State Representative Tony Dale from the Texas House of Representatives recently visited Live Oak Elementary School as part of an invitation from Live Oak Principal Katie Holding. The tour showcased students and staff as well as the school’s Capital Area Regional Day School Program for the Deaf.
The visit was a component of Holding’s participation in a week-long professional development opportunity as part of the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s (HGSE) Principal’s Center, sponsored by Raise Your Hand Texas (RYHT). During the project, each principal was asked to contact their state representatives to invite them to visit their schools. A representative from Texas Senator Charles Schwertner’s office visited the school after receiving Principal Holding’s invitation earlier in the year.
Bringing legislators into classrooms gives schools an opportunity to showcase services public education offers that may not be available elsewhere, Holding said.
“Inviting lawmakers into our schools exposes them to our atmosphere and explains why we need funding or why testing isn’t right for all students,” Holding said. “They can put a name and face to those stories. Hopefully, it’s a spark for them to want to find out and say, ‘well, I wonder if other schools are experiencing this’,”
Holding’s participation in the HGSE aligns with Goal 3 of the Round Rock ISD Strategic Plan, which states “We will provide open opportunities, staff training, communication and flexible programming to eliminate disparities in expectations or achievement amongst our students.”
Dale’s tour touched on many points of Live Oak. He visited various rooms and grades, including a kindergarten class with deaf education students in it, a general education classroom, a flexible classroom and a fourth-grade class with deaf and special education students.
Holding introduced Dale to first-grade student Makayla Dracoulis. Makayla told her story of how she was inspired to learn sign language in order to better communicate with her fellow classmates.
“It was great to see the classrooms where the students have different opportunities to sit on couches and they’ve got curtains where it looks like you’re in someone’s home,” Dale said. “It had a much more warm feel than the bright light and institutional kind of feel that you see in a lot of schools.”
Dale said he understands the value of making visits to businesses and schools within his district.
“Whether it’s a school or a factory or anything else, there’s nothing like getting out there and seeing things,” Dale said. “You can sit in a meeting all day long and talk about things, but actually get out there and seeing it is much more valuable. It’s a great opportunity and I appreciate it.”