shop safety, and farm equipment safety. His goal is to present the importance of being safe in the classroom, lab, as well as at home. This goes along well with the safety curriculum in each CTE class. Safety is our top concern!

Houston CTE Women in Science and Technology Conference


                 

The Houston Career and Technical Education Center sponsored a Women in Science Conference on February 24, 2017. The conference was for the 9th grade female students to encourage them to explore non-traditional fields for a career. Several speakers presented in their field.  Keri Chisolm, currently a Systems Administrator for the Computer Science and Engineering Department at Mississippi State University; Officer Aliesha Jennings, police woman for Houston Police Department; Dr. Lakeisha Williams, Biomedical Engineer; and Dr. Brittney Moore-Henderson, MSU college of Veterinary Medicine. 

And our closing speaker was Dr. Sandra Harpole, professor of Physics and an award-winning educator. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University and has recently retired as director for the Center for Science, Mathematics, and Technology at Mississippi State University.

 

ffa members visit capitol

         

Senator Russell Jolly, (right), and Representative Preston Sullivan, (left), visited with FFA members from Houston at the Capitol on Wednesday, February 22, 2017. Standing left to right are Courtney Ruth, Mackenzie Huffman, Michael Ann Chandler, Amber Ruth and (in front), advisor Shelby Aulds.


Houston Solar Race Team 

Promotes Movie Premier

         Greg MacGillivray, owner of MacGillivray Freeman Films; Houston High School seniors Hunter Moore and Andrew Mitchell; and Chris Selwood, event director for the Australia Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, attend the early screening of "Dream Big: Engineering Our World."

           The Houston Solar Race Team (HSRT) at Houston Career and Technology Education Center (CTE) has made its mark nationally and worldwide. After winning numerous racing titles and being featured on Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s Mississippi Roads, the Houston Solar Race Team now has made it to the big screen.

            MacGillivray Freeman Films’ Dream Big: Engineering Our World opens globally in theatres Feb. 17, 2017. Members of the team are attending movie premiers in four different states to publicize this film that was created in partnership with the American Society of Civil Engineers to promote engineering.

The HSRT has a part in the movie, as solar car races are featured in the film. In fact, the Houston Solar Car will be on display at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. this week for the screening.

Keith Reese, HSRT manager, along with students, Hunter Moore and Andrew Mitchell, and team members B.B. Turman, Donna Turman and Anita Ellison were in New York City for the early screening on Feb. 14. They are traveling to Washington D.C. for the global opening at the Smithsonian IMAX theatre Feb. 17.

Other team members and parents will travel to Chattanooga, Tenn., Birmingham, Ala., and Huntsville, Ala., Friday, Feb. 17, to promote this film. 

CTE Offers Financial Aid


Parents, do you have a student applying to college? If so, the Houston Career and Technology Education Center (CTE) can help you apply for financial aid.  

CTE recently hosted a scholarship/grant workshop. Parents, students and grandparents received information on how to complete the FAFSA in order to receive a Pell Grant (income based) as well as information on how to apply for scholarships (merit based) at the event. 

CTE staff is available to help anyone who was unable to attend the workshop. Call (662) 456-3748 to set up an appointment.


HSD Floats Place in Christmas Parade 

First Place

Houston CTE Float


Third Place

Houston Lower Elementary Float

Houston CTE Hosts College Day 

Houston Career and Technology Education Center (CTE) has a goal to create a college-going culture among its students. As an endeavor to reach this goal, Houston CTE hosts a “College Day” each year to inspire and support students in their pursuit of post-secondary education. Colleges and universities from all over Mississippi were represented at this recent event October 7, at Houston CTE. 

Recruiters talked to juniors and seniors about preparing for college, including housing, financial aid, scholarships, and college majors. Students were excited to learn about the different opportunities that await them after high school.

Houston CTE Students Participate in National FFA Marketing Plan Career Development Event


INDIANAPOLIS – Members of the Houston FFA Chapter were one of 31 teams participating in the National FFA Marketing Plan Career Development Event (CDE). The event was held in conjunction with the 89th National FFA 

Convention & Expo in Indianapolis. Mackenzie Huffman, Anna Rucker, and Courtney Ruth competed with 90 other members from across the country. The team, led by advisor Karen Cook, was awarded a Bronze emblem.

Members of the top four national winning teams received cash awards to recognize their success in the event. The cash awards and the marketing plan event are sponsored by Bunge North America. Bunge North America takes great pride is sponsoring the Marketing Plan CDE. America's youth are the lifeblood of agriculture's future and we want to ensure it is in good hands.

The National FFA Marketing Plan CDE helps students practice and sharpen skills in marketing through the development and presentation of a marketing plan. The plan may focus on the introduction of a new agricultural product, supply or service or on improving marketing of an existing product, supply, or service. Each team competed against teams in their state for the privilege of participating in the national event.

The event, held at the Embassy Suites in Indianapolis, is one of many educational activities at the National FFA Convention & Expo in which FFA members practice the lessons taught in agriculture classes.

The National FFA Organization is a national youth organization of 649,355 student members as part of 7,859 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. The National FFA Organization operates under a federal charter granted by the 81st United States Congress and it is an integral part of public instruction in agriculture. The U.S. Department of Education provides leadership and helps set direction for FFA as a service to state and local agricultural education programs. For more, visit the National FFA Organization online at FFA.org and on Facebook, Twitter and the official National FFA Organization blog.

 The National FFA Foundation builds partnerships with industry, education, government, other foundations and individuals to secure financial resources that recognize FFA member achievements, develop student leaders and support the future of agricultural education. Governed by a 19-member board of trustees comprised of educators, business leaders, individual donors and FFA alumni, the foundation is a separately-registered nonprofit organization. About 82 percent of every dollar received by the foundation supports FFA members and agricultural education opportunities. For more, visit FFA.org/Give.

Pictured (l to r) Mackenzie Huffman, Anna Claire Rucker, Courtney Ruth, and Jason Corman, Bunge-Canada representative

Bullying Procedures for Processing a Complaint

about 1 year ago

By Shane Presley

Procedures for Processing a Complaint  

Any student, school employee or volunteer who feels he/she has been a victim of bullying or harassing behavior, or has witnessed or who has reliable information that a student, school employee or volunteer has been subject to bullying or harassing behavior shall report such conduct to a teacher, principal, counselor or other school official.  The report shall be made promptly but no later than five (5) calendar days after the alleged act or acts occurred.  The school official shall complete a “Bullying/Harassing Behavior” complaint form which shall include the name of the reporting person, the specific nature and date of the misconduct, the names of the victim of the misconduct, the names of any witnesses and any other information that would assist in the investigation of the complaint.  The report shall be given promptly to the principal or superintendent who shall institute an immediate investigation.  Complaints against the principal shall be made to the superintendent and complaints against the superintendent shall be made to the Board chairman.    

The complaint shall be investigated promptly.  Parents will be notified of the nature of any complaint involving their student.  The District official will arrange such meetings as may be necessary with all concerned parties within five (5) working days after initial receipt of the complaint by the District.  The parties will have an opportunity to submit evidence and a list of witnesses.  All findings related to the complaint will be reduced to writing.  The District official conducting the investigation shall notify the victim and parents as appropriate when the investigation is completed and a decision regarding disciplinary action, as warranted, is determined.   

 If the victim is not satisfied with the decision of the District official, he/she may submit a written appeal to the superintendent.  Such appeal shall be filed within ten (10) working days after receipt of the results of the initial decision.  The superintendent will arrange such meetings with the victim and other affected parties as deemed necessary to discuss the appeal.  The superintendent shall provide a written decision to the victim’s appeal within ten (10) working days.   If the victim is not satisfied with the decision of the superintendent, a written appeal may be filed with the Board.  Such appeal shall be filed within ten (10) working days after receipt of the decision of the superintendent.  The Board shall, within twenty (20) working days, allow the victim and parents as appropriate to appear before the Board to present reasons for dissatisfaction with the decision of the superintendent.  The Board shall provide a written decision within ten (10) working days following the victim’s appearance before the Board.

Houston School District’s Grad Rate Soars More Than 20 Points in Two Years
Houston, MS: Official graduation rates for Mississippi school districts were released this week, and the Houston School District increased its graduation rate to 89.1%.

In 2015-2016, the graduation rate of HSD was 67.6%. The following year, the rate was 82.9%, just barely under the state average of 83%. The state graduation average for 2017-2018 is 84%.

“This most recent graduation rate is also a 30 point jump from 2010, during which the district’s graduation rate was 58.2%,” said Tony Cook, HSD superintendent.

Increasing the graduation rate has been a major goal of HSD since Cook became superintendent.

“Higher graduation rates means that more students have a better opportunity for success in life after high school, whether they go to college or straight into the workforce.” said Cook.

Cook is also quick to point out that improving the graduation rate is not just a high school issue, but rather a joint effort elementary through high school.

“We track year-to-year progression and put an emphasis on graduation beginning in pre-K and continuing through 12th grade,” said Cook. “We have also hired a graduation coach to make sure at-risk students at the middle and high school levels are on track for graduation.”

School attendance is also heavily monitored at each building and interventions are put into place for those with chronic absences. Academic interventions are also implemented to increase student growth.

The Houston School District is also providing special opportunities for students who are behind, as well as students who are advanced.

“Early graduation is offered to students two years behind grade level to ensure they complete school,” said Cook. “We also provide opportunities for our advanced students through the Duke Tip program, PSAT and increased numbers in our accelerated courses.”

The Houston School District is also promoting graduation through college walls, college field trips, graduation banners, guest speakers, college scavenger hunts, college bulletin boards, career expos, career days and college days.
Football Game - Schedule Change
Friday night's football game has been moved to tomorrow (Thursday, Oct. 10) due to weather. This schedule change will also include Band Night, which will start at 6:45 p.m.