Catching Up with Craft

Catching Up with Craft

Catching Up with Craft is written by Superintendent John M. Craft and is sent to 51 ISD staff every Monday to keep them updated on local and state education issues.

Good Monday Morning Team 51,  

I know how exciting this final week of school will be, so I will be very brief. As I reflect on the school year, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to our entire TEAM! It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating the kickoff with Convocation and now we are preparing to wrap things up and graduate over 7,000 Seniors with our commencement ceremonies this week and next. There have been so many accomplishments and celebrations it is hard to define how proud I am of our students, staff, and dedicated employees- all of whom make it happen each and every day! You all have contributed to the overall success of our Awesome School 51 and words can not begin to express my appreciation. 

Just recently we celebrated the nine years of dedicated service of Trustee Gerald Lopez and welcomed Dr. Homer Guevara to the Board; the Trustees approved a 2% general pay increase and retention bonus to be paid in June; and witnessed amazing feats by our students (※DzԲԴǰ baseball Regional Finalists, our World Champions Destination Imagination team from Briscoe Middle School, the Brain Ninjas from Helotes Elementary School, the Blue Aces Unarmed Drill Team from Brandeis High School winning yet another National Championship, an amazing GT showcase, etc). We have so many exceptional accomplishments, that it’s difficult to list them all. Congratulations to all!   

I sincerely hope you all find the opportunity to unplug and recharge your batteries over the next several weeks! As I have stated, it is essential to take care of yourselves and your loved ones during this downtime (well, slower time.) While many of us will be hard at work making preparations for the upcoming school year, it is equally important for those focused on the 2024-2025 school year to also find time to rejuvenate as time permits. 

This August, we will be kicking off with Convocations on August 13 and 14 celebrating NISD’s 75th Anniversary and the rich heritage and traditions our district has established over that timeframe. It should be an incredible celebration of excellence, and we intend to have a lot of fun, so be prepared to laugh and enjoy the experience.  

Thank you again Team 51. Finish strong and enjoy your well-deserved summer!   

The Spirit of 51

This week the Spirit Stick goes to Team 51! You have and will continue to provide amazing experiences for our students as we continue to Transform the Learning Experience!

God Bless, Great Job and we will see you very soon!

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Good Morning Team,  

I hope you were able to get out and enjoy the bountiful sunshine this weekend. I think it is safe to say warmer weather is upon us. This upcoming weekend we will be enjoying a much-needed three-day weekend with the recognition of Memorial Day on Monday.

As a free Nation, we will continue to celebrate the last Monday of May, as this occasion holds significant cultural and historical importance, serving as a poignant reminder of the bravery and selflessness displayed by countless individuals throughout American history. Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day traces its origins back to the aftermath of the Civil War. In the spring of 1865, as the nation grappled with the profound loss of life from the conflict, communities across the United States began holding ceremonies to honor fallen soldiers by decorating their graves with flowers and other tributes. Over time, this practice evolved into the national observance we recognize today. Please join me in saluting our Nation’s heroes for their sacrifices ensuring we continue to thrive as a Free Democracy. Thank you again to all our service men and women and veterans. 

From Around the 51  

Leadership 51. We had a great meeting with our Leadership 51 cohort on Monday at the 51 Activity Center. The group had the chance to learn about the plethora of opportunities we provide students throughout the district including JROTC, Fine Arts, CTE, STEM, Athletics, and so much more. I want to give a special thanks to our directors, assistant directors, and staff who helped support the event by providing pertinent information and promoting these amazing programs. We look forward to the next meeting with our community supporters next month.  

※DzԲԴǰ High School Theatre Arts. This weekend, ※DzԲԴǰ HS thespians traveled to the Austin ISD Performing Arts Center to perform “Amadeus,” at the State UIL One-Act Play competition. This is the first time in school history to advance to state, having placed first in five contests before advancing to the State level . When all was said and done, the HS theater students came out sixth in the state. Great job ※DzԲԴǰ!  

ASTA/FFA Banquet. The NISD Agriculture Science and Technology Academy once again celebrated the success of our Ag. Science students and Future Farmers of America on Thursday at the C.E. Vickery Agriculture Multipurpose Building. It was great to see the Board of Directors and proud parents who graciously acknowledged our hard-working students through the awards and scholarships provided. I want to again acknowledge Principal Chad Bohlken, Associate Principal Tom Johnson, and Program Coordinator Bryan Hawkins for their hard work in leading our students. The FFA student Officers did a superb job leading the entire program and of course, we are so thankful for our hardworking Ag teachers for their tremendous efforts and time invested in our FFA and Agriculture students. Congratulations to our scholarship recipients and graduating seniors and we wish our newly installed FFA Officers all the best as they take the helm next year. 

Connally Middle School Second Chance Academy. We had the opportunity to visit the alternative Second Chance Academy housed at Connally Middle School on Friday. Honorable Judge Sid Harle, 4th Administrative Judicial Region, drove in from a hearing in Houston to visit with the students emphasizing making good decisions and the impact of mistakes in electing not to. He had a very powerful, down-to-earth message that really resonated with the students. It made me proud to see the positive impact this program has had on our youth and special thanks to Principal Andrew Drumm and the Connally Middle School staff for their relentless efforts to make a difference in the lives of students needing a second chance.  

Communities in Schools Luncheon- CIS held its annual community supporter luncheon and it was a packed venue as our very own Electra Ramirez from Jay HS told her heart-wrenching story of never losing hope and tackling adversity head-on, regardless of how difficult the struggle was. It serves as a reminder to always push forward and maintain HOPE. We could not be more proud of Electra.  

Storyfest. The 51 Activity Center was busy as a mouse house on Saturday morning as our Library Services Team hosted a full slate of fun activities for students to engage in and provided a plethora of literature for students to take home. We had the pleasure of hosting acclaimed author Laura Numeroff who has written several children’s books including one of my all-time favorites “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.” It was great to see over 400 families and students attend the event and a special shout-out goes to our amazing librarians and staff who worked so hard to make the event so special. 

CCA Tiny Homes. It was a pleasure to see our future construction, architectural, and engineering students’ talents on full display Saturday as visitors had the opportunity to tour the Construction and Career Academy Tiny Homes Showcase. It was really cool to see both the projects completed as well as some still under construction. The highlight was of course visiting with the students and learning about their experiences and skills acquired through their coursework. Trustees Corrine Saldana, Karen Freeman, and I thoroughly enjoyed witnessing the success of our CCA students and it was reassuring that these students will be graduating with amazing skill sets and certifications they may decide to utilize upon graduating from Warren High School. Thanks again to Principal Lance Enderlin and the entire CCA faculty for their work with our students over the course of the year.  

Electrify your Strings. I wasn’t able to get away this year for the Electrify Your Strings Event, but I think I could hear it on both Saturday and Sunday. Featuring our fifth graders on Sunday afternoon and Middle School and High School students on Saturday night. They once again rocked out with support from Trans-Siberian Orchestra artists Mark Wood and Greg Byers. What a great experience for our young students to learn from and play with phenomenal talent. Thank you again to all of our directors and parents for making this event so special once again. 

Electrify Your Strings Event 2024

TEPSA Student Leadership Awards. In 2018 the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA) established the TEPSA Student Leadership Award to honor outstanding student leadership teams and their impact on our school communities in the state of Texas. It is with great pride that we announce the following schools that met all the standards to receive this prestigious award!  

Lieck Elementary School
Esparza Elementary School
Scobee Elementary School
Ott Elementary School

The student leadership teams will be recognized by TEPSA on their website, with a video presentation at the Summer Conference, and on TEPSA’s official Facebook page. Awesome job!  

NISD Baseball and Softball Playoff Runs. Congratulations to the ※DzԲԴǰ Panthers Baseball team after defeating Laredo Alexander in two games of the three game series on Friday, and the Brennan Lady Bear softball team who defeated Clemens in game three to move on to the Regional Finals this week! Both played excellent defense and hit the ball really well on Friday. Details for ※DzԲԴǰ’s upcoming Regional Semi-Finals and Brennan’s Regional Finals can be found below.  

▸ Baseball Regional Semifinals
※DzԲԴǰ vs Reagan– Best 2 out of 3 series
Game 1 Thursday, May 23 – NS #2 – 7:00 pm
Game 2 Friday, May 24 – NESP – 7:00 pm
Game 3 Saturday, May 25 – Wolff Stadium – 7:00 pm (if needed)

▸ Girls Softball Regional 
Brennan defeated Clemens in 3 
Regional Final 
Brennan vs Weslaco 
Time/Dates TBD

The Spirit of 51. I had the pleasure of visiting Carson Elementary School’s 4th and 5th grade students after being introduced by 4th grader Charlston on Friday morning. It was really a lot of fun to visit with both groups of students, and Thank you to Carson Elementary Principal Lisa Mendez, Associate Principal Kimberly McClintic, and the entire Cowboys staff for providing me the opportunity. I once again thoroughly enjoyed the visit and remain so impressed with the warm culture you have created! 

I hope you have a wonderful week and a restful Memorial Day Weekend. 

**There will not be a May 27th Catching Up With Craft edition, rather we will pick back up on June 3rd with the last 2023-2024 publishing for the year. 

We’re continuing to get closer!

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Good Morning Team 51! 

First and foremost, I hope you all had a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend. Thank you again to all of our 51 ISD moms who not only give so caringly to the students they serve but also work tirelessly to care for their own children.  

This week, we are recognizing Peace Officer Memorial Day and Police Recognition Week. Across the United States, we take time to pay tribute to the local, state, and federal peace officers who have died, or who have been disabled, in the line of duty. It is officially celebrated on May 15 each year. I know I have mentioned it, but we are so fortunate to have our own NISD Police Department who protect and serve in the best interest of our entire team and community. Their service is to be commended as our first responders and they remain such a vital part of our overall safety initiative. Thank you to Chief Charlie Carnes and our amazing officers. You continue to have such a positive impact on the entire district!

From Around the 51    

Solar Car Races. I wanted to circle back and brag about our students and faculty who participated in the Annual Solar Car Races on the 27th. While I was not able to attend due to our H-E-B Excellence in Education event held in Houston that weekend, I was receiving updates and the event went off without a hitch even due to lack of sunshine. The solar car event continues to serve as a venue for students to design and build miniature solar-powered cars while learning essential design, engineering, and harnessing alternative energy capabilities.  

We had over 270 elementary and middle school teams, and 1,036 students competing with three or four students on each team. Approximately 46 elementary schools and 15 middle schools participated this year.

After preliminary heats, semifinals, and a final race; awards were handed out to champions in the elementary and middle school divisions. We want to thank all of our sponsors and staff who, once again, worked so diligently to make this year's event a huge success! 

The results are:

Middle School Race Results 

1st Place

Hobby Pasramchos

2nd Place

Hobby Lightning McQueen's

3rd Place

Hobby Ghost Riders

4th Place

Hobby Solar Speeders

5th Place

Garcia GG Currus Unus

6th Place

Jefferson Solar Sigmas

7th Place

Garcia GG Currus Quattor

8th Place

Garcia GG Currus Duo

Elementary School Race Results 

1st Place

Carson Red Hornets

2nd Place

Blattman The Predators

3rd Place

Elrod Solar Creators

4th Place

Esparza The Jetz

5th Place

Henderson The Racers Chicks

6th Place

Meadow Village Bobcat Rockets

7th Place

Behlau Bull Rushers

8th Place

Scobee Blazing Stars

Carlos Coon Elementary School Career Day. NISD Board President Bobby Blount and I had the opportunity to visit with Carlos Coon 5th grade students this past Thursday to describe the teamwork that guides the work across the district. While it was a very quick overview, it was once again great to field the questions in our young students' minds. From “Do we have animals in the district?” (which I had to think about until it came to me that our canine units qualified as a sufficient answer) to “Why don’t we pay students to come to school each day?” Admittedly, the latter made Mr. Blount and I pause and really process this question because I don’t think we had either really thought about attendance from that perspective. We want to Thank Principal Jessica Lundquist, Ms. Eva Barrientos, and the entire Carlos Coon ES staff and presenters for making the event such an engaging learning opportunity for our students. 

Project A.C.O.R.N. NISD hosted the third Annual Project A.C.O.R.N. event at ※DzԲԴǰ High School on Saturday and I was informed it was a tremendous turnout once again. This project teaches environmental science principles and promotes eco-friendly awareness by providing hands-on, project-based learning experiences. We want to again extend our appreciation to all our teachers, staff, and volunteers for their hard work and efforts throughout the year in shaping and forging pathways for our students to experience ways to better take care of our ecosystem. Great Job once again!

NISD Partner of the Year Celebration. At the NISD Sports Gym Thursday evening, we also had the opportunity to celebrate the tremendous volunteers, mentors, and business partners who have donated their time, talents, and funds to help our campuses and students over the course of the year. We had almost 20,000 volunteers across 51 ISD, from our Watch DOGS, AKA Dad of Great Students, to Career Day speakers, to the OASIS tutors who work one-on-one helping students with their reading skills. It’s been wonderful having so many volunteers giving back across campuses this year, contributing so much to the learning environment by showing up and being part of our student’s lives on a daily basis. It was our honor to recognize the outstanding commitment as a 51 ISD partner, and we simply would not be as good without their selfless service. Congratulations and Thank you again to all of our NISD Partners!

The winners included:

  • Outstanding Partnership Program:
    • Elementary School: John’s Kids, John and Martha Blackwell & Family (Glen Oaks and Allen; Rayburn MS)
    • Middle School: Farmers Insurance, Britt Melendez and Ester Martinez (Sul Ross)
    • High School: St. Mary’s University Computer Science, Dr. Carol Redfield (Jay Science and Engineering Academy)
    • Other: Galen College of Nursing, Sunni Garrett (Career & Technical Education)
  • Outstanding Coordinator:
    • Elementary School: Sydney Shippey, San Antonio Sports and Social Club (Westwood Terrace ES)
    • Other: Gabriel Garcia, Superintendent & Director Workforce Development with Marek Brothers (Career & Technical Education)
  • Outstanding Mentor or Individual:
    • Elementary School: Leigha May, PTA President (Fields ES)
    • Middle School: Kim Muschalek, Professor and San Antonio College Director of Cyber Innovation & Education Center Alamo Colleges 51, San Antonio College (Zachry Magnet)
    • High School: Arthur Forral (Jay Science and Engineering Academy)
    • Other: Ginny Brown, Associate Director of San Antonio Oasis (NLC/ACE/Community Education)
  • Outstanding Business or Community Organization:
    • Elementary School: San Antonio Humane Society, Jenna Elizondo (Glenoaks ES)
    • Middle School: Mighty Fortress Church, Pastor Ralph Ramos (Rayburn MS)
    • High School: A-1 Sports, Jerry Ortiz (Sotomayor HS)
    • Other: Aqua Star Laundry, Naj Ishmael (Family Engagement Center)

TAPT State Finalist. We want to especially Congratulate Mrs. Martha O'Campo from South Transportation Station for being a State Finalist in the Texas Association for Pupil Transportation (TAPT) Sure-Lok Above and Beyond Awards program. This is the first time for NISD to have a finalist! She and other finalists will be recognized at the Awards Banquet on Saturday, June 22 at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi. Mrs. O’Campo has been with the NISD Transportation Department for 31 years and graciously drives a route for our Holmgreen students each day. She wholeheartedly loves her job and loves the students she transports. Congratulations Ms. O’Campo! Words can not express our appreciation for the job you do and your commitment to our students. 

Mrs. Martha O'Campo from South Transportation Station

NISD Baseball and Softball Playoff Runs. As sports seasons begin to wind to a conclusion, we want to continue to celebrate the success of our student athletes. This is the time of year when a lot of distractions can deter from the continued hard work and drive to excel on the field. 

Updated results:

▸ Baseball
Regional Quarterfinals
※DzԲԴǰ vs Laredo Alexander
Dates/Times - TBD

▸ Softball
Regional Semifinal
Brennan vs Clemens
Dates/Times - TBD

Congratulations to all of our Softball and Baseball teams. You continue to make us proud!    

The Spirit of 51. Last Friday, I had the opportunity to visit Elrod Elementary as they celebrated Mother’s Day by hosting a Mother's Day Tea. The young first grade students shared the work they made with their moms, sang some heart-wrenching songs, read stories, and served their moms’ light snacks and punch. It was great to see the students honor their Moms and Mother Figures and it made me pause and reflect how much I appreciated my own mother and her unwavering support in raising my siblings and myself over the years. Special thanks to Principal Belinda Flores, Ms. Martha Castelhano, and Ms. Caroline Simpkins for going the extra mile to make the event so special. It is often the little things that make all the difference in the lives of those who we have the opportunity to serve.

We continue to inch closer to the finish line TEAM! I again just want to encourage you to keep working diligently and enjoy the success of our students! I hope you have a wonderful week!

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Welcome to the Month of May Team 51! 

This week we will first and foremost be celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week. This remains a week set aside for honoring our amazing educators who remain our core business. The week-long celebration is the culmination of a 40-year push to establish a national teacher appreciation day, which was eventually established in 1953 by Congress. Since then we have been taking time to celebrate our teachers' hard work, dedication, and service. Teaching is so much more complex than it was in 1953, and I will argue it remains one of the toughest professions out there. Thank you NISD Teachers and please join me in expressing our gratitude this week. 

We will also be celebrating NISD Substitute Educators Week as we also show our appreciation to our amazing substitute teachers. The work substitute teachers do is instrumental in maintaining instructional continuity in the absence of the permanent teacher. Substitute teachers walk into classrooms each day across the district unsure of what material they are going to teach, or what students they will be interacting with, and they do so willingly and with a smile on their faces. They remain some of the unsung heroes of education and so we applaud their efforts this week as well. 

National School Nurse’s Day is Wednesday, May 8 and we couldn’t be more proud to celebrate the hard work of our Nurses across the district. Our school nurses support the health and educational success of children and youth by providing access to care while ensuring all students' physical and mental health needs are continuously met while at school. Our nurses play a pivotal role while ensuring students and (adults in many cases) are healthy, safe, and well-prepared to take on the challenges of the day. Working in isolation on most occasions, they quietly go about caring for and lifting up those needing aid, and do so selflessly daily. Thank you to all our School Nurses for all you do! 

Please help me in recognizing these special individuals this week!

On Tuesday, April 29, the Board voted to appoint Dr. Homer Guevara as the Single Member 51 2 Trustee to replace outgoing Trustee Gerald Lopez who will be assuming his role serving on the Board of the Alamo Colleges later this month. Dr. Guevara has served on the CPS Energy Board and is a Professor at Northwest Vista Colleges. With his children having been educated in 51 and his participation in the Leadership 51 cohort this year, we are excited to welcome Dr. Guevara as he takes the oath of office later this month.

From Around the 51    

Empower Schools Visits CAST Teach. Empower schools is a National nonprofit that partners with communities to develop sustainable solutions that improve student success at school and in life. They help partners organize structures and conditions that empower the educators, innovations, and improvements sought. It was great to visit with professionals from such diverse communities and to be able to share our very innovative program at CAST TEACH and Stevens High School. The highlight of the event was our panel of students, moderated by Trustee Carol Harle, who described their experiences and articulated their passion for becoming a future educator. I know I am biased, but the panelists knocked it out of the park and made me want to immediately hire them. Special thanks to the Empower Schools members in attendance and congratulations to CAST TEACH staff and students on their accomplishments and work that continues to drive our Mission of transforming the learning experience for students each day!

Brandeis Independent Study Mentorship. Brandeis High School hosted their annual ISM Presentation Night and it was amazing. The students presenting their projects and experiences were nothing short of amazing. The presentations included a culmination of their experiences through a variety of volunteerism entailing professions of their individual passions. I did not get to every room Wednesday night, but the several students I had the pleasure of observing really demonstrated just how hard they worked over the course of the year as well as their grit, dedication, and will to make a difference in our society. For example, Cameron Hughes presented entrepreneurship entailing her work with Elbow Room, a tiny home company here in San Antonio that prides itself on eco-friendly sustainable living spaces. Emily Villasenor described her journey in working alongside mentor Celeste Broerman as a Physicians Assistant. Victoria Xu was mentored by Mark Jordan at Clark Hill Law Firm and had the opportunity to learn all about Civil Law and the court system. Ashtyn Perez completed her ISM project at our very own Reddix Center, and explained how physical therapy is applied in the educational setting and more importantly, the positive effects the work has on children. Kaitlyn Reyes was mentored by Dr. Amy Robinson, one of the veterinarians with MissionVet also in San Antonio. Kaitlyn even created two “how to” books explaining the essentials associated with cat care. I was so impressed by the students’ ability to articulate and communicate their experiences and I could not have been more proud of their accomplishments. I do want to give a special thanks to our amazing teachers for their support and guidance as well as the amazing mentors for providing the environment for our future workforce to thrive. Great job students and I can’t wait to witness your success in the very near future!  

100th NISD Food Bank Distribution. On Friday, 51 ISD hosted its 100th Food Bank event at Gustafson Stadium. Attaining this benchmark has been the result of dedicated volunteers and the support of so many students/groups stepping up to the plate to give back to those in need. It remains unfortunate that the need continues to exist, but I couldn’t be more proud of NISD answering the call repeatedly. Thank you to Don Schmidt, Calvin Buchholtz, and our Whole Child Department for your service to our community and H.E.B. for continuing to help our families.

The Great Book Giveaway. On Thursday evening, Brennan, Holmes, and O'Connor High Schools all participated in the annual Great Book Giveaway. It was a great event once again, especially when our students received a bag of free new and gently used books. Again, thank you to all our students, staff, and volunteers who supported the event. Supporting literacy efforts empowers our youth to attain a brighter future!

H.E.B. Excellence in Education. Each year the H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards are designed to honor outstanding public school professionals and to thank them for their dedication and commitment. The state finalists were each awarded money for themselves and their schools. Nominations were submitted earlier this year by H-E-B customers, employees, and community members and a team of judges narrowed the field to the finalists. After being interviewed on Saturday by a panel of judges, the grand prize winners were announced on Sunday evening. 

This year, I had the privilege of serving as one of the 2024 Excellence in Education Awards judges, and had the opportunity to interview the Lifetime Achievement category of five elementary and five secondary teachers from across the state with 20 years of teaching experience (or more… several with 40+ years of service). While difficult to narrow down these amazing educators to the winner in each category, it was such an enlightening experience on Saturday to hear about their trials and tribulations, but more importantly their love for their students. It also provided a unique personal reflection of just how fortunate we are in 51 and how proud I am of our TEAM. 

Without further ado…we want to again congratulate our own finalists who were recognized on Sunday evening for the amazing job they have done and their significant accomplishment of being named Statewide finalists: Isaac Esquivel, 51 Elementary Environmental Science Teacher in the Elementary Leadership category; and Colin Varville, Warren High School Choir Director, in the Rising Star Secondary category.

We are elated to announce that Michelle Fine, Glenn Elementary School Principal, (Elementary Principal category), and Julie Minnis, Garcia Middle School Head Counselor (Secondary Counselor category) were both named the H.E.B. Excellence in Education State Winners in their respective categories!!!! What an amazing testament to their leadership and both Ms. Minnis and Ms. Fine did an absolutely amazing job with their acceptance speeches before an audience of 850 public educators. 

Congratulations again and we are so proud to celebrate your significant accomplishments! Thank You again for going the extra mile for your students and staff every day! 

2023-2024 Trinity Prize Awardee. We also want to congratulate this year's Trinity Prize awardee for their amazing efforts in the classroom. Trinity University is a proud supporter of Public Education and a partner to NISD. This year’s award was presented to Rachel Lantz, an Academic Support Teacher at Cody Elementary. Thank you, Ms. Lantz, for your outstanding work with our students.

Burning up the Track in Austin. Congratulations to all our NISD athletes who competed in the 6A UIL State Track Meet held at Mike A. Myers Stadium this past week. The work and preparation of our student-athletes is to be commended. Great Job and we are so proud of you! Below are the results:

Tate Taylor- Harlan
2nd Place - 100m Boys

Iyanna Webb - Harlan
3rd Place - Triple Jump Girls

Iyanna Webb - Harlan
6th Place - Long Jump Girls

Waylon McKenzie - O'Connor
7th place - Discus Boys

Harlan Boys - 40.09
5th Place - 4x100m Relay
G'Ivori Graham, Anthony Durojaiye, Payton Matthews, Tate Taylor

Caila Lyons - Brennan
7th Place 800m Girls

Iyanna Webb - Harlan
5th Place - 100m hurdles Girls

Nick Ross - Warren
8th Place - 100m dash Boys

Harlan Girls - 1:40.05
9th Place - 4x200m Relay Girls
Ava Salas, Toryn Taylor, Nadya Crawford, Iyanna Webb

Shyniece Davis - John Jay
6th Place - 400m Girls

Elijah Hernandez- Sotomayor
7th Place - 400m Boys

Ja’Dan Keller - Taft
7th Place - 300m Hurdles Boys

Tate Taylor - Harlan
4th Place - 200m Boys

Nick Ross - Warren
7th Place - 200m Boys

Tate Ross - Harlan
2nd Place 100m dash

Iyanna Webb - Harlan
3rd Place Triple Jump

Iyanna Webb - Harlan HS - 3rd Place Triple Jump
Iyanna Webb - Harlan
Tate Ross - Harlan HS - 2nd Place 100m dash
Tate Ross - Harlan

NISD Baseball and Softball Playoff Runs

An exciting week for both 51 Softball and Baseball. In Softball, Brennan and ※DzԲԴǰ will match up against each other in the UIL State Regional Quarter-finals in a best of three series beginning on Wednesday 6pm, Friday 6pm, and if necessary Saturday 11pm, at 51 Softball #2

▸ Softball Area Results:

  • O'Connor defeated PSJA in a single game
  • Brennan defeated Harlingen in two games.
  • Harlan lost to La Joya in two games.
  • Holmes lost to Weslaco in three games.

▸ In Baseball the following 51 Schools have advanced to the UIL Area Round:

  • Brandeis vs Round Rock Westwood
  • ※DzԲԴǰ vs Los Fresnos
  • Brennan vs La Joya

All games will be best of 3 series beginning on Thursday.

▸ Softball Playoffs - Regional Quarterfinals

Brennan vs ※DzԲԴǰ – best 2 out of 3 series

  • Game 1 – Wednesday, May 8 – 51 Softball #2 - 6:00 pm
  • Game 2 – Friday, May 10 – 51 Softball #2 - 6:00 pm
  • Game 3 – Saturday, May 11 – 51 Softball #2 – 12:00 pm (If needed).

▸ Admissions:
Ticket Prices - Adults $5.00 Students $3.00
Tickets sold online through NISD
Passes accepted: THSCA, THSADA, TGCA, Gold Card, 29-6A 51 Pass, Faculty ID from participating schools (guest pays).

Contact school for more information

The Spirit of 51

This week I had the opportunity to visit the Passmore Fiesta Market which included the 4th grade team of teachers and students. They were wrapping up their personal financial literacy unit in which students discussed profit, earnings, goods, services, etc. Students developed products to sell at the “market” and needless to say captured an instant customer! It was so fascinating to see students learn hands-on how products are developed and how free market enterprise actually works. 

Congratulations to the Passmore Panthers and Principal James Dominguez and staff. This week the NISD Spirit Stick is headed to your inventory! (Please don’t sell it on the market!)  

The month of May can be challenging, partly because everything moves at mach speed as we prepare to wrap up a school year. I once again want to encourage you to take time to take a deep breath, enjoy each and every day with our students, and be sure to take care of your personal mental, emotional, and physical health. It is really important to prioritize your personal needs so that you can best take care of your students' needs!

Have a great week Team 51.

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Happy Monday Team 51, 

I hope this message finds you well and rested after an extended Fiesta Weekend full of celebrations and festivities. The Battle of Flowers was once again a lot of fun and seeing our marching bands shine this past weekend was a great reminder of the significant role our students play in supporting our community. Thank you again to all who supported this year’s Fiesta parades, celebrations, and learning opportunities both on and off campuses. It was a great time to be had by all and even Mother Nature cooperated for most of the weekend. Thank you to all who worked so hard to support our students to make this year’s Fiesta such a success! 

It is hard to believe we are already preparing to close out the month of April, but this week we will be celebrating our hardworking Campus Principals on Wednesday, May 1 with National Principal Recognition Day. I believe you will agree that our Principals set the culture and tone of the school, make student drop-off and pick-up run as efficiently as possible, and hire and grow the best staff members for the benefit of students (and so much more)! When you have the chance, please be sure to catch your Principal and let them know how much they are appreciated. Thank you again to our Campus Principals and we hope you enjoy your special day of recognition, you have earned it!

We will also be celebrating our hard working school nutrition staff with National School Lunch Heroes Day on Friday, May 3. We remain so blessed to have such a hard working team of professionals who begin their day well before our students are waking up each morning. They provide the fuel our students and staff need to be successful each day, (faster than a speeding bullet I might add) and do so with a sense of pride and dedication that often goes unnoticed. Thank you again to our School Nutrition Professionals and you deserve more than a SuperHero appreciation! Please join me in appreciating our School Lunch Heroes this week! 

From Around the 51    

Lunch with Steubing Elementary 2nd Grade Students. It’s not every day I get to sit down and have lunch with second grade students, and what a treat it was. I learned so much about what goes on in our second graders' lives. We had the opportunity to discuss their school day, birthday parties, swimming, gymnastics, and so much more. They were really interested in my job, which admittedly, I think I fumbled in trying to explain it to 8 and 9 year-olds. Karlee, Reagan, and Cori were such a breath of fresh air. I especially appreciated the fact that they agreed we should eat our chocolate chip cookies before our chicken nuggets and waffle fries. (We agreed we wouldn't tell our parents, so please keep this on the down low.) Thank you to the Steubing PTA for arranging the amazing experience and to our students for the great laughs. It made my week!  

51 Communications Network. We had our final NCN meeting with our Elementary and Secondary Representatives from across the district. I have greatly benefited from the discourse throughout the year, as we continue to work to continuously improve across all aspects of the district. This opportunity also allows me to gain a lot of intel and gauge the pulse of our Team through the panel questions and forum discussions. Please take a moment to review the presentations and Q&A from NCN published from each meeting. I want to express my gratitude to our Campus Representatives for taking the time out of their busy lives to participate and share their thoughts. We look forward to picking up the work next year as teacher voice is extremely important for us to best be able to support positive district growth. Thanks again!

51 Technology Services- Kelly Smith Tour. I have mentioned that there are so many things that happen behind the scenes to make sure operations run smoothly and our customers remain satisfied (as much as possible.) One of these departments supports the platform that we would not likely be able to function without. This past week, Board President Bobby Blount and Vice President Corinne Saldana had the opportunity to tour Kelly Smith Technology Services Center. Tanya Harris, Leann Kidd, Kris Trejo, and Gary Dennis, who is the Lori Jones Service Award Recipient for 2024 btw, provided us an amazing overview of the complexities supporting IT infrastructure, security, hardware, project management, and training associated with making it all “click.” They perform amazing teamwork every day to ensure our users are supported and have seamless access to the power of technology. Keep up the great work NISD Tech Services, we greatly appreciate you! 

※DzԲԴǰ High School One Act Play Advances to State. Congratulations to our Panthers Theater students and Director Michael Arellno for their Regional Performance of Amadeus. Not only did they manage to advance to this year’s UIL State Competition, but they also scored all 1’s with their stellar performance. Congratulations to ※DzԲԴǰ High School and we wish you the Best of Luck at State! 

O'Connor Theatre Team

Brauchle Elementary School Fiesta Parade. What another awesome community turnout at Brauchle Elementary School last Thursday for their Fiesta Parade and celebration. It was especially great to meet and visit with the Brauchle family, many who traveled from out of town to participate in the parade. The Master of Ceremony was Mr. Ryan Shoptaugh, our very own KENS 5 meteorologist. I was somehow talked into sporting a really nice sombrero following the Brauchle Student Safety Ambassadors (I wish I could have managed to wear it the remainder of my day.) Thank you again to Ms. Melissa Crittell and Principal April Mata-Tausch for truly pulling together a Fiesta Extravaganza for their entire school community to enjoy. 

Destination Imagination Wins Big. Three of our NISD Destination Imagination Teams are headed to the Global Competition to be held in Kansas City, MO on May 22-25. Over 500 teams from around the state of Texas competed at the "Lone Star Finals" in Arlington on April 13. We are extremely proud of all our NISD DI teams! Advancing to Globals are the "DI of the Tiger" representing Briscoe Middle School, who placed 1st in the Project Outreach Challenge, 1st in Texas Extreme Challenge and 1st in Instant Challenge. The "Fairyologists" also from Briscoe Middle School, who came in 2nd in the Scientific Challenge, and our "Extra, Extra, Dragon Winners" from Forester Elementary, who placed 4th in the Improv Challenge. Our DI students put in months of hard work and learned to engineer, design and work as a team along their journey. They will undoubtedly represent the 51 well among teams from across the State and from over 60 countries at the Global competition. Thanks again to our DI sponsors and parents for their relentless support and we wish our students all the best with their quest to win the Big One!

State Visual Arts Scholastic Event. My wife and I had the opportunity to attend the State Visual Art Scholastic Event held at San Marcos High School on Saturday. We had 36 NISD artists advance to the competition and it was an absolutely amazing display of visual arts from across the State. As a father of a student artist in the district, I know all too well the passion and energy students put into their visual masterpieces, and behind each piece is not only passion, but encouragement from our dedicated art teachers. Thank you, Mr. Josh Gonzales, Brandeis High School and all those who encourage young students to express their amazing talents in a manner that I would not have the slightest notion of where to even begin. Congratulations again to all NISD State Vase participants. It was truly an amazing display of tremendous talent.   

NISD Baseball and Softball Playoff Runs. Congratulations are also in order to our Softball Teams advancing over the weekend with their Bi-51 victories. Brennan, Harlan, Holmes and ※DzԲԴǰ High School ladies all won to move on to the Area Round to be played Monday.

NISD Baseball also wrapped up and we have some great series to be played this upcoming weekend in their Bi-district matchups. Representing 51 28-6A will include Brandeis facing off with San Marcos High School. In 51 29-6A, 51 Champions Warren Warriors will face Eagle Pass, ※DzԲԴǰ Panthers will take on United South, Sotomayor Wildcats will match-up with Alexander and the Brennan Bears will face United High School.

Congratulations and keep the play-off drives alive! Best of Luck and go get 'em!   

The Spirit of 51. There are so many celebrations across NISD it is almost impossible to award a Spirit Stick this time of year. From student success demonstrated through amazing performances, competitions and all kinds of various events, I almost feel the need to establish a NISD Spirit Stick Selection Committee. 

This week the Spirit Award lands at Briscoe Middle School! Congratulations to Principal Christina Rather, Mary Cedio, GT Enrichment Horizon, and the entire Bengal team. Keep pushing students to new heights! 

Have a great week NISD!

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Good Morning Team 51, 

I hope you had a nice weekend and were able to navigate the weather safely. While Saturday failed to provide the proper weather conditions for our Annual Solar Car races (make-up date scheduled for May 4th), it ended up clearing and being a pretty nice afternoon on Sunday. We will be experiencing a shorter week with not having school on Friday so that students and families can enjoy the Battle of Flowers. Speaking of parades, Fiesta is in full swing and I hope you enjoy the festivities with Friends and Family members this week. 

While the week will be a shorter one, we will be celebrating and applauding the hard work of many across the district. To begin, we want to thank all of our Volunteers this week who help make our operations run so smoothly. Without their dedication and servant leadership, we would not be able to provide the level of service to our students and families. We are also celebrating our After-school professionals this week for their hard work and all they do to support students beyond the regular school day. Thank you to our Learning Tree Staff and others for all you do! Along with Public School Volunteer Week and After School Professionals Week, we want to salute our amazing Bus Drivers as Tuesday is National School Bus Driver Day as well as all of our amazing Administrative Assistants across the district. Wednesday is Administrative Professionals Day, so please take the time to appreciate these fine individuals when you have an opportunity. 

Around the 51

51 Museum Association Luncheon. It was great to catch up with our 51 Museum Association volunteers and retirees last Tuesday. It is always a fun group, and great to catch up with so many who paved the way across 51 ISD. I am amazed at how supportive and involved our 51 retirees remain, and I look forward to the next luncheon. Trustees Karen Freeman, Vice President Corinne Saldana, President Bobby Blount, and I really enjoyed seeing so many friendly smiles and sharing some laughs.      

CAFE - School Connect. We had the opportunity to engage with School Connect SA which works to empower schools to be the best version of themselves by building a bridge between the school and the community - nurturing partnerships between schools, businesses, and faith-based communities. It was great to see all the community partners and volunteers and the collaboration and discourse across tables. The CAFE event reminded me of the power of teamwork, but also how pulling resources together can have such a positive cumulative effect. Thanks again to Margaret Judson, the Executive Director for such an excellent Community and Family Engagement Event, and thanks again to all who participated. Teamwork at its best!  

John Jay Ribbon Cutting. If you heard a rock concert resembling a very close rendition of the Trans Siberian Orchestra on Thursday, it was actually the electric strings students at John Jay High School as they celebrated the opening of their new Fine Arts facility and auditorium. The students did a great job leading the event and we could not be more excited for the Mustangs and their new addition. Our Architect, Jerry Lammers, and contractor Gary Joeris with Joeris Construction did an absolutely amazing job. If you get a chance to swing by and see the beautiful facility,  Principal Terry Cuellar and the Jay staff would love to show it off. Great job Mustangs and we hope you enjoy your new facility for many years to come.   

NISD Fine Arts Exhibit. The NISD Sports Gym played host to our Annual Fine Arts Exhibit Friday and Saturday, and what an awesome spectacle to witness so many incredibly talented artists’ work on display. I had the opportunity to select some special pieces to receive a special acknowledgment, and it was really tough to select amongst so many amazing pieces. I want to again Thank our amazing Fine Arts Department staff and all of our campus art teachers for your extra efforts and for making this year's Fine Arts Exhibit such a special event once again.     

Regional  Track Athletes Advance to the State Meet. We want to congratulate the following track athletes who have advanced to the 6A State meet held at the Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin later this week. Great job and we wish you the best of luck at State!

  • I'yanna Webb  Harlan  Girls Long Jump  19-08.75  First Place
  • I'yanna Webb  Harlan  Girls Triple Jump  41-10.75  First Place - 6A Region IV Record
  • Harlan Boys  4x100  41.21 First Place
    Givori Graham, Anthony Durojaiye, Payton Matthews, Tate Taylor
  • I’yanna Webb Harlan Girls 100m Hurdles 14.33  Second Place
  • Tate Taylor  Harlan  Boys 100m dash  10.37  First Place
  • Nick Ross    Warren  Boys 100m dash  10.50  Second Place
  • Harlan Girls 4 x 200m 1:40.00  Second Place
  • Ava Salas, Addison Shumate, I'yanna Webb, Toryn Taylor
  • Shyniece Davis  John Jay  Girls 400m  55.38  Second Place
  • Elijah Hernandez  Sotomayor  Boys 400m  47.09  First Place - 6A Region IV Record
  • Ja'Dan Keiler  Taft  Boys 300m Hurdles  37.06  First Place
  • Nick Ross    Warren  Boy 200m dash  20.95  First Place
  • Tate Taylor  Harlan  Boys 200m dash  21.19  Second Place
  • Waylon McKenzie - O'Connor - Discus - 1st place: 169'-1"

The Spirit of 51. Seeing that this Wednesday is National Administrative Professionals' Day and we will be recognizing the professionals who keep our offices and the district running smoothly every day, please join me in passing along the NISD Spirit Stick as we say Thank you from the Bottom of our Hearts!

I hope you have a great week Team 51. Viva Fiesta and please have a safe and enjoyable upcoming weekend.  

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Good Morning Team 51,

I hope you had a great weekend. There were plenty of activities transpiring across the district to enjoy, and of course, if you just enjoyed seeing a beautiful landscape and very skilled golfers, the Masters at Augusta didn’t disappoint. 

The Eclipse. First, I would like to take a moment to brag about all the great learning opportunities our students were provided across the district as Monday’s Eclipse presented itself. Although the cloud coverage made it challenging to experience the full vantage, the students at Leon Valley Elementary School still had a great time and we were able to see some of the event as clouds would temporarily break. 

I also want to thank the Lighthouse Project and the team leader of teachers with students with Visual Impairments, Danielle Gonzalez. Our visually impaired students were able to engage in a unique experience like never before. With cutting-edge technology, the eclipse was transformed into sound waves, providing a truly immersive and inclusive opportunity for our students.

Through the relentless perseverance of the entire VI Department, our district was fortunate enough to receive one of 900 devices requested by thousands from Harvard University’s Astrophysics Department. Our NSITE Magnet Program played a pivotal role in sharing this experience with other students across the district. What an incredible example of Teamwork and collaboration across our district allowing 51 to once again lead groundbreaking opportunities, making moments special for all students regardless of the challenges presented.

Thanks again to all who made the rare event so special. It will be one staff and students remember for years to come.  

Next School Year’s Preliminary Fiscal Budget Presented. On Tuesday night we had the opportunity to present a very preliminary Fiscal Year 2025 (next school year) budget. We took a deep dive into enrollment trends and average daily attendance rates, which remain major budget drivers. We also discussed the anticipated reduction in revenue to SHARS funding and the impact of ESSER Federal recovery dollars expiring this September. We also discussed a broad overview of what pay increases could entail. Although no final decisions were made on Tuesday, we wanted the Board to have access to quite a bit of information as we begin answering questions in the coming weeks. Unfortunately, we are not unlike most, if not all, school 51s across the State who are looking to adopt a deficit budget this year. As a result of the most recent legislative (88th) session concluding without any meaningful increase in funding to support public education, we will have several challenges to navigate this budget season. The Board remains committed to making competitive pay a priority and we will continue to work hard to ensure our budget is reflective of our 51 goals and values.    

Child Abuse Prevention Month. The month of April continues to be a reminder that we can all play a pivotal role in preventing child abuse. All communities benefit when children and families are well supported and safe, and if all community members work together to ensure all children have positive experiences and families have the resources they need well before they are presented with a crisis, abuse can be curtailed. Please continue to join us in recognizing the month of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month and make the pledge to always work to protect students against all forms of abuse. Our collaborative efforts can make a significant difference in working to eradicate child neglect and abuse. 

Month of the Military Child. April is also the Month of the Military Child and Monday will serve as Purple Up for Military Kids Day. Military members and military-connected families make many sacrifices for the security and safety of our nation, specifically military-connected children during their PK-12 career. Across the nation and 51 ISD, we will celebrate the important role military children play, while their service member parents serve our country. We thank all of our parents and staff who serve our great Nation and I encourage you to demonstrate this appreciation through special events and wearing the color purple this Month. 

STUCO Wins Big. We have a few notable accolades and shout-outs this past week as our students continue to accomplish great feats. The National Association of Student Councils (NASC), recognized Sandra Day O'Connor and Marshall High School Student Councils as a 2024 National Gold Council of Excellence (NCOE)! 

Winning the National Gold Council of Excellence Award is a testament to the highest standards of quality, leadership, innovation, and community engagement that your council consistently demonstrates in its operation, and its projects and activities. NASC’s National Gold Councils of Excellence are the models of quality for which other student councils nationwide should strive to become. Congratulations to the Panthers and Rams STUCOs!

National Middle School Art Teacher, Larry West Recognized. Also, The National Art Education Association has a special network focused on promoting the merits of Choice-Based Art and the rewards of teaching students the practice and performance of artistic behaviors. Globally, this trend has contributed to allowing for greater student choice and voice through the artistic process.  Congratulations to Rayburn Middle School Art teacher, Larry West, for being honored as the 2024 National Middle School Choice Based Art Educator.  Way to represent 51 ISD Larry!

51 Education Foundation Donor Appreciation Night. We had the opportunity to celebrate with our NEF Donors on Thursday night as our CAST Teach program served as our gracious host. We are so grateful for the unwavering support our Donors provide which has enabled us to provide funding for our teachers to reach beyond their classroom budgets. Thanks again to our Trustees, NEF Board of Directors and staff, CAST Teach High School, and all who came out to support this great event. 

Scarborough Elementary STAAR Pep Rally. I once again had the opportunity to serve as a guest judge this year at the STAAR Pep Rally at Scarborough Elementary School. We could feel the energy the moment we walked in the door. The teacher's performances and “lip singing” once again raised the bar this year. While the Husky Pre-K team had a strong performance, it came down to the wire once again this year between the Discovery Team teachers and First Grade. Thankfully School Namesake Evelyn Scarborough helped the judges’ panel identify the winner. Congratulations to the Husky First Grade Team! Something tells me you may have to work hard to defend your title next year! It was a great time once again and Thanks to Ms. Sandra Luna and the Husky Staff for a great time and being vulnerable to help motivate our students! 

Area Track Athletes Advance. On Wednesday evening, our 51 athletes competed in the 51s 29 and 30-6A 51 Area Track and Field meet held at Heroes Stadium. The top four in each event will advance to the Regional Meet next Friday, April 19, and Saturday, April 20 held at Heroes Stadium. Please see attached track results. Congratulations to our Regional Qualifiers. We also want to congratulate both the Harlan Hawks Lady tracksters and the Brennan Bears Boys as they were crowned the Area Meet Champions! Awesome job and best of luck. 

The Spirit of 51. This week was once again almost impossible to deliver the Spirit Stick to a single recipient. So as a result, there are two 51 Spirit Sticks to be awarded. 

Our Visually Impaired Department truly went above and beyond to make the Eclipse such a meaningful experience for students last week. Thanks again to Jenice Dames, the Program Coordinator, and the entire VI Team.  

And of course, as a result of Scarborough Elementary “rocking” their STAAR Pep Rally, I felt compelled to recognize the amazing musical talent and creativity. Personally, I felt like the opening rendition of ACDC Thunderstruck by lead singer Brian Johnson (aka Ms. Sandra Luna) set the stage for those following and forced them to up their “game.” Thanks again for the great tunes and laughs Huskies!

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Good Morning Team 51,

I hope this message finds you well this morning. I think it is safe to say that we are in the full swing of the Spring Semester and this weekend was proof of great things happening across the district. From the NEF Fun Run and ESports Spring Championships to our Lego Robotics Championship and the Fiesta of Cultures poetry event at Marshall High School, our students experienced tremendous success across a variety of venues.   

Speaking of Robotics, we will be celebrating National Robotics Week, which actually officially kicked off Saturday. We have very talented students with impressive engineering, technical, and innovative skills in the world of robotics and we want to celebrate their success and of course, all of our instructors and sponsors who encourage and provide the pathways for their success. Congratulations are in order to some of our youngest robot enthusiasts at Ellison Elementary for winning the Lego League Championship Saturday! Awesome job Bees, you continue to stay very “Busy!”

And of course, if you have not heard, we have prepared to experience the Solar Eclipse in its entirety as a result of residing in the Path of Totality. The rarity of getting to experience the moon rotating in direct alignment with the sun to create the shadowing effect will provide a tremendous learning experience for our students. Albeit the event will likely be well underway or perhaps over by the time you are reading this, but I hope you are able to enjoy the rare event. Hopefully, Mother Nature cooperates. I want to thank all of our teachers, science coordinators, and especially Deonna Dean, NISD Assistant Superintendent for Middle School Instruction, for all their hard work in planning instructional activities, procuring protective eyewear, and supporting the amazing experience. Enjoy the Day NISD!  

From Around the 51

Senior Staff - Reading at Carlos Coon Elementary School. Our Senior staff had a phenomenal day on Monday to start the week reading to the young Koalas at Carlos Coon Elementary School. Both the Pre-K and Kindergarten students had a pressing question upon my arrival which pertained to the fact I did not have a full head of hair. I blamed my baldness on having two teenage daughters, which they seemed to accept as an appropriate answer in both cases. It was a joy to see their smiling faces following an extended weekend. Thank you again to Principal Jessica Lundquist, Associate Principal Evelyn DeLeon-Garcia, and the students and staff at Carlos Coon Elementary for making the day so special. Special thanks to Kindergarten and Pre-Kindergarten teachers Amanda Barrientes and Amanda Kluna for allowing me the opportunity to spend some time with their amazing students.  

Reflections Art Awards. Thursday evening, we were able to celebrate the success of 68 students who were recognized in the annual Reflections Art Program supported and coordinated by our PTA’s across 51. The program is designed to enable students to have a creative outlet in the areas of dance choreography, film production, literature, music composition, photography, and visual arts. By focusing on positive recognition rather than competition, students of all ages and abilities can experience the benefits of creative expression and help in finding their own voice in telling their unique story  It was great to see the students expressions as they received their awards and I want to again thank Irma Duran de Rodriguez, who oversees the Arts in Education and Crystal Rivas, PTA Council President for their hard work in providing our students the opportunity to participate in the Reflections Program.     

NISD Soccer Update. We want to again congratulate our soccer student-athletes on their very successful seasons. The Taft girls beat Round Rock on Friday to advance to the Regional Final matchup against a very competitive Austin Westlake team Saturday. While falling a bit short, they fought hard through the last minute, and congratulations to the Lady Raiders on a superb season! We also want to Congratulate the Harlan High School Boys for advancing to the Regional tournament. They played a tough Vandegrift team at Comalander Stadium on Friday, and we are very proud of the Hawks and their tremendous season. 

51 Track. After a late evening round of storms last Monday, it proved to provide two beautiful days of weather to follow for the district track meets to be run. With field events and prelims taking place on Tuesday and running finals on Wednesday night, we had plenty of stellar athletes competing hard on both days. It is always great to see our parents and community come out to support the student-athletes and Congratulations to our athletes and teams advancing to the Area Track meet. To see the full list of 51 winners and students advancing click below on the links for 29-6A 51 Results28-6A 51 Results.

51 Golf. We would like to congratulate all the student athletes that competed in the district tournament last week. We are also appreciative for the Golf Club of Texas hosting us and our volunteers and rules officials who made this event run smoothly. To see the full list for the Golf Tournament Results please click on the following links 29-6A Boys Golf Final29-6A Girls Golf Final.


Team winners:

  1. O'Connor HS - 51 Champion & Regional Qualifier (Riley Yount, Gabriel Limon, Ben Gerber, Mateo Tamez & Diego Limon) coached by Bryan Heath
  2. Brennan HS - 51 Runner-Up & Regional Qualifier (Christian Cisneros-Hernandez, Gianni Alamillo, Avery Ramirez, Brayden Garza & Noah Tamez) coached by David Linahan
  3. Health Careers HS - 51 Third place (Gage Gurule, Moulik Pararani, Bennet Leonor, Chris White & Lindrik Arocha) coached by Juan Herrera

Individual winners:

  1. Christian Cisneros-Hernandez - 51 Champion - coached by David Linahan
  2. Riley Yount, O'Connor HS - coached by Bryan Heath
  3. Gage Gurule, Health Careers HS - Regional Qualifier - coached by Juan Herrera
  4. Ben Gerber, O'Connor HS - coached by Bryan Heath  
  5. Gabriel Limon, O'Connor HS - coached by Bryan Heath
  6. Mateo Tamez, O'Connor HS - coached by Bryan Heath
  7. Anthony Rivera, Warren HS - Regional Qualifier - coached by Allison Trevino


Team Winners:

  1. Taft HS - 51 Champion & Regional Qualifier (Alexa Garcia, Antigone Garcia, Angel Kristof, Victoria Burton & Melina Reyna) coached by Daniel Meade
  2. O'Connor HS - 51 Runner-Up & Regional Qualifier (Suzanna Elizalde, Madison Galan, Julianna Jaeger, Mayah Tate & Carolina Ruiz) coached by Bryan Heath
  3. Health Careers HS - 51 Third place (Micah Guy, Chole Kim, Norah Castillo, Kate Hardwick & Leilanni Knott) coached by Juan Hererra

Individual winners:

  1. Mia Arroyo, Holmes HS - 51 Champion - coached by Isaiah Smoote
  2. Gaby Gonzalez, Warren HS - 51 Runner-up & Regional Qualifier - coached by Allison Trevino
  3. Antigone Garcia, Taft HS - coached by Daniel Meade
  4. Angel Kristof, Taft HS - coached by Daniel Meade  
  5. Victoria Rodriguez, Holmes HS - coached by Isaiah Smoote

Below are the results for the district 28-6A golf tournament



Clark HS - Third place (Lawson Rhodes, Ashton Rogers, Alex Widish, Dillon Cook & Connor Schneider) coached by Trey Lowrance


James Chambon, Brandeis HS - Regional Qualifier - coached by James Welton



Brandeis HS - Third palace (Addison Kerkau, Claire McMyler, Laura Yepes, Mari Flores & Avery Hoang) coached by James Welton


Addison Kerkau, Brandeis HS - 51 runner-up & regional qualifier - coached by James Welton

Claire McMyler, Brandeis HS - Regional Qualifier - coached by James Welton

NSITE Career Expo. The annual NSITE College & Career EXPO for students was held this past Friday at the 51 Activity Center and at this event were representatives from colleges/universities, local businesses, and all branches of the military to provide promotional materials and teach our students about the different opportunities that these organizations have to offer. It was great to visit with all who supported the event and to be able to visit with some of the students as they learned more about potential college/career pathways. Thanks again to the NSITE staff and our event supporters for without their partnership the event would not have been possible. 

51 Education Foundation Fun Run. While the weather Saturday morning was a bit dreary, it did not stop over 2,000 NISD supporters from joining us at Northwest Vista College, who served as the host for our annual NEF Fun Run. It was so great to visit with many of our students, staff, and families supporting the event. Dr. Amy Bosley, Northwest Vista College President, and numerous staff joined us and we so appreciate their partnership in providing amazing learning opportunities for our high school students through dual credit programming. I also want to thank and acknowledge our NEF Board members, NISD staff, numerous sponsors, and the Board of Trustees for supporting the event. (Many of whom arrived at the NWV campus at 3:00 A.M. to begin setting up.) I want to particularly thank Wade Cleary and Calvin Bucholtz for cooking over 1,000 sausage links. (I kept telling myself while trying to keep pace with my wife on our fun run journey, that there was a delicious sausage wrap awaiting me at the finish line…. And it did not disappoint!) Thanks again to all who came out to support the amazing time and again special thanks to our sponsors and volunteers! We hope to see you again next year!   

The Spirit of 51. This week we once again have a tie for the Spirit Stick. To begin, I would like to recognize the efforts of Locke Hill Elementary who keeps the momentum going by scheduling and advertising attendance celebrations throughout the year. Every marking period, students get a fresh chance to earn the celebration events scheduled and parents are educated about the compulsory attendance laws in the process. Way to go Principal Melissa De Hoyos and the Locke Hill Team! We appreciate your efforts to boost daily attendance and emphasize the importance of students being present for instruction.  

I also want to recognize the Fisher Elementary School Marlins for their amazing Fiesta Parade. It was a very festive start to a Friday morning as hundreds of families came out to celebrate and view the student floats. Of course, I enjoyed playing the role of “Ray Feo” which is not a problem for me to cover the “ugly” portion of the “Ugly King” translation. Congratulations to Principal Rhapsody Quintero and the entire Marlin staff. You definitely know how to kick-off Fiesta Season (which is quickly approaching) by pulling out all the stops. 

I hope you have a great week and enjoy the Eclipse NISD! 

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Good Morning Team 51,

I hope you all had a wonderful and joyous weekend. It is always nice to have an extra day to enjoy with family and friends. 

This week we will be celebrating two distinct, hard-working groups of individuals, our Assistant/Associate Principals and our Librarians. 

Our Assistant and Associate Principals play a crucial role, and this week is a dedicated time to recognize them for their hard work and commitment to our schools, students, and profession. Please join us in celebrating these incredible school leaders during National Assistant Principal Week. These dedicated individuals work tirelessly to bolster teachers, motivate students, support their principal, create a positive learning community, and face the many unpredictable challenges that land on their desks.

Every April we also encourage our schools to celebrate the vital role that our strong school library programs play in transforming learning! They also work long hours in helping to transform the learning experience for our students. April 4th is School Librarian Appreciation Day in 51 and we can not express our gratitude enough. Please take a moment to swing by a library and thank our amazing librarians. 

As we begin the month of April, we will be in full planning mode for the upcoming school year. We recognize that preparing this upcoming school year’s budget is going to be very challenging as the past 88th Legislative Session was unsuccessful in providing districts the adequate and necessary school finance support that would have assisted in combating increasing inflationary pressures and the help to combat with the growing costs of meeting the needs of our diverse student population. 

This being said, in working with the Board of Trustees, we understand the need and emphasis that will continue to be prioritized, to provide our staff a competitive compensation package. While no decisions have been made, there will be numerous conversations in the coming weeks as we remain focused on doing everything we can to take care of our employees. More information will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead, and rest assured, we understand the importance of prioritizing compensation through the budgeting process. 

From Around the 51

Educators of the Year. We had the opportunity to celebrate with both our Elementary and Secondary Educators of the Year on Wednesday and Thursday at the Sports Gym last week. It was great to meet so many fine teachers and their families. Please join me in congratulating our teachers of the year and as Tina Turner sang it best (much better than I ever could) “You’re simply the best,” and we couldn’t be more appreciative. 

View our Campus Educators of the Year

Read about our 51 Educators of the Year

Tuesday Night School Board Honors and Recognitions. Tuesday was also a great time for celebrations as we recognized over 170 students and staff members at our Board Meeting hosted at the 51 Activity Center. It was a pleasure to recognize the following: 

Lisa Delgado is the coordinator of the NISD School Age Parenting Program. She started as a social worker in this program in 1990, so she has been involved with the program

for 34 years – what a legacy! The SAPP program’s mission is to empower teen parents to stay in school and achieve academic success; to equip teen parents with the knowledge and skills needed to rear a child who will develop to his or her highest potential; and to equip teen parents with job skills so they can financially support themselves and their child. Thank you, Ms. Delgado for your tremendous efforts and the love you put into our students and this program daily. 

UIL State Champions/CTE Stevens High School Students. The Stevens UIL Audio Video Film team created a seven-minute documentary titled “God’s Dogs– A Dog’s Wish.” The premise of the story is centered around the CEO of Gods Dogs, an organization working to provide lost and stray animals with proper homes. The video highlights her story of establishing the Foundation for God’s Dogs Paws to raise awareness and stop the cycle of inbreeding dogs – in other words, encouraging us to Adopt, don’t Shop! Congratulations again to our CTE Audio Visual and Commercial Photography students from Stevens High School, the UIL 6A State Champions! 

Amazing Musicians. The Brandeis High School Orchestra was selected as the national symphony orchestra for command performance at the Midwest Band/Orchestra Clinic. Only three orchestras and three bands are selected annually through a rigorous process that includes hundreds of entries. Other than selection as the TMEA honor band or orchestra, this remains one of the most prestigious awards for an ensemble nationally and we could not be more proud of your accomplishment.

We also recognized the ※DzԲԴǰ HS Jazz Ensemble selected for TMEA winner of the Texas Music Educators Association’s (TMEA) Invited Jazz Ensemble Contest. This award signifies the ※DzԲԴǰ HS Jazz Band as the finest jazz program in Texas when assessed in a field of over 250 ensembles competing. Congratulations again to our very successful Jazz band musicians. 

Speaking of TMEA All-State Musicians, Twelve NISD Fine Arts students from nine high schools were selected to the Texas Music Educators’ Association (TMEA) All-State Band, Choir, Orchestra, and Jazz bands. All-State is the highest individual honor that a student can receive in public school music education. It represents the top one percent of student musicians in Texas. Over 25,000 students engage in the audition process with only 870 students selected. 

NCA National Champions. It is always great to celebrate National Championships and we had two to honor Tuesday night. Warren High School took First Place in the Advanced Non-Tumbling Varsity Crowd Leading Team, and Brennan High School took First Place in the Intermediate Varsity Performance Small Team Division. Congratulations to both of these squads! 

Academic Decathlon State Winners. Two NISD Academic Decathlon teams placed at the state level and are heading to the national competition later this month. Warren High School placed second in the Thomas E. Moseley State Finals from among the top 40 performing schools in the large school category. Health Careers High School placed second for Division 4 in the Frisco Invitational competition, placing among the next top 40 performing schools. Both teams are heading to Nationals later this month and we wish them the best as they continue their successful journey.  

State and National Visual Arts Winners. Hundreds of NISD student artists participated in the 2024 Visual Arts Scholastic Event. This event included 1,922 adjudicated artworks with individual interviews for every competing artist. Among the 526 individual medalists from NISD who received the highest rating for their art/interview, 36 artworks advanced to the State VASE competition which will be held at the end of this month.  

In addition, we have some art students advancing to a National competition. The National Scholastic Art Awards recognized five 51 art students with Gold Keys at the regional event along with an American Visions Award Nominee. These students and their artwork have advanced to the national competition where they will go through another rigorous adjudication and we certainly wish them luck at the National level!

Congratulations again to all our students and staff and thank you again for taking time out of your busy schedule to celebrate with us. 

See our list of winners

Brennan High School Student Named National Military Child of the Year. Congratulations are also in order for Noelani Martinez, a junior at Brennan High School, who earned the title of Military Child of the Year and will represent the Air Force in Operation Homefront’s 2024 Military Child of the Year award program. She is one of seven military children representing the different branches of the armed forces. She and the six other recipients (representing the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, National Guard, and Space Force) will be recognized when they attend Operation Homefront’s April gala in Arlington, Virginia.

Middle School Track Meet of Champions. We also want to congratulate all of our Middle School track athletes who competed at the recent Meet of Champions this past week. While we were engaged with our Educators of the Year celebration, Stan Laing was able to capture an amazing image at Gus Stadium that I believe captures the essence of the event perfectly. Congratulations again to all of our coaches and athletes competing last week.

Read about our winning teams

A double rainbow extended all the way across the sky over the Meet of Champions

NISD Soccer Playoffs. We want to also commend our boys and girls soccer teams who made the playoffs this year, as well as our Area Champions who have advanced on to play this week. Our girls teams making the playoffs included ※DzԲԴǰ, Brennan, Warren, and Taft High High Schools, and on the boys side, Brandeis, Warren, Brennan, Harlan, and John Jay High Schools. Great job to our soccer student-athletes and good luck to the following area champions as they continue their playoff journeys on Tuesday. 

Regional Quarterfinal Match-ups 

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Girls Brennan vs Taft @ Farris Stadium* – 7:00 pm

Girls Warren vs Harlingen @ Beeville* – 6:00 pm

Boys Harlan vs Harlingen @ Laredo SAC* - 7:00 pm

The Spirit of 51. I had the opportunity to visit Brauchle Elementary School this past week during their annual Career Day and I absolutely loved meeting the staff and visiting with the Cougars 4th and 5th grade students. It was evident how much Ms. April Mata-Tausch, Principal, and her supporting cast care for their students. I once again was impressed with how attentive the students were and how eager they were to learn more about different careers. Great job Brauchle and the NISD Spirit Stick will be heading your way.   

Welcome to the month of April and I hope you have a wonderful week!

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Good Morning Team 51,

I hope this message finds you well and that you all are enjoying the warmer weather and extended daylight. (in the evenings at least). We are entering the final stretch and the time of year that tends to get really busy throughout the district. I am going to encourage you to try and enjoy this final stretch, as we prepare to finish strong and plan for the upcoming school year. 

If you follow college basketball, I think it’s safe to say March Madness is somewhat of a metaphor. Just remember to take time to catch your breath and enjoy all the success our students continue to experience. I had the chance to stop by the Holmes vs. Taft baseball game this past week, and it was a nice reprieve to just be able to sit down for a moment and reflect, as students competed and played a game they love.  

This week, we will continue to celebrate Women’s History Month. We remain very appreciative of the rich heritage and contributions of so many phenomenal female leaders who have paved the way for generations to come. Malala Yousafzai once stated, “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.” I couldn’t agree more, as we celebrate and commend our phenomenal teachers and staff who continue to forge and impact our future daily.

We look forward to celebrating our Educators of the Year on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. I hope you all enjoy this short week and have a relaxing Good Friday and a blessed weekend. Thank you again for all your hard work Team 51.  

From Around the 51

C.L.A.S.S. Conference. Prior to the week of Spring Break, I had the opportunity to take part in our annual Administrative Support Staff conference to engage in the celebration and recognition of our hard-working support staff. It goes without saying that we are blessed to have a tremendously supportive cast of hard-working individuals who work tirelessly to keep operations running smoothly across the district. Thank you to all who donated (monetary and supply items) in honor of our support staff which directly benefits our School Age Parenting Program and Benevolence Closet (school supplies). This conference provides the stage to share some laughs, highlight the excellent customer service we provide, and support professional learning. We want to thank our sponsors who donated to the door prizes and Diana Ely and her team for making this year’s conference a huge success.   

Read Across America and (NISD). It was a pleasure to engage in reading activities across the district as we continue to promote early childhood literacy. Thank you to Krueger, Burke, and Driggers elementary schools for providing me the opportunity to visit and read to our youngest learners. While this celebration occurs the first week of March, I believe it’s important to engage students in the importance of reading throughout the year. I have told my colleagues, “When you think you’re having a rough day, unplug and take the opportunity to read to a group of kindergarteners.” It puts everything back in perspective and serves as a reminder of the importance of our daily mission.    

Adam’s Hill Career Day. I also would like to thank Adam’s Hill Elementary for providing a phenomenal learning opportunity for students through their Career Day activities. The day before Spring Break can be somewhat challenging to keep students focused, and this was a phenomenal way to start the morning. Albeit when I arrived and EMS services and others had all their really cool trucks and equipment on display, I knew I had my work cut out to compete with their careers. It was a lot of fun and I always get a kick out of the questions the students pose. Thank you to Counselor Katlyn Phelan, Principal Annette Robinson, and of course, teacher Catherine Garza, and her very attentive class. Kudos to the entire Patriot staff for making the day such a wonderful learning experience. I don’t know how successful I was at recruiting future school superintendents, but you never know! 

Los Leones Festival. I know I have mentioned our talented fine arts students, and their abilities were on full display Saturday at Marshall High School, as we celebrated 25 years of the 51 Los Leones Festival. We had thousands of students, parents, and community members enjoy the beautiful day, and it was awesome to see so many come out to support the event, which reminded me once again of just how supportive our community remains. We had the opportunity for students to display their talents across a multitude of performances and activities. The original vision of Los Leones was to show students and their families that the study of the arts is not merely a life enrichment, but also the path to a career in the Arts. I really enjoyed the “Transformational Treasures” display, which was the culmination of our Fine Art teachers who created masterpieces using recycled items. The final pieces were then auctioned and the proceeds will benefit the Marcy Meffert Art Scholarship, which our students will have the opportunity to apply and benefit from this upcoming month. From sidewalk chalk art to mariachi bands, and more…what a great celebration. Thank you again to all who served as judges including our Board of Trustees, Jefferson Bank, our dedicated sponsor, James Miculka and the NISD Fine Arts Department staff, and of course our phenomenal Fine Arts teachers for making this year’s Los Leones a tremendous success. VIsit the of this wonderful event.

Leadership 51 Bus Tour. We also toured the district with our Leadership 51 cohort on Saturday. This supportive group of parents and community member volunteers had the opportunity to start their day at Los Leones before proceeding to the NISD police station to see how we support safety and security through our own dedicated police force. They had the opportunity to observe our communications center, how police body cams work, GPS capabilities, radios, cameras, patrol units, and law enforcement equipment that may be deployed if needed. Thanks again to Asst. Chief Lucy Hemerly, Lt. Kelley Fryar, Officer Mauricio Hernandez, and our police department staff for helping to make this educational tour a success. The tour also included visits to Driggers Elementary followed by Oak Hills Terrace Elementary so they could see different campuses and how we continuously work to improve facilities across the district. We appreciate principals Paul Brusewitz and Stacy Winton for serving as guides through their campuses.  Thank you again to Nicole Franco, Diana Ely, and Kelly Rasti for helping to organize this tour and especially Gloria Ramos, a 24-year NISD veteran for safely navigating the bus throughout the tour. 

SA Sports All-Star Basketball Game. Sunday, we hosted the inaugural High School All-Star Basketball Game at the Sports Gym, which was provided by Jenny Carnes and the San Antonio Sports Association. This was the first time for San Antonio to recognize all the top boys and girls basketball players in the San Antonio area. We are very proud of Rihana Morgan, (Clark High School) and Dakota Cowgill (Brennan High School) for being selected to coach these fine athletes, and congratulations to over 20 51 students who competed in the skills competition and game. We are fortunate to have the support of our community through SA Sports and promotion by KSAT media. The event was a great display of teamwork benefiting our student-athletes.  

The Spirit of 51. As we continue to celebrate the success of students and staff, please join me in congratulating this week’s Spirit Stick awardee. Saturday provided the opportunity for me to visit with students, staff, and parents. One of these conversations included a parent who could not express their appreciation enough for the positive impact the staff at Warren High School has had on their student in navigating some significant challenges. Congratulations to Principal Melissa Hurst, Art Instructor Chris Warnagiris, and the Warrior staff. You are making a difference!

Make it a great week!

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Good Morning Team 51,

I know how hard you have worked this Spring so I will open this week with Thank You. It may have seemed like it took longer than it should have for Spring break to arrive, but we are on the final stretch to a much needed break. 

This week we will be celebrating National School Social Worker Week and National School Breakfast Week. Our social workers are true professionals within the social work field who work with teachers, parents, and school administrators to assist students in navigating mental health and behavioral challenges while also providing academic and classroom support. In many cases, they may also help handle crisis interventions and identify and assist with situations involving neglect or abuse. Needless to say, their work is not always the most glamorous of situations, but so appreciated and necessary. Thank you to all our NISD Social Workers!

National School Breakfast Week (NSBW) celebrates the importance of a nutritious school breakfast in fueling students to be successful learners. This special observance during the first week of March celebrates the National School Breakfast Program and the many ways it provides students an opportunity for a great start to an instructional day. Of course, we know the NISD School Nutrition Team who prepare and serve these meals are to be credited and without their dedication, there would be no National School Breakfast recognition.

From Around the 51

Special Olympics. I would like to start with a huge Thank you to Shawn Settles and our tremendous SPED Department and staff for making this year’s Special Olympics such a special event. Not only does the annual event allow our students with intellectual and/or physical disabilities the opportunity to develop physical fitness while demonstrating grit and courage, but I will argue it provides a tremendous experience of joy and hope that can be shared with family members and friends. I am so proud of our Special Olympians and those who make the event so special for our athletes, families, and community.

Stevens High School Crowned a State Champion. We want to celebrate the success of Stevens High School for their UIL State Championship Film production, God’s Dogs-A Dog's Wish. You can view the video at the following . We have such talented students and I was really impressed with their efforts. Congratulations to Mr. Patrick Tejeda and the Stevens High School Film Production students!

SpherOlympics. We had approximately 600 seventh grade Innovative Thinkers participate in this year's SpherOlympics where they were tasked with coding and competing in a variety of olympic events with their Sphero Robots! They programmed and competed in downhill skiing, wrestling, played golf, figure skated, and more. I learned a lot about the event in a short amount of time and I just want to Thank all of our sponsors and GT teachers for planning and hosting the event. It was a lot of fun to see our middle school students from across the district so engaged and working collaboratively.     

Books and Hoops. San Antonio will be hosting the NCAA Final Four in 2025 and as a City-Sponsored event our campuses will have the opportunity to participate in a community-wide reading competition next Fall. There will be more information forthcoming and shared with our librarians and campuses, but go ahead and mark your calendars as we will be formulating teams and preparing for our quest towards a NISD Championship shortly after Labor Day. It will provide a great opportunity to encourage and motivate our young readers while having a friendly competition at the same time. 

HEB Excellence in Education Awards. It was great to surprise four NISD All-Stars who received the H-E-B Excellence in Education awards this year. Their individual stories are so incredibly impressive and humbling. Please join me in congratulating these fine educators and check out the following link to learn more about their journeys and success stories. 

Honoree: Isaac Esquivel, Environmental Education Teacher
Campus: Westwood Terrace Elementary School

Honoree: Colin Varville, Music Teacher
Campus: Warren High School 

Honoree: Michelle Fine, Principal
Campus: Glenn Elementary School

Honoree: Julie Minnis, Head Counselor
Campus: Hector Garcia Middle School

Congratulations again and Thank you for all your hard work. And another special thanks to H-E-B for their continued support of Public Education across the State of Texas.  

Festival of Cultures. Rudder Middle School and Marshall High School teamed up to provide an awesome celebration of the cultures across 51 ISD. I was really impressed by the turnout and enjoyed meeting so many students who are newcomers to the United States. The morning was filled with numerous activities native to the continents of the world (with the exception of Antarctica seeing snow and ice just wasn’t in the forecast this weekend.) Thanks again to Principals Paul Ramirez, Richard Halle, and Margaret Bray as your support and leadership is evident. I would also like to extend appreciation for the amazing teachers and staff members who supported the event and provided the fun activities for students and families to engage and pay tribute to the diversity of our district. We are blessed to support students who speak approximately 90 different languages across our campuses and I believe this is an absolute strength that helps to make our communities so welcoming and friendly. I learned so much and look forward to learning more.     

Steubing Stomp. Well, I admit, I got stomped last weekend in preparation for Steubing Elementary 18th Annual Stomp Carnival & Auction. I was not able to get by the event due to the numerous activities happening across the district but I am looking forward to the opportunity to enjoy lunch with Steubing students (they may not enjoy it as much as I will) while raising funds to support the campus. There will also be a student replacing Latia Bishop as Principal for the Day, so who knows what the lunch schedule and dress code may look like that particular day. In all sincerity, I want to express gratitude to the Steubing PTA for your dedication in supporting our students and staff! 

SteamFest. I also had the opportunity to run by John Jay High School on Saturday to check out the annual community event, STEAMfest. There were over 60 hands-on science, technology, engineering, math, and fine arts activities all supported and led by over 100 Jay/SEA high school students. We also appreciate the support from many of our STEM partners from around our city. Avery Pollick, a Zachry Middle School Magnet student, attempted to teach me to fly a drone. Upon self-reflection, I think it might be best for me to stick to spectating as the FFA licensure department doesn't have enough hours in the day to certify me as a drone pilot. Thank you to all who made the event such a success for our younger students and families. It was really a cool event.  

NISD Basketball. Friday night was an intense evening for NISD Basketball. The ※DzԲԴǰ Boys kicked us off with a nailbiter Overtime win against a very tough Lake Travis team. While they came up short on the match-up against Round Rock Stoney Point on Saturday in the Region IV Championship game, they competed well and we could not be prouder of their efforts. 

The Brennan Boys team also played Friday and displayed similar tenacity, having to battle back from a double digit deficit to take the lead in the final minutes of the 4th quarter. With the final seconds remaining, Stoney Point was able to inbound the ball and hit a three-pointer for the win as the clock expired. It was an amazing demonstration by the Bears of resiliency and determination. There were so many opportunities for the team to lie down, but they kept fighting all the way to the end. These are the lessons competitive athletics instills in our student-athletes which will carry them through their careers long after they graduate from high school. 

The Brennan Ladies also competed to the end at the Alamodome with a tough South Grand Prairie team in the State Semifinals match-up. At this level of play, it requires not only skill and athleticism, but also the “ball has to bounce” your way. It was a great season for the Lady Bears and Congratulations again. 

I want to acknowledge Coaches Koty Cowgill (Brennan Boys), Brett Jewasko (※DzԲԴǰ Boys), and Jackie Contreras (Brennan Girls) and their staff for their hard work and dedication. Their seasons began back in October, and it takes a tremendous effort to make the successful runs they experienced. Great job, and we look forward to celebrating your future success.  

Don’t Forget to Vote! Just a reminder to be sure to exercise your right to vote! March 5th is Election Day and your final opportunity to participate in this year’s Primary Elections. Thank you to all who have voted and those who will Tuesday. 

The Spirit of 51. ※DzԲԴǰ High School hosted our Board Appreciation dinner (albeit January was Board Appreciation Month, but schedules just didn't provide an opportunity at the time) and it was a phenomenal dinner theater. Everything was absolutely amazing and we greatly appreciate the hospitality and incredible food. The annual Board recognition dinner is a way to demonstrate our appreciation for our Trustees and Principal Rob Martinez and the Culinary team led by the amazing Chef Jessica Parks hit a homerun. We were so impressed by the artists who displayed their work as well as the incredible student performances. Thank you again for making the evening such a special appreciation. 

As we prepare to launch into Spring Break, I hope you have a great week and I plan to “Catch up with You” the week of March 25 after we return from Spring Break. Enjoy your break!

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Good Morning Team 51,

I hope this week’s edition finds you well and rejuvenated after the beautiful weekend. We will be celebrating National/Texas Public Schools Week this week. It has traditionally been the first week in March to coordinate with the celebration of Texas Independence Day. Texas Public School Week was actually established in 1950 by the Masonic Lodges of Texas to recognize contributions made by the state's free system of education. 

We recognize that our public schools are the hub of our communities and Texas Public School Week is an excellent opportunity for our parents, family, and community members to visit our schools to witness the many great opportunities we provide our students. Join us in celebrating our Public Schools and more importantly, the hard working educators and staff members who provide for excellent education opportunities throughout 51, the State of Texas, and across the Nation. 

We will also be celebrating Maintenance Worker Appreciation Day on Friday, March 1st. We would like to thank all of our maintenance workers for their dedication to maintaining all the buildings and grounds across NISD and ensuring they remain safe, operational, and inviting each and every day.  

From Around the 51

We had plenty of success across a multitude of State competitions over the weekend. It is hard to know where to begin and I am always afraid I am going to leave a group or individual out unintentionally. We have so much to celebrate, so allow me the opportunity to brag just a bit. 

Texas Academic Decathlon State Meet. We had two schools Warren High School and Marshall High School advance to the Thomas E. Moseley State Finals hosted in San Antonio at the University of the Incarnate Word. Also, Clark High School, Health Careers High School, and ※DzԲԴǰ High School competed in Frisco at the Frisco Invitational meet. It was a pleasure to assist with the awards ceremony on Friday in the Sky Room at Incarnate Word. We remain very proud of all our students and congratulate them all on a fantastic year. Please find this weekend’s results below.  

Warren placed second in the state (just 150 points out of first place.) 

Marshall placed 17th in the state out of 20 large schools. 

Trenton Arce from Warren took first place overall (scoring 8760/10000) in the varsity division; Mars Bayona from Warren took second place overall (scoring 8005/10000) in the varsity division.

Swimming and Diving. We sent 59 athletes representing 10 of our high schools to Austin for the 6A State Meet on Friday and Saturday at the Lee & Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center at UT! 51 ISD and Clark HS can brag about our own Evan Croley! Evan captured 1st place in the 50-yd freestyle and claimed the title of State Champion! We are so proud of our athletes and please congratulate our medalist we have included below.  

Evan on the awards stand
The results board after the race
Evan and his coach, Jeffrey Segrest, Head Swimming & Diving Coach, Clark HS

NISD Basketball Update. And the playoffs run continues on for the Lady Brennan Bears as they won a nailbiter Regional Championship game against the defending State Champions of Clark High School. Both Brennan and Clark won their matchups against Westlake and Harlan on Friday night to make it to the Region IV Championship match-up on Saturday afternoon. If you enjoy close competition with athletes leaving “nothing in the tank,” you were in luck Saturday. Both teams fought to the bitter end of two overtimes and after numerous lead changes, the Lady Bears prevailed. Congratulations to Coach Jackie Contreras and the Lady Bears as we look forward to your matchup against South Grand Prairie on Friday at the Alamodome. Go win a State Championship!

  • Girls State Semifinals - Friday, March 1, 2024
    • Humble Summer Creek vs Duncanville @ Alamodome* – 7:00 pm
    • Brennan vs South Grand Prairie @ Alamodome* – 8:30 pm
  • Girls State Finals - Saturday, March 2, 2024
    • Humble Summer Creek/Duncanville Winner vs Brennan/South Grand Prairie Winner @ Alamodome* – 8:30 pm

Admission for State Tournament:

Tickets will be available to purchase online at: or the Alamodome box office.

Session tickets are good for (2) games purchased during the session.

School Code for discounted tickets: 2VIS

School code will be active from Sunday, February 25 at 12:00 pm to Tuesday, February 27 at 5:00 pm.

We will also be hosting the Regional Quarterfinals Tuesday for our four Boys teams advancing after victories on Friday night. It is awesome that these incredible NISD teams all advanced, but also bittersweet seeing they will have to cross paths and only two can advance to the Regional Tournament. It should be another great night of basketball at the Sports Gym Tuesday and I can assure you, if we can wrap up a Board meeting, I will see you there.  

  • Boys Regional Quarterfinal - Tuesday, Feb. 27
    • Harlan vs ※DzԲԴǰ – 5:30 pm
    • John Jay vs Brennan – 7:30 pm


Visual Arts Scholastic Event Qualifier Competition. We also had a great VASE competition Saturday, Feb. 24 at Stevens High School as student artists from all over the Region competed to move on to the State competition. The event included 1,922 adjudicated artworks with individual interviews for every competing artist.  Congratulations to all of our 51 ISD student artists and their respective teachers for an amazing performance. 51 ISD had 526 individual medalists who received the highest rating for their art/interview and also has 36 artworks that are advancing to the State VASE competition at the end of April.

2023 State VASE Qualifiers

Student Name





Acree, Faith



Stephanie Silva


Allen, Isabel



Brandy Gonzalez-Kee


Arredondo, Nicole M



Daniella Jaime


Bacon, Lana Jude



Elyssa Holland


Bauer, Gabriella



Josh Gonzales


Bjorlie, Riley



Ashley Henas


Caldwell, Erin



Josh Gonzales


Chaudhari, Koyel



Josh Gonzales


Coudriet, Zoey



Marco Gorena


Craft, Reagan



Josh Gonzales


Dejohn, Jade



Jaylin Von Berg


Delgado, Aylin



Marco Gorena


Duran, Megan



Pearl Tenorio


Galvan, Adriana

John Jay


Karina Garcia


Garcia Orihuela, Gabriel



Mario Ortiz


Harrison, Preston



Pearl Tenorio


Large, Aubrey



Sarah Sharp


Leal, Victoria



Brandy Gonzalez-Kee


Lindsey, Madeline G.



Kristin Breaux


Longoria, Amaris



Stephanie Silva


Marquez, Lovelle V



Andra Ramirez


Miller, Sihnae A



Mandy Clarson


Nevarez, Kelly



Scott Edwards


Rodriguez, Marissa N



Jessica Lebron


Santillan, Andrew



Kellye Rogers


Sauceda, Kaydence



Yma Luis


Sawyer, Annaliz



Sarah Sharp


Sironda, Blissany N.



Kristin Breaux


Smith, Sarah



Kathryn Storck


Stratton, Ashley T



Mandy Clarson


Suffridge, Lola C



Andra Ramirez


Thiessen, Cinda G



Mandy Clarson


Thomas, Isabel



Josh Gonzales


Thomas, Isabel



Josh Gonzales


Wintheiser, Amberly



Josh Gonzales


Wintheiser, Amberly



Josh Gonzales


NAEA (National Art Education Association) recognizes Larry West, Rayburn Middle School. Speaking of Art and amazing instruction, we want to congratulate Mr. Larry West for being named the Choice Based Middle School Art Educator of the Year! Mr. West is so humble, but also so deserving. He indicated “Basically this was all happenstance, but I am grateful for the opportunity that all started with NISD!  I am reminded of the Dr. Seuss book ‘Oh, the places you'll go’ I never saw this one coming!” Congratulations Mr. West, job well done!

JROTC Visit. It was great to visit with our amazing JROTC instructors last Monday at Marshall High School. I learned quite a bit about the competitive aspect of our JROTC programs and I really appreciated the opportunity to slow down and engage in the dialogue. We have very robust leadership programs across the district and our ROTC programs are among some of the best we offer. Many times, you see our Colorguards supporting various events with the Presentation of Colors, but they do much more in giving back to our community. I look forward to forging forward and I know our students best interests are at the forefront of our instructors daily mission.  

Beard Custodial Appreciation. It was great to visit Beard Elementary on Friday as their Student Council took the time to articulate their appreciation for their amazing custodians. It was really nice to see student leaders recognizing the work of Corey Trevino, Steve Falcon, Patricia Justiniano, and K.C. Shayam. They do amazing work at Beard Elementary, that is not always highlighted. We appreciate our Beard students for “Packing Parachutes” and thanks again to Mr. Jeremy Day and the Beard Staff for recognizing the work of their amazing custodial team.  

Library Palooza. I was asked the question, Where can you find hundreds of middle and high school students from not only Bexar County but beyond excited about reading? Well, I found out pretty quickly. Library Palooza held at Brandeis High School Saturday definitely didn't disappoint. The event has been hosted by our amazing librarians for over a decade now, and it was great to witness the visiting authors present to our young readers and future writers. I felt the messages all of the authors provided were not only encouraging but providing insight to the importance of persistence, accepting constructive criticism, and determination. It was amazing to see the student's level of engagement not only with literary experts but also with one another. Great job to Co-Chairs Sheryl Stoeck and Lucy Podmore and their whole committee for a successful and thought-provoking event. Thanks to all the authors, This year’s event will include authors Victoria Aveyard, Gabriela Epstein, Marc Favreau, Renée Watson, Kasie West, and Kelly Yang, and Monica M. Magaña, who took time out of their busy schedules. They all had a tremendous impact on all the students in attendance.

Early Voting is Underway! Just a reminder to be sure to exercise your right to vote! Please remember early voting ends this Friday, March 1st. Please consider participating in this important primary election. We have voting sites across the district for your convenience. Thank you to all who have already voted!

The Spirit of 51. This week the Spirit of 51 goes to the Brennan Bears! They have had tremendous success this year and we are very proud of their accomplishments. Good luck to the Lady Bears at the Dome this weekend and we hope to see the Bears Boys Team play with the same level of energy this week!

All the Best and Enjoy the week. (Only 2 more weeks until Spring Break!)

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Good Morning Team 51 and Happy President’s Day,

Presidents' Day was actually established in 1885, as a birthday celebration for George Washington, the commander of the Continental Army during the American Revolution and the first president of the United States. It has since been established as a Federal Holiday and this is the 282nd Presidents Day of our relatively young Nation. I hope the day provides for productive planning, staff development, and a brief recharge across the district as we prepare for the final leg leading up to Spring Break! 

We will be wrapping up Random Acts of Kindness Week throughout NISD, which is our ongoing effort to put kindness first and share it everywhere we go. Sometimes, everyone needs a little kindness, and you never know how a single interaction can change someone’s day. I encourage everyone to reflect back on the Charles Plump story we shared at convocation and seek opportunities to have that positive impact on a colleague by simply extending a warm gesture or helping with a simple task. We are all packing parachutes each and every day! 

The San Antonio Rodeo and Stock Show is in full swing, and this year is a particularly special month of dancing, bull-riding, and mutton bustin' (youngsters climb on sheep and hold on for dear life), as the event is commemorating 75 years of family fun including concerts, classic rodeo events, a carnival, and tons of food booths. The stock show provides thousands of dollars worth of scholarships for high school students as well. While Friday was NISD Rodeo Day, I would encourage you to check out the festivities if you are looking for something fun to do while enjoying the beautiful weather on tap.   

From Around the 51

NISD Student Athletes Continue to Excel.

Swimming and Diving.  We had athletes succeed in two Regional meets. Brandeis, Clark, and Marshall competed in the Region 7-6A Meet at NEISD, and all of our other high schools competed in the Region 8-6A Meet in Laredo.

We had 29 athletes qualify in one, or both, of their individual events along with 14 relays advance. In total, we will be taking 59 athletes representing 10 schools to Austin for the 6A State Meet Feb 23-24 at the Lee & Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center at UT! 

State 6A Meet Schedule

Friday, Feb 23rd

  • 2:50 p.m. Diving Prelims begin
  • 3:30 p.m. Swimming Prelims begin

Saturday, Feb 24th

  • 4:00 p.m. Swimming and Diving Finals begin

Ticket link:

Congratulations to the O'Connor High School Boys team for winning the Region 8 meet! 

We also had numerous school records broken and many athletes had personal bests in most, if not all, of their performances! Congratulations to all of our athletes for representing NISD so well!

Region 7 Results

Brandeis HS

  • Zion Wilson, 1-m diving (gold)
  • Girls 400 Free Relay
  • Boys 200 Medley Relay
  • Girls Team - 6th place (tie) overall
  • Boys Team - 7th place overall
  • Boys Diver-of-the-Meet = Zion Wilson

Clark HS

  • Parker Mandacina, 200 IM, 100 breaststroke (bronze)
  • Ayden Almaraz, 100 butterfly
  • Tristan Clark, 100 backstroke (bronze)
  • Evan Croley, 50 freestyle (gold)
  • Boys 200 Medley Relay (bronze), 200 Free Relay
  • Girls Team - 13th place overall
  • Boys Team - 9th place overall

Marshall HS

  • Tate Briscoe, 1-m diving (silver)
  • Boys Team - 19th place overall

Region 8 Results

Brennan HS

  • Elijah Bentley, 100 breaststroke (silver)
  • Girls Team - 6th place overall
  • Boys Team - 8th place overall

Harlan HS

  • Tatyana Arizmendi, 200 IM (gold), 100 backstroke (gold)
  • Rhema Rose, 1-m diving (silver)
  • Girls 200 Free Relay (silver)
  • Girls Team - 4th place overall
  • Girls Coach-of-the-Meet = Chris Moralez

Health Careers HS

  • Ashlynn Clauss, 200 IM (silver), 100 butterfly (silver)
  • Samika Kanaskar, 100 freestyle (silver)
  • Sophia Torres, 100 breaststroke (gold)
  • Sathvik Jinna, 200 freestyle (gold), 100 freestyle (gold)
  • Mason Jones, 50 freestyle (silver)
  • Girls 200 Medley Relay (gold), 400 Free Relay (gold)
  • Boys 200 Free Relay (gold), 400 Free Relay (silver)
  • Girls Team - 3rd place overall
  • Boys Team - 3rd place overall

Holmes HS

  • Alexandra Schulze, 1-m diving (bronze)
  • Girls Team - 19th place overall
  • Boys Team - 16th place overall

Jay HS

  • Boys Team - 13th place overall


  • David Caldera, 500 freestyle (gold)
  • Benjamin Cottrill, 200 freestyle (silver), 100 butterfly (silver)
  • Matt D’Orazio, 100 backstroke (silver)
  • Will D’Orazio, 200 IM (gold), 100 butterfly (gold)
  • Blake Duggan, 100 backstroke (gold)
  • Wyatt Merriken, 500 freestyle (silver)
  • Boys 200 Medley Relay (gold), 400 Free Relay (gold)
  • Girls Team - 8th place overall
  • Boys Team - 1st place overall
  • Boys Coach-of-the-Meet = Nick Haidin

Sotomayor HS

  • Catalina Devia, 1-m diving (gold)
  • Emma Wallace, 200 freestyle (silver), 500 freestyle (silver)
  • Christian Georgi, 200 IM (silver), 100 breaststroke (gold)
  • JB Lloyd, 1-m diving (silver)
  • Paul Wallace, 100 freestyle (silver)
  • Girls Team - 9th place overall
  • Boys Team - 5th place overall
  • Girls Diver-of-the-Meet = Catalina Devia

Stevens HS

  • Girls Team - 17th place overall
  • Boys Team - 21st place overall

Taft HS

  • Kate Black, 100 backstroke (silver)
  • Kim Pieroni, 100 breaststroke (silver)
  • Roldan Salas, 1-m diving (gold)
  • Girls 200 Medley Relay (silver), 200 Free Relay (gold), 400 Free Relay (silver)
  • Girls Team - 5th place overall
  • Boys Team - 7th place overall
  • Boys Diver-of-the-Meet = Roldan Salas

Warren HS

  • Girls Team - 15th place overall
  • Boys Team - 14th place overall

NISD Basketball. We are also in the thick of Playoff basketball now. Congratulations to our Boys Playoff Qualifiers and our Girls teams continuing their playoff runs! We are very proud of you!

Boys Bi-51

Tuesday, Feb. 20

  • Clark vs Judson @ Littleton – 6:00 pm
  • Jay vs Laredo United South @ Flour Bluff HS – 6:30 pm
  • Brennan vs Del Rio @ Uvalde HS – 7:00 pm
  • Harlan vs Laredo United @ Corpus Christi Carroll HS – 7:00 pm
  • ※DzԲԴǰ vs Laredo Alexander @ Corpus Christi Ray HS – 7:00 pm

Girls Regional Quarterfinals

Friday, Feb.y 20

  • Clark vs Steele @ Davenport HS – 6:00 pm
  • Brennan vs Laredo United South @ Corpus Christi Moody HS – 7:00 pm
  • Harlan vs Edinburg @ Laredo United HS – 7:00 pm

RootEd. I had the opportunity to learn more about having visited with founder and Director Genevieve Suglaski. RootEd is a parent-led, grassroots organization that promotes neighborhood public schools through storytelling, advocacy, and education. The non-profit organization believes in a strong public school system for all children which creates a robust economic and well-connected community. Their primary focus areas:

  • To Promote our neighborhood schools through storytelling and marketing
  • To Dispel myths about public schools through conversations and introducing parents to their neighborhood schools
  • To Ensure parents understand the truth about public school funding and what it means to them personally and to our community
  • To Educate the public on pro-public education legislation and candidates
  • To Provide parents a search option for information on neighborhood schools using the hashtag #RootEdNameOfSchool

For more information, I would encourage you to check out their website at  . We remain very appreciative of your support and advocacy in promoting our public educators and schools!

Mid-Year Graduation. It was great to celebrate the milestone of receiving a high school diploma with 97 NISD graduates last Monday. Many of our students graduating have demonstrated resilience and determination along their journey as they have encountered numerous roadblocks. We remain very proud of our graduates and we appreciate their family members and friends for joining us at the Sports Gym in celebration of their success. We wish our graduates the very best in their future endeavors.    

San Antonio School Public Relations Association (SASPRA). I had the opportunity to participate on a panel of superintendents to discuss many of the pressing matters surrounding effective communication in the world of Public Relations. It was a great opportunity for dialogue and Thank you to Barry Perez, Assistant Superintendent for 51 Communications, and our entire Comms. Department for all their hard work. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes and they work tirelessly to ensure the NISD brand and narrative is not only timely and effective, but also the messaging we want conveyed throughout our community.  

Hoffmann Elementary Read Your Heart Out. Before I met with the SASPRA on Wednesday, I had the opportunity to see our young readers engaged in books of their choosing at Hoffmann Elementary. I have shared this with many, but what impressed me most was the levels of literacy our primary grade students were authentically engaged. I just want to applaud our teachers who are definitely shaping young minds at such an early stage, as I know how difficult the work remains. Special thanks to Andrea Turk, Hoffmann Reading Specialist, and Principal Kathryn Clements for organizing and hosting the event. What a special way to celebrate Valentine’s Day and I thoroughly enjoyed starting the day on such a positive note. Great job to all of our Hoffmann staff. It was very heartwarming to visit with such a positive group of students and educators. 

Destination Imagination (DI). On Thursday evening, I visited Forester Elementary as they hosted the 51 Imagination Parent Showcase prior to competing on Saturday at the Regional tournament in Seguin. We have some amazingly talented students spanning all grade levels and to see their creativity, critical thinking skills, and collaboration displayed was enlightening. From our 2nd grade Rising Stars to our Middle School Team Steam, I thought the “Challenges” the students prepared and presented were awesome. All projects were student-initiated and produced and I know our DI students will be well-prepared for whatever challenges may exist in the future. Great job and Thank you again to Principal Kelly Mantle and our fabulous GT teachers and DI sponsors for hosting the event and fostering our students' creativity.     

UTSA Resume and Interview Seminar Annual Interview and Resume Preparation Workshop. On Saturday, Valerie Sisk, Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Administration, had the opportunity to visit with many of the San Antonio area's aspiring campus administrators through a panel discussion and mock interview process. Hosted by our partners at UTSA through the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Department, I think the workshop was beneficial in preparing future administrators for the interview process, but more importantly, growing and developing skill sets to navigate the complexities of school administration that exist today. Remaining intentional in our efforts to grow organizational capacity and develop leadership is so vital to our future success. Thank you again to Anita Cardenas, Meadow Village Reading and Academic Support Teacher, and Michelle Tomasino, McAndrew Instructional Coach for your willingness to participate in the mock interview process. It is never easy to interview, much less in the presence of colleagues within the room. Great job to both and please just make sure NISD has the first opportunity to hire/promote you in the future.     

Primary Election Voting Begins this Week! Just a reminder to be sure to exercise your right to vote in this important primary election. We have voting sites across the district for your convenience. As a reminder, every registered voter can elect to vote in the Primary of their choosing. Please be sure to vote and consider taking advantage of Early Voting opportunities. 

The Spirit of 51. This week the Spirit of 51 goes to a special team of individuals who warmed the soul through their gastronomists’ creations of culinary brilliance. Being a native Texan, we take a few things seriously as many of you know. Chili is one of them. I quickly learned so do the Ott Trailblazers. Principal Madeline Bueno and her Chili culinary professionals did not disappoint. Congratulations to Reginald Moore for crafting a smoked chipotle chili that was on a different level. (If you would like to fill the spirit stick with chili upon return, we can probably arrange a slight rule modification.) I am kidding. Thanks for hosting us Trailblazers! It was great to meet you and we appreciate all you do to create such a wonderful culture of supporting students. 

Have a great week Team!    

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Good Morning Team 51,

I hope “your team” was successful this weekend. Whether you are an avid Chiefs or 49ers fan, the Super Bowl festivities are always an enjoyable time of the year. I was personally relieved to see Team “Ruff” win the Puppy Bowl XX. It was close through the 4th quarter, but a last second score sealed the deal. It’s always enjoyable to debate the best commercials and play Monday Morning Quarterback assessing the halftime performances. Usher was a definite throwback. I didn't know my wife could still dance. It was definitely a spectacle! (The game, the game…to be clear.) 

This week we will be meeting with the Board of Trustees and we will be presenting a resolution for their consideration requesting the State to support an accurate and transparent academic accountability rating system. I have attached a copy of the draft resolution

While I continue to be a firm believer that academic accountability should be measured and appropriately reported to our parents and public, and a valid and reliable instrument can serve as an important aide in the continuous improvement process; I do have many concerns with how the latest system was changed without appropriate notification, and furthermore how it continues to be more punitive towards impoverished campuses across the state. 

We recognize the hard work our teachers and staff put in every day, and to quantify this work through a letter grade system, (that I will argue remains arbitrary and largely based on a single, standardized test-driven model) the current system remains an injustice to our educators who pride themselves on growing students to reach their maximum learning potential. 

We will remain steadfast in our efforts to forge meaningful academic accountability measures, and this proposed resolution serves as a statement of this support and a request for effective change.   

From Around the 51

51 Education Foundation Clay Shoot. The annual NEF Clay Shoot & Cornhole Tournament took place on Feb. 7, 2024, at the National Shooting Complex and was a huge success. Luckily, the weather cooperated for both events and while not every competitor was crowned the boss of the boards nor king of range, it was a great time for fellowship. We greatly appreciate all of our staff who worked so hard to support the event by helping to set up in the early morning hours, our NEF Board of Directors, and of course all of our tremendous sponsors. We could not have pulled off the event without their dedication and support and Thank you to all who participated in the event. This continued support is extended to our teachers and students through the funding of engagement grants and innovative programs. Thank you again for a great event NEF!   

TMEA Conference Concert Featuring the ※DzԲԴǰ Jazz Band. The Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) Music conference kicked off on Thursday and all of our district all-state students began their rehearsals with other high performing musicians from across Texas. One of the main highlights of the conference was Friday evening with the O'Connor High School Jazz Band performing in the S.A. Convention Center Hemisfair Ballroom. Our students were absolutely phenomenal and represented their school and NISD superbly at this prestigious event. Junior musician, Karolina Shrader, performed the 8 selected pieces of the program with her classmates on three different instruments including a violin solo performance. Absolutely amazing. It was also incredible to have Adam Carrillo, ※DzԲԴǰ Alumni of Class of 2007, join our students on stage for the inaugural performance and tribute to the first ※DzԲԴǰ Director of Bands, Wallace Dierolf, Ode to Wallace, composed by Dr. Adrian Ruiz. It was a very special tribute and amazing musical piece. We remain very proud of our musicians’ accomplishments and congratulations to Director Alfonso Alvarado and Associate Director Michael Bradford. Your work and dedication has been recognized across the State.  

Gifted and Talented Enrichment Advisory Council (GTEAC). It was great to visit with our GTEAC Thursday evening. The GTEAC Board President Rebecca Hughes and officers have been very supportive of the efforts of our phenomenal GT teachers and staff and we remain very appreciative of their continued engagement. The mission of the NISD GTEAC remains to enhance the opportunities and experiences of 51 students by sharing resources with parents, by expanding public opinion and awareness through communications, and by providing funds for grants and specialized GT projects. I want to especially thank Roxanne Brown, our GT Services Coordinator and her amazing team for growing our GT program. Through the changes made to Middle School programming and early identification efforts, we now serve 9,000+ students through GT services district-wide and have seen significant annual increases the past three consecutive years. Thanks again to all of our GT coordinators, teachers, and staff for supporting our learners and for engaging last week in this important work.  

National Signing Letter of Intent Days. One of the most exciting moments for a student-athlete is receiving a verbal scholarship offer representing the culmination of hard work they put forth over many years. Another exciting moment is when a student-athlete signs their Letter of Intent (NLI.) While it’s not mandatory, it remains an important recognition and highlight of their accomplishments. Every year more than 48,000 student-athletes take part in this commemorative ceremony across the Nation and it was awesome to see so many NISD student-athletes across our high schools engaging in their signing ceremonies last week. Trustees Freeman, Blount, Saldana, and I were so impressed to see the number of students whose lives will be changed as a result of this momentous decision. Once again, Congratulations to all of our student-athletes and family members. Thank you to our high school staff members for making this such a special celebration and acknowledgment of their hard-earned success.  

It’s Playoff Time. Congratulations to our Lady Basketball Teams on their outstanding seasons! We are excited to support our teams as they gear up for the first round of playoffs this week.  

Final 51 Standings 

28-6A: 1st - Clark, 2nd - Churchill, 3rd - Brandeis, 4th - Lee 

29-6A: 1st- Brennan, 2nd - Harlan, 3rd – Sotomayor & John Jay (Tie) 29-6A//Playoff Seeding: 1st- Brennan, 2nd- Harlan, 3rd- Sotomayor, 4th- John Jay

First Round Playoff Schedule - Tuesday, February 13, 2024  

  • Clark vs San Marcos @ 51 Sports Gym – 6:00 pm 
  • Harlan vs Laredo Alexander @ Laredo Alexander HS – 6:00 pm 
  • Brennan vs Del Rio @ Uvalde HS – 7:00 pm
  • Sotomayor vs Laredo United @ Corpus Christi Carroll HS – 7:00 pm  
  • John Jay vs Laredo United South @ Corpus Christi Moody HS – 7:00 pm 
  • Brandeis vs Judson @ 51 Sports Gym – 8:00 pm 

Mega Food Bank Drive. We had another successful Mega Food Drive on Friday sponsored by our great partners at the SA Food Bank and of course supported by our amazing volunteers. Our students continue to learn the importance of philanthropy by giving back and donating their time (and muscle) to those in need. Thank you to all of our NISD employees, students, and volunteers who make this possible and it was great to see Trustees Salcido and Lopez working alongside students from Sul Ross Middle School. Great Teamwork, indeed.  

Finance Park. I had the opportunity to visit Finance Park, which provides a financial literacy curriculum and a culminating experience to approximately 9,000 NISD students annually. Ms. Krystal Williams and her Zachary Middle Magnet AVID students were engaged in their visit to Finance Park Friday morning, which is supported by volunteers from surrounding financial institutions like USAA and the Junior Achievement staff. I learned the history of the Junior Achievement (JA) program and the impact it has made in preparing our students to navigate their financial future. Janie Cook who serves as the South Texas JA President, and NISD Executive Director and JA Board Member, Traci Wernli were kind enough to give me a tour and explain the robust financial planning program curriculum. I was so impressed with their professionalism, but also their genuine interests in investing in our youth. This is a program we hope to expand across the NISD K-12 landscape as I could not help but reflect during the visit “if I had been exposed to these skill sets while I was in school.” Truly an impactful service that is being provided free of charge, and we appreciate the generosity of JA sponsors and supporters.     

Middle School ESports Qualifier. I know I have probably expressed this, but Gamers love competition, and they love comradeship even more. NISD hosted the Middle School Regional Qualifier event on Saturday as the NAC doors were opened to almost 500 middle school Esports competitors. It was an awesome experience for our students once again. I have mentioned the growth of this industry in the past, but to put this in perspective, Texas A&M University (College Station) is discussing turning a recently acquired mall (Post Oak) into a gaming hub accommodating over 2,000 students actively participating in Esports. The proposal would have enough space to provide 400 game station PCs and a retail space for food, beverages, hardware, clothing, and more. Something tells me we may have a few future ESport Aggies in the making. (I have a feeling Longhorns may be taking notes on this venture.)

Future NSITE Entrepreneurs Win Big. This past week a group of our senior entrepreneurship students competed in the Virtual Enterprises International regional business competitions in Florida. We had 23 NSITE students compete in Florida for the regional competition and 8 of our students will be competing in the national business competition in the Big Apple (NYC) on April 11. All 4 of our Business Plan teams were top 5 in Texas, which is a first for NISD. 

The Stick It Business Plan team won 1st overall for the region, the first Texas team to ever win Regionals.

  • Briza Campos
  • Mariana Font
  • Journey Bradley
  • Macy Almaraz
  • Emmanuel Charles

The Walli Business Plan team won 3rd for Texas.  

  • Mariam Botana De Armas
  • Cynthia Cowles
  • Lucy Young
  • Damien Quintanilla
  • Elias Garcia

The Walli Marketing team won 1st place for the regional competition.  

  • Mariam Botana De Armas
  • Lucy Young

The Walli HR team was top 7 for the regional competition.

  • Damien Quintanilla

The Stick It Sales team won 2nd place for the regional competition.  

  • Macy Almaraz

The Stick It Finance team won 2nd place for the regional competition.

  • Mariana Font

We want to extend a special thank you to our NSITE mentors who were judges during the practice sessions leading up to the competition and Congratulations to NSITE students and instructors for making NISD History!   

NSITE students

Just a Reminder– to Prepare to Vote this Primary Election!

Early voting begins on Feb. 20 and runs through March 1, while Election Day is March 5. 

Link to Voting in the Primary Election .

The Spirit of 51

Excellence often comes in the smallest of packages and when least expected. This past week, Mead Elementary School taught Pre-K students the importance of recycling and how materials can be transformed into something magical. Pre-K teacher Patricia Rodriguez shared a photo of Ziaulhaq Salarzai using recycled materials to create a special project. (I am not certain, but it appears to be a flux capacitor). Thanks for sharing Ms. Rodriguez. Congratulations Ziaulhaq and Mead Mountaineers! Keep climbing to new heights.  

Have a Great Week and be sure to take care of your Special Valentine on Wednesday as we also kick off Random Acts of Kindness week!


John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Mead student Ziaulhaq Salarzai

Good Morning Team 51,

This week, February 5-9, we are celebrating National Counseling Week. The theme for 2024 is "School Counseling: Standards-Based, Student-Focused," and will focus public attention on the contributions schools make each and every day. National School Counseling Week highlights the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career. We will be honoring our school counselors as this week provides recognition to those who implement comprehensive school counseling programs; a vital part of the educational process for all students as they meet the challenges of the 21st century. This special week honors school counselors for the important role they play in college and career readiness and in helping students examine their talents, strengths, abilities, and interests. 

Please join me in congratulating and thanking all of our counselors across the district for their tremendous service to our students and community. 

From Around the 51

PTA Founders Day. We had the chance to celebrate the tremendous collaboration between our PTA’s and our schools and thank all of our PTA members for their volunteerism and the work they do year-round across our campuses.  I’d like to thank our very own NISD Council of PTAs for all the work they have done in recruiting, training, and supporting PTA members across the district. NISD Council of PTAs President, Crystal Rivas, and the entire PTA Council Board should be commended for their commitment and dedication as we know it’s not easy to coordinate activities and work with thousands of PTA members across 51, but they do it tirelessly and it is definitely appreciated. Thanks again to all our administrators for your commitment and support Thursday night. 

We also want to thank our hosts for the amazing evening last Thursday, our very own Brennan High School Principal Dr. John Trimble and his staff, as well as applaud the students and instructors for their talents in providing us food and entertainment at the pre-event reception. 

This supporting cast includes:  

  • Culinary Arts students and their instructors, Tony Capriatti, Mark Weaver, Nancy Pavlich, Yanica St. John, and Courtney Carrell;
  • The Brennan Band under the direction of Thomas Kober, Shayla Le, and Dillon Shaw;
  • Brennan Choir under the direction of Jimmy Garrett
  • Brennan Orchestra under the direction of Armando Rivera and Stephanie Wong;
  • Dance/Spirit organizations – teacher/sponsors Alexis Flores, Sofia Elizade, Cynthia Ferrell, and Dominique Katauskas;
  • The JROTC – under the direction of Col. Gary Salmans, CMSgt. Colleen Curl, and SMSgt. Rodrick Walker.
  • The theater department under the direction of Sarah Ford and Sarah Goodwin;
  • The artwork from the Brennan HS feeder pattern of schools facilitated by art teachers Kellye Rogers, Lupe Rodriguez, Jennifer Conrad, and Kayo Root.
  • NISD Fine Arts Department – Director James Miculka, Assistant Director Elizabeth Sanchez-Lopez, Choir Supervisor James Hare, Art Supervisor Teri Yasger, and Theater Supervisor Sara Wetzel and NISD Council Founder's Day Committee.

We also know how important it is to have parents and families involved in our schools and we appreciate all they do to support and advocate for all children in 51 through their effort and involvement with PTA and actively engaging in their children's education. It was a great night for 51 students and advocacy and we appreciate all involved in making the event such a huge success.

Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA).  HOSA is a global student-led organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, and several federal and state agencies. HOSA’s mission is to empower HOSA-future health professionals to become leaders in the global health community, through education, collaboration, and experience. HOSA actively promotes career opportunities in the health industry and enhances the delivery of quality health care to all people.

The Area 1 Spring Leadership Conference was held this past Friday and Saturday in 51 ISD. It was great to see our students so actively involved in the organization's Mission. We not only applaud our future health workers but also our NISD sponsors for their efforts in providing students with training and guidance far beyond the basic technical skills needed for entry into the healthcare field, and developing people-oriented leaders who will be orchestrating the efforts of a healthcare team soon. Our very own Area I President, Hector Frausto, a senior at O'Connor High School did a fantastic job planning and coordinating the Spring Conference. 

UIL Realignment. The UIL League office released the realignments that will be in effect for the upcoming (2) school years. As a result of each district submitting enrollment data for students in grades 9-12 as of Oct. 31, 2023, schools have been assigned to a conference based on these enrollment numbers and the following districts and regions have been established. Please find the newly drawn districts for 51 High Schools below.  

Volleyball - Class 6A (Region IV)

51 27 

  • 51 Brandeis
  • 51 Clark
  • San Antonio Churchill
  • San Antonio Johnson
  • San Antonio LEE
  • San Antonio Madison
  • San Antonio Reagan
  • San Antonio Roosevelt

51 28

  • 51 Brennan
  • 51 Harlan
  • 51 Holmes
  • 51 Marshall
  • 51 O'Connor
  • 51 Sotomayor
  • 51 Stevens
  • 51 Taft
  • 51 Warren


Volleyball -Class 5A (Region IV)

51 28

  • Eagle Pass Winn
  • 51 Jay
  • San Antonio Harlandale
  • San Antonio MacArthur
  • San Antonio McCollum
  • San Antonio Southside
  • San Antonio Southwest
  • South San Antonio
  • Southwest Legacy

Basketball Class 6A (Region IV)

51 27 

  • 51 Brandeis
  • 51 Clark
  • San Antonio Churchill
  • San Antonio Johnson
  • San Antonio LEE
  • San Antonio Madison
  • San Antonio Reagan
  • San Antonio Roosevelt

51 28

  • 51 Brennan
  • 51 Harlan
  • 51 Holmes
  • 51 Marshall
  • 51 O'Connor
  • 51 Sotomayor
  • 51 Stevens
  • 51 Taft
  • 51 Warren


Basketball Class 5A (Region 4)

51 28

  • Eagle Pass Winn
  • 51 Jay
  • San Antonio Harlandale
  • San Antonio MacArthur
  • San Antonio McCollum
  • San Antonio Southside
  • San Antonio Southwest
  • South San Antonio
  • Southwest Legacy

Football- Class 6A (Region IV)

51 27

  • 51 Brandeis
  • 51 Clark
  • San Antonio Churchill
  • San Antonio Johnson
  • San Antonio LEE
  • San Antonio Madison
  • San Antonio Reagan
  • San Antonio Roosevelt

51 28

  • 51 Brennan
  • 51 Harlan
  • 51 Holmes
  • 51 Marshall
  • 51 O'Connor
  • 51 Sotomayor
  • 51 Stevens
  • 51 Taft
  • 51 Warren


Football Class 5A- Div. I (Region IV)

51 14

  • Eagle Pass Winn
  • Laredo Cigarroa
  • Laredo Martin
  • Laredo Nixon
  • 51 Jay
  • San Antonio Southside
  • San Antonio
  • Southwest
  • South San Antonio
  • Southwest Legacy

Prepare to Vote. Please plan to exercise your civic responsibility as a voter during this 2024 election year. Voting not only gives us a voice in our democracy but also demonstrates to students the importance of using that voice.

Most of what we hear about elections in the media and among friends is focused on the November election for President of the United States. However, our state and local elections also have a direct impact on our lives and our community.

The March 5 Texas Primary Elections are fast approaching, giving all of us a critical opportunity to decide who will be on the ballot in November. When you register to vote in Texas, you do not register as a member of one party or another. As a result, Texas has what is known as an open primary, which means that any registered voter can choose to vote in either party’s primary election — regardless of how you have voted in the past.

Only 18 percent of registered Texas voters participated in our state’s last primary, which was in March 2022. In other words, most voters do not participate in these often decisive elections.

Please consider voting in the primary election of your choice this spring. Learn about the candidates and decide where you most want your voice to be heard. If you are not registered to vote, please register by the Feb. 5 deadline. Early voting begins on Feb. 20 and runs through March 1, while Election Day is March 5. I also encourage you to vote in any runoff elections that will be held later in the spring in elections where no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary. Voter turnout in runoff elections is typically even lower than in primaries.

You can register to vote or learn more about how and where to vote at . Thank you for your service to our students and for making your voice heard in the upcoming election.

Link to Voting in the Primary Election 

The Spirit of 51 

Speaking of voter registration… This week’s Spirit Stick goes to Holmes High School as a result of registering 60 seniors to vote. Congratulations to Principal Cynthia Barrera and Mr. James Hamric, Holmes High School math teacher and Volunteer Deputy Registrar! Way to go Huskies and thank you for helping our young voters recognize that they have a voice and can make a difference by exercising their right to vote!

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Good Morning 51 ISD,

Welcome to the final stretch of January. I hope this message finds you well and you were able to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather we were blessed with this past weekend. It’s an incredibly busy time of the year and again Thank you for supporting our students in the variety of activities happening throughout the district. 

On Tuesday, we had the opportunity to celebrate our Board of Trustees with School Board Appreciation Month. Our Trustees serve the district helping to ensure our students and staff have the resources and pathways to be successful. We appreciate our Council of PTA’s (President Crystal Rivas), 51 Education Foundation (President-elect Lilia Gibson), and the 51 Museum Association (Pam Sprague) for helping to recognize our Trustees.  I especially would like to thank our amazing students who were kind enough to present their amazing artwork, a gift I know our Trustees appreciated immensely.    

  • Trustee David Saucedo was presented with artwork by Ria Velayo, a 12th grader at Jay High School. Art teacher is Carol Weissler
  • Trustee Gerald Lopez was presented with artwork by Suhaila Breiter, a 12th grader at Warren High School. Art teacher is Chris Warnagiris.
  • Trustee Dr. Karla Duran was presented with artwork by Reid Castellanos and 11th graders at Marshall High School. Art Teacher Dr. Andra Ramirez 
  • Trustee Bobby Blount was presented with artwork by Isabella Labinsky, a 12th grader at Communications Arts High School. Art teacher is Stephanie Silva.
  • Trustee Corinne Saldana was presented with artwork by Sophia Hernandez, a 10th grader at Holmes High School. Art teacher is Erica That.
  • Trustee Dr. Carol Harle was presented with artwork by Mia Szcyubialka, an 11th grader at Clark High School. Art teacher is Brandy Gonzalez-Kee
  • Trustee Karen Freeman was presented with artwork by M.J. Jackson, a 12th grader at Harlan High School. Art teacher is Mandy Clarson.

Thank you again for joining us to acknowledge the invaluable contributions that members of the Boards of Trustees make to our phenomenal district.

We will begin celebrating Black History Month beginning on Thursday. Black History Month was created to focus attention on the contributions of African Americans to the United States. February is a month that allows us to honor these accomplishments and trendsetters, as well as teach our students the rich history and heritage of our African American community. We look forward to these learning opportunities taking place across our campuses this month.  

From Around the 51

51 Connection Network (NCN). It was great to connect with our NCN representatives this past Wednesday. We had some great conversations around the Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA) and I appreciate the questions posed and thoughts expressed. The TIA process is not without its challenges and continues to entail a lot of hard work on the part of so many involved in the development process. As we work to have the first phase validated, we are committed to continuously communicating with our staff. The TIA model for our district will continue to be driven through teacher input, especially as we look towards phase two and beyond. We want to make sure the TIA is reflective of our teachers' desires and I feel this is a program that must have collective ownership to be effective in the long run. As more districts surrounding us continue with their pursuits, we want to make sure that we are positioning ourselves to be as competitive as possible with future recruitment efforts as well as retention strategies. I really feel that this is a program providing additional funding from the State that we need to pursue rather than leaving on the table per se. Albeit, beyond the teachers we have had the opportunity to hire who have already been designated through National Board Certification or by their former district; the first round of our incentive payouts will be distributed in the summer of 2026. Thank you again to the steering committee members and more information will be forthcoming. 

We also posed a payroll calendar question to attain a preliminary gauge as to whether we should consider moving to a Bi-monthly payroll (twice a month) payroll calendar for employees currently on our existing monthly payroll schedule. As discussed, this would entail significant logistical changes and we would need to provide plenty of lead time for employees to prepare to make budgeting plans in and around direct bill pays, etc. The results from both the Elementary and Secondary NCN participants have been included below. At this time, we are not planning to change to a bimonthly payroll calendar as it appears there is not an overwhelming showing of support to do so. We will continue to assess the situation as we develop the upcoming year payroll calendar. 

  • Elementary Level: 54% not in favor of twice per month pay / 46% in favor 
  • Secondary Level: 61% not in favor of twice per month pay/ 39% in favor 

You can check out more information and the questions posed by NCN members at the following link. 

Thank you again to our NCN representatives for your participation and engagement in this important process. 

Straus Middle School Career Day. It was a pleasure to visit with our Straus Middle School students at their annual Career Day. Over 60 professionals throughout our community were gracious enough to take the time out of their busy day to share their experiences and professions with our students. It was great to see the namesake and former Speaker of the House Joe Straus and I know the students found his experiences in the House beyond interesting. Thanks again to Straus Counselor Amber Haby and the staff for organizing the tremendously successful event. Thank you again to all the presenters and we look forward to next year’s event.   

Gerlach Livestock Show and Auction. We celebrated 51 years of the Walter Gerlach Livestock Show and Sale on Saturday which has been a 51 ISD tradition that has cumulatively raised nearly $23 million in college scholarships for students. This year’s preliminary estimates have the auction generating over $1.1 million to be used to help students further their educational endeavors. We are so appreciative of our buyers and supporters who graciously give back. Our students will greatly benefit from the amazing generosity of our supporters.

I would like to thank our Board of Trustees for supporting the auction on Saturday as well as our ASTA administration led by Chad Bohlken, all of our Agriculture Science teachers, and FFA/4-H sponsors for their incredible support. Of course, the culmination of our students' projects would not be possible without their parents’ unwavering support. A special gratitude is also in order to M’Lissa and Steve Chumbley for ensuring the event is such a success, but also the legacy of the “best little stock show in Texas” lives on!  

51 Swimming and Diving Meet. My wife and I also had the privilege of attending the 2024 51 6A Swimming & Diving Championships on Saturday. The NISD Swim Center was a busy place and it was great to see so many of our student athletes competing and representing their high schools in a sport that I will argue is not an easy one. Thank you to our administrators who worked around some weather challenges (lightning) earlier in the week and our high school principals for helping with the awards presentation.  

Congratulations to all our athletes (see attachments) and good luck to our athletes advancing to the Regional Championships later this month. 

Region VIII Championships will be held in Laredo, Feb. 9 & 10, 2024, at the United ISD Natatorium
Friday - prelims starting at noon
Saturday - finals starting at 11 a.m.

State 6A Championships will be held in Austin, Feb. 23 & 24, 2024
Friday - prelims in the afternoon after 5A prelims
Saturday - finals in the afternoon after 5A finals

Region IV Academic Decathlon. It was my pleasure to serve as the emcee for the Region IV Academic Decathlon awards ceremony held on Saturday at Warren High School. The theme for this year’s Decathlon events was “Technology and Humanity.” Our students spent hours preparing and practicing for the competition and we applaud the efforts of our coaches for their time and effort ensuring our students were prepared to compete in the two days of rigorous competition. A special thanks to those involved in making the event such a tremendous success. 

  • Natalie Gray and Michelle Beach for providing the hospitality. 
  • Jill Hackney and Roxanne Brown for the speech and interview training
  • Katie Hitchman and Vivian Burleson for providing technology & logistics support 
  • Brittany Rodriguez, our essay chairperson
  • NISD Communications Dept and Print Shop for printing the awards program
  • The Warren HS administrative staff for making the accommodations 
  • Dr. Jerry Woods, Assistant Superintendent of High School Curriculum and Instruction for his outstanding emceeing of the Super Quiz (not an easy task) 
  • Ginger Brown and Jill Hackney who serve as our region Decathlon coordinators.

All region winners throughout the state automatically qualify to advance to the state meet. The top 40 highest scoring teams from around the state are also chosen to round out the state competition to be held Feb. 28-29, in San Antonio.  

Congratulations to this year's Academic Decathlon Large School Region IV winners. 

  • 3rd place team- Health Careers High School
  • 2nd place team- Marshall High School
  • 1st place team- Warren High School 

The Spirit of 51

Braving the cold, the Murnin Elementary staff distributed over 250 fresh produce bags to the Murnin families and community. These efforts do not go unnoticed and remain an example of giving back to those in need. Truly the spirit of Teamwork in NISD. Their next fresh produce distribution is on Friday, Feb. 23. 

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Good Morning 51 ISD,

If you are like me, one of the reasons you live in Texas is the warmer weather. So, at a time when the days are shorter, and sunshine can be sparse, and we have a taste of the Arctic Circle climate, it can kind of make you feel… well… Blah. I refer to this as the Dog Days of Winter.  In fact, there is a term for this state of mind referred to as  (SAD), which is only fitting and is prevalent for those living in colder, darker regions. The Mayo Clinic has identified some symptoms which may include:

  • Feeling a bit down;
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed;
  • Having low energy and feeling sluggish;
  • Sleeping too much;
  • Experiencing carbohydrate cravings, overeating, and weight gain;
  • Having difficulty concentrating; and
  • Feeling just blah (as I refer to it).

Research has shown that light therapy, vitamin D, and activity may help curb those symptoms. There are other things you can do, too:

  • If possible,  a day can boost your mood even when it is not “sunny” outside;
  • Socialization often helps as well even if it is limited to social networks, zoom meetings with friends and family;
  • Taking up a hobby may help the days go by just a little smoother and your brain will concentrate on the activity;
  • Breaking out of your daily routine and trying something new to help boost your mood, and possibly finding something new you enjoy.

For me, forcing myself to exercise really helps (even on really cold mornings). That and watching football. And if I can manage to do both simultaneously, it’s even better.  

NISD provides a plethora of resources to support our and we encourage any staff who need assistance to please reach out. 

Also, with our new self-insured health plan, there is a subscription-based fitness and well-being program that supports a healthier lifestyle.  is available to all subscribers and strives to make being healthy fun for all. No matter your current fitness level, One Pass Select has a variety of activities to check out. Visit  and find your fit with One Pass Select.

And when all else fails, just start making that list of things to do once the weather warms up and the clocks spring forward. Sunny (and warmer) days are right around the corner.  

Payroll Update. The 51 is committed to ensuring our employees are paid in a timely and accurate manner. We apologize for any delays that may have occurred last Friday as our Payroll Department worked to ensure receiving financial institutions were processing direct deposits prior to the end of the day. As we learned more throughout the morning on Friday the 19th, it became evident that each institution processes wire transfers uniquely. We are committed to working proactively and well in advance of published pay dates, and we will work to ensure verification of wire transfers is in place to try and alleviate any foreseeable issues going forward. While much of this is contingent upon the timing of individual banking institutions accepting the deposits, we understand the gravity of the timing involved and again apologize for any delays employees may have experienced.  

From Around the 51

Middle School Dance Spectacular. We have amazingly talented students and instructors and the Middle School Winter Dance Spectacular put this talent on stage front and center last week. It was evident just how much work and preparation has been put into the performances and I want to congratulate all NISD dance teachers throughout the district and especially our middle instructors for their efforts with some of our least experienced dancers. Thank you to Mrs. Elizabeth Sanchez-Lopez for organizing our Middle School and High School events and performances, as well as Stevens High School and Dance Instructor Katherine Causey for hosting the amazing event. Trustee Carol Harle and I were thrilled to support our Middle School dance teams last Thursday. 

Sotomayor Presents Beauty and the Beast. It has been quite some time since I had the opportunity to watch Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (when we did it was usually over and over and over). What an incredible display of talent by our incredible Sotomayor students who were really Broadway stars. The entire production was much more impressive than I could ever imagine, from the set and stage support, the musicians in the orchestra pit making the musical happen, and all the behind-the-scenes players. My hat goes off to Ms. Adriana Vela and the Sotomayor Fine Arts team for an awesome production. 

While I have had the opportunity to play many roles… a teacher, a coach, an administrator, and most importantly a husband and father…never the role of a “baker.” Last Friday, I had the opportunity to literally “play” that role in the amazing production, and Sotomayor Theatre Arts students carried me the whole way. Albeit, my role was really to be a grumpy old man giving Belle and Marie a hard time, but it was the first time in my career I have ever had a cameo role in a production and it was a blast. So many students were clearly setting the bar very high (Addison McMillin as Belle, Kaden Selvy as the Beast, Lelio Spedicato as Gaston, Tahj Hairston as Lumiere, Maria Molina as Cogsworth, and many more talented students.) I am grateful to them for entrusting that I wouldn't mess it up too badly. That being said, I don’t expect the Academy Awards to be calling me anytime soon!

51 Cheerleaders Win Big at the National Cheer Association High School Nationals Competition. Congratulations to all of our NISD High School Cheer teams for their tremendous accomplishments over the weekend after competing in one of the largest venues in Dallas. We are very proud of all our cheer squads and their sponsors and we are thrilled to celebrate with our two National Championship teams representing the Brennan Bears and Warren Warriors!   

Warren High School took First Place in the NCA National Champions in the Advanced Non-Tumbling Varsity Crowd Leading Team, and Brennan High School took First Place in the NCA National Champions in the Intermediate Varsity Performance Small Team Division. Please join me in congratulating our students and sponsors!

Gerlach Livestock Show is Out of the Chutes. For those of you who have been around these parts for a while know that the Walter Gerlach Livestock Show and Sale remains a staple here in 51 ISD. The show has been growing annually since 1973 and displays hundreds of FFA and 4H students' hard work in caring for their animals and preparing their projects. The projects sold in the Gerlach Show’s auction earn money for the students which helps to pay for college and other expenses. Last year’s sale and auction raised a record amount of more than $1.5 million for students and to date, the Gerlach show has provided nearly $23 million to students.

So, mark your calendars for upcoming events and come out to join the fun as you are able. 

  • Monday 1/22 – 8 a.m., Goat Show; noon, Lamb Show
  • Tuesday 1/23- 8 a.m., Swine Show
  • Wednesday 1/24- 5 p.m., Steer Show
  • Thursday 1/25- 10 a.m., Poultry Show (Turkeys followed by Chickens)
  • Saturday 1/27 – 10:30 a.m., Auction and Sale (Opening ceremonies at 10:00 a.m. 

The Spirit of 51

For those who don’t believe in ties…. I am sorry, but this week is just too close to call. 

At the beginning of last week, we had to navigate some very tricky weather conditions across the state to determine whether we could safely resume school on Tuesday. To be able to arrive at a definitive decision and one I felt confident in, a lot of teamwork was involved. So many of our maintenance and custodial team were busy working to ready campuses and facilities Sunday and Monday so that in the event we didn't have icy roads, we could get students and staff into warm and clean environments. I want to thank all involved in these monumental efforts and I especially want to thank our HVAC technicians and support personnel. They had to put in some really long hours and troubleshoot/ repair numerous systems. We appreciate their dedication to a monumental task.   

Finally, our Middle School Dance Instructors are also more than worthy of the NISD spirit stick this week. Not only did they orchestrate amazing performances last week, but they are positively impacting the young minds of our Middle School youth. And let’s face it, these are not easy times to navigate for adolescents. Congratulations to all our Middle School Dance Instructors and while I have no idea how the Spirit Stick will be delivered just yet, it’ll be dancing your way. 

Make it a great week, Team 51!

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Good Morning 51 ISD,

I hope this message finds you well and as warm as possible. It has been an interesting change in the weather from Friday to the time of publishing this week’s Catching Up with Craft. We have been monitoring the weather conditions and forecasts since late last week. A great amount of communication and coordination across Bexar County goes into making and communicating very deliberate decisions with safety at the forefront. In the event we have to close due to inclement weather, we will communicate with our shareholders as expeditiously as possible. If and when possible, we will work to communicate in advance (i.e. the night before) any changes to our regular schedule due to inclement weather. This being said, the timing of the weather events and uncertainties of forecast data does not always allow for decisions to be made the day/evening in advance. We appreciate your patience as we navigate these situations and please know we work to make decisions with everyone’s safety as the top priority.   

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I hope you enjoyed Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. The federal holiday remains a testament to a great man who wrote, spoke, marched, and stood up for equality for all. The commemoration remains a tribute to his relentless service in uplifting and encouraging people to address social problems, bridge barriers, and move closer to acceptance by all. Dr. King remains an encouragement for all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. One of my favorite MLK quotes remains “We must Accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite Hope.” - Truly great words to live by.  

From Around the 51

Leadership 51. Leadership 51 kicked off Monday and we had a great first session with our community ambassadors interested in learning more about the NISD operations and culture. Leadership 51 seeks to empower stakeholders with the knowledge and tools needed to effectively advocate for continuous improvement of the education experience for 51 students. Selected representatives from the community will be asked to help advocate for adequate funding and resources so that we can continue to offer high quality educational services, and to help communicate and disseminate accurate information regarding NISD throughout the community. Special thanks to our Leadership 51 Facilitators, Kelly Rasti, Executive Director for Community Outreach and Advocacy; Diana Ely, Executive Director for Teaching and Learning; and Nicole Franco, 51 Principal Coach. We particularly appreciate our Leadership 51 cohort members for taking time out of their busy schedules to learn more about 51 ISD. (Especially on the same night as the College Football National Championship)

Bexar County Truancy Symposium. I enjoyed visiting briefly with our 51 Attendance staff at the Bexar County Truancy Symposium on Wednesday. It was great to see the collaborative efforts across the many districts throughout Bexar County. It has been several years since the group convened as a result of COVID recovery and I applaud the deliberate efforts of our staff to work as a team to reduce truancy and chronic absenteeism. As I told the group on Wednesday, truancy is typically an antecedent behavior exhibited by students that leads to much bigger discipline and or criminal behaviors. Thank you to Pam Gould, Assistant Director of the Office of Student Advocacy and School Choice (SASC), and our amazing staff for helping to put the program together and hosting the event.  

NSITE. I really enjoyed visiting our 51 School of Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship (NSITE) magnet program on Thursday and learning more about our Entrepreneurship, Cybersecurity, and Computer Programming/Software Development pathways. I had the opportunity to tour the facility and meet many of the students and faculty and it was truly an education for me personally. I found it awesome to visit with four of our recent NISD NSITE graduates from 2023, now attending colleges, visiting with current Seniors and offering helpful advice. This is truly giving back before they have to return to their own classes and it is also a testament to the impact the program had on them personally. Thank you, Mr. Brad Hebert for the opportunity to visit and learn more about a phenomenal opportunity and I can’t wait to see NSITE grow and prosper in the future. 

STEM Night at Lewis Elementary. It was great to visit the Lewis Elementary students and staff as they were hosting their STEM night on Thursday. The students engaged in a variety of activities involving eclipses, moon craters, constellations, moon phases, live animal exhibits (not a fan of the snake) and had the chance to visit with professionals from the STEM field. The entire Leopard staff were so welcoming to families and I really enjoyed visiting and learning more about the Lewis community. Thank you Principal Kendra Merrell, Associate Principal Shane Murnin, and the entire Leopard staff for your hospitality.    

Student Voice. We had the opportunity to convene our second student voice meeting with our soon-to-graduate Seniors. We dove deep into conversation around Dual Credit, AP, and On-Ramps opportunities and access as well as TSI and SAT/ACT prep work. The students were very willing and open to discuss their experiences and it was insightful to listen to their experiences, especially since this class of Seniors were the 8th Graders who went home for the COVID closure of their Spring Semester. We will meet with our second group of Seniors this Friday. Trustees Carol Harle and Karen Freemen were very complimentary of our students and we appreciate their attendance and questions. This process of including Student Voices in our improvement dialogue is proving to be very helpful as well as reassuring.  

Texas AP Honor Roll. Congratulations to four NISD high schools for making the 2023 Texas AP School Honor Roll. They are:

  • Communications Arts HS – Platinum with Access
  • Health Careers HS – Platinum with Access
  • ※DzԲԴǰ HS – Silver with Access
  • Brandeis HS – Silver

The AP School Honor Roll recognizes schools whose AP programs are delivering results for students while broadening access. Schools can earn this recognition annually based on criteria that reflect a commitment to increasing a college-going culture, providing opportunities for students to earn college credit, and maximizing college readiness. It offers four levels of distinction: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. We are very proud of your accomplishment!

Legislative Update 

While Public Education was successful during the 88th Legislative Session (and 4 Special Sessions) in preventing the use of taxpayer funds being used for a private school education (ESA’s), the real debate is on the horizon. One of the major consequences with the inability to move meaningful legislation remains public education being provided no additional appropriations in the coming year, even though the State has over $8B in available funding to allocate to districts.  

A tertiary consequence was that it placed a higher-than-normal spotlight on the March 2024 primary elections for many of the Republican House Representatives that participated in the defeat of ESA’s in 2023. 

It is imperative to recognize these important issues continuing to swirl around public education and ensuring you are registered and an informed voter during the upcoming primary elections. 

Don’t miss the chance to exercise your right - register to vote and find additional election-related information at

The Spirit of 51

This week the Spirit Stick goes to the Bob Lewis Leopards. It takes a tremendous team effort to pull together successful community events to benefit students. Thank you again for going the extra mile and Congratulations Ms. Merrell and Lewis Elementary! 

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Good Morning 51 ISD and Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas Break and a festive Holiday with family, friends, and loved ones. Welcome to 2024! It is hard to wrap my mind around how fast the first semester flew by and I dare say, we will look up here in just a few months and we will be preparing for graduations and summer school activities. Time really flies when you're having fun. 

The one thing I am absolutely certain of, is this Spring Semester, while a bit longer, will be plenty busy as we work to have our Teacher Incentive Allotment Model validated, work through a challenging FY 2025 Budget Process, train and continue to hire new employees through job fairs and intentional recruitment efforts, and solidify instructional plans to ensure each student’s educational needs are being met. It will be busy, a lot of work, and at times… daunting, but working together I am confident in our collective ability as a Team to tackle any challenges that may lie ahead, and I look forward to a fantastic 2024! 

Let’s make it another great Semester Team 51!   

From Around the 51

January is School Board Appreciation Month. Each year we have the opportunity to recognize and honor the community volunteers who serve on our School Board. This year, in conjunction with the Texas Association of School Boards, the theme is fittingly Locally Elected, Community Connected. Our Trustees go above and beyond in their service to our community, our employees, but most importantly our students. While board members are inevitably accountable to local voters, elected to ensure the needs of their communities and schools are tended to, our Trustees go above and beyond through their engagement with students and staff attending numerous events throughout the year. 

I can obviously speak from firsthand experience having engaged in numerous conversations that no matter how difficult the situation or challenge, it always boils down to making decisions in the Best Interests of our students. Please join me in recognizing and appreciating our Trustees this month for their dedication, hard work, and selfless service to 51 ISD. 

NISD Board of Trustees 

Bobby Blount, President, 51 4 

Corinne Saldaña, Vice President, 51 5 

Gerald B. Lopez, Secretary, 51 2

Karen Freeman Trustee, 51 7

Carole Harle, Ph.D., Trustee, 51 6 

David Salcido, Trustee, 51 1  

Karla Duran, Ph.D., Trustee, 51 3 

Texas School Counselor Association (TSCA) Announces Annual Awards.  TSCA recognizes deserving school counselors and individuals who support the work of school counselors during an annual awards banquet as a result of nominations accepted from school districts across the state. This year NISD has three statewide winners!!!

  • Erica Lashley - Elementary School Counselor of the Year (Meadow Village)
  • Dr. Mark Lopez - Campus Administrator of the Year (Garcia MS) 
  • Carin Adermann - Jan Friese Counselor Advocate of the Year (Director of Testing)

Please help me in congratulating this year’s TSCA Award recipients and thank you for your phenomenal efforts in supporting the work of our Whole Child Department, our students, and our staff!

51 ISD State of the 51. I had the opportunity to provide a 51 State of the 51 Overview to our Council of PTA members on Thursday. The first meeting of the year was well attended and we appreciate our parents and staff for taking time on the first week back to engage in this important work. Active community engagement and parental support cannot be emphasized enough as a critical component of our students' success. Thank you again to Crystal Rivas, PTA Council President, and the Executive Board for their commitment and hard work and for allowing us the opportunity to highlight some of the important matters across the district. The Presentation has been linked for those interested in learning more.   

Academic Calendars for 2024-25 and 2025-2026 School Years. Just as a reminder, the Board of Trustees approved our academic calendars for the preceding two years. They can be found on our district website if you have not had the chance to check them out yet. As a 51 of Innovation, we will be moving the start of the school year up one week for 2024-2025 and then again in 2025-2026. This will hopefully better align with surrounding districts, which should provide numerous advantages pertaining to childcare provisions and overall operational efficiencies. Thank you again to those who served throughout the calendar design process and provided valuable feedback, which ultimately generated the recommendation the Board approved on December 12.    

United Way and NEF Fun Run. Please mark your calendars. The NISD Partnerships Office will kick off the 51's annual United Way campaign on Jan. 31. The campaign will run through February, and "Campaign Champions" are needed within campuses and departments to encourage participation. For years 51 ISD has partnered with the United Way in supporting those in need throughout our community. Thank you in advance for your support of this worthy cause and for extending a helping hand to those less fortunate.

If you have not yet set that New Year’s resolution, it’s never too late, and this might be the perfect opportunity to establish a fitness goal. The 51 Education Foundation (NEF) will host a Fun Run at Northwest Vista College on April 6 and we are encouraging staff, students, and families to prepare to sign up. The Fun Run serves as a fundraiser for the Foundation and is certain to be a great event bringing the 51 Team together for some fun fitness activities. We appreciate the continued support of our Education Foundation, which distributed over $350,000 in grants last year to 51 employees! Start logging those miles and prepare to join in the fun on April 6. 

election dates

Legislative Update

There appears to be a lull in action per se on the Legislative front since the last update in December. It appears that the school choice initiative will be taken to the Primary elections this Spring and the potential of Governor Abbott calling for a 5th Special Session to address important matters involving Public Education is unlikely. 

Primary elections are fast approaching - early voting starts in just over a month. Primaries are extremely important, yet only a small fraction of registered voters (often the most extreme of both parties) take the opportunity to have their voices heard. In fact, in the last presidential primary election, less than a quarter of registered voters in Texas showed up to the polls. Don’t miss the chance to exercise your right - register to vote and find additional election-related information at

The Governor has appointed Aaron Kinsey as Chair of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) for a term set to expire on December 17, 2025. Kinsey will succeed Dr. Keven Ellis, who has served as Chair since he was appointed in 2019 and will continue to serve on the SBOE. Aaron Kinsey of Midland is the SBOE 51 15 Representative. He is CEO of American Patrols, Inc., an aviation oilfield services company, and is a member of the Texas Public Policy Foundation Liberty Leadership Council. This is noteworthy as important Curriculum and Instruction matters are slated to be taken up by the SBOE in the coming months.

The Spirit of 51 

The first day of the Christmas Break (December 16) Coach Mckenzie Fulton at Jordan Middle School reached out to brag on the Student Council and NJHS students who participated in Wreaths Across America at Fort Sam Houston. The Jordan Middle School students worked to sponsor 141 wreaths in recognition of Veterans who paid the ultimate price for the Freedoms we have the luxury to enjoy. The students were able to lay a wreath for a former Jordan Middle School student who unfortunately passed his 6th Grade year.  Thank you and Congratulations Coach Fulton, Principal Romero and Jordan Jaguars. Giving your time to recognize others is one of the greatest gifts that can be given! 

Jordan MS Students

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Good Morning 51 ISD and Happy Holidays!

I hope this message finds you well during this hectic and festive time of the year. As we enter the last week before our winter break, I just want to express my appreciation for a tremendous semester. Being new to 51, I felt like I had an idea as to what to expect, but you never really fully know. It has been an exceptional experience by all accounts and I attribute it directly to you all as a part of Team 51.

As we prepare to administer final exams, host student and staff Holiday celebrations, and plan to wrap up this week, I want to encourage you to find time to pause, take a deep breath, and remember the true meaning of this joyous season. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, and the Best New Year yet. Cherish each moment with family and friends and I look forward to welcoming 2024 with you here in 51, America on January 2nd.  

From Around the 51

NISD Financial Aid Night and Magnet School Fair. It was great to see our parents and students at both our Financial Aid night held at the NAC as well as our Magnet Fair at the Sports gym. It requires a lot of effort on behalf of our CCMR Specialists and staff to prepare information as well as our Magnet Program staff and students. I learned a lot about all of our middle and high school magnet programs and I know our parents and students felt the same. Thank you again to all who are involved in making these two special and important events come to fruition.   

NISD CREST Awards. Speaking of providing tremendous services supporting students…The Texas School Counselor Association recognized 62 51 ISD schools with 2023-24 Awards for Counseling Excellence. Counselors Reinforcing Excellence for Students (CREST) in Texas recipients have demonstrated a commitment to using the school counseling program to improve the lives and achievement of students in academic, career, and social domains. 

Congratulations to this year’s NISD recipients, we greatly appreciate our counselors' hard work.  

Elementary Schools: Beard, Behlau, Boldt, Boone, Burke, Carlos Coon, Carnahan, Cole, Colonies North, Driggers, Esparza, Fields, Fisher, Galm, Glass, Glenn, Glenoaks, Hoffmann, Kallison, Krueger, Kuentz, Langley, Leon Valley, Lieck, Locke Hill, Los Reyes, McDermott, Meadow Village, Mireles, Myers, Passmore, Tomlinson, Wanke, Ward, Wernli, and Westwood Terrace. 

Middle and High Schools: Bernal, Briscoe, Connally, Folks, Hector Garcia, Hobby, Jefferson, Luna, Neff, Rawlinson, Ross, Stinson, Straus, and Zachry, and Brennan, Clark, Communications Arts. Harlan, Health Careers, Holmes, NSITE, Jay, Jay SEA, Marshall, ※DzԲԴǰ, and Taft.

6th Annual Spanish Spelling Bee. Our Bilingual/ESL and World Languages departments did an amazing job hosting the 2023 51 ISD 6th Annual Spanish Spelling Bee on Tuesday. We had several community partners serve as judges and amazing NISD students ranging from 3rd-12th grade representing 21 Elementary Schools, 12 Middle Schools, and 12 High Schools! The winners (listed below) from each competition will have the opportunity to represent 51 at the Region 20 Spanish Spelling Bee, held on Feb. 6, 2024. It was an amazing experience for me to witness and congratulations to all our winners and participants, we’re very proud of you. 

Elementary School

  • 4th Grade - Camila Mendoza - Leon Valley ES
  • Winning word: dulzura

Middle School

  • 7th Grade - Santiago Paramo - Ross MS
  • Winning word: yuxtalineal

High School

  • 10th Grade - Valentina Correa García - Marshall Law and Medical MS
  • Winning word: alcahuetear
Camila Mendoza - Leon Valley ES

Katie Reed Elementary Dedication. Thursday night we had a special opportunity to celebrate someone who has not only served as an educator but also a long-time public servant to not only 51 ISD but also the city of San Antonio and the state of Texas.

Mrs. Katie Reed served on the School Board from 1990 to 2021 and it was her spirit of volunteerism and commitment that Mrs. Reed approached her Board service for over 3 decades. It was great to see so many family and friends in attendance who recognized her impact on the district. It is only fitting the Board of Trustees named our 82nd Elementary campus after Mrs. Reed. 

Congratulations to Chaisleigh Southworth and the Roadrunner staff for an awesome tribute. I also want to recognize and applaud the work of the Reed choir teacher, Michael Vasquez for the amazing performances by the Roadrunner students. I have seen hundreds of elementary choir performances, and Thursday night was truly one of the most impressive to date! 

Congratulations Reed Elementary for an awesome job and thank you again to all those who supported the amazing evening. Go Roadrunners! 

Nutcracker Performance. My wife and I had the pleasure of attending the Nutcracker on Friday evening at Brandeis High School and we were amazed at the talent our students displayed. They were able to bring an all-time classic ballet production to life and were absolutely amazing. Congratulations to our Fine Arts Department, Brandeis Fine Arts Dance Instructor Jackie Aguirre, our amazing students, our ballet company, our field dance company, and our faculty members. Of course, my favorite scene remains the Mouse King Battle, but they were all very engaging and masterfully choreographed.       

51-wide Survey Update. Thank you for taking the time to complete the district-wide survey. Once we have adequate sample sizes and the parent/community portion is completed when we return from break, we will be disaggregating and sharing results. We will then share the celebrated successes as well as prepare strategic action plans to address growth opportunities. Again, thank you for your participation and willingness to help us continuously improve.    

Food Bank Information. One last reminder, the final Food Bank distribution for 2023 will be held at Gus Stadium (8:30-10:00 a.m.) on Dec. 14.

Legislative Update.

Without surprise, both the House and Senate adjourned Sine Die early last week, meaning the 4th called legislative session is completed. No bills that impact school finance, teacher pay, nor school safety made it across the finish line, unfortunately. Neither did any bill impacting school choice, vouchers, or education savings accounts. Before adjourning Sine Die, Bexar County's own Rep Steve Allison made a parliamentary inquiry if he could bypass the House Select Committee on Educational Opportunity and Enrichment to pass Senate Bill 2.  Speaker Phelan said Rep Allison was not, and would not be, recognized to make that motion. 

Governor Abbott has not yet said when, or if, he will call a 5th special session. It appears that the focus has turned to the Republican Primary Elections this Spring, particularly in the 21 Republican Incumbent 51s with Representatives who were very vocal and advocated for supporting Public Schools, and resisted any form of an ESA or voucher bill. It will be essential for pro-public education supporters to vote in the upcoming primaries. More to come on that matter.   

It is also noteworthy that since gaveling in the 88th Legislative Session back in January, lawmakers have spent 246 days in session which is the most of any year since 1845!

While we did not see legislation move to support compensation, school safety funding, or meaningful accountability reform, we will remain steadfast in our efforts as too much is at stake. Our students remain our future! 

The Spirit of 51 

This week the NISD Spirit Stick goes to Rawlinson Middle School. Head Counselor Edna Garcia reached out not long ago to brag on her campus, and this is part of what she had to say, “We at Rawlinson know that school is the center of their universe and we have to go above and beyond to make sure every single student feels connected to our campus! We do this through the creation of clubs (we currently have 33 clubs). Clubs are created by students and sponsored by staff. We have a phenomenal fine arts department, many of whom are nationally recognized. They believe in empowering students and have a deep understanding of the benefits fine arts programs provide students. All of this is led by our fearless leader, Principal Sherry Mireles. Having been a middle school teacher herself, she is passionate and dedicated to the growth of every student who walks through our doors. She strongly believes that connection is key!!”

I couldn't agree more, Edna! Congratulations Patriots, you are the final recipient of the NISD Spirit Stick for 2023! More celebrations to come beginning January 8, 2024, with the next edition of Catching up With Craft

Have a great week Team 51 and Enjoy your Winter Break!

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Good Morning 51 ISD and welcome to the last month of 2023!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and if you are like me, you are probably asking yourself, “is it really less than three weeks before Christmas?” While it’s hard to believe, we are in fact preparing to wrap up 2023 and launch into 2024. 

From Around the 51

To begin, I want to again congratulate Harlan High School for advancing to the 6A volleyball state semifinals played in Garland November 17th. The Lady Hawks put up a valiant effort against Katy Cinco Ranch and while coming up a bit short on the scoreboard, they have a lot to be proud of in their tenacity and determination. Congratulations, ladies!

Also, our three football teams who advanced to the second round, all won and advanced to the third round and played the Friday and Saturday following Thanksgiving at the Alamodome. Brennan, Harlan, and John Jay all played some really tough teams at the Alamodome and while football in 51 comes to a close for the season, we are so proud of their efforts. We are looking forward to next year. Now onto the winter sports, which is surely to continue to include some very competitive play and continued success across the district.   

51-wide Survey Update. You should have received a link to provide input through a quick 5-10 minute survey. This is an anonymous survey, and the individual links are assigned so that the information gathered can be aggregated back to specific locations (i.e. campuses and/or departments). Please take a moment to provide this vital feedback which will be used to help drive our continuous improvement actions across the district. As a reminder, please complete the survey by this Thursday, December 7. 

Food Bank Information. As a reminder the final Food Bank distribution of 2023 will be held at Gus Stadium (8:30-10:00 a.m.) on Dec. 14.

Vale Middle School Discovery Day. It was an absolute pleasure to visit with Vale Middle School 8th grade students on their annual career day. They had some really great questions as we engaged in our conversation and I attempted to articulate exactly what the job of a school Superintendent entails. We remain very appreciative of all of our community volunteers and presenters for taking time out of their busy schedules to share their professions with our students. It was also great to see our Vale 7th grade students learning all about our Magnet Programs from current High School Students. Great job Ms. Mary Harrington, the Vale Head Counselor, and Associate Principal Jenna Bloom and the Stingray faculty for a fantastic learning experience.  

Rhodes Elementary School Guest Reader. The Rhodes Elementary Pre-K and Kindergarten students might never be the same after hearing their Superintendent's attempt at reading “How to Catch a Turkey” right before the Thanksgiving break. It was a great time and I learned that all it takes is the Principal to get involved and that whole dilemma gets remedied stat! (You have to read the story.) Thank you to Ms. Diaz and Raptor students and staff.  

Carson Elementary- 25th Anniversary. We celebrated our third campus this year to reach the 25 year milestone of providing exceptional education at Carson Elementary School and it was a phenomenal turnout. Principal Lisa Mendez and Associate Principal Kimberly McClintic and the committee of teachers and staff who planned the ceremony deserve accolades as it is no small feat to pull together an event of that magnitude, particularly as we were preparing for an extended break. The student performers did an amazing job. I really enjoyed learning more about the amazing namesake, Jim Carson, a 35-year educator in 51 ISD and U.S. Army Veteran who gave so tirelessly of his time to the district, well after his retirement. I felt inspired after leaving the celebration and humbled by the impact he left on the Cowboy community.   

Clinical Teacher Reception. We again want to congratulate our 116 Clinical Teachers who will be graduating this semester and will soon become full-time teachers (many of them already joining Team 51). We also want to thank our mentors for their efforts in helping forge phenomenal experiences by not only helping to prepare our newest professionals for the classroom, but also lending a shoulder to lean on and modeling along the way. Investing in the future is critical to our success as a district and without these Residency programs and staff support, we would be at the mercy of others to help develop our talent. Again, congratulations clinical teachers, Diana Ely, and our Professional Learning team for a job well done.     

Assistant Superintendent for Technology Services, Lori Jones, set to retire after 22 years of service to NISD. Lori Jones has led our Technology Services team while also serving our Nation as an Officer in the United States Air Force (recently promoted to Brigadier General), and has done so with grace, humility, and resolve. We had a great reception on Wednesday with many current and former colleagues present to express their appreciation. Her outstanding leadership was evident hearing from all in attendance of her accolades and accomplishments, but as she articulated best, for Lori, it has always been about the NISD Team and students. Congratulations and best wishes Lori. You will be missed, but we know you will continue to do great things working to defend our Nation.    

Legislative Update

I would love to be able to share some great news regarding legislative progress, particularly as it relates to school finance and employee compensation, but as a result of the HB 1 debate on the House floor November 17th, the only progress made was another defeat of vouchers/education savings accounts and the referral of HB 2 to the Senate. 

HB 1, the omnibus voucher/school funding bill, had a relatively short debate as Rep. Raney promptly filed an amendment to strip the voucher/ESA provision from the bill.  The amendment was approved by a vote of 84 to 63.  Rather than allow the House to then vote on the actual bill with the ESA now stripped from it, Chairman Buckley sent the bill back to committee.  

Ultimately, this means that vouchers/ESAs were defeated, but the good parts in HB 1 (including significant funding) died along with it.  A very helpful school safety funding bill - HB 2 (which would provide $10 million in school safety funding for NISD; considerably more than what we currently receive) was unanimously approved in the House and sent to the Senate. Unfortunately, the Senate hasn’t moved on it and actually filed their own safety bill on Friday (SB 5). SB 5 would provide significantly less safety funding than HB 2. 

Sadly, due to the ongoing power struggle between both chambers, HB 2 has sat idle for two weeks, as has SB 2 - a teacher pay bill. This legislative session ends in 3 days, so hope for advancement of either or both of these bills diminishes by the hour. It is unknown whether the Governor will call a 5th special session at this point as school choice, school funding, accountability reform and school safety hangs in limbo and districts remain reliant on current law as we prepare to budget for the upcoming school year.

We again appreciate our Bexar County Delegation for their time and resiliency in standing firm on supporting public education, as this process has proven to be a marathon, and it doesn't appear the finish line is anywhere in sight.   

The Spirit of 51 

This week the 51 Spirit Stick goes to our phenomenal Technology Services Department. The team plays such a vital role in supporting teaching and learning on a daily basis and without their support, transforming the learning experience would be next to impossible. Thank you, Lori Jones for your tremendous leadership and for developing capacity across the NISD technology landscape. Your impact will be felt for years to come. 

Congratulations Technology Services and Thank you for keeping us online, on the cutting edge and cyber-safe!

Have a great week Team 51!

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Good Morning 51 ISD!

First and foremost, I hope you had a great Veterans Day weekend, and thank you to all our Veterans for their service. I also appreciate our campus's efforts in their hard work in preparing various assemblies, ceremonies, and programs across the district. I had the opportunity to start Friday off with Trustee Freeman at Brandeis High School where their JROTC hosted approximately 80 Veterans for a student-led program followed by a community breakfast. It was great to visit with our students and Veterans alike. Similarly, the 51 ISD Museum Association hosted a Veterans Day program as well, and following the Presentation of Colors and National Anthem by the Holmes High School JROTC and Marshall High School Band, guest Speaker Brad Weber described the History of Camp Swift having served as a German Prisoner of War Camp for over 100,000 captured Germans during WWII. It was fascinating to learn how the POWs replaced the agricultural labor force during that time period while our soldiers were serving overseas. I also heard so many positive remarks about programs like those at Carnahan, Aue, and Leon Springs elementary schools, to name a few. Thank you again for all your efforts in supporting our Veterans Team 51.  

American Education Week. This week we are acknowledging American Education Week. This remains an annual acknowledgment that happens the week before Thanksgiving, during which we celebrate our public school community. To all 14,000 NISD employees, this week is a salute to you! Thank you for your hard work and dedication to serving our students.

51-wide Survey. We want to hear from you! Your perspectives are vital in shaping the future of our district, and we value your commitment to 51 ISD. In the coming weeks, we'll be conducting a series of brief surveys with our students, families, and staff, so our stakeholders can share their experiences with our district.  We want to celebrate what we do well and recognize areas where we can grow.  When we return from the Thanksgiving holiday, you will receive an email from Qualtrics with an individualized link to the survey.  We invite each member of the 51 team to contribute their insights on different aspects of their roles and experiences within our district. Your participation is important, and we appreciate your commitment to the success of our students and 51 ISD.

From Around the 51

San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (SAHCC). I had the distinct privilege of sitting on a panel with my colleagues Dr. Sean Maika (NEISD), Dr. Eduardo Hernandez (Edgewood ISD), and Dr. Jeanette Ball (SWISD). We discussed many important topics, including:  

  • Career expansion and growth for educators across the K12 Pipeline 
  • The 88th Legislature and efforts to strengthen the teaching profession 
  • How the business community can help to strengthen the teaching profession and public schools
  • The state school finance system and the effects of adapting to our changing student learning needs, workforce shortages, and inflationary costs
  • The provisions of HB3 and what is required entailing school safety and what else needs to be done

I appreciated the opportunity to engage in the conversation and we appreciate the SAHCC support of our efforts to prepare a workforce-ready student population. 

Volleyball Regional Tournament. Congratulations to both ※DzԲԴǰ High School and Harlan High School for advancing to the 6A Region 4 Tournament. The Lady Hawks of Harlan are our Region 4 Champions and have earned a trip to the State Tournament in Garland and will take on Katy Cinco Ranch at 7:00 p.m. on Friday. They defeated the defending 6A Champions, Dripping Springs High School Saturday 3-0 and are playing very well. Good Luck Lady Hawks. We are very proud of you!

Football Playoffs. Three of our six playoff teams will also advance to the second round of the UIL football playoffs. Harlan defeated Eagle Pass on Thursday, Brennan defeated Laredo United South on Friday and John Jay beat Laredo Alexander on Saturday. Great job and best of luck in the 2nd Round!

Friday, November 17, 2023 

  • Brennan vs PSJA @ PSJA ISD Stadium – 6:00 pm 
  • Harlan vs Harlingen @ Cabiness Stadium – 7:00 pm  

Saturday, November 18, 2023 

  • Jay vs Weslaco @ Laredo Shirley Field – 1:00 pm

Food Bank Information. Just a reminder that Food Bank distributions will continue at Gus Stadium (8:30-10:00 a.m.) on Nov. 17, Dec. 1, and Dec. 14.

Legislative Update 

Thank you to all who voted. Proposition 4 overwhelmingly passed which included an $18 billion property tax-cut package. Under the proposition, school districts will reduce tax rates generating funds to cover operating expenditures like teacher salaries by 10.7 cents for every $100 of property value. The proposition also raises the homestead exemption from $40,000 to $100,000.

Proposition 9, which also passed easily, raises the appropriation of $3.45 billion to the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) to provide cost-of-living adjustments to eligible annuitants within TRS. The passage of Proposition 9 provides an increase of up to 6% for the nearly half a million annuitants in TRS. This constitutional amendment also extends beyond teachers and includes bus drivers, custodians, and cafeteria staff as well.

In Austin. The third special session adjourned on Tuesday and the fourth special session immediately began. 

The House Select Committee on Educational Opportunity and Enrichment has voted to send House Bill 1 (school finance, teacher pay, and education savings accounts) and House Bill 2 (school safety) to the House floor for further consideration and likely amendments.

House Bill 2 would repeal the current school safety allotment in the FSP and replace it with a substantially larger ongoing formula grant program. The grant program would be funded via annual transfers from a new constitutionally dedicated state school safety fund (established in HJR 1).

The grant would provide funding based on a weight of .01 applied to a student count that is an enrollment-based regular program count (remember that regular program ADA excludes special education and career and technology FTEs). To this, the formula would add:

(A) $50,000 for each district or school campus with 500 or fewer enrolled students;

(B) $100,000 for each district or school campus with 501 to 1,000 enrolled students;

(C) $150,000 for each district or school campus with 1,001 to 1,500 enrolled students;

(D) $175,000 for each district or school campus with 1,501 to 2,000 enrolled students; and

(E) $200,000 for each district or school campus with more than 2,000 enrolled students.

The bill provides for the formulas to generate up to $1.1 billion per year. In addition, TEA could receive up to $250 million per year in grant dollars on top of the formula-based grants, depending on the availability of funds.

It is anticipated that both of these bills will be considered on the House floor next week.

The Senate began the 4th called Special Session right where they left off during the 3rd called Special Session. They sent Senate Bill 1 (education savings accounts) and Senate Bill 2 (teacher pay and school finance) back to the House. These bills appear unchanged from the last time they were passed by the Senate.

This week is definitely going to be an interesting one in the Capital as the debate between School Choice and School funding will be playing out as anticipated. There will be many lengthy discussions and only time will tell as to whether a compromise can be reached. I have alluded to this as the “Hail Mary” of the session as the complexities of HB1, HB2, SB1, and SB2 only continue to grow. More to come…

The Spirit of 51 

This week the 51 Spirit Stick goes to our phenomenal Communications and Marketing Team. They continue to do phenomenal work staying ahead of all matters pertaining to effective communication, processing information requests, and highlighting accomplishments across the district. The team played an integral role in this year’s NEF Gala once again, which was a huge success.

Congratulations again to the 51 ISD Pillars of Character! You can learn more about each of them at: /community/pillars. Thank you to all of our sponsors for their generous support to make this event a huge success as well as our volunteers and NEF Board Members. And of course, a special thanks to all who attended and supported the NEF Gala this year. Awesome job Assistant Superintendent, Mr. Barry Perez, and the NISD Communications Team!

Have a great Thanksgiving Team 51. We will pick up the next edition of CUwC on Dec. 4th. Until then, enjoy your time with family and friends, and Thank you again for all your hard work.

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Happy Monday as we begin the 2-week countdown to Thanksgiving break!

Thank you Veterans

I wanted to take a moment to extend my sincere appreciation for those among us who have selflessly served our nation in the United States Armed Forces. Our Veterans and their families made sacrifices to ensure that we all continue to enjoy the freedoms and opportunities for which this great Nation has been built. Let this Veterans Day be a reminder that we must strive to make every day an occasion for gratitude, support, and unity, and let us forever remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the very fabric of our Republic is never threatened.  

National Native American Heritage Month

National Native American Heritage Month is celebrated each year in November. It is a time to celebrate the traditions, languages and stories of Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and affiliated Island communities and ensure their rich histories and contributions continue to thrive with each passing generation. This November and every month, we celebrate the culture and heritage of these remarkable Americans who deeply enrich the quality and character of our Nation. We celebrate Indian Country with its remarkable diversity of American Indian and Alaska Native cultures and peoples. 

Texas High School Coaches Day

In May, the Texas legislature passed a concurrent resolution designating Nov. 3 as Texas High School Coaches Day to recognize the commitment and hard work of coaches across the state who exert a positive influence on the development of young athletes. Our coaches serve as role models during students’ formative years and teach fundamental life lessons while instilling important values such as discipline, integrity, respect, teamwork, and good sportsmanship, helping to enrich the educational experience for all students. Thank you to all our Coaches for their commitment to excellence beyond the game! 

National School Psychologists Week

During the week of Nov. 6–10, 2023, schools nationwide will celebrate National School Psychology Week (NSPW) to highlight the critical work school psychologists do to help students thrive. This is a time to recognize and show appreciation for school psychologists who support students' learning and mental and behavioral health, promote positive and inclusive school climates, serve on school teams, and collaborate with families, teachers, and administrators to improve student outcomes.

National Merit Semifinalists and Commended Scholars

The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships that began in 1955. High school students enter the program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). 

National Merit Semifinalist:

  • Brandeis HS: Samuel Garcia and Orry Huang
  • ※DzԲԴǰ HS: Arnold Rojas

National Merit Commended:

  • Brandeis HS: Hanh Doan, Rishi Hariharaprasad, Ryan Jiang, Zack Ning, Blake Owens, Joshua Vera, and Ahmad Yahya.
  • Clark HS: Daniel Dori, Zachary Grotewold, Roman Pendleton, Audry Pomeroy, and Michael Weiner.
  • Health Careers HS: Hannah Bond, Ahvani Pant, Baala Shakya, Anusha Soni, and Jasreen Wadhwa.
  • ※DzԲԴǰ HS: Tanner Jackson and Liam Meister.
  • Sotomayor HS: Aditya Bhardwaj
  • Warren HS: Connor Driessel and Aryanna Ordonez.

For all the prestigious academic recognitions please check out the district link. 


From Around the 51

Brandeis Symphony Orchestra Scores Big! 

The Bronco Symphony Orchestra has been selected to perform at the 77th Annual Midwest Clinic International Band, Orchestra and Music Conference held in Chicago, Illinois this year. Only three high schools or orchestra programs are selected annually from around the world. Brandeis is the first NISD program to be selected. The clinic offers guests interested in music education an array of clinics and exhibits with more than 18,000 attendees from all 50 states and more than 40 countries. Congratulations Brandeis Orchestra Directors, students, parents, and staff for this tremendous accomplishment.  

Jay Mariachi Band and Brennan Vocal Jazz Group Perform at ASCD

Our C&I Team along with thousands of administrators from across the state had the opportunity to see our very own John Jay Mariachi band and Brennan Vocal Jazz group perform and they were nothing short of fantastic. Way to go Mustangs and Bears, you continue to make NISD proud and represent our community in an excellent fashion. 

Volleyball and Football Playoff Time

Congratulations to all of our NISD volleyball and football teams who clinched playoff spots. We had 6 volleyball teams qualify for the UIL playoffs and 6 football teams (first time in NISD history to qualify 6 teams). Good luck athletes and coaches, we are very proud of you! 

NISD Volleyball Playoff Teams 

  • Brandeis 
  • Harlan- *Advances
  • ※DzԲԴǰ- *Advances  
  • Clark
  • Brennan- * Advances  
  • Warren- *Advances   

Amazingly all 4 representatives of our Region Quarter Finals are 51 ISD Teams! The winners will advance to the Regional Tournament next Friday and Saturday hosted by SAISD. Come check out these ladies as they continue their quest toward a State Title. 

Regional Quarterfinals- Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023

  • Harlan vs Warren @ 51 Sports Gym – 5:30 pm
  • Brennan vs ※DzԲԴǰ @ 51 Sports Gym – 7:30 pm

*Gym will be cleared after the 5:30 pm match

Football Playoff Match-ups

Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023

  • Harlan vs Eagle Pass @ Farris Stadium – 7:00 pm
  • Brandeis vs Steele @ Lehnhoff Stadium – 7:00 pm

Friday, Nov. 10, 2023

  • Brennan vs Laredo United South @ Gus Stadium – 7:00 pm
  • Clark vs Judson @ Farris Stadium – 7:30 pm
  • Taft vs Laredo United @ Laredo United ISD SAC– 7:00 pm

Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023

  • Jay vs Laredo Alexander @ Laredo United ISD SAC – 3:00 pm


And of course, we can’t forget about our Middle School Football Championship Games

Wednesday 11/8/23 @ Farris Stadium

  • Jefferson (H) vs Bernal (V) – 5:00 pm
  • Straus (H) vs Briscoe (V) – 7:00 pm


Student Shadowing with Darian De la Garza

I had the pleasure of introducing Sophomore CAST TEACH student and “superintendent in the making” Darian De La Garza to what I do each day. He chose to shadow me the morning of Monday, October 30. He is competing in this year’s TAFE regional competition and needed to learn about the school superintendency. A part of the competition requires students to learn and observe how a superintendent conducts day-to-day operations for the district. We began with our Senior Staff leadership team meeting and then blasted off to a meeting at Colonies North ES pertaining to school safety initiatives to be supported by the City of San Antonio. After a quick bite, we jumped on two Zoom meetings (TEA Military Student Board meeting and a Bexar County Legislative meeting simultaneously.) I think Darian was surprised when I told him to take over one of the meetings while I presented information in the other. I explained the importance of learning the job by jumping in the deep end. Good luck Darian on your project and we look forward to you returning to the NISD Team as a math teacher in the near future!

Connally Middle School 25th Anniversary 

While much has changed at Connally Middle School in the last 25 years, there are many things that haven’t. It was great to celebrate with both current and former Coyote staff, students and parents. I especially enjoyed visiting with Linda Garcia who opened the school in 1998 and served for 10 years as the Principal and Jaime Liendo, who served as principal from 2017 to December 2018 upon retiring from NISD, but has since come back to us and is currently working as an Alternative Certification Teacher Coach. Special thanks to Connally Principal Andrew Drumm, Associate Principal Erica Robles, and Academic Dean Marie Zavala and the committee of teachers and staff who planned this wonderful ceremony for the community. It is no small feat to plan an event of this magnitude while juggling their regular duties and responsibilities. Conrad Hernandez, NISD Assistant Athletic Director and Science teacher when Connally opened, did a great job speaking and we appreciate Trustee Corinne Saldana for also supporting the event.  And all of the student performers were absolutely amazing. Great job Connally Coyotes and I can’t wait to see the next 25 years of Excellence!

John Jay Science and Engineering Academy Symposium

What an awesome display of innovation and ingenuity. I learned so much Saturday morning from our students and judges alike. I truly appreciated the effort and thought our students put into their projects. I learned so much in just a short amount of time from wind powered thrusters to automated, solar powered windshield shades, it was truly remarkable. I want to thank the Science and Engineering Academy Principal, Crystal Mitchell and her amazing staff for the organization and support of the event. This was truly humbling being a former science teacher, and I can't wait to see some of these products hit the market in the future. (We will be chuckling… I remember when that was just an idea…) Great job. JSEA students! 

Food Bank Information  

With the upcoming Holiday season, it remains vital that our families do not suffer from food insecurity. Food Bank distributions will continue at Gus Stadium (8:30-10:00 AM) on Nov. 17, Dec., and Dec. 14. 

Each December the Food Bank works with the Harvey Najim Foundation to schedule food distributions prior to Christmas week.  Currently, we are seeing about 1,200 families get food at our bi-weekly distributions. A distribution is scheduled on Thursday, Dec 14 at Gus Stadium. This is during the high school exam week for the semester, thus there will not be student volunteers present.  If an NISD department can assist with this distribution it would be greatly appreciated.

Sign up as a volunteer by visiting the . 

Legislative Update 

Governor Abbott said multiple times that he would only expand the agenda of the current special legislative session after a voucher bill has passed. The House has still not scheduled a hearing for HB 1 nor have they referred the Senate voucher bill (SB 2) to a committee. Chairman Buckley has previously signaled that he would not hear a voucher bill in his committee until the agenda was expanded to include school funding and teacher pay.  The Governor shortly thereafter expanded the agenda this week to include school funding and teacher pay.  See his statement and proclamation .  Notably, the House has met since the agenda was expanded and still no movement on the education bills.  Chairman Buckley has stated that he senses there is not enough time left in this session (which ends on Nov. 7) to get it done.  Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has proclaimed that the House should not move on Buckley’s bill (HB 1) at this point and should instead move on SB 2 which has already passed one chamber. There remains tension between the two chambers regarding ESAs/Vouchers and Public School Funding. The third special session is scheduled to adjourn on Tuesday and it is anticipated that A FOURTH special session will be forthcoming. 

Final Reminder for Election Day

Election Day is Nov. 7. Visit to see hours and locations. Additional election information can be found at VoteTexas.Gov. Fourteen constitutional amendments are on the ballot, including one that addresses a Cost of Living Adjustment for retired teachers. A resource that I find to be of great help in reviewing what’s on the ballot is the League of Women Voters Voting Guide which can be found at .  

Thank you to all who have helped to cultivate a culture of voting by spreading the word on social media using #NISDVotes and #TxEdVotes!

Once again…The Spirit of 51 

I had the pleasure of visiting Hector Garcia Middle School for Career Day Friday morning, and the Gladiators were amazingly attentive and inquisitive. Over 1,400 students had the opportunity to learn from over 60 individuals as they presented their careers. While I didn't convince any middle school students to become a Superintendent later in life, I had a blast visiting with students, staff, and community members. Thanks again to Head Counselor Julie Minnis for organizing the event and to Dr. Lopez and the entire Gladiator staff for making the event such a success. And Mr. Bailey, please reiterate to your band students my appreciation and assure them that I am in fact not the Grinch of NISD.  

Make it a great week and don’t forget about those who pack our parachutes! 

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Good Morning TEAM 51!

It is hard to believe that we are approaching the end of the month with Halloween already upon us. I hope the much cooler start to the week finds you healthy and rested. As a reminder, flu season is expected to be rough this year and vaccines remain available across a multitude of venues. Please remember, it is important to take care of yourself and your loved ones. I hope you have a Happy Halloween and welcome to the month of Giving Thanks.  

From Around the 51

15th Annual NISD Bowling Tournament/Kickoff. We had an awesome kick-off to this year’s High School Bowling League on Monday. It was great to see all of our high school students, cheerleaders, campus leadership, and parents supporting our students. It has been referenced that 75% of our student bowlers do not participate in any other campus-related activities. We greatly appreciate our campus sponsors/coaches and their efforts to keep students engaged and academically focused. We also want to thank Bandera Bowling Center and former Trustee Lynn Britton and current Trustees Saldana and Harle for supporting the kickoff and for their continued support of NISD Bowlers.  

Hobby Middle School Red Ribbon Pep Rally. The Hobby Hawks showed up in spirit on Wednesday and Principal Carranco and Ms. McGhee were ready to rock (literally Mr. Carranco used AC/DC as his walk-up song) and the students were incredibly excited and awake at 7:45 a.m. It was great to see all of the Hobby student groups perform and a special thanks is in order to the Clark High School athletes and cheerleaders, who showed up bright and early to support the event. While I was a little surprised the students beat the staff in the balloon popping contest, our teachers and coaches put forth a gallant effort. Great job Hawks.   

Thrill a Mill. Congratulations again to our Fine Arts Department whose students raised 5,629 lbs. of food for the SA Food Bank over the course of the two-day event! Thanks again to our students and staff for supporting this very important cause and your willingness to give your time to help others in need.

Thrill a Mill Superman
Thrill a Mill Dancers
Thrill a Mill Zombies

Leon Valley Elementary Bienenstock Natural Outdoor Classroom Unveiling. Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds joined us at Leon Valley Elementary School on Thursday for the dedication of the outdoor classroom. The Canadian-based company remains committed to creating healthier, more equitable communities with innovative natural playgrounds and parks. Leon Valley Elementary School applied to the National competition and won not only the outdoor learning space furniture, but also additional trees to be planted to complement the outdoor learning space. Congratulations to Principal Jessica Ruiz and the staff of Leon Valley ES.  Trustee Saldana and I were so excited to see the addition to Leon Valley and we know the new furniture will be put to good use in the very near future. 

※DzԲԴǰ High School 25th Anniversary. We celebrated one of three NISD campuses’ 25th Anniversary on Thursday evening with students, staff, alumni, and Panther community members. It is hard to believe, but Sandra Day ※DzԲԴǰ opened its doors in the middle of the “country” (which is actually the geographic center of the district) when there were only 60 campuses and approximately 60,000 students.  A “Village Concept” was selected for the design of the school over a single, large structure. And according to documents from the time, the complex was to maintain a low building scale and retain the German architectural character of early Texas construction. It included a competition gym to relieve scheduling conflicts at Paul Taylor Field House (the only competition gym in the district at the time). The student performances were amazing and it was great to celebrate with those in attendance who cultivated the Panther spirit from the very beginning. Thanks again to Trustees Harle, Blount, and Saldana for supporting the festive event and Congratulations ※DzԲԴǰ, and I will argue, the best is yet to come!

Mary Hull Elementary Red Ribbon Parade. The parade is back at Mary Hull Elementary after taking a hiatus since 2019. The Red Ribbon parade had been a two decades-plus tradition and once again parents and neighbors lined the streets near the school with chairs and strollers to watch the festivities.  John Jay High School students showed up in force to support the event and the band, ROTC Color Guard, cheerleaders, orchestra, electric strings, and athletes were an amazing support. It was great to see the students and staff all dressed in red demonstrating their commitment to keeping drugs out of their school and community. It was also great meeting Mr. Roberto Zarate, the first Principal of Mary Hull Elementary, now Chairman of the Board for Alamo Colleges. Thank you to Ms. Noriega, Ms. Montoya, and the Mary Hull ES staff for your support and determination to help keep students safe and drug-free. 

Brandeis High School Water Polo.  Brandeis coach Megan Perez had the Broncos eager to win another State Championship, but this time in water polo. The Lady Broncos came up a little short against the defending 6A Champion Foster High School, but earning a bronze medal is no small feat. The ladies competed hard all season and I know we will see continued success in the future.  Congratulations, Broncos!

Brandeis Water Polo team

Legislative Update The special session is scheduled to end Nov. 7 and Governor Abbott has declared he is willing to call a fourth special session if necessary to once again try to push vouchers/ESA’s across the finish line. House Bill 1 still stands in limbo until an expanded call to the agenda to include school funding/teacher compensation is made, which does not look likely within this third special session at this point. It does not appear a compromise is within reach, unfortunately. We will continue to track any movement or changes in the coming days/weeks.   

Meanwhile, a district judge in Travis County handed down an injunction on Thursday prohibiting TEA from issuing accountability ratings for the 2022-2023 school year.

A few key takeaways from the judge’s order: 

  • The judge ruled in the plaintiffs' favor to grant an injunction until further notice/results of a trial.
  • The trial will be in February of 2024.
  • TEA can’t release any ratings until further notice or after potential trial results. 
  • The TEA Commissioner has filed an appeal to lift the injunction. 

It remains important to maintain perspective on this matter. 51 ISD and most other districts in Texas support high expectations and accountability for meeting academic standards. However, districts, campuses, teachers, parents, and students all deserve to know the rules put in place for accountability prior to a school year commencing, to allow the opportunity to meet the goals/expectations established. The Texas Education Agency should provide these rules/standards well before the academic year begins. While news of the injunction provides some insight as to what we can expect from an accountability front in the near future, we will need to remain diligent in our continuous improvement efforts as I anticipate the lull in the academic accountability system to be short. We will continue to work to improve student achievement regardless of an accountability system, as we recognize the importance of ensuring our students are provided the highest quality education possible.   

Get out the vote and the “I Voted Challenge”

Don’t forget - this Friday is the last day of early voting.  Election Day is Nov. 7.  and it was quick and easy!  Visit to see hours and locations. Additional election information can be found at VoteTexas.Gov.

Fourteen constitutional amendments are on the ballot, including one that addresses a Cost of Living Adjustment for retired teachers. A resource that I find to be of great help in reviewing what’s on the ballot is the League of Women Voters Voting Guide which can be found at .  

Thank you to everyone who has already participated in the “I Voted” challenge by snapping a selfie or a photo of your “I Voted” sticker and sharing it on social media along with the hashtags #NISDVotes and #TxEdVotes! Staff, campuses, and departments are still encouraged to share the graphic below over the course of the voting period.

Dr. Craft and Ben Muir voting early
I voted challenge

Once again…The Spirit of 51 

Colonies North Elementary hosted their annual Parade of Nations and did a phenomenal job. Ms. Norma Farrell and the Colonies North staff did not let the inclement weather stand in the way of celebrating their students' diverse cultures and heritages across 32 nations. As Trustee Harle put it best “Wouldn’t this be awesome if our whole Nation acted the way our students and staff did at this event.” So true. Thank you, Colonies North for remaining inclusive and providing a safe place for all students of all cultures to come and thrive each day! You are a testament to the fabric of our 51. 

Have a Great Week, Team! 

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Good Morning TEAM 51!

Red Ribbon Week. Welcome to Red Ribbon Week NISD. As we educate students about the harmful effects of drugs and substance abuse, I felt it was also important to reflect on the heritage of how the movement began. 

Beginning in 1985, the Red Ribbon has touched the lives of millions of people around the world. In response to the murder of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena, angered parents and youth in communities across the country began wearing Red Ribbons as a symbol of their commitment to raise awareness of the killing and destruction caused by drugs in America. In 1988 the National Family Partnership (NFP) sponsored the first National Red Ribbon Celebration. Today, the Red Ribbon serves as a catalyst to mobilize communities to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention activities.

Thank you for making this week a meaningful one for students! 

From Around the 51

Mayor Nirenberg Update. I had the pleasure of receiving an update from our Mayor of San Antonio, Ron Nirenberg, on Tuesday and there are some very exciting developments forthcoming for our community. In the event you have not heard, the San Antonio International Airport (SAT) will be offering seasonal, nonstop flights to Europe beginning May 17, 2024. Condor Airlines will fly to Frankfurt Airport (FRA) in Germany, which connects to dozens of destinations throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and India. This is a pretty significant accomplishment as it will open a new sector for international travel, business, and commerce. The initial flights are already booked and sold out. This will only enhance cultural, historic, tourism, military, and business ties to San Antonio, which is very exciting. 

Also reported, JCB, Inc. will build a new facility to produce telescopic handlers and aerial work platforms in San Antonio. The project is expected to create more than $265 million in capital investment and bring more than 1,500 jobs to the San Antonio area.  

Student Voice Committee Kickoff. We had the opportunity to meet with the first half of our Seniors from all of our High School/magnet programs this past week. We will meet with our other half of amazing students today. The purpose of the 51 ISD Student Voice Committee is to provide the 51 Leadership Team insight, from the student perspective, on the day to day activities, procedures, and current events taking place on campus. The Student Voice Committee (SVC) will serve as an advisory role to the Superintendent, the Deputy Superintendents, the Board of Trustees, and 51 leadership. The primary mission of the Student Voice Committee remains to help develop life-long learners and promote the 51 goals by seeking and valuing student input on areas that impact academic programs, student achievement, a safe and healthy learning environment, and social, emotional, and behavioral health. We have amazing students, and it is truly gratifying to learn about our students experiences through our SVC committee meetings. 

CAST Teach Ribbon Cutting. Last Wednesday, we celebrated the official opening of the brand new CAST Teach building. As the ribbon was officially cut, CAST Teach students not only have a beautiful campus adjoining Stevens High School, but a laboratory for our future educators to be able to learn, receive hands-on experiences, and further fulfill their dreams of becoming future educators in NISD very soon! It was a great evening to celebrate with our Stevens High School and CAST Teach families, students, and staff!

Be Well, Stay Well Event at Stinson Middle School. The annual “Be Well, Stay Well” Wellness Event was held this past Saturday and we had a great turnout. Our Whole Child department delivered an array of fun and informational activities which included a rock wall, tasty food trucks, yoga, and Zumba classes as well as de-stressing classes for employees to utilize acquired skill sets in times of need. Thanks again to Dr. Kimberly Ridgley, Assistant Superintendent of the Whole Child Development, Mary Libby, Director of Counseling Services and their amazing staff for organizing this event. We also appreciate all of the support from our local businesses and health related services for supporting the event!

ESports Middle School Qualifier. We realize how important it is for our students of all ages to be involved in school activities. All of our member middle schools engaged in the qualifier competition Saturday and the 51 Activity Center was abuzz! Esports Gaming allows student teams to play popular games against other middle schoolers while developing real-world skills like teamwork, communication, and critical thinking – all taking place in a safe and supportive environment, designed specifically to make gaming a fun competition and it was great to visit with many of our students and families who had very positive reviews to share. It was especially rewarding to hear how the Esports league has helped students maintain their grades and excitement for representing their campuses. Thanks again to all of our Esports campus and 51 sponsors for making this such a successful program.  

Battle of the Two Undefeateds. John Jay vs. Harlan. The stands were full at Farris Stadium Saturday night as two of our undefeated football teams met in a highly contested competition. It was an electric atmosphere as both teams competed extremely well moving (very quickly) up and down the field. And while only one team can claim victory (congratulations Harlan Hawks!), it is always great to see student athletes working together, overcoming adversity, and competing at a high level…skills that will carry athletes forward in life for years to come. Congratulations to both teams and coaches as a tremendous amount of work goes into preparing for competitions each week. 

Benefits and Insurance. This is your last reminder to make sure Buddy has appropriate pet insurance! ACTIVE enrollment ends Friday, October 27th. As previously announced…The first Department or Campus to reach 100% enrollment status earns a free lunch provided by our very own HR team. Be sure to enroll for Health Insurance and Benefits!

Special Session Legislative Update

As a reminder, The Texas Senate previously passed two education bills earlier in the current Special Session: SB 1 which creates a sweeping Education Savings Account (ESA) aka voucher program that utilizes public dollars for private education, and SB 2 which puts additional dollars into public education and provides a teacher retention payment to eligible teachers (teachers in districts with less than 5k students would receive $10,000, while teachers in districts like NISD with more than 5k students would receive $3,000.) 

SB2 is not currently expected to advance as teacher pay and school funding were NOT part of the Governor’s agenda for the Special Session. The Governor has stated that he will add these two items to the agenda only if/after the legislature passes an ESA/voucher bill. If you’ve heard education advocates say that “teacher pay is being held hostage,” this is the scenario being referenced. 

On Thursday evening House Public Education Committee Chairman, Brad Buckley (R-Killeen), filed the much anticipated omnibus bill, . As filed, the 184-page bill addresses "primary and secondary education, including the certification, compensation, and health coverage of certain public school employees, the public school finance system, special education in public schools, the establishment of an education savings account program, measures to support the education of public school students that include certain educational grant programs, reading instruction, and early childhood education, the provision of virtual education, and public school accountability."  In a nutshell, the bill combines a myriad of issues by including an ESA/voucher provision as well as increased funding for teacher pay and school funding, accountability/A-F reforms, and more. The increased funding specified in this bill does not meet the minimum dollar amount needed to simply adjust for inflation since 2019.

The House Public Education Committee is not expected to meet to consider the Bill as Chairman Buckley previously articulated, "We can't do anything until (the governor) expands the call." (Note: “expanding the call” means adding more items to the agenda.) Please stay tuned for more information. 

Worth noting - a primary election for many members of the Texas legislature will take place in just a few short months. Unfortunately, turnout in primary elections has historically been EXTREMELY low in Texas, meaning a very small number of voters are essentially getting to decide who is elected. With that in mind….

Get out the Vote and the “I Voted Challenge.”

Today marks the first day of Early Voting, and as always, I encourage you to not only make sure that YOUR voice is heard at the ballot box, but to also aid in fostering a culture of voting within our community. Early voting runs through Nov. 3, and Election Day is Nov. 7. The 51 Activity Center is an early voting site. There is only one weekend of early voting - Saturday, Oct. 28, and Sunday, Oct. 29. Visit to see hours and locations, and make a plan to vote today by marking it on your calendar to be sure it gets done! Additional election information can be found at VoteTexas.Gov.

Fourteen constitutional amendments are on the ballot, including one that addresses a Cost of Living Adjustment for retired teachers. A resource that I find to be of great help in reviewing what’s on the ballot (without being confusing and complicated) is the . 

Everyone loves a good “I Voted” selfie on social media, so we are going to utilize that as a tool to help build excitement as we cultivate a culture of voting. Please join in the fun by snapping a selfie or a photo of your “I Voted” sticker and sharing it on social media along with the hashtags #NISDVotes and #TxEdVotes! Staff, campuses, and departments are encouraged to share the graphic below over the course of the voting period (today through Nov. 7) to help build that excitement. 

Once again…The Spirit of 51 

So, this week is a bit different (as they all are). I caught word of a friendly competition between two campuses with a PTA membership drive. Aue and Ellison went head to head in an effort to boost PTA membership!

At the end of the competition, both schools were winners!  Ellison's PTA membership went up from 50% last year to 144% this year!  Aue's PTA membership went up from 100% last year to 156% this year!

Congratulations to Ellison Principal Julie Meneses and Aue Principal Ursula Silberschlag and of course the staff members at both campuses who make it happen each and every day! 

Have a great week NISD!

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Good Morning TEAM 51!

National School Bus Safety Week. Let me begin by celebrating our hard-working employees in our Transportation Department as we recognize National School Bus Safety Week. Each year
this week remains an excellent way for parents, students, teachers, motorists, school bus operators, school administrators, and other interested parties to join forces and address the
importance of school bus safety. Thank you again to all of our NISD Transportation employees for all you do to keep students and patrons safe each and every day.

Around the 51.

NEF Golf Tournament. It was great to see all our golfers supporting the 51 Education Foundation and NISD. It was an absolutely gorgeous morning as over 100 prepared to tee off.
Many thanks to all the players and teams for coming out to support a great cause! Student golfers from Brandeis and ※DzԲԴǰ added an exciting new component to the tournament by giving
teams the opportunity to play off of their incredible drives. We want to especially thank our sponsors as well as our Partnerships Department for making the event so successful.

Joint Legislative Press Conference - On Thursday we had the opportunity to engage with our State and Local Delegates representing the Bexar County area to support public education. We want to especially thank Representative Martinez Fischer for inviting myself and Trustees Saldana and Freeman to demonstrate solidarity in support of our public education teachers, schools, and students. We appreciate the continued support of our hometown elected officials. Our public schools remain the backbone of our community, providing quality education to all students, regardless of their background or circumstances. They are the bedrock of our democracy and a cornerstone of equal opportunity. We will continue to remain proactive in standing up for what is right.

Breaking Barriers and Empowering Change.

I had the opportunity to engage and present with our partners from Alamo Colleges, professors, and district/high school staff on Saturday morning at the Dual Credit, College, and Career Readiness School Models (CCRSM) Conference. I have attached the keynote address for those interested, but it was a great conference for attendees to receive updates about the state of dual credit across Texas, as well as gain practical strategies for helping our own dual credit students succeed. The embedded in the presentation is worth checking out as it stars several of our very own NISD students discussing the impact Dual Credit has had on their lives. Thank you again to Alamo Colleges for the opportunity and for their continued partnership.
(The link is located in the title of the slide, Breaking Barriers and Empowering Change Through Dual Credit)

Wanke Elementary School Solar Eclipse.

While I was out and about on Saturday I stopped by to see the Wolves preparing for the annular eclipse. I was not quite prepared to journey through the Wanke Woods to get to the event (what a cool outdoor space), but it was well worth the journey. The activity field was full of students playing, parents organizing the chaos, and Mr. Rendon (PTA President) grilling hundreds of hot dogs, all in preparation for the event. Thank you, Principal Sanchez and Associate Principal Weissler for the exciting enrichment opportunity, and for all your hard work in supporting your students and families.

Friendly Reminders.

Benefits and Insurance. ACTIVE enrollment ends Friday, October 27th. Time is running out, so be sure to take care of logging in and selecting benefits.

Mark your Calendars (October 21st) for the 4th Annual Be Well, Stay Well Event. Our Be Well, Stay Well program for the 2023-2024 year is live. 51 employees are free to sign up for sessions. to be in a healthy state of mind, body, and soul.

Legislative Update.

Special Session
The Texas Senate passed two education bills last week as expected: SB 1 which creates a sweeping Education Savings Account (ESA), aka voucher program, and SB 2 which puts additional dollars into public education (but still nowhere close to what is needed to address inflation).

Senate Bill 1
SB 1 was approved in the Senate with an 18-13 vote. It creates an $8,000 ESA (voucher) for eligible students that would begin in the 2024-2025 school year. Families could access the money to pay for private school tuition or other expenses such as uniforms, textbooks, tutoring, or transportation, among others. Students would receive an ESA if they are eligible to attend public school and either:

  • were enrolled in a public school for at least 90% of the preceding school year,
  • are enrolling for the first time in Pre-K or Kindergarten,
  • attended a private school full-time for the preceding school year, or
  • was a homeschooled student the preceding school year.

The Senate adopted a handful of amendments on the floor. The Texas Association of School Business Officials reports that the amendments would:

  • allow the comptroller to advertise the program and to provide the comptroller with additional tools for enforcing rules; 
  • allow current home-schooled students access to the program;
  • collect demographic information about program applicants and participants;
  • limit providers to those operating inside Texas; and
  • provide for hold harmless funding for districts with fewer than 5,000 students who experience a loss of enrollment due to the program ($10,000 per student for the first three years after the child leaves the program).

The ESA bill faces an uncertain future in the House, where the main voucher bill is expected to be filed early this week. It is critical that public education remains united in opposing the subsidizing of public dollars to support private and home schools.

Senate Bill 2
The Senate also voted 30-1 in favor of Senate Bill 2. This legislation increases the Basic Allotment by $75 per student (note that an increase of $1,100 is needed to adjust for inflation since 2019), puts another $400 million into the school safety allotment, and provides funding for a $3,000 bonus in the current fiscal year for districts with more than 5,000 students and $10,000 for districts with fewer than 5,000 students. The funding is intended to serve as a bonus in FY 2024 and then would continue to flow as an allotment and be distributed as salary beginning in FY 2025.

In total, SB 2 puts an additional $5.2 billion into public schools, including the $4 billion that was set aside and not spent during the regular session earlier this year. Reminder that just to account
for inflation, an investment of $14 billion into the Basic Allotment is needed. It remains a bit early to know how the House will respond to this legislation, although House leaders have been working on their own bill that will not only address choice but also public school finance.

We will continue to communicate that widespread choice already exists within the public school system, that private schools are not accountable for their academic or fiscal performance, and that other states have shown that the cost of ESA programs rises quickly and mostly benefits students who are already in private schools.

Once again…The Spirit of 51 

Seeing that it is School Bus Safety Week, I wanted to recognize a team that truly works behind the scenes (well under the hood mostly.) Our Transportation Department Mechanics do fantastic work keeping our vehicles on the road and safe. Thank you for all you do!

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Good Morning TEAM 51!

As our Deputy Superintendent for Administrative Services, Ray Galindo (AKA 51 Meteorologist) recently promised, temperatures have actually dropped to a point that our clothes are not immediately sticking to our bodies upon walking outdoors…. And it actually rained. Hallelujah. Hopefully, you have had the opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy some weekend activities. I won’t venture into the Texas/OU College Football rivalry from the weekend other than it was a fun game to watch!

NISD celebrates Principals Month! We do want to wish our Campus Principals a Happy National Principals Month! Serving as a Principal is one of the greatest jobs in the world… It can also be one of the most challenging. I cannot articulate how proud and Thankful I am to serve alongside some of the hardest working professionals in NISD who continuously support our students, staff, and communities. Please join me in showing our appreciation for all of our Principals throughout 51 ISD.  

National School Lunch Week! The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) serves nearly 30 million children every school day. President John F. Kennedy created National School Lunch Week (NSLW) in 1962 to promote the importance of a healthy school lunch and the impact it can have on students' ability to learn each day. Thank you to Mr. Wherry and our entire School Nutrition Team for continuously providing the nourishment our students so desperately need. Here’s tipping my hat to you all! Well done.

Texas Human Resources Day. October 13, 2021, has been designated as Texas Education Human Resources Day, a day set aside to recognize and honor the important contributions made by HR staff throughout the State. Our HR staff have worked hard to make sure our schools are staffed with high quality employees and that those employees have a good work environment. Thank you to Ben Muir and our HR Department for their continued support and hard work. 

Around the 51…It was a very eventful first week of October throughout 51 ISD. 

Ag in Action. I had the amazing opportunity to visit our Ag Science & Technology Academy (ASTA) at O'Connor High School as they hosted the annual “Ag in Action” for more than 1,400 elementary school students. Many of our High school FFA students served as teachers throughout the week teaching students about horses, drones, dairy farming, shearing lambs, and many more agriculture skills tying curriculum with real-world applications. It was a great experience for both our high school and elementary students and educators alike. A special thanks to Chad Bohlken, Principal

A Cut Above at CCA. Construction Careers Academy plumbing teacher John Alvarez was congratulated on Tuesday as a national winner in the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence awards. He received $50,000 -- $35,000 for his school and $15,000 for himself.

Alvarez was one of 25 skilled trades teachers chosen nationwide for this award. It was a great celebration complimented by the Warren High School Band and Cheerleaders and many CCA students and staff. Congratulations Mr. Alvarez and Thank you to Harbor Freight for their continued support.  

Another Celebration at John Jay HS. We also had the opportunity to surprise Ms. Brandee Flores for her selection as the KSAT Educator of the Month. Ms. Flores is the current College Career and Military Advisor for the campus. It was great to visit with six of her former students, all in school at various higher education institutions in the Region. In visiting with these recent Jay graduates, they all agreed that without Ms. Flores guidance and support, they would not be in the position of pursuing post-secondary education endeavors. That was a great reminder of the impact a teacher has on young people's lives as well as the true “why.” Thanks again to KSAT and Firstmark Credit Union for their support. Congratulations Ms. Flores, you are an inspiration to us all!

NISD School Safety Forum.  We had the opportunity to engage with our community to discuss the importance of being educated and aware of significant health risks and safety issues surrounding vape and fentanyl. We appreciate the families and community members who took time out of their busy schedules to join us and we especially appreciate our presenters DEA Agent, Armando Telementez, U.S. Assistant 51 Attorney, Erin Van De Walle, and our very own NISD Police Department. Also, Special Thanks to Mary Libby, our Director of Counseling for organizing the event. We must continually collaborate and engage with our entire community to educate and mitigate the viciousness and havoc drugs can wreak on our students.   

Alamo Area Association For Supervision and Curriculum Development. I enjoyed being a guest panelist with our AAASCD Chapter here in Bexar County. We had the opportunity to discuss many important public education issues including funding, calendars, staffing, accountability, and innovation to name a few topics. It was great to hear the perspectives of other Alamo Region Instructional Leaders, and I feel it is important we all continuously commit to lifelong learning.
One of our hopes for this panel is that you will be able to provide a perspective on how you and your district are navigating through a variety of pressing topics. 

Bands on the Run. Coming to Farris Stadium on Wednesday, Oct 11 will be our very own NISD Marching Bands beginning at 6:30 PM. All 12 High School Marching Bands will perform in one location back to back, and are sure to provide amazing show designs, incredible visuals, beautiful music, and some very "high velocity" marching. Please come out to see some of our very talented performers and witness the hard work our bands have put in over the past several months. Good Luck to all Marching Bands.

Friendly Reminders

Benefits and Insurance. ACTIVE enrollment ends Friday, October 27th. Take advantage of the opportunity to make online selections for plan year 2024. You can enroll via Bswift.  Anyone needing assistance with insurance selections and/or enrollment are encouraged to attend one of the many Enrollment Fairs.  Representatives from the insurance companies will be available to answer questions and provide information about plans and services. The 2024 Benefits Guide contains important information and pricing for the upcoming calendar year.  

Mark your Calendars (October 21st) for the 4th Annual Be Well, Stay Well Event Our Be Well, Stay Well program for the 2023-2024 year is live. 51 employees are free to sign up for sessions. Join in our campaign to be in a healthy state of mind, body and soul. Click the Link for the Program

Legislative Update

Special Session 
Governor Greg Abbott issued a proclamation announcing the third special legislative session to begin at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, October 9, 2023.

The agenda items for the third Special Session are as follows:

  • Education savings accounts
  • Criminal offense for illegal entry into the state from a foreign nation
  • Increasing penalties for smuggling of persons or operation of a stash house
  • Provide more funding for construction of border barrier
  • Legislation concerning Colony Ridge development in Liberty County
  • Prohibiting COVID-19 vaccine mandates by private employers

View the .

We will remain very engaged as the debate involving public education funding, teacher compensation, and school choice/privatization begins this week. I anticipate the process to be arduous and without easy resolution nor compromise to these very complex issues. We will provide necessary updates and are committed to advocating for Public Education in 51 as well as across the State of Texas.  

Voting  The League of Women Voters has released their November election Voting Guide. This document is a non-partisan, very informative resource for learning about the constitutional amendments that will be on the Nov. 7 ballot. Visit to view or download the guide. Today is the last day to register to vote in this election! Please help remind friends, family, eligible students, colleagues, and community members to register to vote today. Early voting runs from Oct. 23 - Nov. 3. 

Now for the Best Part…The Spirit of 51 

These individuals rarely get the recognition they deserve working behind the scenes, insanely early hours, and many times very warm workspaces to ensure our students are fed and able to learn each and every day. In many cases, they are providing the only source of food security some of our students know. Our amazing and loving School Nutrition Staff throughout our campuses and 51 could not be more deserving as I think you will agree. Please join me in appreciating these fine men and women. Thomas Wherry, the NISD Spirit Stick is headed your way!

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Good Morning TEAM 51!

I hope this message finds you well as we welcome the month of October! Temperatures actually dropped below triple digits and hopefully, the cooler weather has provided a little shot of energy to each of you.  

Around the 51

National Custodial Appreciation Day. Today October 2, we are celebrating National Custodian Appreciation Day. We are so appreciative of our hard-working custodians across the district. In many cases, they are working while the rest of us are sleeping. Today, we recognize the hard work that it takes to keep our facilities clean and inviting, so please help me in recognizing our men and women who diligently make sure we have schools and workplaces that are places where learning can thrive and students and staff can be successful.  

Board Meeting Highlights on Tuesday, September 26. Speaking of appreciation…We had a very productive meeting with the Board of Trustees on Tuesday and I wanted to highlight a few points of acknowledgment and appreciation. 

We had the opportunity to recognize our KENS 5 Excel Awards Recipients Ms. Dominique Roose, social studies teacher at Folks Middle School, and John Jay Quarterback / soon-to-be Naval Academy Cadet, Jackson Gutierrez. Jackson missed part of his workout to be with the Board, but it appears to have worked out seeing that the John Jay Mustangs remain undefeated at 6-0 for the season. Go Mustangs and again Congratulations to both Jackson and Dominique.

Board President Bobby Blount was also recognized by the Delta Sigma Theta San Antonio Alumnae Chapter for his tremendous work and service throughout the community. Great work Mr. Blount and well-deserved! 
Declaration of Respect. Since 2012, students, faculty, and staff have taken time to participate in the signing of the NISD Declaration of Respect. This district-wide initiative encourages everyone to pledge to be respectful of each other, treat others with kindness, and report bullying and cyberbullying. On Oct. 6, 2023, we will hold the 12th annual 51-Wide Signing Day for students and staff. Our Counseling Department, led by Mary Libby, has done an excellent job of providing lessons and campus-wide activities that teach students how to demonstrate respect for themselves, others, and their schools. We also stress the importance of talking to a trusted adult about bullying and cyberbullying, or if they are worried about their own or someone else’s safety. This way, we all help in promoting a safe, respectful, and healthy school climate. The NISD Board of Trustees and I signed the Declaration at last week’s board meeting in an effort to demonstrate unity and support for this important initiative.   

Naming of M’Lissa M. Chumbley Elementary. M’Lissa Chumbley remains one of the longest serving Board members having been initially elected in 1995 and stepping down from board service earlier this year. In recognition of her incredible 28 years of service to the district, we are excited to share the naming of our next elementary school after her. M’Lissa M. Chumbley Elementary School is currently under construction in the Village of Westpointe West area and is set to open in the Fall of 2024. Please join me in congratulating Ms. Chumbley on this very significant acknowledgment. 

TASA/TASB Conference. Several Board Members, district administrators, and I attended the annual TASA/TASB conference this past week as a part of continued professional development. During the Texas School Alliance (TSA) luncheon at the Convention, recently “retired” (though he will tell you he’s just been re-purposed) NISD Superintendent Dr. Brian Woods received  the 2023 TSPRA Key Communicator State Award for his commitment to public education and advocacy work on behalf of public educators as well as recognized for his service as the 2022-23 TSA President. Kelly Rasti, our Executive Director for Community Outreach and 51 Advocacy, was also recognized for her tremendous work with legislators this past legislative session. As you well know, the legislative session of 2023 was a particularly challenging one for public education. As TSA President, Dr. Woods and Ms. Rasti helped to build consensus among 45 of the largest school districts in the state in order to develop and advance legislative priorities to support our students, teachers, and public education. We are blessed to have fighters like Dr. Woods and Ms. Rasti in our corner, and it was an honor to join in celebrating their work. 

TASB Delegate Assembly. We would also like to congratulate Trustee Karen Freeman for her tremendous work as a member of the TASB Board of Directors and Dr. Carol Harle for her service as our TASB Delegate. Thank you again for your continued service and volunteerism in your efforts to support public education across the state. 

It was a pleasure reconnecting with nationally acclaimed author and motivational speaker (and friend from my days at the University of North Texas) Damon West. If you have never heard Damon’s amazing story of how hope and learning to be a “Coffee Bean” while locked up in a maximum-security penitentiary forever changed his life, it is truly a remarkable story. Having gone to school with Damon and living with him in the late 90’s, it was great to reconnect after almost three decades. As Damon and I laughed, we could not have taken more different journeys in life, and to see us now is truly ironic. More information regarding his amazing story can be found on Amazon or other retailers “The Change Agent. How a Former College QB Sentenced to Life in Prison Transformed His World.”

TASA/TASB Architecture Award. We were also thrilled with the announcement that the 51 has received an architectural facility award. The Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) and Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) announced 46 projects that were included in the 2023-2024 Exhibit of School Architecture. This exhibit of new and renovated Texas school facilities includes projects from 38 school districts and three colleges that were submitted by 15 architectural firms. Our Sotomayor High School project, which was designed by Alamo Architects, has been selected for the “Wellness Award”. Congratulations to Leroy San Miguel and the entire Facilities Team!

Benefits and Insurance Reminder. Just another reminder that our annual enrollment for insurance benefits begins today, October 2, and ends Friday, October 27. Please take advantage of the opportunity to make online selections for plan year 2024. You can enroll via Bswift. Anyone needing assistance with insurance selections and/or enrollment are encouraged to attend one of the many Enrollment Fairs. Representatives from the insurance companies will be available to answer questions and provide information about plans and services. The 2024 Benefits Guide contains important information and pricing for the upcoming calendar year.  

Once again, this year will be an active enrollment so everyone MUST enroll/re-enroll in all insurance products. If you do not make any elections during Open Enrollment, you will not have insurance for the calendar year 2024. 

One Pass Gym Membership. I would also like to draw your attention to a very special benefit included with the United Health Plan options called One Pass Select. It is a voluntary program featuring a subscription-based nationwide gym network, digital fitness, and grocery delivery service. It provides discounted gym and fitness studio memberships, and digital fitness or grocery delivery services to our employees and families. For more information, please check out the link provided below.

or visit

Legislative Update. As expected, Governor Abbott has announced his intention to call a special legislative session on October 9 at 1 p.m. The Governor has made it abundantly clear that he intends to add “school choice” a.k.a. vouchers/private school subsidies to the agenda; in fact, it may be the only item on the agenda. I will have more to say about this matter when we see the actual language of the Governor’s proclamation. Stay tuned. 

This again is a reminder to register to vote by Oct. 10. Early voting runs from Oct. 23 - Nov. 3. It is vital to participate in the democratic process and fulfill our civic responsibility. Please let your voice be heard, and be sure to review the constitutional amendments on the ballot before you arrive at the polls. There are multiple resources online for you to access information about the ballot measures. I often find the League of Women Voters to be a helpful non-partisan election resource. You can also visit for election information.  

The Spirit of 51 

Finally, I felt it very important to recognize the hard work our very own NISD Police Department puts in on a daily basis to keep us safe and secure. The Board had the opportunity to recognize this work at the meeting last week, but I don’t know that words can ever truly articulate our sincere gratitude for our men and women supporting the shield and just how much they mean to all of us. Thank you again, Chief Carnes and all NISD Police officers for all you do!

Have a great week Team 51!

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

TASA/TASB Conference

Good Morning TEAM 51!

We are now officially in the “Fall” season as of Saturday and temperatures are expected to drop…Wait for it…. sub-100 degrees this week! While I know it might be tempting to break out the winter coats…you might consider keeping the short sleeves close…just in case. 

In all seriousness, it is hard to believe we are preparing to wrap up the first official month of the school year. As my mother always used to tell me as a child (and adult) “Time flies when you’re having fun.” I now respond with “It also flies when you’re busier than a chicken in a foxhole.” 

I hope you have settled in and are enjoying the year. And cooler temperatures are in the forecast… (as is Thanksgiving Break).  

Around the 51

 Brandeis High School NHS Induction. I really enjoyed the opportunity to witness 222 Broncos inducted into the National Honor Society. The student officers did a great job as did the Brandeis Administration. Great job Dr. Berger and Ms. McCraken.  I appreciate celebrating students' academic success as much as winning State Championships. Thanks again for making the event a special one for very deserving students.  

Sandra Day O'Connor Named Texas Honor Jazz Band. Speaking of significant accomplishments. Now, in year two of the new state recognition by the Texas Music Educators Association, Sandra Day ※DzԲԴǰ High School Jazz Band was selected as this year's Texas Honor Jazz Band.  I have since learned that jazz bands from across the State audition for this prestigious honor and in the inaugural year (‘22-’23) William Howard Taft High School was selected as the finest jazz band in Texas. What a tremendous accomplishment by both ※DzԲԴǰ and Taft High School Jazz Bands and to all the NISD instructors and directors who share in this success. Two schools within the same district since the recognition inception is impressive! Good luck to Panthers Jazz Band who will be performing at the upcoming TMEA conference.    

Hatchett Elementary Teacher Wins Big. Congratulations to Hatchett ES Art teacher, Marianna Sanchez, for winning a $4,000.00 prize for the Hatchett ES Art program. Americans for the Arts are the sponsors of this amazing  prize.  Check out the video.   Way to make this happen for our NISD students Marianna!

The 51 Education Foundation (NEF) Campaign Kicks Off! As a reminder the  51 Education Foundation (NEF) Giving Campaign is underway and anyone can donate. The district-wide goal is to raise $140,000 to help NEF award more grants to NISD educators. Employee donations can be made through . Anyone can make a one-time or recurring or text NEFFAN to 41444. NEF is offering monetary grants to campuses and departments with successful campaigns, as well as weekly gift cards to donors. Campuses and departments can also make their own of employee and community supporters. Please join me in supporting NEF and continuing to do great things for educators and students. NEF continues to exemplify what Team 51 is all about!

NISD celebrates America’s Heroes Week. Each year, 51 ISD honors members of the military (active duty and veterans) and first responders during America’s Heroes Week, Sept. 28 through Sept.30. Those with military ID or in uniform, including first responders, will receive free admission to all varsity football and volleyball games. Before the varsity football games at Farris and Gustafson stadiums, members of the military and first responders will be asked to go to the north end zone to be recognized during the performing of the patriotic song. During the halftime show, the marching bands from both schools will present a musical tribute to all branches of the military. 

Once again, we Thank all our NISD and Community active duty service members, veterans, and first-responders for their dedication and service. Please help spread the word so we can appropriately recognize these fine men and women. 

Benefits and Pet Insurance Reminder. The NISD annual enrollment for insurance benefits begins Monday, October 2 and ends Friday October 27th. Take advantage of the opportunity to make online selections for plan year 2024. You can enroll via .  Anyone needing assistance with insurance selections and/or enrollment are encouraged to attend one of the many .  Representatives from the insurance companies will be available to answer questions and provide information about plans and services. The contains important information and pricing for the upcoming calendar year.  

As a reminder…this year will be an active enrollment so everyone MUST enroll/re-enroll in all insurance products.  If you do not make any elections during Open Enrollment, you will not have insurance for the calendar year 2024. 

Thank you again for Choosing Team 51.  In case you haven’t heard, the check is in the mail (so to speak). We know you have a choice and we Thank You for choosing 51 ISD. As you may recall, the Board voted to recognize your hard work through an additional check that will be processed through each employee's financial institution on Sept. 29, 2023. Please be on the lookout as eligible employees will receive a direct deposit separate from their normal biweekly or monthly paycheck. Again, thank you for your hard work and for “sticking with us” Team 51!

Legislative Update

A lot has transpired in Austin over the past 2 weeks. 

On September 12th, TEA announced the delay of the release of A-F accountability ratings. It is unknown when or if these “recalculated” ratings might be released. Stay tuned.   

On Saturday, September 15th, the Senate voted to acquit Attorney General Paxton on all 16 articles of impeachment after the House voted overwhelmingly to impeach prior to sending the charges to the Senate Body. The Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, who served as the presiding judge of the trial, later criticized the House for the “handling” of the impeachment, offering it was rushed and he called for an audit of the House spending associated with the proceedings.

On Tuesday, September 20th, Governor Abbott joined an online event hosted by a conservative think tank, the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF). It was a precursor to an event that TPPF will be hosting on Sunday, October 15th being referred to as "School Choice Sunday." The following comments signify Governor Abbott’s intent to fund private school initiatives through a statewide Voucher, Education Savings Account, or other vehicle. 

  • Some schools in Texas today are trying to indoctrinate our children with a woke agenda, teaching them values that are morally at odds with Texans.
  • Polling data shows the majority of Texans want school choice, and we are obligated to provide that to them. We should have great success on this issue, but it is going to take hard work and a special session that will begin “next month”.
  • I feel the votes lining up, now we have to solidify them and get those votes across the finish line. The other alternative is to sort this out in the next primary by giving voters a pro-school choice candidate to run against those who stand in the way.
  • Ask pastors on the call to speak to their congregations on this issue and advocate for school choice at their service on Sunday, October 15.

I believe that parental choice regarding their child's education should be provided. I believe 51 ISD does just this through magnet programs, transfer programs, and the plethora of opportunities we provide students. Thus, I will remain opposed to the notion of funding private institutions at the detriment of public education. 

We have many issues that desperately need to be addressed such as the teacher vacancy crisis, staff salaries/compensation to help combat rising inflationary costs, addressing the educational needs of our evolving student population, and shifting demographics just to name a few. 

This is not the time to launch a private school initiative, regardless of the proposed scale. Public Education in the State of Texas needs our Legislators attention. We will remain vigilant in our efforts and in advocating for Public Education and the students who absolutely benefit as a result. The following statement was released to the media last week.

“It remains unfortunate that at a time when public education in the State of Texas desperately needs appropriate funding to support classroom teachers, maintain safe and secure campuses, address inflationary costs, and be able to recruit new professionals to the field, that the Governor would rather place a concerted effort on subsidizing private schools through "school choice" vouchers and/or education savings accounts. The legislative focus should be on the 350,000 educators and 5.4 million school children this great State is constitutionally obligated to provide quality public education services to, rather than the implementation of a private school coupon program, which will inevitably benefit very few students.” -John Craft

As a reminder to register to vote by Oct. 10 if you have yet to do so. Early voting runs from Oct. 23 - Nov. 3. It is vital to participate in the process and fulfill a civic responsibility. Please let your voice be heard.

Now for the Best Part…The Spirit of 51 

This week is a bit different in that one of 51’s P.E. Coaches made this nomination as a result of noting some really outstanding leadership being demonstrated on a daily basis. Coach Garcia noted the hard work and servant’s heart attitude of Principal Wendy Tiemann, Associate Principal Hannah Jackson, and the Tomlinson Elementary staff in going the extra mile to take care of all the young Trailblazers. 

Congratulations Joey Tomlinson Elementary Trailblazers. Keep Blazing the trail for your students!


John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Good Morning TEAM 51!

If you are like me, the beginning of new weeks is rolling around very quickly now. I wish you a Happy Monday as we Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Being relatively new to San Antonio, I have come to really appreciate the history, diverse cultures, and heritage which has largely contributed to making our community such a wonderful place to call home. I encourage us all as a district to not only embrace and celebrate our diverse learning community but to also take a moment to learn something new about the American Latino culture. 

Welcome back to the fourth edition of Catching Up with Craft and I hope this message finds you well.     

Around the 51 

KENS 5 Excel Awards Recipient. It was great to attend a middle school Pep Rally with the Folks Middle School Stallions! While I was not tasked with leading the spirit stick competition, we were able to recognize a very talented teacher. Mr. McKenzie, KENS 5 News Reporter Barry Davis, and I had the opportunity to surprise Dominique Roose, a phenomenal eighth grade Social Studies teacher in front of her students and colleagues. Congratulations Ms. Roose, the 2023-24 EXCEL Award winner for NISD!

Thank you to our Information Technology Team Members. September 19th is IT Professionals Day and we have about 250 IT Professionals that work throughout NISD each and every day to make sure students and staff can use the network and technology to collaborate, learn, and be successful. These fabulous team members tend to work behind the scenes and don't always get time in the spotlight. Thank you to our fabulous IT team and Happy National IT Professionals Day! You are greatly appreciated. 

NISD Board Retreat. The NISD Team of 8 had the opportunity to meet as a Team of 8 on Tuesday night to discuss not only how meetings and district business will be conducted, but also important initiatives to include the naming of the next Elementary Campus to be opened in the Village of Westpointe West (Fall of 2024), the scope of an Internal Audit Program, our Anti-Vaping initiatives, a 51-wide culture/climate survey to be launched this fall, and the initiation of a Leadership 51 program to garner community support. More information will be forthcoming, so please stay tuned. We remain fortunate to have a supportive Board that remains committed to continuous improvement and student success. 

Colonies North Cougars.  It was fantastic visiting with the Cougar staff and Principal Norma Farrell on Wednesday to discuss a very exciting opportunity for facility improvements. The Colonies North facility improvements, originally included in the 2022 Bond Proposal which our community graciously approved, included the first phase of facility improvements. Unfortunately, the original portion of the building’s foundation has significantly shifted requiring expedited attention. As a result, we met the staff and Citizen Bond Advisory Committee at Colonies North Elementary to present a revised plan to include addressing the classroom wing that has settled significantly. This will continue to be assessed and revisited with the Board of Trustees, but sometimes life gives you lemons, and you just have to work to make lemonade. Again, special thanks to the Colonies North Staff and 51 CBAC committee for their work on this revised scope of work, and we will continue to work to improve facilities while remaining transparent and vigilant in completing all bond projects going forward.  

CPS Roundtable. I had the opportunity to engage with City Public Service (CPS Energy) executives, the main power supply company servicing San Antonio, to discuss critical infrastructure needs existing today as well as in the future. While growth can be positive, it can also accompany challenges as discussed at Convocation. We will continue to remain engaged with our critical infrastructure providers and work to be the best partner we can be for our community’s benefit.   

KENS 5 All-Star Athlete Jay SEA Quarterback Jackson Gutierrez.  Congratulations to future Naval Academy cadet and John Jay Science and Engineering Academy High School student Jackson Gutierrez for winning the KENS5 All-Star Athlete Award for San Antonio. I know Coach Gutierrez, Ms. Cuellar-Hernandez, Ms. Mitchell, and the whole Mustang family are very excited for Jackson. The special story will air on KENS5/Great Day SA/ will be Friday, Sept. 22.

The Spirit of 51 

The competition is getting fierce for the NISD Spirit Stick. As a result of taking time out of their very busy schedules and recognizing the need to pause and celebrate our first responders, and service men and women through a campus-wide Patriot’s Day assembly, as well as remaining committed to going the extra mile for students across all demographics 


Congratulations to the Marshall High School Rams and Law and Medical School   

Congratulations Principals Richard Halle, Margaret Bray, and the Rams Team!  

Have a great week Team 51, and remember to appreciate one another daily!

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Good Morning TEAM 51!

I hope you have all had a restful weekend as we settle into what is hopefully more of a normal routine across the district. It has been a great start and again, appreciate all your efforts this year. On a very positive note, we have sub-100 degree temperatures predicted towards the end of the week. (Perhaps Ray Galindo is going to fulfill his promise that “we will see cooler temperatures sometime in the future.”) In all sincerity, hang in there, this too will pass. 

As we begin this week of remembrance and we reflect upon the significance 9/11 had on each of us as individuals and as a Nation, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for our Veterans, First-Responders, Servicemen and women, Gold Star families, and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice defending the freedoms and liberties we enjoy as a result. September 11, 2001 will forever remain etched into the fabric of our country and we must never forget the fallen, the price of living free of tyranny, and the luxury of living in the greatest Nation in the world. Thank you again.  

Around the 51 

Higher Education Partners. It was great to meet the new President of Texas A&M University San Antonio Dr. Salvador Ochoa, who is serving the fastest-growing University in the A&M system currently. The University made a significant announcement which should provide our students a really incredible opportunity in the near future. The new promise expands upon the Achiever Promise program, which covered the top 10% of high school seniors. The new Jaguar Promise casts a wider net to serve even more students across the entire state of Texas. Eligibility requirements have been expanded to include:

● Students graduating within the top 10% of their high school class

● The top 11% to 35% of seniors graduating from a Texas high school with a family adjusted gross income of $70,000 or less

● Students graduating from an Early College High School with at least 30 credit hours.

● Transfer students with an associate degree or 60 credit hours who have a family adjusted gross income of $70,000 or less

Congratulations Dr. Ochoa and TAMU/SA! We look forward to future 51 ISD students benefiting from this amazing opportunity. 

For more information visit

It was equally great to meet our new President of Northwest Vista College, Dr. Amy Bosley, and the staff members of the Alamo Colleges 51. We had a great conversation regarding our dual credit programming and ways to potentially grow our partnership, programming, and 

expand opportunities for our students in the future. 

We remain fortunate to have such great partnerships with our Institutions of Higher Education and I anticipate much more to be forthcoming on this front. 

North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Sean Maika, Superintendent from North East ISD, and I had the opportunity to visit with the North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce to discuss the importance of understanding the academic accountability system - particularly the A-F ratings that are expected to be released by the end of the month, the school finance system and consequences of not keeping up with inflationary pressures nor adequately funding schools, as well as school choice legislation that promotes either vouchers or education savings accounts. The presentation can be found at the link below. It is important to continue to promote public education throughout the community and Great State of Texas and our stakeholders need to understand these important matters which significantly affect our students and staff. 

51 Leadership Academy. It was great to kick off the 51 Leadership Academy as we continue our efforts to build capacity and develop leadership throughout the district. The district will continue to be intentional in growing and developing our employees, and I encourage you to be on the lookout in early February if you are interested in becoming a campus administrator in the future. Congratulations again to the NLA 2023 Cohort and always remember to lead with Humility, Collaboratively, and Courageously.   

CAST Teach Pinning Ceremony. And speaking of developing future leaders, Ericka Olivarez, Principal of CAST Teach, and Jeanne Russell, Executive Director of CAST Schools, and I had the opportunity to welcome our newest freshmen and sophomores (our future educators), to the Pinning Ceremony the evening of September 6th. It was reassuring to see the students' excitement and to be able to celebrate their future journey with their friends and family members. Special thanks to the Stevens High School ROTC and Choir students, as well as Principal Ryan Purtell for their support of the program. We can’t wait to welcome our students back to the 51 ISD team as an employee in just a few short years!  

KSAT Conversation on the Important Topic of Vaping. As we continue to focus on safety and security, our recent efforts have included the importance of changes made as a result of HB 114 from this past Legislative Session. The bill has mandated the consequences associated with students vaping on school premises/attending school events. Any vape infraction now accompanies mandatory Disciplinary Alternative Education Placement (DAEP). Unfortunately, the implementation of this carries significant implications across the district for some students and families. While understanding the significance of educating students about the serious health consequences associated with vape usage, we have developed a Second Chance Program for first-time offenders in hopes of mitigating the prevalence of vape through an education platform, while also complying with the required alternative education placement at the home campus of the offender. We have worked proactively to educate parents and students regarding the new legislation, as well as the health implications associated. As discussed with our PTA Council on Thursday evening, curtailing this challenge will require the entire community working together. Please see the attached information we have provided families through school messenger, and we will continually work to curb this issue which is adversely affecting our youth. 

PTA Delegate Meeting/Kick-Off. It was great to see a packed 51 Activity Center for the first meeting with our PTA Council on Thursday evening. 51 PTA’s already have over 11,000 active members and are growing. Shane Allard, our 51 Safety Officer, was able to provide a brief school safety update and did a great job, and I was able to provide a brief district update as well as encourage members to closely track a potential upcoming Special Legislative Session, where I anticipate Vouchers/ESA’s and school funding to be dueling topics as compromises will be debated. We greatly appreciate our Council of PTAs support and advocacy efforts and I would encourage you all to consider joining PTA if you have not already done so. 

Go Woodchucks. And finally I was able to visit the Woodchucks of Valley Hi Elementary. I learned about the rich history of Valley Hi and how the Woodchuck came to be. (It wasn’t simply by a woodchuck chucking wood.) Principal Andy Morris and staff were smiling while working so hard with students on a very warm Friday afternoon. I greatly appreciate the time and opportunity to visit, and keep up the awesome chucking Woodchucks!

National Arts in Education Week! We will be celebrating Arts in Education across the Nation the 11th-17th. Once again thank you to all of our Fine Arts Educators for the transformative impact you have across the district with our students.  

Legislative Update

As you likely know, we have an election coming up on Nov. 7. Fourteen constitutional amendments are on the ballot, and the last day to register to vote in this election is October 10th. If you are unsure of your registration status, please visit  

In a continued effort to cultivate informed communities and promote a culture of voting, all campuses will be receiving voter registration applications (many of you received them already at the recent Principal’s meeting) that will be made available to staff and eligible students. Students may register if they meet general eligibility requirements, are at least 17 years and 10 months old on the date their application is submitted, and will be 18 years of age on Election Day. 

As with all elections, it's important to exercise your right to vote. I encourage you to make a plan to vote and to remind your family members and close associates to do the same. Help spread the word by sharing the  and utilizing the hashtags #NISDVotes and #TxEdVotes. 

The Spirit of 51 

It’s already that time again to pass it forward. 

With an extremely short runway to get a campus off the ground and kids in the building without any major hitches is no small feat. This campus staff and district support personnel did not have a runway, it was more like a very short aircraft carrier flight deck. Nevertheless the team made it happen and haven’t looked back. 


Congratulations to the fabulous Roadrunners of Reed Elementary School. 

Congratulations Principal Chaisleigh Southworth and the Roadrunners! The NISD Spirit Stick is flying your way. 

As Always, Have a great week Team 51! Make each day better than previous!

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Good Morning TEAM 51!

Successful Launch

We had a very successful launch to the school year on Monday, August 28th and I can’t thank you enough as I know this was a tremendous team effort to prepare for this school year. I really enjoyed visiting our newest Elementary Campus, Katie Reed ES, and seeing our students and staff in action for the first time. Again, special Thanks to Chaisleigh Southworth and the Roadrunners for their amazing work in preparing for the grand opening as I know what a compressed timeline you were working with.

I also had the opportunity to visit the fabulous Mavericks at Straus Middle School. With the exception of some warmer-than-usual classrooms due to some HVAC challenges (which were addressed promptly), it was a very smooth start and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting many of our middle school students. Thank you again Dana Gilbert-Perry for your time and hospitality. I really enjoyed being able to visit classrooms full of excited middle school students. And I don’t want to start any rivalries, but the Maverick 8th grade football team is already planning to go undefeated again this year.

Harlan High School also had a great start opening their doors to 2,400 Hawks. Mr. Yzaguirre and the Harlan staff had students in classrooms and were off to the races as of 10:00 AM. I learned quite a bit from Head Counselor Michelle Rodriguez regarding the scheduling process, which I know can be stressful, to say the least. Once again, great planning and preparation by our Counseling and Administrative staff at Harlan. It was great to visit and a special Thank you goes to Jose Ponce, the Harlan plant manager, who was tending to a few matters the first day. Thank you for your passion and pride in taking care of the Hawks, Jose!  

Again, Thank you for such a great start to the school year, Team 51!

News from Around the 51

I would like to take a moment to again acknowledge our entire Human Resources Department and our Campus Principals/Administrators and Directors for their tireless efforts in the hiring process this past spring and summer. Also, just as a reminder, we are still hiring! Current employees are eligible for a recruitment stipend in the amount of $300 dollars per new hire.  I have included some vacancy numbers and hiring statistics, which are trending in the right direction and have been for the past several months. We want to reward you for helping us fill vacancies and assist in bringing new team members to the finest squad in the State!

This year we have hired 882 new teachers to NISD.

Classroom Teachers - 184 Total Vacancies:
106 General Ed vacancies
78 Special Ed vacancies (50 Elementary and 28 Secondary)

We currently have 87 Alt Cert hires who are eligible for the certification reimbursement program and we have talked 53 Retire/Rehires into considering coming back for the 23-24 school year.

We are also hiring Instructional Assistants and currently have 121 vacancies.

While our Food Service team has the lowest vacancy number in 5 years, we are still hiring with 43 open positions. (18 Food Service Workers and 25 Mgmt. Positions)

As a result of the recent Board approval of an additional 20 Police Officers, our Police Department is hiring and has 31 vacant positions at this point.

And of course, we are always looking for phenomenal support in the Maintenance, Custodial, and Transportation Departments.

  • Custodial - 167 Total Vacancies:
    • 140 Custodians
    • 2 Head Custodians
    • 25 Assistant Head Custodians
  • Transportation - 122 Total Vacancies:
    • 56 CDL Bus Drivers
    • 0 Non-CDL Drivers
    • 66 Bus Assistants
  • Maintenance - 107 Vacancies

While the goal of being 100% staffed is a lofty one with over 14,000 employees, I encourage you as you engage in conversations in your neighborhoods, churches, and around your community, and remind individuals that we are hiring and we will reward your efforts!

Friday Night Lights (and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday)

We have not only had a successful kickoff to our Football Seasons, all fall sports seasons are well underway. We wish all of our student-athletes, marching bands, drill teams, cheerleaders, and student support groups the very best this season. I encourage you to come support amazing students and teams this season and more information can be found on the Athletic Calendar.

Legislative Update

As we begin the month of September, it is expected that the Senate will commence the Impeachment Hearing of Attorney General Paxton. The trial is scheduled to begin on September 5th. It is not expected that a special session will be called by Governor Abbott to address important education issues such as funding, the academic accountability system, and Education Savings Accounts/vouchers until after the proceedings have concluded. Please stay tuned in and informed as more momentum is gained in the coming weeks around Public Education.

Relationships and Opportunities

As we begin to settle into the school year, I would like again to encourage our campuses and departments to reach out to garner community and parental support through various channels of engagement such as Booster Clubs, PTAs, and Improvement Councils. Having the continued support of our parents and community members is critical to our Mission and student’s success.

The Spirit of 51

It's once again time to pass it forward.

As a result of their amazing efforts and teamwork, this short-staffed department exhibited in preparing for the school year (particularly our HVAC technicians and crew members), operating under extreme temperatures and having to work around contractors up until the first bell was rung Monday morning.

The 51 ISD Spirit Stick this week goes to….

The NISD Custodial and Maintenance Department!!!

Congratulations and great job in getting us prepared for another successful school year!
Have a great week Team 51! And again, tackle each day with courage, confidence, and character!

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51

Good Morning TEAM 51!

Welcome to the 2023-2024 school year! I hope you were all able to have a little bit of a weekend! I know how challenging this time of year can be, as I am sure final plans were finalized in preparation for the first day of school.

I want to thank you all again for your tremendous efforts in getting everything just right to kick off a spectacular year. As we open our doors to our incredibly excited students, I encourage you to remember our shared vision, and your individual why, and never forget you have a tremendous team ready and able to support you. I know you will have a wonderful first week and thank you again for all your time and energy devoted to your students. As you hit the ground running, just remember, there is always someone packing your parachute. Be sure to acknowledge them!

Around the 51

Professional Development. We have had so many incredible events from Meet the Teacher events to all our staff development and readiness meetings, it is impossible to mention them all. I want to personally thank all of our Directors, Administrators, and Presenters for their leadership and initiative in preparing and delivering high-quality professional development.

Enrichment Academies. Our school year actually began on Aug. 7 for two of our campuses who embraced the piloting of Enrichment Academies in an effort to give some of our neediest students a head-start in their studies. Cable and Westwood Terrace Elementary Schools under the incredible leadership of Principals Tom Knapp (Westwood Terrace) and Debra Pinon (Cable) really worked hard to make this initiative successful and we can’t thank their staff enough. As a result of taking care of their students, they were unable to attend Convocation. I will assure you, that this is something we will look to remedy in the future, but Thanks again for prioritizing and taking care of your students. And special thanks to the Cable staff for hosting Texas Land Commissioner, Dr. Dawn Buckingham, during the first week of the Academy.

Block Walk. Thank you to the Sul Ross Rebels for hosting our Back to School Block walk. This was the 13th annual event, which continues to serve as an example of not only Teamwork but also willingness to go the extra mile in connecting with and supporting some of our neediest families and students.  I want to also thank all of our teachers and administrators from Ross MS and Esparza, Linton, Martin, Powell, and Villarreal elementary schools as well as NISD Board members and invited elected officials who supported the event and walked the communities to meet and greet students before the first day of school. And a special thank you to Ross Principal Faustino Ortega and Irene Zinsmeister for helping to organize and facilitate the event.

Texas Grandparents Raising Grandchildren (TXGRG) Backpack & Resource Fair.  The TXGRG held a backpack and resource fair at the 51 Activity Center on Aug. 12 providing the opportunity for grandparents to start the year with a backpack filled with school supplies, and the opportunity to talk to several agencies about various resources. TXGRG Founder and Executive Director Mercedes Bristol, Trustee Gerald Lopez, and Diana Ely really worked hard to pull this event together and I know our grandparents remain appreciative.

Jay HS Cluster Backpack and Support. We also had an amazing backpack and resource giveaway for the John Jay HS cluster at the San Antonio Food Bank. The event was incredibly successful as well and we greatly appreciate all who supported and worked the event.

We are truly grateful for all who contributed their time and resources to support many of our students and families and their needs.

Servant Leadership Summit. The NISD Athletic Department and our Whole Child department teamed up to host a great Servant Leadership Summit with several hundred students, coaches, and parents participating. The focus remains on supporting mental health, hope, and family. Students shared helpful tips and insights, and speakers from the Athletics and our Counseling Departments provided priceless strategies. Thanks again to our Assistant Superintendents Stan Laing (Athletics) and Dr. Kimberly Ridgely (Whole Child) for helping to organize the event.

51 Education Foundation (NEF).  We want to again thank our Education Foundation or NEF for their support of Convocation as well as all they do throughout the year to support our teachers and staff across the district. Board President, Emily Persyn, and the Board of Directors remain true champions for us. FIRST YEAR EDUCATORS: If this is your first year teaching, please !

Convocations 2023. Our 51 Convocations were a lot of fun and really demonstrated the amazing power of our teamwork across the district. We would like to again thank our fabulous Fine Arts Department, our Directors who assisted in preparing our amazing students, all of our performers, both students, and staff, and all who contributed to the success of the 3-day event. A special appreciation to our Communications team and technical support crew. Job well done and we can’t wait to celebrate again next year. Team 51, One Team, One Vision!

And as promised….

The customized Air Force 1’s I was “sporting” at Convocation were actually a gift from my sister-in-law, so I had to do a little research as to how they came to be.

The name of the company is Custom Kicks by Christie.

She is a small business, so there is not a website nor any public-facing advertising. She prefers to handle all business through word of mouth….  But, just for Team 51 members, I was able to reach out and establish contact, so here is the artist's contact information.

Christie Endicott -

Purple Star Campuses. We also want to give a shout-out to our new Purple Star campuses that were recently . These campuses have demonstrated their commitment to supporting our military-connected students and families.  Special thanks to our Grants and Recognitions Dept. for assisting campuses with navigating application processes and requirements.

The NISD campuses awarded the designation are: Mora ES, Wernli ES, Scarborough ES, Behlau ES, Luna MS, Bernal MS, Harlan HS, Stevens HS, Brennan HS, and Jay HS.  Thank you for your important work supporting our military-connected families!

Legislative Update

As I mentioned at Convocation, it’s important for educators to stay informed about legislation impacting public education. We anticipate a special legislative session on the horizon (likely this Fall) with issues such as school funding, teacher pay, and private school vouchers or Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) on the agenda. Even more important - we should all strive to cultivate a culture of voting within our community. There are 14 proposed constitutional amendments on the November 7 ballot, and the deadline to register to vote in this election is October 10. Take a moment to review the ballot propositions and be sure to make a plan to vote!  Visit for more information.

The Spirit of 51

In keeping the spirit alive this year, I want to again express my sincere appreciation to our entire Fine Arts Department for such a phenomenal Convocation!

And now it's time to pass it forward.

As a result of their overly enthusiastic showing at Convocation on Wednesday, but more importantly for the job they do each and every day… (Their team registered over 100 decibels during the spirit stick exercise and I think my ears are still ringing)

So…The 51 ISD Spirit Stick goes to none other than… Drum roll…

Our phenomenal Culebra Transportation Team!!!

Congratulations Culebra Station! The NISD Spirit Stick is headed your way.

Have a great week Team 51! And again, tackle each day with courage, confidence, and character!

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
51 Independent School 51