April 5, 2018
SUBJECT: What Kindness Looked Like 1st Quarter, 2018
This is a report about many of the Kindnesses that the MIMS Institute Fellows, Inc. experienced during the first quarter of 2018 from January through March, 2018.
The 2018 Theme: Be Kind and Celebrate Academic Excellence!
Three Major Items:
1. Witness to the journey of Sam Houston's Academic Decathlon Team as it raised awareness of the Academic Excellence that exists on San Antonio's Eastside;
2. Witness to a sampling of the significant investment amazing colleges and universities are making in my ZIP code.
3. Witness to Acts of Kindness others made in support of students demonstrating Academic Excellence on the Eastside and the message that "People care about your education and you can go to amazing colleges and universities."
Sam Houston's Academic Decathlon Team made significant contributions during the first quarter toward raising awareness about what Academic Excellence looks like on San Antonio's Eastside.
The team consists of five young men, three young ladies, and two teachers (coaches). Three of the men are members of the Class of 2018 as are two of the young ladies.
Jonathan Gadison Brandy Vargas Ms. Marines*
Miguel Esparza Victoria Villesca Ms. Saddler
Guillermo Lara Sophie Zertuche
Mike Rodriquez *2016 Texas Academic Decathlon Coach of the Year
The team was kind in allowing me to be present and a witness to their practices, other gatherings, and their award-winning performances during district, regional, and state competitions.
As one excited to see demonstrations of Academic Excellence, they kindly showed me that Sam Houston's Academic Decathlon Team belongs in the room with the best academic minds in the State of Texas!
At the SAISD District Competition in December at Brackenridge High School, the team took 1st Place. I was there to witness the event.
The team won 1st Place at the Region IV Competition in January and qualified as one of the top 20 teams in Texas for the State Competition held in February in Frisco, TX.
Along the way, I also witnessed the kind support the team received from a number of community sources.
Before the Regional Super Quiz Competition, District 2 City Councilman Cruz Shaw hosted a Townhall meeting at the Eastside Boys and Girls Club. Those assembled kindly allowed me to record their cheers for the team. Councilman Shaw donated sandwiches so that the team entered the afternoon competition, inspired by the food and the recorded cheers from the Eastside. The team placed first in the Super Quiz Competition and First Place overall that afternoon in January!
We recorded a portion of the awards ceremony. Evening news channels (KENS 5 and News 4 San Antonio) played segments of it for the whole community to see what Academic Excellence looks like.
During team evening practices in February for the State Competition, the SAISD Foundation enlisted sponsors to provide dinner for the team. I personally witnessed the kindness displayed by Valero Energy Foundation and CPS Energy as both proved meals for team. Sam Houston alumna and CPS Energy CEO, Ms. Paula Gold-Williams spent time with the team and shared her story with team members.
News 4 San Antonio: Sam Houston academic decathlon team advances to state competition (Video)
Coach Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs, along with Danny Green, visited campus and celebrated Academic Excellence with the team. He made tickets available so that the team could attend the game versus the Utah Jazz at the AT&T Center. Each student had a chance to invite another. Jonathan was kind enough to choose me as his "plus one!"
Video of the Spurs Half-Time Recognition of the Academic Decathlon Team.
P.A.M. Media Consultants kindly arranged for News 4 San Antonio to feature three of us on an evening live news broadcast on February 19. Team member Victoria and Ms. Marines joined me in the interview with news anchor Randy Beamer. After the session, Victoria's family celebrated the appearance of their "Rock Star!"
Toward the end of the week, Dr. Diop, Sam Houston's proud principal, organized an early morning sendoff for the team's trip to the State Competition. It included San Antonio Spurs and Sam Houston Hurricane cheerleaders, the Hurricane Drumline, JROTC Saber Detail, and the Spurs mascot, Coyote.
After the State Competition, the SAISD School Board held a recognition ceremony in honor of the team at the beginning of the March 19 Board Meeting. The following week, Mayor Ron Nirenburg presented the team with a City of San Antonio Citation commending the team for "dedication to teamwork, leadership, and time management...and the students, coaches, and parents of the Academic Decathlon team for this outstanding achievement."
The Academic Decathlon Team, during the first quarter 2018, provided me with about the best evidence one could hope for in witnessing students dedicated to preparing for--and reaping the benefits of--demonstrating Academic Excellence. Their journey added significantly to the narrative developing on San Antonio's Eastside that Academic Excellence Matters!
The two Academic Decathlon Team coaches, Ms. Marines and Ms. Saddler, deserve a special Shout Out! They epitomize one of the reasons that I am a recognized Champion of Public Education. There are teachers in public schools who see Gold Medals even before the students earn them! Too often, the naysayers bemoan what teachers do or don't do. It has been a blessed experience watching them tap into the strengths of the students and watching the team members respond positively to these caring adults. There are moments in time when caring adults have gifts to offer and students willing embrace those gifts. The journey of the 2018 Academic Decathlon Team was one of those moments that reinforce the possibilities that exist in Public Education.