Message from the superintendent
The beginning of 2018 is starting with STEM excitement, connecting to the community, and college focused learning. The cold weather did not stop our students from giving back to the city by participating in the MLK Day clean-up day. Our Austin District Science Fair was a huge success. Congrats to Rania, the recipient of a 2-time Superintendent Award. The Formula 1 STEM challenge, T-STEM grant announcement, and daily hands-on STEM learning ensure our students continue to engage in high quality learning. The beginning of the second semester is a great reminder for our students to prepare for their futures and HPS is happy to reinforce that standard. Visits from Austin Community College and Huston Tillotson University, as well as a career fair allowed our students to gain interest in their fields. Harmony Austin is off to a great start in 2018 and I can’t wait to see what is to come this Spring.
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.
When you enter Ms. Abby DeShazo’s middle school classroom, you can see and hear the love of learning from her students. Laughter, inquiries, and writing hands fill the room. It was to no one's surprise that Ms. DeShazo was chosen as the 2017-2018 Middle School Teacher of the Year at Harmony Science Academy Austin. Her commitment to her students, professionalism and work ethic are a positive influence on all who work with her.
DeShazo was born in Memphis, Tennessee but college brought her to the Lone Star State. She graduated in 2004 from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in History and Japanese. After receiving her Bachelors from UT Austin, she continued her studies abroad in Japan and attending law school in Washington, D.C. at Georgetown University. But Austin left an impression on her and after graduation from Georgetown in 2007 she decided to move back and take her Bar Exam in Texas began practicing law. In Austin, DeShazo served as a non-profit domestic abuse lawyer for the Texas Advocacy Project. Shortly after, she began teaching the Law School Admission Test to adults at Kaplan Test Prep. She also created and taught a Japanese Art program at the community YMCA. It is here that Ms. DeShazo found her passion, teaching middle school students. “I found practicing law not as engaging as I hoped nor as impactful. I enjoyed teaching because I was able to express myself creatively, challenge myself by employing different teaching techniques to reach students, and see the difference I can make in a person's life,” said Ms. DeShazo about changing careers.
The National Junior Honor Society students at Harmony Science Academy Austin woke up early on a cold Saturday morning to clean-up Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in East Austin. This day of service was organized by the United Way for Greater Austin in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Students along with their NJHS sponsor, Ms. Abby DeShazo, picked up trash and recyclables from MLK Jr. Boulevard for over two hours. “This is our second year of volunteering with the United Way during the week of MLK day and I am hoping to do it every year. I want the students to follow Dr. MLK Jr.’s ideas of helping the community we live in and to help especially those in need. This project allows for us to beautify the neighborhood and give back to an area that is most needed,” said Ms. DeShazo.
Harmony School of Innovation partners with Austin Community College
Harmony School of Innovation Austin continues their second year partnership with Austin Community College Dental Hygienist Program. The goal of the program is to teach students and families the importance of oral health and how to maintain a healthy smile. First grade students engaged in observational learning and modeled how to properly brush their teeth using a “Tell, Show, Do” technique taught by hygienist students. Students of HSI-Austin were also able to correctly identify basic anatomy and functions of the mouth after completing the program. In a course of two semesters, HSI students demonstrate correct technique for brushing teeth with hands-on demonstrations and activities. “The children here are so respectful and well mannered! I love coming to this school!” shared ACC Hygienist student, Shaunda.
Cedar Park Chamber of Commerce Visits new Harmony Elementary Campus in Cedar Park
Harmony Science Academy Cedar Park was excited to host the Cedar Park Chamber of Commerce in order to learn what makes Harmony stand apart from other schools. Each year, the Chamber organizes a Leadership Academy of area business representatives who engage in professional development and networking activities in the community. On the Leadership Academy’s “Education Day” visits were made to HSACP, Leander ISD, and Austin Community College. The group participated in a mock lesson in the Pitsco science lab where Mr. Dickson explained how the unique project-based curriculum makes HSACP a leader in the Austin area for elementary STEM education. Small groups were formed and jobs such as commander, materials specialist and communications chair were assigned for the mission of constructing a model set of lungs. Chamber members worked together and had a lot of fun (re)learning how the respiratory system functions. While they worked Superintendent Gregory was honored to speak about the campus and what makes Harmony Public Schools unique.
Harmony Public Schools Austin 2018 District Science Fair
Guest Speaker Angie Bealko
An up close look at an impressive project
Juliet A., Sophomore at Harmony School of Excellence Austin showcases her projects to judges
Director of Academics, Allanur Agaberdiyev, presents his title's namesake award to students from Harmony Science Academy Austin- Josh and Hector
"It is important to indicate that the science fair helps the student in areas outside of science by enabling them to work on creative and inquiry-based thinking, to practice public speaking and to develop organization skills. Our students performed very well while answering the judges’ questions, who were experts in their field. I would like to thank our STEM teachers who have to work closely together to ensure the students are ready for the event. We all are looking forward to seeing our students' success at the citywide, state-wide and H-SEF science fair in upcoming months."- Aziz Koyuncu, HPS District STEM Coach
Harmony School of Political Science and Communication senior, Rania Lewis represented her campus annual District Science Fair with her project entitled “CSI:Harmony.” It not only ranked first in its category, she received a perfect score earning her Superintendent’s Award, for the second year in a row. CSI:Harmony was a culmination of last year’s project combined with new research. She sought to create a fume chamber typically used in the United States for forensic fingerprinting analysis, but her prototype would be built using less expensive materials. Lewis said she was inspired by a personal connection directly touched by the high rates of unsolved murders in Central and South American countries, specifically Honduras, known as the “murder capital of the world.”
Part of Harmony’s charm is the multicultural aspect of the students and staff. Students cultivate a big picture of the world, and with that they are able to apply the focus Harmony places on the STEM fields and 21st century real-world problems. Rania is a 7th year Harmony student, starting when HSPS opened its doors. Her favorite subjects are math and world history, and it shows. She has settled upon St Edward’s University in Austin, where she intends to study international business and pre-law. She envisions herself working in both international criminal and civil law, and launching her own law firm one day.
Rania has the drive and tenacity to reach her goals. To continue her research on last year’s project she confidently reached out to the Austin Police Department to request the opportunity to shadow someone in the fingerprint analysis fume chamber. From this experience she was able improve on the materials used on last year’s winning District Science Fair project like improving the ventilation system. Lewis intends to continue her research and development of this device with the objective being to increase its accessibility to what is otherwise an extremely expensive piece of forensic lab equipment. She would like to see her more efficient and equally effective fume chamber be utilized at a lower cost in the crime fighting units of economically disadvantaged countries where solving crimes seems impossible for victims’ families.
Formula 1 STEM Contest
The HSAPf student team made up of several Middle and High School students competed in the 6th Annual Texas State Super Regional Competition. They were able to view the 2017 teams present their Design and Engineering Portfolio to the judges. Students were also able to talk to each of the teams at their Pit Displays and on the Velocity Lounge floor. “It was an incredible privilege to be a part of the Downshift into STEM experience and be surrounded by so many talented your people from the Texas Region. We are so excited to begin our own journey and look forward to competing at Nationals in May," said Meliah, 8th Grade student. The HSAPf team will now work to create their 3D model cars and portfolios.
HSS Gifted and Talented (GATE) students along with their families participated in the Circuit of the Americas' F1 Jaguar Primary School “Make It...Race It...Take It” challenge. In the challenge, students were able to design and make their own model race car to then take to the race tracks to compete with others. Students followed the same engineering processes used by real engineering companies that design and manufacture race cars. “The students ate it up! They were engaged the entire time we were there. And anything to engage and enrich our students with different experiences is great to see. Who knows, we might have the next Jaguar car designer at our school!” said Mrs. Coloma Cox, GATE Coordinator at HSS.
Harmony Science Academy Cedar Park Science Night
“My visit that showcased excellence within the learning environment around STEM components was a reaffirmation of the natural alignment of our missions. Huston-Tillotson University is the pipeline that leads to numerous STEM career and entrepreneurship opportunities for our graduates. Harmony is the college-preparatory pipeline that provides the foundation for student success. I look forward to adding your graduates to our ‘genius generation’ student population as we both transform the STEM field.” -Dr. Burnette
Students and staff at Harmony Public Schools Austin celebrated National School Week. The entire week was filled with spirit and pride as teachers expressed why they chose to work at Harmony Public Schools Austin. NSCW celebrates traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling.
Harmony Science Academy Pflugerville College and Career Fair
Harmony Science Academy Pflugerville held their annual College and Career Fair where Junior and Senior students were given first hand insight into career choices. “The objective of the fair is to get to know the career of the professional and their education. Many times one's degree is not directly associated with their career and it is great for the students to get background information,” said Ms. Ofelia Arroyo, high school counselor. Students were able to choose sessions which allowed them to speak to professionals about their career pathway or college admissions counselors about different degree program opportunities.
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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