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Bill Sybert School honored for prestigious Texas Schools to Watch designation

Students at event presentation

Bill Sybert School had a special celebration May 4 in the school gym to celebrate their designation as a Texas School to Watch by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform and the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals.

Texas Schools to Watch State Director Leticia Menchaca made a special visit to the school to personally congratulate the administration, faculty, staff, students and parents who participated in the rigorous process to earn the prestigious designation for the middle school grades at the school.

Menchaca said that this year only nine schools out of more than 2,000 received the distinguished designation.

“What this means for Bill Sybert is that they are considered a model school because they have proven to be taking care of every single student in all areas,” Menchaca said.

The distinction recognizes Bill Sybert’s academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, social equity and organizational structure and processes.

The energetic event, which was tied into the school’s pre-STAAR test rally, also included board trustee Eduardo Mena, who congratulated the students and staff. A school band, the cheer squad, and special student guests from Montwood High School added to the festivities and loud cheers for the school’s achievement.

Adrian Lara, an eighth-grade student, said he was grateful to attend such a great school.

“This designation means that we received a good education,” Lara said. “Everyone here has helped me prepare for that next step of going to high school next year.”

Eighth grader Sophia Davis said the award makes her feel appreciated as part of the Bill Sybert community.

“Our students and staff are what makes our school so unique because they make class time fun,” Davis said. “So, I am sad that I’ll be leaving next year, but I am glad we will be leaving a good legacy for years to come.”

In order to earn the Texas School to Watch designation, the school participated in the lengthy process, which included a detailed application and a survey that needed to be completed by at least 80 percent of the campus staff. Then the application and survey results are reviewed by a panel.

From there schools who are approved by the panel receive a site visit from Texas Schools to Watch representatives who visit every classroom and talk to a student panel, parent panel and teachers. Finally, with those observations and feedback a decision is made on whether a school is awarded the designation or not.

The designation stands for three years, after which schools are expected to show growth in all areas that were determined to need of improvement, and they can reapply to be redesignated.

Bill Sybert is one of some 50 campuses across the state that has earned the accolade and was recognized at the Making Middle School Matter Symposium at the end of February.

In earning the Texas Schools to Watch distinction, the school demonstrated strong leadership, teachers who work together to improve curriculum and instruction, and a commitment to assessment and accountability to bring about continuous improvement.

Gabriela Elliott, principal at Bill Sybert School, said she can’t get over all the great things that are happening at the school, including the designation.

“This is a great honor,” Elliott said. “It shows the great work that is happening here every day and the high achievement that is coming from our students.”

Elliot said she is proud and thankful to the Bill Sybert community, including the teachers, students and parents who make the culture student focused and work together to do what is best for tomorrow's leaders.

Bill Sybert School also will be recognized nationally with other recognized STW schools across the country at the National Forum Schools to Watch Conference in Washington D.C. June 23 to 25, 2022.

  Published June 14, 2022

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