2010-09-02 / Youth

Puting some ‘umph!’ in triumph

“The difference between try and triumph is a little umph.” (Author unknown).

This quote became our motto as we started preparing for the 2010-2011 school year at Port Aransas High School. We are striving to model lifelong learning and continue to seek ways to improve the education that our students receive.

Many of our teachers participated in various trainings throughout the summer. These trainings either furthered their knowledge in the subject areas they teach or provided information about upcoming changes to the state assessments (the process of replacing TAKS with STAAR End of Course testing is beginning). Social studies teacher Pete Barello attended a workshop at the Henry Ford Museum and an instructional technology workshop at Rice University. Art teacher Tom McHenry attended a symposium at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth. Science teachers Bill Slingerland and Jill Smith participated in a training sponsored by the University of Texas Marine Science Institute. Several teachers attended training sponsored by the Region 2 Education Service Center. This is in addition to teachers who took university courses to further their education.

Hoping to inspire a “little umph” among our incoming freshmen, our guidance counselor Jennifer Miller worked with a group of juniors and seniors to plan Fish Camp. Approximately 80 percent of the freshmen class joined us on the high school campus a few days before school started to learn about extracurricular activities at the high school and the different graduation plans. They also toured the school and heard from a college senior who shared with them his experiences in high school and college, and his tips for being successful. The members of the Class of 2014 also were challenged to set goals and reflect on the progress they are making on reaching their goals each evening at 8:14 p.m. (20:14 in military time to symbolize the Class of 2014).

We’ve made some adjustments to our class schedule and course offerings to allow flexibility in scheduling and promote high academic achievement in all classes. U.S. history has been added to our dual credit program, which allows students to earn high school credit and college credit through Del Mar College. Our students have the opportunity to earn more than 30 hours of college credit before they even graduate from high school!

To promote an atmosphere of college preparation, our staff and students are encouraged to wear college shirts on Thursdays, and you’ll find the alma mater of our staff members posted outside their doors. We also are exploring avenues for increasing course offerings through online classes that are facilitated by PAHS staff. In addition, a course to help students prepare for the SAT test for college admission is being developed.

The generous support of our community through the Port Aransas Education Foundation has provided a “little umph” when it comes to implementing innovative teaching methods. Grants were used to upgrade our computer and science labs, integrate cooking and food science labs into our science courses, and purchase Apple iPads to access even more cutting-edge technology in instruction.

Our students have demonstrated their willingness to put forth a “little umph” during the 2010-2011 school year, both in academic and extra-curricular endeavors. Enrollment in dual credit college algebra is more than triple last year’s enrollment. Many students are taking more courses than required in order to take full advantage of the educational opportunities at Port Aransas High School.

Plans are underway to encourage our students to give back to the community through a structured community service program. We have a group of students that has been running all summer long in preparation for cross-country competition this fall. Not only have they voluntarily joined this team and run all summer in the heat, their morning runs begin at 6 a.m.!

I encourage you to come and see all of the great things that are happening at PAHS. Open House will be held on Sept. 7. The PAHS athletic department is hosting a cross-country meet on Sept. 25. Volunteers are welcome and needed in different areas throughout our school and throughout the year. With a committed staff, a dedicated student body and a supportive community, we anticipate a true triumph in learning and achievement at Port Aransas High School during the 2010-2011 school year.

Sharon McKinney is principal at Port Aransas High School. Contact her at mckinney@paisd.net or (361) 749-1206.

Return to top