Monday, October 7, 2013

Learn Local and Big Changes At Hogg

Well.... this blog has had some trouble waking up from it's summer nap. I can't even say I'm ready to really get back to it but some news is too good not to share!

Hogg Middle School. Photo:
As always, people in the Heights are willing to work to make their community everything they think it can be. Schools have always been a big focus for any neighborhood and the Heights has many urban pioneers who poured a lot of heart and soul in to making Travis and Harvard elementaries outstanding public school options. Middle school, however, has been a struggle. While Hamilton has thrived, Hogg has languished. Low enrollment and administrative turn over have left parents skeptical of the school. There were parents who tried to get involved but had trouble working with the school, especially when there were 3 new Principals in 3 years prior to 2011. 

Finally, in 2011, enter Dr Mina Scnitta. In just two years, Dr Scnitta has started an amazing turn around at Hogg. In addition to the amazing work she has done with her administration, Dr Schnitta has opened the school up to the community and has welcomed their involvement. Personally, I already know families who are ready to send their Harvard/Travis/Helms students to Hogg in a few years. 

Check out this list of what Dr Schnitta and Hogg have accomplished in just two short years:

■ Hogg Middle School recently achieved authorization as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School. This makes Hogg, along with Lanier, one of only four authorized IB middle schools in HISD. (read more about IB certification for Heights schools in this THL post)
■ Hogg's enrollment has increased by 100 students over a one-year period. 
■ Applications to the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) magnet program at Hogg increased by 72% for the 2012-13 school year. Students in the STEM magnet program learn hands-on by launching hot-air balloons (6th grade), creating straw rockets to learn principles of aerospace engineering (7th grade), and building mousetrap vehicles, catapults, and trebuchets (8th grade). 
■ Work will begin soon on $9 million in renovations, including brand-new science labs and major infrastructure improvements at Hogg. The work will include upgrades to the school's mechanical and electrical systems, improved interior finishes, new lighting, restroom upgrades, and more. Through bond funds, HISD is investing in the future at Hogg.
■ In addition to the general education track, Hogg offers the Pre-Advanced Placement (Pre-AP) curriculum to challenge students and prepare them for the Advanced Placement courses offered in high school. Hogg offers Pre-AP classes for each grade level in the four core subject areas: Math, Science, English Language Arts, and Social Studies. 
■ Hogg offers the following classes for high school credit: Algebra, Concepts of Engineering (the 8th grade STEM magnet class), Spanish, Art 1, and Journalism.
■ An overhaul of the Hogg library is nearly complete. The budget was roughly $30,000 for new books alone. The library also has 16 new computers, and plans are in the works for a relaxed seating area to give students an inviting space for reading and studying. 

Great things are happening at Hogg and Heights families are watching it! A group of parents with Harvard and Travis have started a group to support and facilitate needed changes at Hogg. Creating a group called "Learn Local," these parents have a mission to "Establish a bridge for our children between our successful Heights neighborhood elementary schools and Hogg Middle School, an IB World School and STEM campus, enabling progression within our strong, unique community." The first Learn Local meeting was held on August 20th at the school with Dr. Scnitta. It was an amazing collaboration of over 40 parents from Harvard and Travis. Also in attendance were Anna Eastman, HISD District 1 Trustee; Michele Pola, HISD Chief of Staff; Ms. Berger, Reagan Principal; Mr. Day, Travis Principal; and Mr. Beringer, Harvard Principal. The group discussed the obstacles that families need to over come to make it their "neighborhood middle school of choice," and over the coming months they will work to create a plan "to break down those barriers." 

If you want to keep up with what this group and the school are working on, check out their 'Learn Local' Facebook page to learn more:

Want to see Hogg in action? Learn Local tours are being scheduled now and will eventually take place regularly on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the month at 10 a.m. Interested families can also tour at their convenience. Please contact Dr. Schnitta, at 713-802-4700 or to set something up.

Upcoming tour dates:
■ 'Learn Local.' tour, Tuesday, October 8 at 10 a.m.
For this tour only, RSVP to
■ Tuesday, October 15 at 10 a.m. 
■ November 4-8, HISD Magnet Awareness Week, tours daily at 1 p.m. 

This is such exciting progress for the community. This is not only great for parents of Harvard and Travis kids, but for all kids zoned to Hogg and the students already enrolled at the school. All of our community students deserve an amazing education, so many, many thanks to Dr Mina Scnitta for believing in our school and sticking with it!

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