In 12 days, students will face the reccurring challenges that a new school year brings. But for NISD teachers and staff, the challenges have already been set and they focus on helping the students improve.

The challenge came at the 2019 NISD Convocation, an event for NISD faculty and staff to celebrate the start of a new school year. Teachers had officially started preparing for the school year last Thursday.

“Administrators, staff and community members, I challenge you to help our students reach their full potential,” said school board president G.W. Neal to the NISD faculty and staff. “It is not what you do, it’s how you do it. We appreciate each and every one of you and what you do, and we thank you for that. We wish you a successful school year.”

Teachers and administrators have spent the summer working on curriculum that will benefit the students, and making sure that the instruction is tailored to the students’ needs, said Igor Gusyakov, assistant principal for curriculum and instruction.

“I’m excited to reap the benefits of the hard work that the teachers and administrators have worked all summer on and last year … I think our morale has gone up in the past year or so,” Gusyakov said. Teachers and staff are very excited to be back. You can tell already.”

Interim Superintendent Alton Frailey took the stage and spoke about his delight with the bond passing, gave employees ideas on how to improve and spoke about a successful last school year. But what stood out was another challenge issued near the end of his speech.

Frailey challenged teachers to help get the students to reach the next level and to grow so they’re ready for the next step, stating that was the purpose and responsibility of the teacher. He also stressed how important it was to “create a safe environment for our kids to learn in and grow in. A place where we can be amazing.”

Something else that the teachers were excited about was the pay increase that was implemented in June. House Bill 3 was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott on June 12 that gave public education a $11.6 billion boost, including $6.5 billion in new school spending. On June 15, Nacogdoches ISD passed a $59.4 million budget which included an average 8% pay bump for teachers and 3% increase for other employees.

“We really do the job to take care of public education and to take care of our teachers, and I think we did an outstanding job of that this past session,” said State Rep. Travis Clardy at the event. “I hope that’s reflected in each and every one of your paychecks in this room. It’s long overdue and about time that we recognize what our teachers, administrators and support staff do for Texas and the future of Texas.”

Teachers showed excitement about the new school year, and left convocation with a positive outlook, said Nettie Marshall Elementary teacher Chuck Medley.

“I think I have a little more optimism than I’ve had in the past,” Medley said. “On a personal level, I’ve seen my test scores getting better. And on a district and campus level, I’ve seen changes in administration and there is more positivity and so I’m excited to see that go in the right direction.”

The first day of school for NISD campuses is Monday, Aug. 26.

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