New teaching positions added at high school

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By Christine Bolaños

Liberty Hill High School will have new teachers in health science, family consumer science and English beginning in the fall.

The Liberty Hill ISD Board of Trustees unanimously approved the positions during its March 25 meeting. The action is a result of changes in high school graduation requirements brought on by House Bill 5.

The education bill from 2013 made drastic changes to the Texas Education Code in curriculum, accountability, assessment and accreditation. The new graduation requirements became effective with this year’s freshman class.

Under the new plan, students graduate with endorsements in Arts & Humanities, Business & Industry, Multidisciplinary Studies, Public Services or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

The additional teachers will help keep students on track by offering courses in line with endorsements.

“As mentioned, with the enactment of House Bill 5 and the new endorsement plans of freshman coming in last year (fall), it kind of stretches us in the elective area, which is a good thing because there are more programs of study.” Liberty Hill High School Principal Bobby Mabry told board members. “We are asking for an additional English teacher because we’re kind of maxed out with 25 and more. That’s a heavily tested area, which is a very challenging test.”

The health science program has grown enough to merit an additional position as well.

“As that program has grown, it’s really taken off. As they progress in that program of study, we have to add additional classes and that requires additional sections so we’re asking for an additional health science teacher,” Mabry explained, adding that an applicant with a registered nursing background is preferable.

“So that students in that class have two options: When they graduate they can be a certified nursing assistant or pharmacy technician. To make that happen for that group of kids we need to have the extra staff member there,” he added.

Growth in consumer science and the endorsement plan has created a need for an additional position in that area as well.

“Another consumer science teacher will allow us to expand our culinary arts program and also begin our fashion design program that we envisioned when we built the new high school,” Mabry said.

Administration alluded to the need for additional positions as the students reach junior and senior years and progress their programs of study.

“House Bill 5 is going to be a good plan once we get to the point where we get the staff we need. Fortunately we have the facilities now, otherwise if we were still in the old building, we’d have no place to put them,” Superintendent Rob Hart said.

Curriculum Director Claudeane Braun said HB 5 has set the stage for some “exciting courses” and mentioned medical applications, veterinary science, graphic design, political science, fashion design and animation courses.

During the public comments portion of the meeting, two residents of Liberty Hill, as well as a trio of students expressed their concerns about what they deem to be safety issues at the agriculture barn facility on the junior high campus.

This is following a standing-room only crowd at the December school board meeting where a number of parents cited their concerns.

“The ag facility improvement group has raised our concerns for the last five months. I respectfully request that the ag facility group be added to the standing agenda,” Shaun Bunting said. “To date we have seen little movement on our concerns. These students deserve a facility that is safe, orderly and on par with the rest of the Liberty Hill school district.”

David Robuck followed by showing the school board an article in a paper he said “advocates” for the students who utilize the agriculture barn facility.

“We’re hoping to find a leader in the school board. We want no facility left behind, no child left behind and no department left behind. We’re going to try to see what the headline news will be: ‘School board steps up and approves great facilities and improving the ag program,’ or is it, ‘The school board continues to neglect and do nothing for the ag program,” he asked rhetorically.

“I’d like to think we’re not falling upon deaf ears,” Robuck said. “We’re hoping to have an advocate in the school board.”

Next followed freshman Megan Jennings, a member of FFA, who presented the Board with a scrapbook she feels shows the positive difference the program makes in her life.

“I have made a scrapbook to demonstrate how the program is great with making friendships and skills and things like that,” she said.

Two of her fellow students spoke during Jenning’s turn as well. They talked about how their social and public speaking skills have improved through FFA.

“A lot of people associate FFA with showing the animals and FFA is a lot more than that. Whether people realize it or not there are some things you learn here that will help you later on in life,” one of the students said.

She said those skills can help with job interviewing and job performance. In addition, FFA allows for the opportunity to create invaluable friendships.

“This organization has been such an amazing thing to happen to us. The communication skills we’ve got through this is unbelievable. I just wish people would associate FFA not just with showing animals but some of the amazing skills that come out of this organization,” she added.

The other student admitted she was shy before becoming involved in FFA. That has since changed.

“I used to be very shy. I moved here in seventh grade and I was closed up in my shell and now I’m talking in front of y’all because of FFA,” she said.

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