Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Healthy Competition for Heights Middle Schools??

Looks like we have a little healthy competition in the Heights! A couple weeks ago I made this post about positive changes and community involvement at Hogg Middle School under the leadership of their new Principal, Dr. Mina Schnitta. 
Now an email is circulating from the new Principal at Hamilton Middle School. Wendy Hampton has taken over from retiring Principal Roger Bunnell, who spent more than a decade at the school. Ms. Hampton is enthusiastic about her new school, which is always the first thing any school needs in an Administrator. Her excitement about the school is obvious in her letter, which outlines all of the successes Hamilton has had, making it the desired middle school in the Heights. But it's not just the current state of good things going on at the school that caught my eye in this letter. There is a little bit about the future of the school that made me smile. Because I love some competitive spirit...

Hamilton Middle School on 20th (photo: panoramio.com)
Dear Parents, 
Alexander Hamilton Middle School is a great place for students to learn! We have a long-standing history of success and most recently received two distinctions by the Texas Education Agency: Distinction in Reading/ELA and Distinction in Student Progress. Prior to the new state accountability system, AHMS remained a TEA Recognized school for six years in a row. 
As the principal of Hamilton Middle School, I am committed to ensuring that students are academically challenged and prepared for advanced high school coursework in a positive environment where they enjoy learning. 
Hamilton Middle School offers Pre-advanced Placement (PreAP) courses for both Vanguard and non-Vanguard students. We believe all students should have the opportunity to complete advanced coursework that prepares them to take up to four classes for high school credit in 8th grade. We also know that fine arts enhance student performance academically. It also gives students an outlet for their creativity. We currently have an award-winning band program, beginning to advanced art, theater arts, and choir. 
Our "FUN FLEX" program adds an additional opportunity during the school day, four days a week, for students to participate in activities, including UIL Number Sense and Calculator competition, Name that Book, Odyssey of the Mind, Speech and Debate, Tennis, Dance, Robotics, and more! If also offers a time for students to receive support academically during the school day when they are not available to stay after school. 
Keeping active and physically fit also supports adolescent development and Hamilton has a wide selection of athletic events for both boys and girls, including an indoor heated pool for our swim team! 
It is a very exciting time for parents in the Heights Community. At Hamilton Middle School we are more committed than ever to remaining the best middle school in the Greater Heights and surrounding area, a top middle school in the district, and the number one choice for students and parents. 
Our doors are always open and you are always welcome on our campus! Come see what we have to offer by attending one of our scheduled tours, or set up an appointment for a tour at your convenience. 
For more information, please visit our newly designed website atwww.houstonisd.org/hamiltonms and follow us on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/hamiltonms1 . 
Wendy Hampton, Principal

Did you see it there? The highlighted part? 

Now I am not saying this email is a direct result of the ongoing efforts at Hogg. I am pretty certain any motivated and caring school administrator wants to see good things for all public schools. I can't help but see the slightly competitive nature of that paragraph, though. And it's exciting! It can only mean good things for our neighborhood kids when our two local middle schools strive to be the best. There are no losers in this type of contest.


  1. It's about Black MS. Gaining enrollment, especially from Heights kids. Huge stampede of kids from Harvard and Travis.

    Healthy competition is good. Strong neighborhood schools are important too.

  2. Now we need the Reagan Principal to write a letter touting their programs so that once kids leave these great middle schools they will stay in the neighborhood.

    1. I agree. Reagan is a magnet and very few people realize that!

    2. ...and it also now an IB school, so kids can go IB from Harvard to Hogg to Reagan!

  3. Also, while Hamilton and Black are Vanguard Magnet schools, Hogg is not. Hogg also offers the Pre-Advanced Placement curriculum track and the G/T neighborhood program, and it's also a good option for students who don't qualify for a Vanguard Magnet transfer. Not all of our kids are G/T, and some kids who qualified for G/T in elementary school do not re-qualify for middle school. As more Heights families choose Hogg for their children, the school will become an attractive option for ALL neighborhood students. And the International Baccalaureate program is for ALL students at Hogg. Wouldn't it be great if all of our kids could stay together for middle school in the Heights? They can if they choose Hogg.

  4. Bring on the competition! A rising tide lifts all ships. We're reaching critical mass with the number of children in the Heights nearing middle school age. We have a great record in the Heights of community support and engagement in our elementary schools. It's time for parents from Harvard and Travis (most of whom live in Hogg's attendance zone) and other feeder schools, along with other community members, to get involved and help make Hogg the school we want it to be. I'd like to see Hamilton and Black thrive as well.

  5. Brings to mind the immortal words of Carly Simon: "You're so vain... And you probably think this song is about you..."

  6. I agree with the poster above who pointed out the need for a non-vanguard acceptable middle school in this area. A strong academic program with good pre-AP classes would be a net plus (just because a kid qualifies as vanguard doesn't mean that he/she is truly G/T in all areas) and having a mix of on-level and G/T classes is a great fit for how kids are.

    That said, people have been trying for years to improve Hogg -- the first wave of committed parents was about 10 years ago, and then another about five. And everytime, something pushes it back (the latest was four principals in 3 years).

    But, you just have to look at the quick turnaround at Black, previously considered a terrible middle school, to see what the combined commitment of administration, parents, students, teachers and the community can accomplish. I wish fervently that that could happen at Hogg. The best option is when you have a great neighborhood school where you and your neighbors all want to send your kids.

    1. I think the big difference with Hogg this time is, indeed, the Principal. Without the right person at the helm, no amount of grants or community involvement will be able to right the school.

  7. And you also have to consider how much of the Black talk is smoke and mirrors. Despite the claim that they are raking in Travis parents, I only think one family from last year's fifth graders even went to Black. It is wonderful that Hamilton is starting to bounce back, and great that Hogg has developed some consistency and excitement. But Heights families should not have to drive 5-8 miles to go to another area's middle school. Stay home at Hamilton and Hogg.

  8. I love that parents in the Heights community have a groundswell of support for Hogg and Hamilton. I'm a parent at Hamilton, and the fact that it earned the TEA's Distinction in Reading and a Distinction in Student Progress for 2012-2013, and that it has very low disciplinary rates, makes it very attractive to me as a parent. My son is zoned to Hamilton and is non-Vanguard. Some of his teachers are also Vanguard teachers. All of his teachers are very engaged with me in terms of challenging him, keeping him on track, yet nurturing. When he transitioned from elementary, a huge adjustment, his teachers were all very warm--knowing what a transition this is. Ms. Hampton, the new principal, is an amazing force of talent and vision. Already, a new parent/faculty committee is spearheading a long-term partnership with Rice University's Coalition on Hunger and Homelessness to promote civic engagement for our students--just one of many initiatives. If you see that I'm biased, I am! As the PTO President, our Executive Board is very committed to bringing classroom and campus improvements during the year. Any 5th grade parent reading this who is researching schools, please don't hesitate to contact me at lana.bishop@comcast.net for more information re: Hamilton. Good luck to all those looking for a wonderful school for their 5th grader! Hamilton is an excellent choice! (former PTA President @ Travis Elem. 2008-2010)

  9. Hamilton MS has formed an ongoing partnership with Rice University's "Coalition on Hunger & Homelessness" and KidsMeals-Houston. The Partnership so far has consisted of three workshops led by Rice representatives at Hamilton and this Sunday, Hamilton and Rice students will gather at Hamilton's cafeteria for a "Sandwiches for All" event. Here is a link to an article in The Leader News: http://issuu.com/burge/docs/leader1207b. (Page 9B). Hamilton MS has consistently promoted civic engagement among its students; this is the beginning of what could be a wonderful, important outreach within our community and beyond.