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(TEXAS) – On the eve of National Principals Month, the U.S. Department of Education has awarded a $27.8 million Teacher and School Leader Incentive grant to Harmony Public Schools to train, equip, and retain top-level school leaders at its campuses across the state.

This project will strengthen and evolve Harmony’s existing Human Capital Management System, developed through a previous Department of Education grant project (Teacher Incentive Fund, 2016), to more explicitly focus on strengthening instructional leadership by better positioning and supporting current and rising principals and instructional leadership teams to excel and remain in their roles—especially in high-need schools. Harmony has 50 schools designated as high-needs throughout the state.

The project design draws on proven research showing that strong instructional leadership improves educator effectiveness, which, in turn, accelerates growth in student outcomes.

“Great schools require great leadership,” said Harmony CEO Fatih Ay. “That’s why one of our highest priorities at Harmony Public Schools is to equip our principals and other school leaders with the tools they need to build cultures of achievement, character, and community at their campuses.”

Harmony was one of only 13 school systems in the country to receive the DOE grant and the largest of three Texas recipients.

“Great teachers deserve to be treated as the professionals they are and to be compensated accordingly,” U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said in a statement Wednesday, September 1. “All too often, though, they lack access to relevant professional development courses and are compensated on a step-scale ladder that treats them like cogs in a machine instead of as individuals with unique talents and interests. We’ve challenged today’s awardees to rethink all of that, and they have risen to the challenge.”

The new funding brings the total amount awarded to Harmony by the Department of Education within the past few years to $92.5 million. 

  • In 2012, the DOE awarded Harmony a $30 million Race to the Top grant to support locally developed plans to personalize and deepen student learning, directly improve student achievement and educator effectiveness, close achievement gaps, and prepare every student to succeed in college and their careers.
  • In 2016, the DOE awarded Harmony a $26.7 million Teacher Incentive Fund grant to develop a merit-based system for rewarding its highest-performing teachers. (The system, known as H-STEP, was foundational in Harmony being named to the Texas Education Agency’s inaugural class of Teacher Incentive Allotment districts in Fall 2020.)
  • In 2018, the DOE awarded Harmony an $8 million Education Innovation Research grant to  build upon Harmony’s project-based learning STEM model for Grade 6-12 students by introducing similar curricula to students in Grade K-5, and by creating a system of support and professional development for elementary school teachers.

“Great principals and school leaders, given their unique talents and devotion to their teachers and students, should receive the support they need to continue to be successful,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education for Elementary and Secondary Education Frank Brogan. “Under the Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program, the U.S. Department of Education provides assistance to school districts that are rethinking how to strengthen instructional leadership to make sure principals and leadership teams are well equipped to support their teachers and students. I look forward to seeing how the grant funds are utilized by Harmony Public Schools.”

Harmony Public Schools is a Texas-born, Texas-wide public charter school system with campuses serving PreK-Grade 12 students in 23 cities across the state, including Greater Houston, DFW, San Antonio, Austin, El Paso, Waco, Lubbock, Odessa, Bryan, Beaumont, and the Rio Grande Valley. Harmony’s curriculum places a heavy focus on STEM skills, Character Education, project-based learning, and college readiness. In 2020, Harmony hadall 23 high school campuses named among the Best High Schools in America by U.S. News and World Report, 13 named to the Best STEM High Schools in America by Newsweek, and earned two National School of Character recognitions from Character.org.

Harmony Public Schools is currently accepting applications for the 2020-2021 school year for both students and team members.

 

About Harmony Public Schools

Harmony Public Schools are 58 high performing PreK-12 college preparatory charter schools throughout Texas. Harmony blends the highest standards and expectations, with a rigorous math- and science-centered curriculum and dedicated and engaged teachers and families to cultivate excellence and prepare students to succeed in college, careers and life. At Harmony Public Schools, we believe every child can succeed, and we are committed to helping them realize their full potential. To learn more about Harmony Public Schools and our 58 campuses across Texas, please visit: www.harmonytx.org, and follow us on Twitter at @HarmonyEdu and ‘Like’ us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/HarmonyTexas.

Reading skills are foundational to educational success for all students.

Encouraging students to read more improves their skills and promotes a love of reading they can continue throughout their educational years and into adulthood.

That’s why Harmony Public Schools is hosting a fall Reading Challenge for all students in all campuses.

Join your classmates from across your campus and across the state from Monday, September 21, 2020 though Sunday, January 3, 2021 as together we show our love for reading and discover new and exciting ideas, authors, and stories through our favorite books.

Along the way, we’ll recognize our top readers and campuses each month, share favorite book picks, and ask for your reviews on some of your favorite reads.

The reading challenges by grade are:

Kindergarten – Grade 2
20 Books

Grade 3-5
10 Novels
3 Fiction
3 Nonfiction
1 Poetry
3 Student Choice

Grade 6-8
12 Novels
4 Fiction
4 Nonfiction
1 Poetry
3 Student Choice

Grade 9-12
14 Novels
5 Fiction
4 Nonfiction
1 Poetry
4 Student Choice

Share your favorite reads on social media by tagging Harmony and using the hashtag #HarmonyReads.

Parents! You are invited to our virtual Title I and Title III events at 5 PM on Wednesday, Sept. 23!

Click HERE to register for the event or go to tinyurl.com/hssevent

(you must register to receive the link)

In accordance with the Texas State Plan for the Education of Gifted/Talented students, Harmony Public Schools will begin taking referrals for kindergarten and newly- enrolled students in grades 1-12 for gifted and talented screening.  Anyone interested in the educational welfare of these students may refer them for assessment. Referral forms are available on the school’s website. Read more

Dear Parents and Guardians and Students,

As HPS South/West district schools, we will resume classes tomorrow August 28th,2020 as scheduled except Beaumont.

Sincerely,

HSS-Houston

Dear HSS-Houston Parents and Students,

Due to the possible inclement weather from Hurricane Laura, Harmony School of Science-Houston will be closed on Wednesday, August 26 and Thursday, August 27.  Students will not have online classes for those days. As of now, we will reopen for online classes on Friday, August 28. We will notify you via email and phone message if there is any other change to our campus schedule. Please stay safe and feel free to contact us via email if you have any questions or concerns.

Estimados padres de HSS-Houston: Debido al posible clima inclemente del huracán Laura, la Escuela de Ciencias Harmony-Houston estará cerrada el miércoles 26 y jueves 27 de agosto. Los estudiantes no tendrán clases en línea durante esos días. A partir de ahora, volveremos a abrir para clases en línea el viernes 28 de agosto. Le notificaremos por correo electrónico y mensaje telefónico si hay algún otro cambio en el horario de nuestro campus. Por favor, manténgase seguro y no dude en contactarnos por correo electrónico si tiene alguna pregunta o inquietud.

 

Sincerely,

Dear Parent or Guardian,

 

During the school closure last spring and over the summer months, Harmony offered meals to all children ages 18 and under in the community.  Meals were distributed at select schools at no charge.  The last distribution day will be the week of August 10th and will include meals through August 16th.

 

Online school begins on August 17th, and with the start of a new school year begins meal service under the National School Lunch Program.  Just as if meals were served on site, all students will be charged for meals according to their eligibility of free, reduced, or paid.  For students of paid eligibility, breakfast cost $1.75 and lunch is $3.30.  For students of reduced price eligibility, breakfast cost $0.30 and lunch is $0.40.  Parents are encouraged to submit an application for free or reduced price meals by going to www.schoolcafe.com and setting up a parent account.  Paper applications may also be picked up from the school on meal distribution days.  Once a student is approved for free or reduced price meals, they will remain that eligibility for the rest of the school year and the first 30 days of the next.  Parents are encouraged to reapply whenever there is a loss of income or new participation in SNAP/TANF.

 

Your child’s school will distribute meals on Fridays between 2 PM – 4 PM.  Meals will only be provided to students who are enrolled at that school.  If you have children enrolled in multiple Harmony schools, you will need to visit each campus to pick up meals.  For every day in the distribution cycle, your child may choose which days they would like a breakfast and/or lunch meal.  A choice of milk is available, but they are not required to take it.  If your child has special dietary needs, visit the school website to download the Special Dietary Accommodations form and have it completed and signed by a licensed medical authority.  

 

Listed below are the meal distribution procedures.  If you have any questions, contact the Child Nutrition Assistant: Ms. Flores at pflores@harmonytx.org or to 832-304-9430

 

MEAL DISTRIBUTION PROCEDURES

 

Parents or guardians may only pick up meals for children in their guardianship.  

 

  • At the designated date and time, parents will approach the pickup zone and wait for cafeteria staff to approach the driver side window. Students are not required to be in the vehicle.
  • If parents/students walk to the distribution site, follow school staff instructions to pick up meals at the designated table.  Please maintain 6 foot social distance from others in line and school staff.  Masks must be worn at all times.
  • When a parent or guardian arrives to pick up a meal without a child, they will need to present one of the following items:
      • Official Letter/email from school listing children enrolled at the campus 
      • Student ID number 
      • Student ID cards 
  • The parent will roll down their window (masks are required), or approach the table when called, and cafeteria staff will maintain appropriate social distance. The parent will tell the cafeteria staff the their child’s ID number, show the ID card, or show the official letter/email for each child who attends that school. 
  • Once enrollment is verified, the student or parent may select their meals.  Only one breakfast and one lunch may be selected from each day offered.  Each meal will be charged to the students meal account based on eligibility.  
  • The student/parent may select one milk for each meal purchased.  Selections include white milk, chocolate milk, or no milk.  Milks will be placed in a bag and tied closed.
  • The parent will open their trunk and the bags of meals and milk will be placed in their trunk.
  • If they have walked to the distribution site, they will approach the table when called and pick up their meals.  Tables will be sanitized between uses. 

 

If you have any questions regarding meal distribution, please contact Ms. Flores at pflores@harmonytx.org or 832-304-9430.

Harmony School of Science 

Administration

Thursday, August 13
K-4 Drive thru Orientation – 8:30 AM-12:30 PM
5-8 Drive thru Orientation – 1:00-4:30 PM
Parents may drive through our parking lot to receive important information and instructional materials. All passengers in the vehicle should be wearing masks, and stay in the car. Give your child’s name and grade level to the staff member at the entrance gate, and pull up to the end of the parking lot to receive your materials. Parents must fill out the chromebook request/agreement sent via email in order to borrow a chromebook. If you have students in both K-4 and 5-8, you may come during either session.

Virtual Meet the Teacher
Your child’s homeroom teacher will email you with a zoom link to join online, meet the grade level teachers, learn about online learning, and more!
Kinder – 1-1:25 PM
1st Grade-1:30-1:55
2nd Grade-2:00-2:25
3rd Grade-2:30-3:25 PM
4th Grade-3:30-4:25 PM
5th Grade-8:30-9:25 AM
6th Grade-9:30-10:25 AM
7th Grade-10:30-11:25 AM
8th Grade-11:30AM-12:25 PM
Please check your email, and contact Mrs. Wyatt at ldunn@harmonytx.org or call 713-992-2308 with any questions or concerns, or to update your contact information.

Note: This document is intended as a simplified version of our Harmony Public Schools “Back to School Playbook 2020-2021.” For further information or clarification on any topic, please refer to the Playbook.

 

When will campuses re-open?

As of August 1, 2020, campuses are scheduled to open Tuesday, September 8 for in-person learning to those students who wish to attend in person. Families may also elect to continue learning in a virtual setting from home. 

 

Could the campus reopening date change?

Possibly. Harmony Public Schools is closely following guidance from the Texas Education Agency, public health officials, and others in determining when to reopen our campuses. Our top priority is ensuring the safety of our students, team members, and communities while preserving academic continuity for our learners.

 

What safety measures will be in place when campuses open?

Harmony is instituting a wide variety of health protocols, which are described in detail in “Back to School Playbook 2020-2021.” Among the new measures are:

  • Temperature screenings for students and staff.
  • Requiring all students and employees to wear a mask when on campus or in other group settings. (Students may bring their own mask, or the school will provide them.)
  • Limiting average class sizes to allow for social distancing. (Exact class size will be dependent on number of students attending in-person versus online-only.)
  • Spacing desks at least six feet apart to maintain proper social distancing and/or installing partitions where students cannot be kept six feet apart.
  • Severely limiting classroom rotations/switches to prevent the spread of germs across campus and to limit person-to-person exchanges.
  • Staggered drop off and pickup times to limit person-to-person exchanges.
  • Modified drop off and pickup procedures (ex. Students going directly to class after drop off and/or waiting in classroom at the end of the day until parent arrives for pickup).
  • Requesting all students wash hands frequently.
  • Detailed nightly cleaning by contracted company.
  • Required Coronavirus Awareness & Prevention trainings for all employees.
  • Remaining flexible regarding student and team member absences due to COVID-19, as allowed by TEA guidelines and applicable employment laws.

 

How often will the campus and/or my student’s work station be cleaned and disinfected.

At the end of the day, custodial services will clean and sanitize all desk surfaces including seat, chair back, desk, any dividers if available with soap and water or all-purpose cleaning agents and sanitizers that meet state and local food safety regulations. Staff, including teachers, may also perform more frequent cleanings throughout the day, as needed.

 

What happens if a child or staff member attending school on-campus tests positive for COVID-19, is exposed to someone who is positive, or displays symptoms of COVID-19?

Anyone displaying the signs or symptoms of COVID-19 should follow below self-quarantine policy:

Exposure (confirmed or unconfirmed) or Illness with Positive Testing

The following criteria must be met in FULL:

  • at least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications);

  • the individual has improvement in symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and

  • at least 14 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

Exposure (confirmed or unconfirmed) or Illness with Negative Testing or MD Note

If an individual has symptoms of COVID-19 and wants to return to campus before completing the above stay at home period, the following criteria must be met in FULL:

  • Either obtain a medical professional’s note clearing the individual for return based on an alternative diagnosis OR obtain a negative COVID-19 test AND

  • at least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications).

  1. Exposure (confirmed or unconfirmed) or Illness with No Testing and No U.S. Based Medical Provider’s Note

The following criteria must be met in FULL:

  • at least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications);

  • the individual has improvement in symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and

  • at least 14 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

Readmittance will be granted when the following has been completed:
  1. Proof of negative COVID tests or U.S. based medical provider’s alternative diagnosis delivered to campus health staff or registrar if no health staff is available OR

  2. when all three of the following criteria are met:

  • At least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications);

  • The individual has improvement in symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and

  • At least 14 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

For more information on quarantine measures, including requirements for specific scenarios, see the “Back to School Playbook 2020-2021.”

Can parents visit their child at school during the school day?

Harmony is asking parents to limit visits to campus only to necessary appointments which cannot be done through virtual meetings. Harmony requests that all in-person visits be scheduled in advance. All visitors who enter the building will be required to wear a face covering and those who proceed beyond the reception area (pre-arranged and approved appointments) will follow campus guidelines for visitors. 

 

How do I purchase uniforms for the new school year?

Uniforms can be ordered online using the Revtrak online ordering site listed on your campus website. Uniforms will be available to pick up once campuses reopen. Campuses will remain flexible with the enforcement of uniform policies until families are given an appropriate amount of time to order and pick up uniforms. Students will not be required to wear uniforms for online learning.

 

Will drop-off and pick-up change?

Yes. Both drop-off and pick-up times will be staggered to limit potential cross-exposure among persons. 

 

What will lunchtime and breakfast look like?

Lunch will be served in the classrooms, however breakfast may be served either in the classrooms or in the cafeteria based on the number of students attending in-person. If eating in the cafeteria, students will be socially distanced.

Before and after meals or snacks all students and staff will also be able to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer.

Can I eat lunch with my child on campus?

At this time, due to COVID-19, parents and visitors will not be permitted to visit students during mealtimes.

Can I bring lunch to my child on campus?

Parents bringing food during the school day is prohibited.  Students who forget their lunch will be provided a school meal. 

Note: This document is intended as a simplified version of our Harmony Public Schools “Back to School Playbook 2020-2021.” For further information or clarification on any topic, please refer to the Playbook.

 

What do I need to learn from home?

Students will need access to a computer device and the internet to complete schoolwork from home. Students without consistent access to either may receive them from their Harmony campus. Campuses will begin distributing them via drive-through pick-ups starting the first week of August. Additionally, students may find that headphones, especially noise-canceling headphones, are helpful for online learning, however they are not required.

 

Will I need to shop for school supplies?

Yes. All students regardless of learning location (i.e. home or campus) will be completing assignments alongside their peers using the supplies listed by their campus.

 

Is anything different about online learning this year?

Yes, quite a bit. Harmony has upgraded its online learning by switching to a new system called Schoology. Through Schoology, students will be able to interact and engage with their teachers and peers in real-time throughout the school day to provide and more advanced and enriching school experience. Families will also have full access to grades, progress reports, assignments, classroom learning materials, calendars, and more from within the Schoology platform, providing a simple one-stop-shop for all things related to their student’s learning experience. Students and families will receive more instruction on accessing and logging into Schoology as classes begin.

 

Will online learners be taught differently than on-campus learners?

No. All students will be taught using the same material and at the same pace by the same Harmony teacher. In most cases, online learners will be taught simultaneously alongside their on-campus peers, unless the student is taking part in asynchronous learning (i.e independent learning outside normal school hours).

 

How will grades be calculated?

Grades will be counted on the traditional 0-100 scale. The “pass/fail” grading system that was implemented out of necessity during the Spring 2020 semester will not be used.

 

What hours of the day will online classes be taught?

Your campus will announce the specific schedule for your student, but generally speaking, classes will be taught online in real-time by their teachers during normal school hours (instructional minutes may vary by grade, according to Texas Education Agency requirements). This is called “synchronous learning.” A sample schedule can be found in the Harmony “Back to School Playbook 2020-2021.” Students needing to learn outside this timeframe can choose to learn independently. This is called “asynchronous learning.”

 

What rules or expectations are there for online learners?

Synchronous online learners will be asked to comply with the following rules:

  • Student’s camera must be on during class time.
  • Student should maintain school-appropriate behavior.
  • Student should be dressed appropriately. (shirt, school shirt, jeans or khakis are OK).
  • Only the student may be visible (no friends or siblings).
  • Student’s microphone should be off unless instructed by a teacher (this prevents background noise).
  • Students are expected to interact through the Zoom chat function.
  • Students must show up on time.
  • Students must use appropriate and respectful language at all times.
  • Students are asked to use tools such as “raising your hand” (available in Zoom) and the chat feature if you have a question or want to answer a question.
  • Student should remove distractions, such as going where there’s less background noise and turning off your phone.
  • Student should use headphones, if possible, for increased privacy and better speaker and microphone quality.
  • Students should have all required materials for class (books, paper, markers, etc..) nearby before the session begins.
  • Students should be prepared to be called on to answer a question or participate in a discussion or activity at any time.

 

How will absences and attendance be counted for online learning?

Students who are logged in and learning alongside their teacher and classmates during normal school hours (synchronous learning) will be counted in attendance when they lo in to learn. 

 

Student who learn independently through self-guided instruction (asynchronous learning) will be counted in attendance when they meet daily learning benchmarks and/or turn in daily assignments by no later than 11:59 p.m. on the given schoolday.

 

What happens if my child doesn’t have a computer to do their schoolwork on while learning from home?

Harmony will supply a computer device and/or internet access for the purpose of completing schoolwork to any student that does not have consistent access at home. These will be provided beginning the first week of August and distributed by drive-through pickups at your nearby Harmony campus.

 

Will my child have to wear a Harmony uniform for online learning?

Students may choose to wear a uniform if they would like to when learning online, however they are not required to. Instead, they are required to follow the dress code guidelines set forth for “Free Dress Days” set forth in the Student & Parent Handbook. This states:

 

“Garments must be free of holes, tears, inappropriate wording, logos, messages or advertising. No short, skin tight, or legging dresses, or skirts may be worn. All dresses must have sleeves. Students may not wear low cut, midriff-baring, or backless blouses. Students may wear jeans, but they cannot be tight pants including jeggings, tights or skinny style pants. Clothing items must not depict images of violence.”