HPS Austin Monthly January Edition

Message from the superintendent

Gina Gregory, Austin Area 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.

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.

Abby DeShazo

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.

English Language Arts Teacher at Harmony Science Academy Austin

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.

Harmony Science Academy Austin Middle School English Language Arts Class

In 2012 she began her teaching career at Harmony Science Academy Austin where she has now served for 6 years as a Middle School English Language Arts Teacher and a reading interventionist. She also head sponsors the National Junior Honor Society which perfectly aligns with her experience as a non-profit lawyer. DeShazo holds a strong sense of serving the community and giving back and she makes sure to instill this to the NJHS students by providing them opportunities to serve alongside her in community service projects. Ms. DeShazo not only teaches students in the classroom but is a leader in the community by being a role-model to her students and to all who work with her.


Harmony Science Academy Austin recognizes MLK Day by Giving Back

“I take my students to volunteer to show them how to be leaders in the community and to give back. I also want them to feel how rewarding it is to serve in the community. Every time students volunteer with me, they always enjoy it,” said, DeShazo.

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

ACC Dental Hygienist Program shows first grade students dental techniques for a healthy smile.

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

“It was truly our pleasure to come and visit your new campus. We enjoyed getting the student-led tour. It was also fun to see the class working together with the "hands on" project you provided.” said Tony Moline, Cedar Park Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Officer.

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.

Visitors also stopped into the computer science lab where Ms. Tackett led them through a Star Wars coding project using snap coding from code.org. Determined to complete the coding project they were impressed that students as young as kindergarten were learning fundamentals of coding.


District Science Fair

The Harmony Public Schools Austin District Science Fair continues to turn out impressive future global citizens and contributors to social good with research projects from future scientists in 6th-12th grade. Parents, family and community friends were invited to join the Science Fair to view the projects that ranged in topics from Math and Computer Science to Environmental and Behavioral Science. At the Awards Ceremony, HPS hosted STEM enthusiast and Harmony advocate, Angie Bealko, as this year’s keynote speaker. She spoke of her time at the California Institute of Technology and how failure gave her the confidence to fully grow in the STEM field. The winners of the 5th grade and 8th grade Math Olympiad were also recognized at this year's award ceremony.

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
2017-2018 Harmony Public Schools Austin District Science Fair contestants

Two-Time Superintendent Award Winner, Rania L. from Harmony School of Political Science

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

Downshift…Into STEM is an organization that inspires youth to slow down and investigate innovation then accelerate their learning. In partnership with Downshift…Into STEM, student teams from Harmony Science Academy Pflugerville and Harmony School of Science participated in the Circuit of the Americas' F1 in Schools Formula 1 STEM Challenge.

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

Harmony Science Academy Cedar Park held its first Community Science Night this month, where 3-4th grade students presented their science projects, and pre-k through 2nd grade classrooms offered hands-on science projects for visitors to enjoy. Students were proud to display their project boards and demonstrations showcasing their hard work and comprehension of their chosen topic.

Harmony School of Excellence T-STEM Grant

Left to right: Ragine A., Luke O, Mrs. Tunc, Cesar T, Mark J.

Chosen among 132 T-STEM academies across the state, Harmony School of Excellence-Austin was recently awarded the T-STEM Transition Programming Grant by Educate Texas. The purpose of this grant is to provide a strong support system for students as they begin their transition to high school. This grant will be dedicated to the STEM and College Readiness Program at HSE with an emphasis on career development, bridge programs, algebra readiness, TSIA implementations and counselor development in career/college strategies. Mrs. Tunc College Guidance Counselor and T-STEM Coordinator at HSE coordinated the preparation for the grant application and will oversee its success. “This grant supports our efforts of providing high quality STEM based education along with college and career preparation for all our students starting in 6th grade. We are excited to create programs that will take our kids one step closer to their college education and future careers.” said Mrs. Tunc.


Huston-Tillotson University visits Harmony School of Excellence

“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

Mrs. Colette Pierce Burnette, Huston-Tillotson University’s Sixth President and Chief Executive Officer, made a visit to Harmony School of Excellence. Joined by HTU colleagues, Dr. Burnette witnessed high-quality instruction as students of HSE-Austin showcased their engineering projects and research. This hands-on and personalized project-based instruction is currently led by Assistant Principal of Academics, Mr. Tunc. Biology and engineering students displayed the newest PBL projects to Huston-Tillotson’s board and challenged them to test their own knowledge by answering STEM related questions. Gifted and Talented Coordinator, Mrs. Rossi invited guest to experience a hands-on engineering activity using marshmallows, dry spaghetti noodles and string. Chief of Staff and Clerk of the Board, Mr. Wayne Knox shared: “I was thoroughly impressed with the resources offered on the campus, and more importantly, the character and aptitude of young scholars! I am very eager to deepen Huston-Tillotson’s relationship with Harmony Public Schools. Both institutions have a shared vision, mission and passion for empowering the next generation of leaders.”

National School Choice Week

3rd and 4th grade Harmony Science Academy Cedar Park celebrated National School Choice Week, by donning their yellow and performing the School Choice week led by Coach Beardslee.
“School choice week brings passionate teachers the vehicle to use their gifts to reach every child’s full potential.” HSI Principal Mrs. Molina

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.


Thank you to Castillo’s Marble and Granite in Pflugerville and Mobotrex in Austin for your generous donation to Harmony Science Academy Pflugerville Varsity Soccer!

Civic Engagement

The Harmony Mock Government had the distinct opportunity and pleasure to participate in their very own legislative work session in the historic Civil Rights Room of the Texas State Capitol. The event was sponsored by Austin Senator, Dr. Charles Schwertner who helped arrange the visit and has admiration for students engaging the political process. Legislative Work Sessions are intended to provide opportunities for the Legislature (Mock in the case) to study difficult issues, gather and analyze information and clarify problems. While at the Capitol, students also were able to conduct research in the Law Library & Archive. This collaboration between students helps set the stage for the upcoming district debate in February; when students will introduce their legislation and debate key components with the goal of passage.

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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