This week PISD celebrated the 100th day of school. At Northside, parents and students celebrated by providing all kinds of interesting items — 100 of each — for students to count, add, subtract, problem solve, create art, and eat. Not only did our young children have the chance to work and learn the number 100, but on Thursday kindergarten students had a great day dressing up and bringing to life their favorite Superkids character. An activity of this magnitude allows our young children to use their imagination and makes the learning real to life and relevant. We are very proud of Northside and their efforts to make learning fun.

As I have mentioned several times, PISD not only strives to make sure each student receives a quality education, but we also have a desire to ensure that children are taught social skills. One way Southside teaches social skills is through a school wide sing-a-long each month. Every Sing-a-Long includes students singing “Happy Birthday” to those students who have had a birthday that month. In addition, there is a theme chosen to sing about. This month's theme was "kindness". Students entered the cafeteria to the song "What the World Needs Now is Love". During the Sing-a-Long, students will sing song like, "We're All in This Together,” "Peace Like a River/This Little Light of Mine," "Say Hi" and "Teaching Peace." They will also view a kindness video from the "Auto B Good" character development series. After the video the children are presented information on bullying in schools and the ways to be kind to one another. Thank you, Southside for teaching the “WHOLE” child.

As we enter the spring semester, we are readying ourselves for the TAKS test. To ensure PISD gives our students the best chance of success on the test, we have tutors who come in Monday – Thursday at Story elementary. The tutors are community members that are dedicated to PISD students and the success of PISD. These ladies are assisting the District by reaching out to third and fourth graders who are struggling academically. The tutoring project was the idea of Dorothy Edwards and former board member and elementary principal, Freta Parkes. As you can see, PISD has community support that is second to none. With this community’s passion and determination along with their deep love for children, our district will be successful in reaching our children.

Our district has wonderful community support in other avenues besides academics. Last week our high school gym was full of supporters of our girls’ 8th grade basketball teams. Both our A and B teams have done extremely well this year and our A team won the District title. The Middle School had a great deal to celebrate in the classroom, as well, when we received our district’s benchmark test results. The Middle School has witnessed growth in all core areas and we are proud of the hard work of our children and teachers.

Our high school students continue to set the standard for student behavior this week as there were outside proctors administering the NAEP (National Assessment of Educators Progress) test to our seniors. One of the proctors boasted how the high school students were the best behaved students she has ever worked with. Another proctor chimed in saying that he had not worked with a group of students that exemplified such good manners as did the senior class of 2009. There are many things that make you proud when working with teenagers, but not much more will make you prouder than visitors bragging on the way your children behave. Thank you, class of 2009 for helping change the perception of PHS. I am very proud of you all.

PISD has so much to be proud of this year because of the numerous accomplishments we, together, have accomplished this year. As with any successes come setbacks and people tend to remember the negative and not the positives. I have never really understood why we, as a society, are focused on failures and not successes. Do not be discouraged about or dismayed about any outside distractions. We must build one another up continually as many times we are the only ones who will. I leave you today with a note from John Maxwell.


Nineteenth-century writer Walt Whitman struggled for years to get anyone interested in his poetry. In the midst of his discouragement, Whitman received a life-changing letter from an admirer of his work. The note read: “Dear sir, I am not blind to the worth of the wonderful gift of Leaves of Grass. I find it the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed. I greet you at the beginning of a great career.” It was signed Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Whitman enjoyed a long career and is now considered one of the giants of American literature. But when times were tough, he needed encouragement to keep going. When we’re on the brink of failure, the right words at the right time can keep us going; an act of compassion can give us new strength. There’s no doubt about it: Encouragement enables us to persevere like nothing else.

Have a great weekend and be mindful of what is important in life.


Thomas A. Wallis, Ed. D is the Palestine ISD superintendent.

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