HPS Austin Highlights September 2019 Edition

STEM for All


Smiles, giggles and congratulatory cheers rang loud during technology classes at Harmony School of Science and Harmony School of Endeavor this September as elementary students enjoyed their first few classes of Hello World, a computer science project-based curriculum.

Students in 4th grade are learning how to code self-driving cars, AutoAuto, through Python, a computer science coding language that is being taught by Hello World’s software engineers. With a team of two students, the engineer and the coder, students make their way through lessons with the guidance of their technology teacher and a Hello World software engineer. “I like to be the coder because I love typing!” said Damien, a 4th grader at Harmony School of Science.

Students at Harmony School of Science enjoyed a visit from Hello World this September.

For HSS 4th grade student, Damien and his classmates, this is their first time working with the Python coding language. Students are not only learning high-demand industry skills, but having fun while coding the self-driving cars. Students at Harmony School of Science were visited by Hello World for one week of AutoAuto coding fun while Harmony School of Endeavor will continue with the program this Fall semester.

Harmony School of Endeavor 4th grade students give Hello World and AutoAuto a thumbs up!

Hello World will also be returning to Harmony Science Academy - Austin this Fall semester teaching 7th graders full stack web development. Hello World programming at Harmony Public Schools Austin is graciously funded through a grant through RetailMeNot.


Flying hotdog stands, radioactive lagoons, and rescue robots were all the rage at the 1st Annual Lego Competition hosted by Harmony School of Science on September 28th. Students from 1st to 5th grade were placed in teams of four and charged with designing and constructing their own master structures completely out of Lego pieces. With only 2 ½ hours of construction time, teams had to work together to complete their Lego creations on time.

The Creators, a 4th grade team made up of Abdullah, Mohammed, Hossam, and Izyan, came prepared with a hand drawn blueprint that detailed phases of the construction time for their very own version of a rescue robot. What motivated these four students, however, was the fact they were able to work together to build something creative.
“We think this competition is fun because we are working together as a team and we’re being creative. Our favorite part is building the structure of our rescue robot.” - Izyan, HSS 4th grader.
Thank you to all the guest judges and congratulations to all the Lego competition winners!

After 2 ½ hours of building their master structures, students moved on to the judging stage of a panel of special guests. Congratulations to all the winners for being such great Lego master builders in training!

HPS Austin Promotes a Love of Learning


As students sat down to read I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by author Erika Sánchez, they expected it to be just another boring book assignment in their high school Spanish honors class. What they didn’t expect was to fall in love with the story and realize how much they can connect with the book’s main character, Julia. “Students are telling me how much they can relate to the book and how good and funny it is,” said Maria Hernandez, High School Spanish teacher and Spanish Honor Society sponsor.

Spanish Honor Society students at Harmony Science Academy - Pflugerville were given the books from the Texas Teen Book Festival this month in preparation of the upcoming field trip visit to the fest on October, 12th, 2019. TTBF not only sponsored the classroom books, but will also sponsor the field trip where students will be able to meet and greet with the book's author, Erika Sánchez.

" I would like to thank the Texas Teen Book Festival. This is a great opportunity for students to read a book and be able to interact with its author." - Maria Hernandez

Dedicated Staff


As the 2019-2020 school year rolls out, Albert Demarest, Harmony Science Academy - Pflugerville English II teacher, enters into his 10th year of guiding his students through a sea of figurative language and foreshadowing motifs.

“Going onto my 10th year, I am confident in the direction I take my lessons and where my students are going. Harmony is a great place to work because of the opportunity for creating your own direction. I can take things that I personally enjoy and have a passion for and apply that to my teaching and extra curricular activities.” - Albert Demarest, HSAPf English Teacher

Although Demarest’s first passion is teaching English to his high school juniors, he also is passionate about something most of the world is too - gaming. With the ever-growing billion dollar enterprise of competitive multiplayer video gaming, it is only a matter of time that schools accept the growing competitive games of esports. This is what Demarest hopes for at his school campus where he is also the esports club sponsor. With the growing number of universities adopting esports as scholarship opportunities and are even launching bachelor's and master's esports programs, Demarest believes that this is the new way of the future.

For Demarest, the esports league is more than just a leisure time of playing video games. He believes gaming is a way for students to find innovative and progressive ways to approach problem-solving and 21st century skills. From effective communication to team building, these skills are vital to the real world outside of the online gaming environment. Demarest also believes this will benefit the entire student body by being an open and all inclusive competitive sport. No matter a student’s physical capabilities or handicaps, esports is a competitive team sport that can include everyone. Beginning next semester, Demarest’s Esports League at HSAPf will begin entering online tournaments to compete against schools nationwide for not only the glory of winning but for scholarship money, exposure and gaming gear.

“In the next five years, I would like to expand our esports program in the Harmony Austin district to then state-wide Harmony. Because of the online nature of it, we can pull students from various campuses and geography doesn’t matter. We have such a large school system that we can create extremely competitive teams. They can all come together, collaborate and problem solve online.”

To find out more about the Esports League at Harmony Science Academy - Pflugerville, contact Mr. Demarest at ademarest@harmonytx.org


Artist and art teacher, Eduardo Martinez, is ready to unveil a new creation, Oso, the new Harmony School of Innovation school mascot. After weeks of designing and editing the bear cub illustration, Oso is finally finished and ready for all to meet. Martinez hopes that students and staff enjoy seeing the confident and innovative Oso around the campus.

Martinez anticipates that once students discover that he in fact illustrated the new mascot, they will begin to ask him questions in class and become curious about the different types of art mediums and careers in the industry. He hopes to instill that students who are interested in art can choose it as a career by exploring and finding their niche they love.

“Create everyday and challenge yourself in all mediums of art. This will make you a better artist and help you appreciate the hard work that goes into being an artist. “ - Eduardo Martinez
“Students and staff are excited to wear their new HSI Oso spirit shirts proudly. (pictured right) We are #HSIproud!” Amy Chankin, HSI Principal

Martinez is not only the school’s art teacher, he is also an illustrator and muralist on and off campus. The school’s STEM mural, which Martinez painted over summer vacation, is located in the main hallway and brings happiness to each who walk by. He has also recently illustrated a children’s book, Addy is a Picky Eater, and is currently illustrating a second book by the same author, Jacky Lamenzo.

Community Connections


Grandparents Day is a precious time meant to show love and appreciation to our family members, however, many grandparents living in retirement and assisted living homes do not have the chance to spend time with their grandchildren. With the help of Fabiana Montenegro, Harmony School of Innovation Engagement Coordinator, elementary students at HSI were able to bring some to joy on Grandparents day for many senior citizens living at the Élan Southpark Meadows Assisted Living and Memory Care in South Austin.

As a part of the social and emotional learning strategies the school campus has implemented, students volunteered their time and hand-made sweet Grandparents Day cards to demonstrate empathy to the world around them.

“This was such a great opportunity for our students to understand the impact of empathy. Through decorating and coloring their cards, they were able to see how one small act of kindness made a great deal of difference in the lives of these senior citizens, especially on Grandparents Day.” - Fabiana Montenegro, HSI Engagement Coordinator 
Montenegro personally delivered the cards to the assisted living center where over 80 senior citizens were thrilled to receive such a special delivery!

In the Community


The Texas Tribune Festival was in full swing along Congress Avenue on Saturday, September 28th with sessions ranging from public education policies to political activism among millennials. Harmony Public Schools Mock Government Club high school students from Houston and Austin jumped at the chance to volunteer to assist in one of Texas’ largest and most-talked about political gatherings where some of the nation’s most influential public figures discussed the future of American politics.

Students from Harmony School of Excellence - Austin and Harmony School of Discovery - Houston joined the annual Texas Tribune Festival.

Home Visits Work!

Harmony’s Home Visit Program is one way our staff supports students and families through the educational process. Harmony teachers visit more than 7,000 homes each year to answer any questions families might have, often helping parents work through confusion about the college application process or provide student resources. We want to ensure our students know that they have the support of both their school and their family in their academic pursuits. Educators from all grades have made the commitment to build communication between themselves and families by visiting the homes of their students. Parents, we encourage you to request your home visit today!

Harmony Science Academy - Cedar Park staff visited with students at their homes. Ms. Taylor even went for a bike ride during her visit!
Harmony School of Excellence - Austin
Harmony School of Science - Austin
Harmony Science Academy - Pflugerville
Harmony Science Academy - Austin
Harmony School of Endeavor - Austin
Harmony School of Innovation - Austin

Harmony Public Schools Austin

HPS Austin Leadership Team

Left to Right: Dr. Ebubekir Orsun - Director of Engagement and Talent | Clarissa Davila - Director of Communications and Marketing | Gultekin Kaya, M.S., M.Ed. - Austin Area Superintendent | Katelyn Meck, M.Ed - Director of Academics Elementary | Toraman Yayla, M.Ed MBA RTSBA - Director of Operations | Robert Navarro - Director of Finance | Aydin Yildirim - Director of Academics Secondary (not pictured)
HPS Austin District Office - 13415 FM 620 N Austin, Texas 78717

HPS Austin Schools

Agil Sharifov M.Ed. M.A Principal | Harmony Science Academy - Pflugerville

1421 WELLS BRANCH #200 Pflugerville, TX 78660 GRADES: 6TH-12TH

Tiffany Molina, M.Ed. Principal | Harmony Science Academy - Austin

930 E Rundberg Lane Austin, TX 78753 Grades: PK-8th

Allanur Agaberdiyev, M.Ed. Principal | Harmony School of Endeavor - Austin

13415 FM 620 N Austin, TX 78717 Grades: PK-12th

Ilker Yilmaz, M.Ed. Principal | Harmony Science Academy - Cedar Park

12200 Anderson Mill Rd Austin, Texas 78726 Grades: PK-5th

Waylon Stengler, M, Ed Principal | Harmony School of Science - Austin

11800 Stonehollow Dr. #100 Austin, TX Grades: K-5th

Ashley Gorman, Principal | Harmony School of Excellence - Austin

2100 East St. Elmo Rd. Austin, Texas 78744 Grades: 6th-12th

Amy Chankin, M. Ed. Principal | Harmony School of Innovation - Austin


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Created By
Clarissa Davila