Education Briefs Lake Travis | Westlake Abercorn International School Headmistress Dusty Fretwell celebrates student Jadyn Smith’s 10th birthday Jan. 29.[/caption]

International School of Texas and Abercorn merge area schools

Abercorn International School, 601 S. RR 620, Lakeway, and International School of Texas, 4402 Hudson Bend Road, Austin, will merge into one private school including preschool through eighth grades effective for the 2016-17 academic year, said Abercorn Headmistress Dusty Fretwell who broke the news to parents Jan. 11.

The plan is to maintain the IST name for the school, said Monique Threadgill, chairperson of the board of trustees for IST.

Education Briefs Lake Travis | WestlakeAbercorn students and some of the school’s teaching staff will be transferring to the IST school site following the merger, she said. The head of the school will be Fretwell, she said.

“The major benefit [of the merger] is the opportunity and sustainability for one fabulous school moving forward,” Fretwell said. “The schools suffered by being in close proximity to each other.”

IST Deputy Headmaster Tim Reilly agreed.

“Both schools are very similar in programming, culture and mission, but the close proximity of two schools delivering a very similar educational offering has been challenging,” he said. “Combining the two schools will strengthen IST’s financial, academic and social well-being.”

Abercorn will continue classes at its current facility until the end of the 2015-16 academic year—June 10—and relocate to the larger, 12-acre IST campus during the summer, Fretwell said.

Currently, Abercorn is a for-profit institution and IST is a nonprofit school. IST will remain a nonprofit institution, Threadgill said.

“I think generally [the merger] is going to be a good thing because it allows [the schools] to grow further,” Abercorn education consultant Geoffrey Fretwell said. “The new facility will provide the scope to move into a middle school program. The [current Abercorn] campus doesn’t have the room to expand.”

Leander ISD appoints former Steiner Ranch Elementary teacher to head up learning center

Education Briefs Lake Travis | Westlake Cathy White[/caption]

Cathy White, an 18-year veteran of Leander ISD, was appointed principal of the district’s Leander Extended Opportunity center, or LEO, Jan. 12.

“I started as a teacher at Steiner Ranch Elementary, then at Bagdad Elementary when it opened,” she said in a news release. “I became the Whitestone Elementary principal after teaching, and then I was fortunate enough to return to Bagdad Elementary as a principal.”

LEO is the district's disciplinary alternative school. It serves all grade levels of students from all district schools who commit major offenses or are involved in a series of less serious offenses. Students attending the school are referred to the program by their home campuses.

“[White] is a dynamic leader who brings a vast amount of experience in working with students from a variety of backgrounds and putting systems in place to best support them,” Leander ISD Superintendent Bret Champion said.

White earned her bachelor’s degree from Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches in 1989 and her master’s degree from Texas State University in San Marcos in 2004.

“I’ve always been passionate about working with kids who are in difficult situations, whether it be because of bad choices or other things,” White said. “I’ve wanted to get [to LEO] for a while, but they have a very dedicated staff over there and positions are really hard to find.”

LTISD principal takes Lockhart ISD position

By Leslee BassmanEffective Feb. 22, Emmett Aubry, a Lake Travis resident and retired educator, will assume the duties of Lake Travis High School principal following former Principal Kim Brents’ Jan. 25 appointment as Lockhart ISD deputy superintendent by its school board.

Brents was named principal at LTHS in 2008.

“This is an incredible and well-deserved opportunity for Ms. Brents to begin the next phase of her professional career as a central office administrator,” LTISD Superintendent Brad Lancaster stated in a news release.

He said he hopes to post the job opening in February and conduct interviews in the spring, with the position filled in time for the start of the 2016-17 school year.

Eanes ISD intends to upgrade technology

The Digital Learning Task Force at Eanes ISD hopes to provide all district students with laptops or tablets for classroom use by August, said Carl Hooker, EISD director of technology and learning, at the district’s Jan. 12 board of trustees study session.

The task force led a series of surveys and symposiums to gather teacher, parent and student feedback about how technology integration in the classroom would work, Hooker said. Students will be able to access textbooks, assessments and learning applications from their devices, he said.

“All in all, even the [respondents] that had negative feedback said they agree that [the technology] is great, if it’s being used meaningfully,” Hooker said. “And I think that’s the most important thing.”

Device options for the district include iPads and Dell Inc. and Apple Inc. laptops, though students may receive different devices depending on their grade level, he said. The survey results showed teachers, parents and students agreed that a keyboard was necessary for older students, and elementary school students would benefit from touch screens, he said.

“The higher the grades were, the greater the need for a keyboard was,” Hooker said.

In May a bond referendum was passed that allocated approximately $5 million to the project. The task force plans to make final recommendations for purchasing the technology by March, with students beginning the 2016-17 school year with their new devices, he said.