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June 19, 2018


The cat. The cat found us at our place in the country. He just wandered up, and lived under our front porch for a while until we arrived on the scene for a weekend stay. He was skinny, but he was friendly and loved to rub against your leg. We are dog people, but the poor little thing needed some attention. After feeding him and spending a weekend worrying about what to do, after all we only come to the farm occasionally, we decided on the only Christian thing to do. We brought him home with us. Not really home with us, just home long enough to get him checked by a vet, get his shots, and give him to a good family. Eight months later, we have a cat!

Since our dog’s name is Rocky, we named him Rambo. Pretty cute, huh? It doesn’t matter; his name could be Rover or Fluffy or Fido. He only answers to Kitty. Rambo/Kitty is pretty independent. Because of his weeks living alone under our porch, he prefers the out-of-doors. In fact, he spends most of the daylight hours outside. At night we bring him in for the evening.

Each morning he is up with me. We have a routine; he gets fed, I open the doggy door to the backyard, and he roams in and out the rest of the morning. It works well…most of the time. Not all of the time, however. On this morning, Kitty wasn’t roaming in and out. I had begun to wonder where he was. It was still dark, and I couldn’t see him outside. I was beginning to worry.

While I was eating breakfast, I heard a most unusual sound. On our back porch came a deep guttural sound mixed with the sound of a loud squeak toy that won’t stop squeaking. Before I could get out of my chair, the cat was coming through the doggy door with a prize to show me. Between his teeth was either the biggest mouse I have ever seen or a rat! I screamed, “Get that out of here!” The startled cat ran into another room with me right behind him. Every time I would almost catch him, he would dash to another “safe” place and the rodent would squeak a plaintive cry. This routine lasted much too long. Long enough, in fact, for me to pull a hamstring muscle in the chase. 

Finally, the cat ran behind the sofa which restricted his getaway options. I blocked one end of the sofa, pulled the other end away from the wall, and grabbed his tail just as he was starting to scurry under the furniture. The cat, rodent still firmly entrenched in his mouth, and I headed outside. In the haste of the moment, the prey was dropped on the porch. So the cat and I went back in the house where he was held captive. I went to the porch, safely loaded the dead rat into a garbage bag, and carried it to the trash.

The cat. What a way to start a morning!

My morning is potentially like every morning for a school superintendent. When you arrive at work, you have no idea how your day will begin. It could be with mad parents because of a teacher issue. Maybe you will find that a campus has no water or electricity. Possibly a bus hasn’t made it to a campus and school is ready to begin. Or perhaps a bus is not going to make it because it has been involved in an accident. Even, heaven forbid, there may have been a shooting at one of your schools. 

Governor Abbott is trying to help you avoid the worst scenario a superintendent can face; the loss of life on a campus to a shooter. He has produced a forty page plan for making schools safer through a variety of proactive and preemptive measures. You all have seen the plan and have your own thoughts about it. We will all be interested in the governor’s “next steps” in implementing the plan. Dollars are at a premium in our state. Paying for any of the costly suggestions will be a huge challenge. Creating a plan is the easy work; paying for it is the real test!


Right now, pencil in September 9th, 10th, and 11th on your calendar, and plan to be in San Antonio, Texas, at the 2018 TACS SAN ANTONIO CONFERENCE sponsored by School Specialty. We are going to have some fun, you will network with old friends and meet new ones, and you will learn more in this short time than you ever expected.

For instance, you will hear from Evan Smith. Mr. Smith is the CEO of the TEXAS TRIBUNE, a non-profit, nonpartisan digital news organization recently called “one of the non-profit news sectors runaway success stories.” 

The TRIBUNE’s deep coverage of Texas politics and public policy can be found at its website, in newspapers, on radio and television stations across the state, and in print and online editions of the Washington Post. Since its launch in 2009, theTRIBUNE has won international acclaim and numerous honors, including Edward R. Murrow Awards from the Radio-Television Digital News Association and many awards from the Online News Association.

Previously Evan spent nearly eighteen years at Texas Monthly, including eight years as Editor and a year as President and Editor-in-Chief.

Get ready for a fast-paced, information-rich hour as Evan Smith prepares you for the twists and turns of the Texas 86th Legislative Session and what educators can expect from it.


Recently the State Board of Education honored fifteen public school students who have demonstrated inspiring acts of kindness and compassion by naming them recipients of the2018 STUDENT HEROES AWARD. One student was recognized from each of the fifteen SBOE districts.

Donna Bahorich, chair of the SBOE, said, “This award reminds us that a good and caring nature most represents our Texas children. These award recipients saw a need and committed to bold action on behalf of others, often engaging their fellow classmates in the effort. They each, in their own way, have made a profound difference. Their schools and communities are better for their work.”

Here are the stories from the award winners who attend community schools:

District 7: Callie Jourdan, a senior at Port Neches-Groves High School in the Port-Neches-Groves ISD, is a long-time Red Cross volunteer who exhibited leadership and a calm demeanor as she helped staff at the Port Arthur Civic Center, which served as a shelter after Hurricane Harvey hit the coast. She helped the evacuees get settled, played games with the children, served food, and helped in any way needed – often while standing in three feet of water as the shelter itself took on water. Jourdan also helped with the Home Fire Campaign which was aimed at reducing fatalities during residential fires.

District 9: Damiano “D.J.” Sanders, a fifth grader at Raguet Elementary School in theNacogdoches ISD, takes care of others in need, whether it is carrying their books, giving them a pat on the back, or providing encouragement. His caring nature has allowed him to mentor other students and help them through difficult times.

District 12: Braden Munn, a senior at Highland Park High School in the Highland Park ISD, heads the school’s Community Service Council. He coordinates events and serves as an ambassador to the school, community, and the PTA. He has provided 150 hours of community service while in high school, serving as a camp counselor for freshman orientation, working at Vacation Bible School, and tutoring underclassmen in math.



The Texas Association of Rural Schools (TARS) invites each of you to join them in honoring their Executive Director Bill Grusendorf and his wife Pat on their retirement. A reception in their honor will be held next Monday, June 25th in the Foothills 2 Room of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Austin, Texas, at 5:00 p.m. in the afternoon.

If you are coming to the UT/TASA Summer Conference, the Hyatt is the host site, so just mosey on down at 5:00 to tell Bill “thanks” for his work to benefit small and mid-size schools. If you’re not coming to the conference, this reception is a great excuse for a day-trip to Austin. Come help give the Grusendorfs a well-deserved send-off.

Bill and Pat Grusendorf will be missed at the Capitol!!

Be sure to follow TACS on Facebook & Twitter!


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Texas Association of Community Schools
1011 San Jacinto Blvd., Ste. 204
Austin, Texas 78701-2431
Phone: (512) 440-8227
Fax: (512) 442-6705