HPS Austin Monthly February Edition

Message from the Superintendent

Gina Gregory, Austin Area Superintendent

In February, Harmony Public Schools - Austin celebrated our love for learning by observing black history month, literacy night, STEM4ALL, and our Language Olympiad. Each of these celebrations allowed our students to engage in hands-on learning and experience a multicultural education. Also, we are beyond grateful to have been chosen by UT Austin as one of their beautification sites for their largest day of service. We thank Home Depot for supplying tools and donated resources to allow the over 100 volunteers to revitalize our Rundberg campus. Additionally, our campuses' Teacher of the Year were chosen. These teachers were chosen by their colleagues for going above and beyond to ensure that our students are getting a valuable education. Though we could only choose a few teachers, we know the exceptional teaching that occurs in our classrooms on a daily bases - they certainly make us Harmony Proud!

Dedicated Staff

HPS Austin is staffed with committed and talented educators from around Texas and the globe. Our dedicated staff use a whole child approach to education and do whatever it takes to help our students' reach their goals. Each month, we are honored to introduce and highlight one of the amazing team members from the Harmony family.

2017-2018 Campus Teachers of The Year

Harmony Science Academy Austin Middle- Abby DeShazo

One of Abby DeShazo’s favorite teaching moments is the instant something clicks for a student and they fully understand a concept. As a 7th grade ELA teacher and campus interventionist, Ms. DeShazo guides students to develop a creative ideas through writing, artistic interpretations and projects. She launched and continues to lead the National Junior Honor Society chapter for her campus and loves volunteering alongside her students in the Austin community. Ms. DeShazo serves as a mentor teacher for her campus and enjoys leading a Professional Learning Community group that helps strengthen the department.

Harmony Science Academy Austin Elementary- Lynn Hamilton

Lynn Hamilton encourages her Art students to take risks through leading by example. She has embarked on an innovative style of teaching by transforming her art classroom into a student centered art studio where artistic behaviors are emphasized. Students are allowed to choose not only their materials but also the style, design, and final product of their art project creating a “maker-space” for the art studio. Mrs. Hamilton involves her student in neighborhood art projects working alongside the community group Restore Rundberg and plans field trips so her students can see a variety of art throughout the city. She also leads the campus Sunshine Committee which helps create a positive campus culture and family environment among staff.

Harmony Science Academy Pflugerville Middle- Erika Kirkland

Before Erika Kirkland’s middle school Physical Education class activities begin, she articulates life lessons on leadership, teamwork, motivation, and communication through lessons on athletics. In her Health courses, she invites professionals to the classroom so students are able to explore careers in the health and medical field. Coach Kirkland started the campus’s first ever softball team and provides off-season and summer basketball camps. She encourages her students to take advantage of other athletic opportunities outside the school day through clubs, select, and YMCA programming. Coach Kirkland regular participates as an instructor in professional development opportunities and enjoys sharing her experience with students and fellow educators.

Harmony Science Academy Pflugerville High- David Kleb

The walls of David Kleb’s high school social science classroom are lined with impressive student work projects. Mr. Kleb currently teaches four different courses of social science, two of which are Advanced Placement. He leads his classroom as a facilitator and allows the focus of all work to be student led and project based. Mr. Kleb strives for an inclusive and safe environment for his students and for his co-workers who are members of his Professional Learning Community.

Harmony School of Science- Lanie Matula

Lanie Matula is not just a 4th grade ELA teacher at HSS; she is also the Volleyball, Track, and Basketball Coach. Mrs. Matula also enjoys coaching new teachers as a mentor on her campus as well as serves as a leader in her Professional Learning Community group. As a PTO liaison, she makes sure HSS families have exciting activities to attend on campus. In her classroom, she designs lessons that allow her students to collaborate, work on innovative projects, and creates choice in their coursework.

Harmony School of Innovation- Brittany Buccolo

As a first generation college student, Brittany Buccolo’s passion for education and children led her to the classroom. Ms. Buccolo’s connection to her students expands far beyond her 4th grade math class and you will often find her playing tag with her students at recess, at a student’s birthday party, sporting event, or even first communion. Focusing on student engagement and number fluency has had proven results for her students as they soar through their academic work. Ms. Buccolo serves as a leader for her campus as a member of the PTO and co-chair of the Site-Base Management team.

Harmony School of Excellence Middle- Rebecca Thompson

In Rebecca Thompson’s 7th grade ELA class, reading is the focus so that students are exposed to new ideas, different cultures, and human experience. As a life-long learner, she recently attended the Heart of Texas Writing Project to help create a classroom with an authentic, engaged, and nurturing writing environment. Mrs. Thompson leads other teachers by sharing her knowledge and experience as a presenter at various professional development opportunities for educators. She also enjoys getting out of her comfort zone and creating new lessons for students to publish their work in ways that are meaningful for them through their new classroom blog.

Harmony School of Excellence High- Ruben Mutt Ortiz

Ruben Mutt believes the pillars of success in his classroom are family and community. It is not uncommon for many of his 9th grade Algebra I students to receive perfect scores on their state exams and rank in the top percentile in the state. Mr. Mutt’s high expectations for all of his students garner mutual respect in his classroom and in Math Club drives success. He not only collaborates often with his campus colleagues but is honored to serve as the district Professional Learning Community leader for Algebra.

Harmony School of Political Science- Catherine Gilkey

Catherine Gilkey works tirelessly to connect her 7th grade science classroom to real-life lessons. Students in Ms. Gilkey’s class have published their own book, been highlighted on the local news for their lesson on body systems, and worked on practical solutions for water conservation. Putting science into action is a constant theme in her classroom where you can always count on finding exciting projects that students love. Mrs. Gilkey also serves as a mentor teacher for her campus.

Harmony Science Academy Cedar Park- Veronica Taylor

Veronica Taylor, Math and Reading Interventionist, is committed to doing whatever it takes to help her campus be a success. If she is not working directly with students, you can find her helping her co-workers or helping plan for campus wide activities. Ms. Taylor is active in Harmony’s home visit program and maintains a strong connections with her students and their families.


Leading by Example

Harmony Science Academy Pflugerville middle school math teacher, Martha Smith, leads the Students Who Promote Random Acts of Kindness (SPARK) club and was recently recognized for promoting kindness outside of the school day herself. Ms. Smith restores furniture for families in Port Aransas who were impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Check out the full story on KVUE at the link below:

Austin Communication Team Gives Back

HPS Austin Communication Team partners with Mexic-Arte Museum to help prep for a new exhibit.
HPS Austin Communication Team partners with Thinkery

Harmony Science Academy Austin UT Project

“It was so kind of them to come to our school to help us out. Our school looks beautiful!” said Kiera, 7th grader at HSA.

Saturday, February 24th marked the 3rd year that Harmony Science Academy Austin was included in The University of Texas at Austin's Largest Day of Service in the Rundberg community area in partnership with Keep Austin Beautiful. Over 100 UT students and community volunteers spent their Saturday beautifying the campus grounds in a variety of projects that included mulching, cleaning, painting and building wooden benches. HSA was one of the 12 sites included in The Project 2018. Overall, 1,000 volunteers from the community and UT students worked on sites to help beautify the Rundberg community.

“My students were so excited on Monday morning! They didn’t even want to play on the playground today. They wanted to run through the mulching on the play yard,” said Ms. Malayna Keller, Kindergarten Teacher.

HSA was one of the 12 sites included in The Project 2018. Overall, 1,000 volunteers from the community and UT students worked on sites to help beautify the Rundberg community.


Harmony School of Science- Science Fair

Harmony School of Science held their campus science fair on February 2nd, 2018. Students were then able to attend the Austin Energy Science Fair on February 24th. Farina (3rd grade) and Spandana (4th grade) won at HSS for their grade level and also received a 1st place ribbon at the Austin Energy Science Fair! Fifth grade winners at HSS include Devyn W., Yusuf H., Angel G., Angela G., Affan S., and Diego O.. Campus winners Meryem O./ Inara M. (shared project), Minaga D. and Aroz C. in fifth grade also received 1st place ribbons at the Austin Energy Science Fair! Elementary students Tisya D. and Aroz C. were also invited to present their award winning projects at Earth Day 2018 hosted at Huston Tillotson University. Congratulations to all of the winners!

Austin Energy Fair

Congratulations to HSS 5th grader Aroz C. for receiving The Earth Day - Positive Futures Award 2018 Special Award as well as a 1st place ribbon at the Austin Energy Science Fair!

Regional Science Fair Winners

We are very excited to announce the winners of the 2018 Austin Energy Regional Science Fair. We are proud of our students' great accomplishments. Fakhri W. - 1st place - Mathematics Abrar R. - 1st place - Computer Science: Hardware/Embedded Systems Rania L. - 2nd place - Chemistry Burak B. & BaJe-Ayn O. - 4th Mathematics Ambrereen H.- 4th place - Computer Science; Systems Software

Youth Code Jam

Harmony Science Academy Cedar Park’s tech savvy students had the amazing opportunity to showcase their skills at the ATX Code Jam hosted by Coding4TX. Coding4TX is a nonprofit organization that fosters an interest in technology by engaging elementary through high school students and their parents in computer science. The Code Jam event is designed to get students excited about coding by building their confidence and it helps to inspire ideas on how they can enter the tech industry. Computer Science teacher Angela Tackett notes her passion for serving young students in technology and coding at the elementary level. “I am always amazed by the skill level of our students. I can truly see them running Google or Microsoft when they get older,” says Tackett. Her students spent the day at the Code Jam sharing their skills in Arduino coding, HTML, robotic cars, and virtual reality.

Harmony School of Innovation Austin

2017-2018 Harmony School of Innovation Austin Robotic Team

Harmony School of Innovation Austin's Robotic Team placed 6 out of 27 in the FIRST LEGO League tournament. Fifth grade students were challenged to design a robot using the FIRST LEGO league hydro dynamics and explain their demonstration. "We did really good this year! I am always super proud of my students for trying their best. This is a good learning experience for both my students and myself!" explains Robotic Coach, Mr. Sanchez.

Edison Lecture Series

Students from Harmony School of Political Science and Harmony School of Excellence attended this year’s Edison Lecture Series hosted by UT Austin’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. The focus of the event was on autonomous vehicles and highlighted computer science exhibits by UT students ranging from superhuman sensing, computer vision, and navigation with a closing lecture on driverless car and drone technology.


Harmony School of Excellence Austin welcomes Dove Springs Proud

Dove Springs Proud President, Mr. Ricardo Zavala and Travis County Constable Morales

Harmony School of Excellence-Austin welcomed Travis County Constable Morales Pct 4, and Dove Springs Proud President, Mr. Zavala to empower middle school students to be the change in their community. In Mrs. Rebecca Thompson’s seventh grade class, students were challenged with the task of writing “Letters for Change” after watching a video about future princess Meghan Markle. Markle told a story about how she saw a commercial when in 5th grade for Dove Dishwashing Liquid that left a negative impact on her. The commercial stated, “Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans.” Her father gave her the advice that she should write letters to Dove executives to explain why she was bothered by the narrative. Weeks later, Dove changed their add to “People all over America…” Her one voice made a positive change and HSE students were intrigued. The idea of empowering students to be a voice initiated the invite to host Travis County Constable George Morales Pct 4 and Dove Springs Proud President, Mr. Zavala to speak to HSE students and to impart inspirational stories about their lives. Both community leaders know something about positive change from the ground up.

“I know they motivated my students to use their voices and their writing skills to create letters for change. A few of the topics that my students are writing about include: the law SB4, DACA, healthcare, and standardized testing. Who knows what changes will happen because of these inspired 7th graders? They are the future and they have a voice.” explained English Language Arts Teacher, Mrs. Thompson.

Harmony Science Academy Austin Literacy Night

Harmony Science Academy Austin ESL Team

Harmony Science Academy Austin hosted their annual Literacy Week where they hosted guest readers from the Harmony Public Schools District office. Volunteers visited classrooms and read to our elementary students throughout the week. Guests included the Austin Police Department Officers Ray Kianes and Officer Stewart with R.E.A.D. (Rundberg Educational Advancement District), Ms. Karen Knight from the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department and the Harmony Austin District office. Mrs. Gina Gregory, the Harmony Austin District Superintendent, also stopped in to read to a kindergarten class. Thank you to all the guest readers for volunteering their time to share their love of reading to HSA students!

2018 HSA Austin Literacy Night

To wrap up the week, the English as a Second Language department hosted their long standing Literacy Night event for family members and the community to celebrate their love of reading. Special vendors visited the campus to share information of their services to the community. Thank you to the Austin Public Library, Sendero Health Plans, United Way, Access Dental, Superior Health Plans, and the Austin Police Department with R.E.A.D. for sharing your services to our families.

Austin Police Department Officers Stewart and Ray Kianes

2018 LOTE District Olympiad

Students who participate in Language Other Than English (LOTE) courses at Harmony Public Schools have the opportunity of showcasing the language, art, and culture of their studies at the annual Language Olympiad. Austin students compete in categories such as singing, poem reciting, and dance.

"HSE Austin won first place in poetry, folk dance, and singing categories of the Spanish language competition. We are so fortunate to be able to work with such amazing, and talented students. This is the 6th consecutive year that our school's dance team has won 1st place." -Spanish Teacher Mrs. Garcia

Celebrating Across the District

Harmony Science Academy Pflugerville Afro-American Society

In celebration and recognition of #BlackHistoryMonth, the student-led Afro-American Society of Harmony Science Academy Pflugerville hosted the 1st Annual 2018 Black History Month Program. Students showcased prominent black figures and performed a show of traditional African dance and student-written poetry. The Afro-American Society is student led and sponsored by Ms. Ashley Wright and Ms. Stephanie Alexander-Robinson of HSAPf. “The students did a great job for taking the initiative and creating something new at HSAPf from the creation of the Afro-American club to the 1st Annual Black History Program. The club is open to all students, not just african Americans student. This is also a student driven club, we want our students to be involved as much as possible and be able to have a voice. I am very proud of our students and the amazing assembly they put together!” said Ms. Wright.

Harmony School of Innovation and Harmony School of Excellence Austin welcomed Melissa Waddy-Thibodeaux from Flying Geese Productions. Students were taken back in time to the 1800s with a reenactment presentation of Harriet Tubman!
In celebration of Black History Month, Harmony Science Academy Austin welcomed Huston-Tillotson University student leadership to speak to elementary and middle school students about the history of the university and their personal experiences in college.
Harmony School of Excellence Austin showcased their talent at their Annual Black History Month ceremony, led by Music Teacher, Mrs. Francis. Students reenacted The Drinking Gord, and expressed their feelings through poetry.


2018 Winter Olympics

Coach Janiece Beardslee from Harmony Science Academy Cedar Park loves sports and she loves the Olympics! That’s why she is so passionate about bringing the some of the events to her students. “How often will these kids get to learn about bobsledding?” So with a campus makerspace she got creative and assembled bobsleds out of mats and scooters. Students practiced four-man style with one student pushing then hopping on back as they sped away, racing down the gym floor. Students also got to try their hand at other winter sports, like hockey. It’s a great way to get students to learn about physical activity and the training that it takes to qualify to represent your country!

HSPS AAAS Guest Speakers

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) partners has a new initiative to with local scientists and facilitate talks with area schools. Harmony School of Political Science and Communications was a lucky participant in this year’s AAAS outreach activity and hosted two speakers on campus. 7th grade students enjoyed Farin Bakhtiari - a doctoral student at the University of Texas Austin studying Human Development and Family Sciences. She specializes in transitioning out of childhood into adolescence, and spoke to students on how she discovered her field and how to discover what you love, not what your good at. High schools students hear from doctoral student, Aaron Conrado, also a student at UT Austin studying Microbiology. He did a fantastic job engaging with students on how he found his field, and shared some super interesting video of how bacteria behave, and about his research on cholera and ecoli.

Civic Engagement

District 46 Candidate Forum

Harmony Public Schools Austin staff and parents participated in a Town Hall Meeting regarding the election of the Texas House Representative for District 46. The forum discussed charter education and reform but more specifically candidates answered questions regarding important topics such as teacher salary, school finance, local control and other policy measures.

This forum was a great opportunity for constituents to address lawmakers and to showcase the great outcomes in terms of student achievement taking place in our classrooms.

Harmony School of Excellence Austin English Language Arts

Jordan Lorence, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom

Harmony School of Excellence ELA and Debate teacher, Timothy Brewer, is always looking for ways to engage his class with real life situations that are relevant to the classroom. His most recent guest, Jordan Lorence, serves as senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom and has represented many clients at the U.S. Supreme Court. His firm is currently defending Jack Phillips in the Masterpiece Cake Shop v. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission which Brewer's Debate class has been studying for several weeks. During the Skype guest visit students were able to refine the skills they have been learning in class by offering rebuttals to Mr. Lorence’s case and ask questions about his work who was very impressed with their critical thinking and interest.

Volunteer with Harmony

We need you! Can you help? Community members and parents are encouraged to volunteer at HPS. Every day, volunteers fulfill essential needs especially in the administrative, support and fundraising areas so that HPS's teaching staff can focus all its energy on its young students. Volunteers may be utilized in the classrooms, assisting in the office, library, and cafeteria, or at community fundraising events. If you are interested in volunteering, please sign up at the link below!

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Meet the district office leadership staff

Left to Right: Victoria Stockstill, M.Ed.- Director of Communications and Development; Toroman Yayla- Director of Finance; Taji Jordan, MS, PHR- Director of Talent; Gina Gregory, M.Ed.- Area Superintendent; Dana Moses, M.Ed.- Director of Operations; Allanur Agaberdiyev, M. Ed.- Director of Academics; Ozan Doganay, M.Ed.- Director of Engagement

930 E Rundberg Lane Austin, TX 78753

1421 Wells Branch Pkwy Suite 200 Grades: 6th-12th

13415 FM 620 N Grades: 5-12th

12200 Anderson Mill Rd Austin, Texas 78726 Grades: PK-4th

11800 Stonehollow Dr. Suite 100 Grades: K-5th

2100 E St. Elmo Rd Grades: 6th-12th

2124 E St. Elmo Rd. Grades: K-5th

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