Board Names New Director of Career and Technical Education

The Katy ISD Board of Trustees approved the hiring of Sarah Martin as the new director of Career and Technical Education for Katy ISD. She is currently the Administrative Coordinator for the Virginia Beach Public Schools Office of Career and Technical Education.

Martin has been in her current role at the Virginia Beach Public Schools Office for 12 years. Having held a variety of positions in the education field, her experience includes developing curriculum, planning and implementing lessons for all levels of marketing, and managing federal grants.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education, a Master of Science in Education, and a Doctor of Philosophy from Old Dominion University, and has been a member of numerous professional organizations.

Board Names New Principal of Hutsell Elementary

During their June Work Study Meeting, the Katy ISD Board of Trustees approved Margie Blount as the new principal of Hutsell Elementary. Blount is currently the assistant principal at Hutsell.

Blount began her educational career in 1991 as a Special Education and Pre-Kindergarten teacher in Shelbyville ISD. Her career includes 12 years as principal in Center, TX, as well as experience at Memorial Parkway Jr. High and McMeans Jr. High as an Instructional Coach. She has been in her current role as assistant principal since 2012.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Secondary Education, and a master’s degree in Mid-Management in Secondary Education, both from Stephen F. Austin University. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Lamar University.

Wolfe Elementary Music Teacher Celebrates 36 Years of Service

The Wolfe Elementary community recently celebrated the retirement of long-time music teacher Debbie Vaello. Ms. Vaello celebrated 36 years of service with the district, and many honors and awards throughout her career.

The retirement celebration included a medley of songs from the Katy ISD Elementary Music Ensemble, performances by the Wolfe Choir and 5th Grade Wolfe Star Dancers, and reflections on Ms. Vaello’s career by current and former students. The event also included presentations of her many accomplishments by the staff at Wolfe Elementary.

Ms. Vaello’s awards include Wolfe Teacher of the Year in 1994-95, writing lyrics for Wolfe Elementary birthday celebrations, directing numerous musicals, and being involved in preparation for visits and interviews when Wolfe Elementary was named a Blue Ribbon School in 1998.

“When I began teaching in Katy ISD in 1977, there were only four elementary schools. Although the district has grown tremendously, I feel it has maintained the caring atmosphere of a small-town school district,” says Vaello. “Katy ISD has always supported the fine arts, and I’m fortunate to have taught music in one of the best districts for music education in the nation.”

Many of Ms. Vaello’s former students have continued to pursue music after elementary school by performing in bands in the Houston area, becoming music teachers, and being selected as members of the Texas Choral Directors Association (TCDA) All-State Choir.

WoodCreek Jr. High Honored with Superintendent’s ABCD Club Award

IMG_0928WoodCreek Jr. High was honored today for going Above and Beyond the Call of Duty and was named to the Superintendent’s ABCD Club. This honor recognizes campuses, departments and individual staff members that excel by enriching experiences for our students and improving their campus and community. WoodCreek Jr. High joins Bear Creek Elementary, Cardiff Jr. High and McMeans Jr. High as a recipient of this prestigious award.

WoodCreek Jr. High was nominated by a campus parent who relocated to Texas and whose children are both diagnosed with PPD-NOS, an autism spectrum disorder. A concern that the children would not be able to adapt well to such drastic changes was quickly pushed aside when they met with welcoming and understanding responses from WoodCreek staff.

“From the moment we received our first communication from the campus, the staff at WoodCreek Jr. High has gone above and beyond,” said Barbara Vass, WCJH parent. “I want to commend the staff at WCJH for their excellence at communicating with me on everything that the staff is doing with, and working on, for both of my boys to make their time at WCJH successful both academically and socially.” Vass goes on to acknowledge several staff members in particular that have all gone above and beyond the expectations of teachers or administrators, and have mentored her children with patience and understanding.

Congratulations to Wendy Goshorn, Todd Hunter, Tracy Lutes, Gretchen Stockberger, Lindsay McMeans, Kelly Stroud, PASS staff, and the entire staff at WoodCreek Jr. High.

Cinco Ranch JH Teacher Selected as Top Teacher

DSC_0659webCinco Ranch Jr. High Special Education teacher, Suzette Steward, was selected as Top Teacher by the daytime TV show “Live with Kelly and Michael.” Suzette was chosen as one of five finalists nationally to appear on the show last week, and was announced as the Grand Prize Winner.

Along with a vacation to Bora Bora and a new Ford Escape, Suzette also won $25,000 and eInstruction interactive instruction systems for Cinco Ranch Jr. High.

Click here to read Suzette’s letter and watch her video.

Katy ISD Announces District-wide Campus Teachers of the Year

TOY LogoKaty ISD recently surprised two teachers with the District-wide Campus Teacher of the Year Award. Stanley Elementary teacher Kristi Sides, and Katy Jr. High teacher Janie Spies, were chosen for the elementary and secondary awards respectively. Katy ISD Superintendent Alton Frailey, along with each campus principal and family and friends surprised the teachers on their campus.

“Each year, the district has the tough task of choosing just two individuals from a pool of excellent teachers for the District-wide Teacher of the Year award,” said Frailey. “I congratulate these two talented educators as they both possess the patience and passion for teaching that truly spills over into student learning.”

Kristi Sides is a graduate of the University of Texas Pan American in Edinburg, Texas, and teaches 3rd grade at Stanley Elementary. Sides is not only involved in the classroom, but also in the outside community. She spends time outside of the classroom as a deacon for her church, and has volunteered with organizations such as Meals on Wheels and Katy Christian Ministries.

“Sides is constantly seeking and exploring new and innovative ways to help our students learn to the best of their ability,” said Heather Williams, principal at Stanley Elementary. “She makes students feel successful with goals they attain while constantly challenging them to set the bar higher.”

Janie Spies is a graduate of Texas A&M University and holds a bachelor’s degree in Health Education. Spies teaches 6th grade Science at Katy Jr. High, and her instruction embodies technology and experiments of every type. She is also actively involved in the Katy High School Theatre Arts Booster Club, Katy High School Choir Association, and the Katy Athletic Booster Club.

“Time spent in Janie’s class is a scientific adventure. She uses any means necessary to engage her students,” said Jake LeBlanc, principal of Katy Jr. High. “Students are constantly engaged and challenged to manipulate the objectives being taught to reinforce their learning.”

Both District-wide Teachers of the Year will be recognized during the May Board of Trustees meeting and will be nominated by Katy ISD for the 2013 Region 4 Texas Teacher of the Year program.

Click here to see the elementary and secondary Campus Teacher of the Year nominees.

Officer Evans Joins Katy ISD Police Force

During the April Katy ISD Board Work Study meeting, Officer Fred Evans was sworn-in to serve on the 37-member Katy ISD Police Force. Officer Evans’ law enforcement experience includes having served as a security guard for Katy ISD, a police officer for the City of Brookshire and a police officer for Royal ISD. 

Officer Evans is a graduate from the University of Houston’s Law Enforcement Academy. He resides in Brookshire with his wife, Mary, and three children.

Katy ISD peace officers are licensed and certified by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officers Standards and Education. The Katy ISD police jurisdiction includes all territory within the boundaries of the district (181 square miles) and all property, real and personal, outside the boundaries of the district that is owned, leased, or rented by the district or otherwise under the district’s control. Peace officers employed by Katy ISD have the same authority, powers, privileges, and immunities as bestowed on all Texas peace officers while on or off duty.

For more information about the Katy ISD Police Department, visit .

Katy ISD Announces Outstanding First Year Teachers of the Year

Katy ISD recently surprised two teachers with the District-wide Outstanding First Year Teacher of the Year Award. Rhoads Elementary teacher Travis Bailey, and Raines High School teacher Grant Smith, were chosen for the elementary and secondary awards respectively. Katy ISD Superintendent Alton Frailey, along with each campus principal and family and friends surprised the teachers in their classrooms.

“It was a pleasure to recognize and name two outstanding individuals that represent the caliber of teachers that choose to start their teaching careers in Katy ISD,” said Frailey. “With their patience, compassion, and engaging instructional classrooms, it is apparent that they motivate their students and inspire them to go on to do greater things.”

Travis Bailey is a graduate of McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and teaches Physical Education at Rhoads Elementary. Bailey is also a product of Katy ISD having graduated from Mayde Creek High School. He engages students through games and activities that are purposeful and designed to increase participation and movement. He also spends time outside of the classroom as a member of the Campus Advisory Team and serving as chairman of the Rhoads “Red Ribbon Committee.” Bailey has also been instrumental in supporting the “Fishing Program” in Katy ISD, and continues to support this program on other campuses across the district.

“Travis’ demonstration of leadership is not typically found in a teacher who is just beginning their career,” said Carrie Lowery, principal at Rhoads Elementary. “All of his efforts have led to increased student achievement in both the gym and in their other classrooms.”

Grant Smith is a graduate of the University of Texas and holds a bachelor’s degree in History. Smith teaches World Geography, World History, and Government and Economics at Raines High School, and his instruction embodies the core principles of problem solving, teamwork and leadership. He is also actively involved in many aspects of daily operations at Raines including morning check-in, laptop distribution, as well as assisting with a student incentive program and a proposed student leadership team.

“Through Grant’s instructional practices, he has given students a hope that they can become something more than they ever imagined they could be,” said Becky Tucker, principal of Raines High School. “He takes time to build the relationships that are necessary to foster student growth and success.”

Both Bailey and Smith will be honored, along with Campus Teachers of the Year, and other First Year Teacher nominees at a special event in April.

Click here to see the elementary and secondary Outstanding First Year Teacher of the Year nominees.

Outstanding First Year Teacher of the Year Nominees


Every year, each Katy ISD campus selects one outstanding first year teacher who has demonstrated excellence and leadership among their peers and in their classrooms. This year is no exception as Katy ISD announces the 2013 Katy ISD Outstanding First Year Teachers of the Year. Click here to see all of the elementary and secondary nominees.

View the 2013 First Year Teacher of the Year nominee photo gallery.

Katy ISD Names New Chief Information Officer

The Katy ISD Board of Trustees approved the hiring of John Alawneh as the new chief information officer for Katy ISD. As CIO, Alawneh will oversee the district’s technology programs and services to equip campuses with skills that lead to student success.

Alawneh comes to Katy ISD after serving as executive director of information technology/CIO for Austin ISD. Prior to joining Austin ISD in 2010, he served in a number of leadership positions, including executive director of technology operations (CTO) for Plano ISD, and administrative director of information technology and services for the Hospital Corporation of America, North Texas Division in Irving. Having held a variety of leadership positions in the technology field, his experience includes long-term strategic planning, and data management and analytics.

Alawneh holds a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering, a Master of Science degree in computer engineering, as well as a Doctorate in computer engineering – all from the University of Texas at El Paso. Additionally, Alawneh holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in operation management from New Mexico State University.