Posted Date: 12/20/2023
The most difficult part of writing is the beginning…just getting started with something. I was recently gifted with a small book entitled, “How to be a Coffee Bean”, written by Jon Gordon and Damon West. An easy read, it’s just 111 short sayings to provide ‘life-changing ways to create positive change’… a simple, yet thought-provoking, daily approach to start my day. Just before the Thanksgiving break, the daily read was ‘Take a Thank You Walk’ which stated the following: “It’s impossible to be grateful and stressed at the same time. Make the time each day to go for a walk and think about what you are grateful for. When you are feeling blessed, you can’t be stressed.” Very fitting that this was certainly on my mind. I am extremely grateful to be part of a wonderful community and school system where ‘kids’ are our focus.
Next comes my confession. I struggle with pride…I think we all do to a certain extent, but I really don’t want to be prideful in any way, so I suppress things I should probably share. Therefore, this battle hinders me as a leader in a sense that I don’t want to ever come across as ‘bragging’ about our school. When starting the 2023-2024 blog series, I did ask for ideas about topics of interest. And, now I’m in trouble. It was suggested that I write an issue on ‘What makes Hudson ISD unique?’. My guidance counselors (AKA wise co-workers) suggested that I not view this as being boastful, but to share some thoughts and lift others up that make it happen.
So why this topic? A parent recently shared how they moved to Texas from another state and researched schools across the entire state to call home. After touring facilities and having discussions with our fabulous campus administrative team, they were determined that Hudson ISD was the best fit. To them, the district was unique, just a ‘warm feeling’ they could not describe in simple terms. Okay…so, I’ll try to tackle this one as best I can.
We all (school districts) should focus on academia and ensure that our students have courses taught by expert teachers and prepare them for a greater world to explore upon graduation. By the numbers, we are not perfect but do one heck-of- a- job in being a leader in student outcomes. What’s the trick? I really think it’s due to an ingrained culture of ‘student focus’. Cookie-cutter plans simply won’t work when trying to go from good to great. Our staff members do a phenomenal job with individualized student planning. This makes scheduling very difficult, but it’s best for kids. Most institutions view academic remediation as ‘reactive’, while we strive to be ‘proactive’, meaning…we should not wait until failure happens before providing needed interventions. I’ll brag about our high school’s after-school program. This is a great testament to building students’ self-esteem, work ethic, and positive relationships while providing additional time and academic assistance. Campus leadership is a crucial component. While we have had some movement in our administrative team from time to time, the longevity and experience of this group are amazing. This consistency across the district is a key element to long-term success.
But what really makes the difference? The answer is being intentionally different in creating a culture and climate where people are valued, loved, and respected. It’s about creating moments…times and events that people will remember. It is the additional things, those things where teachers and staff go above and beyond. At Peavy, it may be the costume parades, an outdoor musical classroom, the Lunch Kit Award, the canned food drives, the outdoor classroom with a greenhouse and pavilion, the monthly birthday celebrations, and community engagement nights. It might be the wonderful morning welcome crew at drop-off locations or the social-emotional learning opportunities. Bonner Elementary adds to this atmosphere by increasing opportunities to participate in enrichment programs such as cooking classes, art, painting, line dancing, and several other areas of interest. Did I mention the therapy dogs? Yep, both Peavy and Bonner get regular visits from some wonderful furry friends that brighten everyone’s day. The Peavy and Bonner campuses are vibrant, full of energy, and happy children. They are a heart-warming place to be.
Can a middle school be fun and engaging? Well, for starters, we have an abundant number of highly relevant and engaging extracurricular and elective courses for students to choose from. We have an aviation program that starts in 8th grade, a hydroponics course, 3-D printing, outdoor education, and a large number of enrichment classes. These may include topics/sessions on sign language, robotics, sewing/crocheting, Lego engineering, gardening, computer coding, and even MS eSports. Let’s make middle school an enjoyable experience. How about that Angel Tree program or the Shoe/Hoodie giveaway for selected students? Hudson Middle School strives to make all kids feel special and give back to our community as well.
So high schools are dull and boring, huh? Not so quick. Our high school still knows that kids are kids. Halloween on the Lawn, multiple parades, Senior Night, and a host of other fun-filled programs are intentionally designed to make high school life different. A long list of elective opportunities await our students. Some of these include culinary arts, floral design, eSports, Audio/Visual, aviation, nursing, multiple agricultural programs, sports, dance, cheer, band, choir, and dual-credit opportunities. Did you know that Hudson ISD pays for all books and tuition for high school students taking college classes? Our goal is to eliminate any barrier that impedes our students' ability to take college classes and elevate the potential for post-secondary success rates.
Districtwide, we have very clean facilities due to the hard work and dedication of a fine group of staff members. We have relevant and up to date technology tools to support our staff and students. Safety is of utmost importance. We strive for clear, timely communication with our students, staff, and community members. We value this community and commit to ongoing improvement. Teachers have a thankless job in today’s society. I’m grateful for their dedication to your children. Based on staff responses, a resounding theme of what makes Hudson unique is the family atmosphere and everyone’s dedication to being team players.
Hudson is a special place, I’ve seen none other like it. It takes everyone to make it happen. Thank you for allowing us to be how we are. When you have the opportunity, I encourage you to reach out to a custodian, a teacher, an aide, an administrator, etc., and hug their neck for making Hudson ISD one of the greatest districts in Texas. Like the parent that was mentioned previously as to the writing of such a blog topic, we want to hear your story. And, as always, submit your request for a blog topic to me. I’d be happy to share information in future articles.
Donny Webb, Superintendent