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Hill Country High School

Living a Dream

Hill Country High School has a goal of preparing at risk students for productive work lives.  Everything that happens at the school is geared towards helping students formulate a dream and work toward that dream acquiring the tools that young people need to be successful.  Students must go through an interview to apply and must come with reasons why they think they would be successful at Hill Country High School.  Once accepted the “school to work” atmosphere sets in.  The students are formally introduced to each teacher with business handshakes and instructed in the use of the time clock.  They are instructed in the use of the time folders where each one keeps track of their progress and the credits they must earn to graduate.  The students negotiate with teachers to decide what to study and how to structure the day.  

Much of the formal teaching of the business world comes from the English curriculum that includes the Interview and Resume unit, but in actuality it is going on every day.  Every teacher is reinforcing the curriculum taught with real life applications.  Students who have gone through difficult times sometimes have trouble with “soft skills” like self-esteem, motivation, persistence, and self control.  These skills are woven in the curriculum through Tuesday Talks when the principal Mr. Steve Schwarz visits with all the students about what is going on at Hill Country High School and how attendance, persistence, and giving back are the skills that will help students become productive adults.  It is not uncommon to find a teacher talking quietly to a student about something going on in that student’s life.  The counselor is available to talk whenever necessary and drops everything to deal with a crisis.  Learning to resolve these personal problems in a positive way is a skill that every student needs.  Students are challenged to ask questions and to think creatively.   What do you know? How could you interpret this differently?   They are reminded that high school is just a step in the learning process.  This is not, however, the last step in their education. 

Many students have limited knowledge regarding postsecondary education.  Part of the curriculum is learning to research colleges/certification programs online, applying for student aid, and attending field trips to colleges, as well as technical and trade schools.  High school students are often surprised that the college students they see in the classes are like them.  Students begin to see that the learning style of teaching yourself at Hill Country High School is what successful college student’s master.  Hill Country High School students begin to believe in the dream of a college or a technical school degree. 

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Starkey Elementary School

"Have a Heart, Be a Part"

February is a month for valentines and love!  Unfortunately, some children are in situations where they do not feel the love and caring that most children experience.  Recently, the Starkey Ambassador Council reached out to show these children that they are thought about and cared for during this season of love.

As a service project called “Have a Heart, Be a Part”, the Starkey Ambassador Council (4th and 5th grade student leaders) held a drive to encourage Starkey students to donate “gently used” stuffed animals and books.  By the end of the drive, four large boxes were filled with books and stuffed animals.  These items were presented to Chuck Brundrett, Program Director of K’STAR, to be given to children in the shelter or used in their counseling program.

Each year the Starkey Ambassador Council is involved in a service project that aids either an individual child or a group of children:  raising money to purchase a gas card for a former Starkey family with large medical expenses, walking in the Relay for Life, and making Christmas cards to be sent to soldiers in Iraq, to name a few.

These young people are learning firsthand how rich their own lives can become through service to others in the community.


Shown accepting donations of stuffed animals and books from the Starkey Ambassador Council is Chuck Brundrett, Program Director of K’STAR Youth and Family Services.  Also pictured are Ambassador Council sponsors Kate Allen and Kali Brandt.

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Tivy High School

Mock Trial Team Continues Two Decades of Success

On March 2 and 3, the Tivy Mock Trial team traveled to Dallas to compete in the state Mock Trial competition. Under the direction of teachers Becky Likin and Leigh Cockrill, Tivy placed eighth out of twenty-four participating teams. This trip to state marks the twentieth appearance within the past twenty-five years of competition.

“The kids did amazing this year.  It was a rebuilding year, with nine out of the twelve spots open for the team at tryouts.  And just making it in the top ten in state is a big deal because the only thing that kept us out of the top four teams was a subjective score of 598 out of 600 total points from six judges. So the top ten teams were only separated by a total of two points out of four rounds of twelve judges,” sponsor and teacher Becky Likin said.

Mock trial team members include Melissa Munoz, Kristen Gonzales, Nicole Moody, Miriam Felps, PJ Bowie, Paxton Thedford, Blake Wampler, Jeremy Bunch, Stephen Berg, Gage Arbogast, Gus Arbogast, and Matthew Maupin.

Several team members were recognized with specific awards over the course of their season. These awards include Nicole Moody as “Outstanding Advocate” at the state competition, Paxton Thedford as “Outstanding Advocate” and Gus Arbogast as “Outstanding Witness” at the regional competition.

“The kids have learned so much and come so far! Just being in Mock Trial helps prepare them for a variety of future careers with valuable skills such as critical thinking, inductive reasoning, public speaking, and thinking on their feet,” Becky Likin said.

For more information on the Mock Trial program, contact Becky Likin at Tivy High School, (830) 257-2212.

Pictured front row left to right: Sponsor Becky Likin, Miriam Felps, Kristen Gonzales, Nicole Moody, Melissa Munoz, Gus Arbogast. Back row left to right: Stephen Berg, County Attorney Robert Henneke, Matthew Maupin, Gage Arbogast, Blake Wampler, Jeremy Bunch, PJ Bowie, Paxton Thedford, Sponsor Leigh Cockrill.


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Early Childhood Center

The Best Kept Secret in Kerrville ISD

Traci Walker is a teacher at the KISD Early Childhood Center (ECC) located at 1011 Third Street. “When I tell people I work for Kerrville ISD,” she says, “the first question they usually ask is, ‘On which campus?’  When I tell them the Early Childhood Center, most, if not all, respond by telling me that they did not even know our campus exists!”

Most of the staff at ECC share similar experiences. Leslie Gongora, a bilingual Prekindergarten teacher, related, “Even when you meet someone who knows we are here, like other KISD teachers, they think we are still just Head Start. Then I explain what all we do – they are impressed and the conversation moves along!”

They are impressed because the forty-two staff members of ECC work incredibly hard to prepare the 300+ students enrolled in the four early childhood programs for the rigors of kindergarten in this age of accountability. With kindergarten readiness being the ultimate goal, the development of literacy, math, science, and social skills in developmentally appropriate ways is on the forefront. Conflict resolution skills, character education, and motor skills are integrated into the curriculum in an effort to enhance those academic areas.

The overall well-being of the students and their families is critical as well. Campus staff recognize and stress the importance of parent education and training. Support for those learning English as a second language is also provided.

While it is true that between 1996 and 2005 the campus served only Head Start students, it quietly began expanding in January 2006 with the addition of the Tivy Child Development Center (TCDC) and again in the fall of 2006 when the Prekindergarten classrooms were relocated from Starkey and Tally. In 2008, the Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities (PPCD) moved to the campus from Nimitz. ECC is now home to all of KISD’s early childhood programs -1 PPCD, 5 Head Start, and 5 Prekindergarten classrooms serving 3-5 year old students along with the 8 TCDC childcare classrooms serving children birth to age 5. It is that collaboration between programs and the high standards set by the school district in regard to staff qualifications and curriculum that truly sets this campus apart from all others.

Robert Fulghum wrote in 1988 that all he ever really needed to know, he learned in kindergarten. When today’s children become adults, they will undoubtedly say the same about preschool. Through a balanced approach of work, play, and learning, Kerrville ISD’s youngest students are being prepared for life.

(ECC continues to take applications for three and four year olds for this school year. The campus has also begun taking applications for the 2012-2013 school year. Come by the school at 1011 Third Street to complete an application or call 257-1335 for more information.)

Mat Man is part of the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum utilized at ECC.  It goes beyond handwriting to emphasize crucial social, physical, emotional, language, and math skills.