Tuesday, July 22, 2014

It May Be Summer, But That Doesn't Mean It's a Vacation!

Drive around the district during the summer and you don't see many cars in the school parking lots. That's because, for most people, summer time means vacation.  

Nadine Pharries photographed in one of her favorite places (the ceiling)
doing one of her favorite things (running cable)-
No wonder she's a happy lady!
But that's not so for the Technology, Administration, Food Service and Maintenance & Operations Teams.  In fact, you'll find that for some employees, everyone else's vacation time is their busiest time of the year.  

Mr. Kelley painting the facade of Gibbs PreK.
Wait 'till you see how good this looks when it is done!
We caught up with a few of the many folks that "make this place go" as they themselves were on the move around the school district, working hard and crossing off items on their summer project to-do list.

These ladies are on the way up!
Marilyn Roberson and Norma Bookman ride the lift up to the facade at Gibbs PreK.

The summer project list is long, and includes chiller maintenance, painting, deep cleaning and refurbishing.  

Richard reaching for the correct port.

Look around this summer and you'll see folks at each campus taking care of the work.

Some of the Technology Team heading to HIS for E-waste recycling.
L-R Rob Kennedy, Dominic Francisco, Derek Waller (back),William "Ben" Stubbs and Richard Williamson.

Ana Bonilla- She helps Gibb PreK keep moving forward!

At each campus, a principal and one staff person are not only "holding down the fort," but fielding phone calls, sending emails and handling all sorts of preparation in anticipation of the upcoming school year, 2014-15.
Patty Nunley humors the photographer so she can get on with her work!

Come late August when everyone else returns, no doubt some of these folks' work will go unnoticed. For the most part, that's OK with them because most of their work is out of the spot light.  

That said, we all would sure notice if it didn't get done, and we thank them for working steady through the summer! 

Operators are standing by at HISD Technology.
Sorry, Lori does not accept collect calls.

A familiar sight around the halls this time of year.

John Eubanks giving the floors a good scrubbing.

Deandre Bryant in the middle of MPMS moving.

Wow- the place looks good!
The new weights in the newly refurbished weight room at HHS.
The old weights are to be refurbished and given to Mance Park.

Coach A.J. Wilson keeps an eye on Fabian for proper form.
The weights may not be any lighter, but the place sure is a lot better to train in!

Merlene "Polly" York taking care of business at HHS.

Can you hear me now?
Attendees to next year's HHS Gym events may not look up to see these sound dampening panels,
but they will definitely hear the difference that this summer project makes when the echoes are minimized.

Jim Kreier is putting a lot of miles on the truck,
helping manage all the projects throughout the District this summer.

Scott Johnson Elementary's Penny Foley takes a second for a photo before getting back to it.

Over at Mance Park, it's a chance to do some furniture rearranging and update room usage.
Pictured here are AP Christell Marshall and M&O's Derrick Taylor.

It may not smell so nice as it's poured on, but boy does that finish look fine when it's dry!

So shiny, a Hornet could see itself in the reflection...

Now that is officially "Hornet Green."

Tech team, roll out!
Matthew Lahey  Huntsville ISD Huntsville Independent School District

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Bringing a Sense of Nature's Wonder to Kids: The Gardens and Grounds of Gibbs PreK Center

It would be hard to find anything more simply beautiful than a sunflower.  And, no flower says, "Kids!" like a sunflower, so it's a great way to introduce them to the beauty and wonder of nature.

A deep love of nature and science, together with the belief in the importance of instilling this understanding and appreciation in our children early in their lives, are what brought a mom and grandma to volunteer together at Gibbs PreK Center.  

Looking for the sunflower seeds, but they are not quite ready yet.
Miss Joan and Miss Betty make quite a team.  They met when they both had young ones at Gibbs Pre K over twenty years ago (Miss Joan a daughter and Miss Betty a granddaughter).  They became friends and then about ten years ago they approached the school about creating a garden for the school children.  

Now, ten years on, Miss Joan (maybe better known to most as botanist and SHSU Professor Dr. Joan Hudson) and Miss Betty (better known as retired science teacher and master gardener Betty Elvin) have helped introduce a generation of Huntsville children to the natural world around them, and to the joys of growing flowers, plants and trees.

In the shade of a peach tree...

The scope of their project has grown, too, as they have added birdhouses, plant trees and establish a wildflower meadow and teach a weekly class on gardening every Wednesday.

Fresh Picked Peaches from Gibbs Pre K Center's "Backyard"
The importance of introducing kids to nature is already established, but don't tell these kids it's good for them.  They like it because it is fun and interesting!

Gibbs Principal Dr. Martinez is showing off a Blueberry Tomato.
The dark color means they are rich in anthocyanins, the same thing that makes blueberries blue.
(These anthocyanins are believed to be among the reasons blueberries are good for you.)

Miss Betty now comes early every day to tend the garden and keep an eye on all that's growing. It's important to note that this project is supported by the work of the other folks who help them out, including the dedicated Martha Brown, Susan Sanders and Liz Willis

Texas Hibiscus

A little pumpkin nestled under the vines.

Purple Cone Flower 
With help from members of the local chapter of the Audubon Society, Miss Joan & Miss Betty were able to get bird houses built and installed for each class room.

A House for Every Room:  Each class room has a bird house- and it's usually a "full house."

Each Wednesday during the school year, every class is invited for a gardening class.
Weather permitting, the classes meet right here.
Each Wednesday throughout the school year, every class is invited to the garden class.  Throughout the day, hundreds of kids get to learn about gardening, and a whole lot more.

Since these current students weren't there when the trees were planted, Miss Betty has created an over sized  sketchbook to help tell the story.
On this page, Miss Joan is loading a Mulberry Tree from her property and loading into the car. 

The Gibbs Wildflower Meadow.  Mexican Hat is in season,
and earlier this year it was covered in Bluebonnet blossoms.
The Gibbs Wildflower Meadow is a field filled with native flowers.  Miss Joan estimates that, after the spring blooming Bluebonnets have gone to seed, the children were able to pick up over 5000 Bluebonnet seeds to take home and spread around Huntsville and Walker County.

Sort of like peas in a pod, wildflower style.  Texas Bluebonnet Seeds and their casing.

Veggies, Fruits and Flowers- oh my!!

A few years ago, the children planted trees to provide shade for their play area.
Each class planted a different type, which is smart way to plant
(and it coincidentally reflects the diversity of our town).

The Catalpa tree.
Out in front of the school is a Catalpa Tree.  Catalpa trees are native of Tennessee.  According to legend, Sam and Margaret Houston brought a few of these to Huntsville and planted them on their property.  She was said to enclose one of the tree's heart shaped leaves in letters to her husband when he was away in Washington, DC.  You can find these trees all around town.

Matthew Lahey  Huntsville ISD Huntsville Independent School District

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Thank You, & Happy Fourth of July!!

It's not quite Fourth of July, so the busyness of playing, cooking out and fireworks-watching 
of the day is not quite here.  But the feeling behind the celebration is something we can consider now and over the holiday weekend.

You've seen the bumper stickers and heard the politicians remind us:  Freedom Isn't Free.
 It can almost sound like a cliché, but we know through our own experience this is true.  

If we ourselves have not served, then a child or brother, sister, mom, dad, 
a classmate, a teacher, friend or cousin has.  

We know or can imagine what that sacrifice looks like and how it feels to be away
 from friends, family and all the comforts of home.  
And, how those of us that serve miss birthdays, graduations and even births or deaths of loved ones.  

Some of the Huntsville ISD family have given the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives for our freedom.  
Freedom isn't Free, and we thank the men and women that sacrifice to ensure ours.

Have a Fun, Safe and Happy Fourth of July!

Matthew Lahey  Huntsville ISD Huntsville Independent School District