HPS Austin Monthly Back to School Edition

message from the superintendent

Area Superintendent, Gina Gregory, M.Ed.

Welcome back to the start of the 2017-2018 school year. With the help of local donations and community partners like the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and The KLE Foundation, we are excited to open a new elementary campus in Cedar Park! This year, we will be adding unique STEM initiatives at our elementary locations across the district; make sure to read all about it in stories below. Additionally, our staff members will be focusing on creating strong professional learning communities to ensure that our students are getting the most innovative and high-quality education in the area. All of our campuses Met Standard last year with several distinctions earned across the district with TEA. We believe that the best in Harmony Public Schools is yet to come here in Austin!

first day photos

One of the best parts of each school year is welcoming our students back to campus or to the Harmony family. Here's a look of some of our back to school photos from across the Austin district.

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.

fernando Rojas andrews

Fernando Rojas Andrews teaches Advanced Placement (AP) Spanish Language and AP Spanish Literature at Harmony School of Excellence. This summer, he was selected to present at the annual AP Conference in Washington D.C. He discussed an interactive game he created to boost learning while students prep for their AP exams. 100% of Mr. Andrews’ students pass their AP exams and he credits that success to the innovative teaching strategies he discussed with fellow educators in D.C. “I created this open game for students to learn all the vital information within the content area in a fun environment and without teacher intervention,” he says. Andrews has been teaching and coaching Chess at HSE Austin for the last five years after switching careers as a lawyer in Monterrey and Mexico City, Mexico. As the district Spanish department chair, he serves his fellow teachers through coaching and creating professional development opportunities.

welcome back teachers and staff

Teachers and staff received a warm welcome back at this year's pep rally style opening ceremony. Student ambassadors and Harmony School of Excellence cheerleaders didn't mind coming to campus early to greet their teachers and share their excitement for the start of the 2017-18 term. Superintendent, Gina Gregory, and 2017 Teacher of the Year recipient, Natasha Morgan shared inspiring words as the vision and goals for the district were shared with the team. Food trucks, student performances, and photo booth fun launched staff into the new school year.


Elementary STEM Academy coming to a campus near you!

James Brown, the executive director of the STEM Education Coalition states, “The future of the economy is STEM. That’s where the jobs of tomorrow will be.”

In a September 2012 article in the quarterly journal publication of Education by Project Innovation, Dr. Nancy K. DeJarnette concluded that “By capturing student interest in STEM content at an earlier age, we can ensure that students are on track through middle and high school to complete the needed coursework for adequate preparation to enter STEM degree programs at institutions of higher learning.” Over the next several years, HPS Austin plans to follow this model and serve more students in the community by deeply investing in our elementary programming. That work has begun with the opening of our new campus, Harmony Science Academy Cedar Park (HSACP), and renovations in a brand new STEM lab at Harmony School of Science (HSS). Students at both HSACP and HSS (K-3rd grade only) will be visiting the STEM lab twice a week as an additional elective course. Students in the cooperative learning lab will be guided by cross curricular STEM units provided by Pitsco Education that incorporates Science TEKS into each hands-on activity. Additionally, special emphasis will be placed on developing Computer Science and Coding skills in Technology classes. HPS elementary students will continue to participate in various academic competitions such as the Math Pentathlon, Regional Science Fair, and First Lego League to align with the campus STEM culture and preparation for high school and college success.

We need you!

HPS Austin will advance more elementary STEM programs across the city of Austin as we continue to raise philanthropic support. Without the help of our community and family partners, we would not have the capacity to provide these unique and innovative programs for our students. Please consider joining us on our mission to provide high quality STEM education by making an introductory gift today. If you are interested in getting know more about Harmony’s programs and initiatives and would like to schedule a school tour, contact Austin Director of Development and Communications, Victoria Stockstill, at vstockstill@harmonytx.org.

solar eclipse 2017

August 21st was a historic day in North America! Students and staff were thrilled for the opportunity to witness a partial solar eclipse right here in Austin. Students safely viewed the total eclipse inside via online broadcast. Others got a close up look at the partial eclipse outside with eclipse safety glasses or with viewing projects made in the classroom such as a pinhole projector. At Harmony School of Political Science and Communication, Science teacher Heather Adams and Math teacher Daniel Ramirez assisted students in constructing a safe way to the view the eclipse using a telescope, electrical tape, a box and poster board.

New case study focuses on Harmony


STEM Education partner Pasco Scientific provides research for everyone to learn from. A new case study features Harmony and our successful Project Based Learning model! Read Below!

celebrating hispanic heritage

Diversity and multiculturalism are the key components of our society. Respecting each other's identity is vital. Being tolerant opens new horizons for everyone.- Zekeriya Yuksel, Superintendent of Schools, Harmony Public Schools Texas
Harmony Science Academy Pflugerville celebrated Hispanic Heritage with a showcase of dances performed by the Spanish Folkloric Dance Team, a flag parade, and some special appearances from Austin's own Latino 102.7 radio station

Learning through Art with the MexiC-Arte Museum

Activities honoring Hispanic Heritage are in full swing! Harmony School of Excellence and Harmony School of Innovation were privileged to have Olivia S. Tamzarian, Education Coordinator at the Mexic-Arte Museum, visit campus to engage students with unique art projects.

In the Community

Hurricane Harvey relief

Students across Austin successfully completed their disaster relief campaign for fellow Harmony families and Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey. Students collected boxes filled with basic necessity items, school supplies, orders from Amazon and monetary donations. Harmony School of Excellence went above and beyond collecting the most donations through efforts led by the Student Council and National Honor Society. As a district, we are proud of everyone’s willingness to help those in need and immediately jump into action promoting the donation drive; we are stronger together. Harmony’s statewide GoFundMe campaign led by Superintendent of Schools, Mr. Yuksel, raised $55, 230 for the Harmony families and staff members who were directly affected by the hurricane in Houston.

Dove Springs Proud Youth Summit

Dove Springs Proud

Students who live in the zip code 78744 are given the opportunity each year to attend an annual youth summit organized by the community group Dove Springs Proud (DSP). The youth summit provides students with an insightful experience from high school alumni who were raised in the Dove Springs community and other special guests. Guest speakers such as Constable George Morales III and DSP President Ricardo Zavala shared their personal experiences in criminal justice, health and education after high school. Students who attend the youth summit also qualify for scholarships when they submit their college acceptance letters to DSP. Harmony School of Excellence represented well with 6 out of 11 youth summit attendees registered as Harmony students.

HSE Senior and aspiring nurse, Ruby G., attended the Dove Springs Proud Youth Summit. Pictured with DSP President, Ricardo Zavala, she was awarded a scholarship after receiving her acceptance letters from both the University of Incarnate Word and Texas State University. Dove Springs Proud awarded over $2000 worth of scholarships to 2016-17 HSE graduates.

Wells Branch Cultural Diversity fair

Student ambassadors Shehza and Carlo from Harmony Science Academy Pflugerville volunteered at the first annual Wells Branch Cultural Diversity Fair at the Wells Branch Community Center. The two joined Clarissa Davila, one of Harmony's Community Outreach Coordinators, to share information about the school choice options HPS Austin provides in the Wells Branch area. “I enjoy empowering families with a voice to choose the best school for their students. Our goal for attending community events is to provide families with information about the different options for public education in their area,” said Mrs. Davila. Community members in the Wells Branch area showcased their home countries through informative booths by sharing different types of food and drink as well as through performances. Alongside the country booths, community partners showcased information about the different programs that their schools or businesses offer for the community. “I am very excited to be a student ambassador this year so that I can share all the great things that Harmony is doing on campus. I started at Harmony School of Science in 4th grade. Now that I am at HSAPf, I know that I can give the community a first-hand student perspective on what the Harmony experience is like,” said Shehza.


Harmony School of Excellence Seniors Anaid G. and Gabby C. volunteered at the annual TX Tribune Festival. Pictured above with HPS Director of External Relations, Dustin Cox

hps austin promotes a love of learning

Roald Dahl Day

Each year on September 13, people around the world celebrate renowned British author, Roald Dahl on his birthday. At Harmony Science Academy Austin, librarian Adrienne Segoviano hosted the annual festivity in the library with a reading of her personal Dahl favorite, The Witches. Teachers were encouraged to post to the “Roald Dahl Wahll” Segoviano created in the library with their favorite Dahl book or quote. In the words of Dahl, “A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men.”

Barn hill preserve

Barn Hill Preserve Farm’s mobile program offers students the unique experience to get up close and personal with animals they may have never seen before! A bearded dragon, red kangaroo joey, other guests made a special appearance at Harmony School of Innovation and Harmony School of Excellence for the first time! The crew from Barn Hill preserve traveled all the way from Ethel, LA to provide HPS Austin students with educational information about animals in their program.

Writing advice from a professional

Celebrated local young adult author, Natalie Grigson, made a visit to Harmony School of Excellence. Her books focus on the importance of mindfulness and positive body image and include interactive journals for young people to use for personal reflection. Grigson also writes for the acclaimed "Typewriter Rodeo" and visits schools to help share her message about body image and being present. Grigson's visit to teacher Timothy Brewer's English I class included discussing and engaging in writing strategies, practicing meditation, and even reading student work to provide professional feedback. Students in Brewer’s class are writing their own works of fiction this quarter and the visit was inspiring and encouraging for the young student authors. Brewer adds, "I think there's huge value in students engaging with professionals, so they can see how the skills they learn in school translate into the real world. Having a female author in was really awesome because I think it's important for young ladies to see successful women chasing their dreams so they can see that anything is possible."

Civic Engagement

mock government attends global austin youth summit

Students from HPS Austin’s Mock Government program attended the first Diplomacy Begins Here Summit hosted by Global Austin at the TX State Capitol. This event included speakers addressing topics on current US foreign policy priorities and diverse panel discussions. Panel topics ranged from "contributions of immigrants to innovation" to "the effect of global events on international businesses." Thirty-four Harmony students participated in a diplomacy simulation, acting in small groups as representatives from fictitious countries. They collaborated to discuss and address a refugee crisis scenario constructed by the US Department of State specifically for this event. This was unlike anything students had done before and they enjoyed debating with other students from area schools representing their mini-United Nations club. Dustin Cox, HPS Director of External Relations, facilitated one of six breakout groups, where students from Austin High and Westwood High School were also represented. Cox noted, “The event prepared our students to continue on the pathway of becoming future global citizens and diplomats in their own right. I am so proud to say these students truly represented the Harmony mantra, a full commitment to excellence in education.”

Hero's Breakfast

High School students at Harmony School of Political Science and Communications were proud to welcome members of the armed services to commemorate the 16 year anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center. Students listened respectfully as Dr. Joe Bryant DDS., a 90-year-old veteran of both World War II and the Korean War played TAPS, followed with a moment of silence. He along with Lt. Colonel Keith Linenberger, US AirForce, and Navy Veteran, Robyn Provo all shared with students their memory of the terrorist attacks on US soil. They also gave some insight on why they chose to serve their country and stayed for questions by those interested in hearing more about the US Military. We thank these Heroes for their brave service and their commitment to protect the freedom we enjoy every day.

G.r.E.A.T. learning with Austin Police department

The G.R.E.A.T. program is an evidence-based and effective gang and violence prevention program built around school-based, law enforcement officer-instructed classes brought to Harmony through a partnership with the Austin Police Department’s Police Activities League (PAL). Students learn with APD Officers Angela Johnson and Adam Soliz skills to avoid being involved in bullying while they develop positive relationships with community helpers. This is the 5th year of participation at Harmony Science Academy Austin in both 4th and 7th grade. Harmony School of Innovation is excited about reintroducing the program to the 4th grade students for this school year.

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!

Become a Watchdog at Harmony School of Innovation

The WATCH D.O.G.S. program focuses on safety and education by using the positive influence of fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and male volunteers on campus. At Harmony School of Innovation, father-figures are on campus monitoring the school property, reading with students, and working in small groups. HSI is proud the participation of WATCH D.O.G.S. has doubled on their campus and welcome more interested volunteers to sign up!

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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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