TEA Commissioner Visits William B. Travis

TEA Commissioner Mike Morath Makes Visit To WBT
Posted on 10/03/2018
This is the image for the news article titled TEA Commissioner Mike Morath Makes Visit To WBTTexas Education Agency commissioner Mike Morath made a quick visit to William B. Travis Elementary School Wednesday morning to visit with campus administration, teachers and students and get a first-hand look at the academic improvements underway at WBT.

Morath, whose role as commissioner of education is to oversee the educational operations of every single public school district in Texas, sat in on a couple of classes to view classroom instruction and also took a tour of WBT’s data room, in which staff tracks student progress throughout the year.

“It’s truly an honor for Commissioner Morath to visit us here in Marshall ISD,” said MISD Superintendent Dr. Jerry Gibson. “As TEA Commissioner, he could go anywhere in the state but he chose to come and visit us here at WBT to see up close the great things going on at that campus. This is a really big deal for WBT and for MISD and we were happy to host him on his visit.”

WBT entered the 2017-2018 school year staring at a possible fifth straight year of IR status, which would have created serious problems for the school and district in terms of TEA involvement. However, the school broke that streak in a big way with a Met Standard rating and a “B” campus grade, making it the second-highest performing campus in the entire district for last year.

WBT didn’t just cross the finish line with Met Standard. The campus met the state standards in all three areas measured in the ratings: Student Achievement, School Progress and Closing The Gaps. WBT also earned a distinction designation as Top 25 Percent: Comparative Academic Growth for the 2017-2018 school year.

Overseeing the turnaround at Travis was former principal Loyed Jones, who retired at the end of the school year. Jones retired after turning around two IR campuses in MISD – at the old Carver Elementary and then at Travis – in back-to-back years.

Jones’ replacement at Travis, Tamekia Johnson, is in her first year as principal at Travis after several years as assistant principal at the district’s STEM academy, first at South Marshall Elementary and now housed at Sam Houston Elementary.

“The thing I really love about Mike Morath is that he listens, and if you can provide him the data that supports your questions or ideas, he is willing to look at the data and support whatever it says,” Dr. Gibson said. “He truly cares about every student. As a superintendent I respect that immensely.”

During his visit to WBT Wednesday, Morath sat in on a couple of classes at WBT and witnessed classroom instruction. Ms. Johnson showed the commissioner a teacher and class evaluation instrument during one of the classes. The commissioner then received a tour and explanation of the WBT data room, a collaborative space for teachers and staff to track data and progress for every student at WBT throughout the school year.

“M. Jones fully implemented our non-negotiables and we fully utilized resources available to us at Region 7 ESC,” said Dr. Gibson. “Ms. Johnson has taken those reins and is continuing to move the campus in the right direction. Our non-negotiables include implementation of data rooms, power walks, PLCs, small group instruction and RPMs (Reflective Practice Model). Other than that, it was really a lot of hard work and dedication by students, teachers and staff to achieve such a huge turnaround. We are proud of them.”

Because of a tight schedule on Wednesday, which included a visit with area superintendents at Region 7 ESC in Kilgore, Morath’s visit to Marshall was short. But Dr. Gibson feels that the visit was beneficial for both the commissioner and WBT.

“Everywhere I go around the state, I get asked about how we were able to turn around a campus that had been IR for four straight years and get it to a B in just one year,” Dr. Gibson said. “Mr. Morath was hopefully able to get an idea of what the secret is today, and that is that we have hard-working students and staff who pull together to raise the standard of expectations, and what that can accomplish.”