HISD Gives Thanks to Community Partners for Helping Children
Four new partners inducted into district’s Partnership Hall of Fame
Four companies that have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help Houston’s children succeed were honored during a special ceremony on November 20, as HISD began celebrating Thanksgiving by thanking its community leaders.
Companies committed to helping Houston students succeed were recognized at the HISD Partners Hall of Fame breakfast at the Intercontinental Hotel, and four of the district’s partners were specially commended for their outstanding support of education.
“Education is a big job, and HISD cannot do it alone,” noted Director of Community Partnerships Lucy Bremond. “Our partners help us to increase student achievement by providing their resources and their expertise. Our partners help our students realize the endless possibilities in their lives by being there for them and showing that they care—and that is why we are here today.”
As the largest school district in Texas and the largest employer in Houston, HISD depends on strong partnerships with local businesses to provide extra resources to help children, more than 80 percent of whom live at or near the poverty line.
HISD Chief Financial Officer Melinda Garrett, Board of Education President Manuel Rodríguez, and Executive General Manager of Strategic Partnerships Gasper Mir were present to honor corporate and community partners for their generous contributions to schools and students by inducting them into the HISD Partners Hall of Fame. Representatives from more than 350 corporate and community organizations along with 250 school representatives attended the event, which was emceed by Yolanda Green, the community relations director and host of Outlook Houston for KHCW-TV, Channel 39.
“HISD schools and students have benefited greatly from the generosity of services, resources, and volunteers of partners, both community and business,” Mir said. “We are honored to announce HISD’s 2007 Hall of Fame partners for their extraordinary commitment to education.”
The four organizations honored this year were: Devon Energy, Fund for Teachers, Memorial Hermann, and Schlumberger. Representatives from each organization were on hand to accept etched vases in recognition of their contributions, and each was given the opportunity to make remarks. Descriptions of their partnerships and comments from each representative are below.
Devon Energy, one of the world’s leading independent oil and natural gas producers, has shown its exceptional dedication to helping HISD students excel in the classroom. Devon employees have spent more than 2,300 hours volunteering to mentor students, plant trees for schools, provide school supplies for children in need, and much more. Devon has also contributed more than $500,000 to help fund college scholarships and supplemental educational programs at schools.
“We are a proud partner of HISD,” said Devon Energy Vice President of the Gulf Division and General Manager Tony Vaughn. “I think you saw a couple of examples of some of the close relationships we have in the community. I’d like to recognize and thank some of the employees and the volunteers associated with Communities in Schools and Junior Achievement. Those are a couple of the organizations that we spend a lot of time with, and it couldn’t be more rewarding-hopefully for the kids, but especially for our employees.”
The Memorial Hermann partnership began in 1996 with the creation of the Memorial Hermann Health Centers for Schools program. The Health Centers for Schools come to the aid of 12,000 students attending 16 schools in the Luther Burbank, James Hogg, and Jane Long Middle School feeder patterns by providing access to health care at no cost to them or their families. This is frequently the only source of regular health care for children without medical-insurance coverage. Students access the clinics to get immunizations to attend schools, while older students get their general physicals for sports and other activities. An on-site dental van is on location for 30 days four times a year. A dentist and support staff provide screenings, cleanings, fillings, sealants, simple extractions, and education.
“Organizations typically do things in partnerships because they can do things better together than apart, and that’s certainly how Memorial Hermann feels about our partnership with HISD,” said Memorial Hermann Healthcare System Vice President of Clinical Effectiveness and Management Carol Paret. “Providing health care to students gives (educators) the foundation that they can take and (use to) teach. Can you imagine trying to learn your times tables with an earache? Or missing multiple days of school because your asthma is not under control? These are the fundamentals that we can give our kids, but we still have a lot of work to do. There are more than 100,000 kids in Houston/Harris County who still don’t have access to health care, so our partnerships need to expand—but you know what? Working together, we can get there.”
Fund for Teachers has been a partner with HISD since 2002. It was established in 1998 by Raymond Plank, founder and chairman of Apache Corporation. Each year, the fund gives grants of up to $5,000 to educators for summer training and enrichment activities. The grants are intended to rejuvenate teachers’ passions for learning and teaching through sabbaticals, so that they return to the classroom with newly gained knowledge and enthusiasm to share with students. Some teachers have traveled to destinations across the globe, while others have pursued projects closer to home.
Fund for Teachers works with the HISD Foundation to recognize HISD teachers, and in five years the organization has awarded $780,500 in grants to 217 HISD teachers for professional development.
“On behalf of the board of directors of Fund for Teachers and all of our supporters here and around the nation, thank you,” said Fund for Teachers Executive Director Karen Kovach-Webb. “We give grants to teachers in cities around the country, and I work in school districts and in schools in all of those cities, and I have to say it is good to be back in Houston. We appreciate the recognition.”
Oilfield services provider Schlumberger’s partnership with HISD was forged more than 10 years ago. Many of Schlumberger’s partnership activities have included schools in the Stephen F. Austin, Jesse Jones, Barbara Jordan Sharpstown, Ross Sterling, Phillis Wheatley, and Jack Yates High feeder patterns. Backpacks filled with school supplies were given to students at Louisa May Alcott, Lucian Lockhart, Lora Peck, and Garden Villas Elementary Schools. Because of an early interest in environmental education, Schlumberger created a garden at Peck so that students there could grow vegetables and then eat them or share them with their neighbors.
Robotics clubs have been assisted by Schlumberger employees, as well. Schlumberger underwrote the cost for a science lab, lab coats, robotic materials, and training for students at Valley West Elementary School. Schlumberger engineers have participated in engineering month by making presentations to students to stimulate their interest in the engineering and science professions. The company also sponsored the Rice Engineering program for Austin High School and cohosted the Schlumberger Pre-College Summer Science Institute, a four-week summer science camp for middle-school students.
“It’s a real honor to accept this award and to be associated with HISD and these other great organizations,” said Senior Vice President of Technology and Strategy for Schlumberger Limited Rod Nelson. “But most of all, we appreciate the opportunity to partner with HISD to raise the level of awareness of the importance of mathematics, science, and technology education. We think these areas are critical, and we’re very happy that HISD agrees with us.”
Hall of Fame organizations recognized in previous years for their partnerships are AIM Investments/AIM Foundation, Amerigroup, Baker Botts LLP, Baylor College of Medicine Teen Health Clinics, CenterPoint Energy, ChevronTexaco, Crescent Real Estate Equities, ExxonMobil, Gallery Furniture, GE Elfun, Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP, H-E-B, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Houston Rockets and Comets, IBM, Jacobs Engineering Group, Jewish Women International, Junior Achievement of Southeast Texas, the Junior League of Houston, Marathon Oil Company, the Robert and Janice McNair Foundation, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Shell Oil Company, Tenneco, Washington Mutual, and Williams.
To find out how your organization or business can partner with HISD, contact the Strategic Partnerships office at 713-556-7200.