Special to the Bulletin

School board trustees from across the state attended the Texas Association of School Boards’ Summer Leadership Institute earlier this month.

The Early Independent School District trustees — Randy Ethridge, Ray Bertrand, Mike Kingston, Shawn Russell, Pat Mooney, Gary Bowen and James Cooley Jr. — and EISD Superintendent Brett Koch were among the 2,500 new and veteran school leaders attending.

At the training, according to a release from TASB, trustees and administrators “received in-depth training on every facet of effective board governance, heard keynote addresses from renowned education experts and picked up valuable ideas from district showcases of programs that work and numerous networking opportunities.”

Several “hot topics” considered during the two-and-a-half-day institute included emergency management, student safety on the Internet, K-16 partnerships, school health initiatives, statistical integrity, prekindergarten programs and clear communication on testing and accountability results.

Breakout sessions focused on such topics as environmental and facility-related regulations, employer-sponsored child care, bond proceeds management, public engagement through district planning, superintendent /CEO searches, successful after-school programs, improved mathematics and reading achievement, construction budgets, gang violence and education technology trends.

In the general session the first day, Tonea Stewart, actress, director, educator and humanitarian, who also is a tenured professor and director of theater arts at Alabama State University, led a program titled “My Grandmother’s Hands” and inspired attendees to keep believing in children and in the work they do for districts while reminding them to put aside self interest, work toward unity and rally on behalf of children in their communities.

The second day, Russell Quaglia, executive director of the Center for Research and Educational Advancement at Endicott College, presented a program on “Understanding Student Aspirations: Enhancing the Learning Environment.”

That program focused on data gathered from more than 200,000 students depicting their perceptions of their educational experience, implications on how schools are organized and the role of educators to increase academic standards.