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Principal's Corner - John Ellison

12 months ago

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jellison@houston.k12.ms.us


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Houston School District’s Grad Rate Soars More Than 20 Points in Two Years
Houston, MS: Official graduation rates for Mississippi school districts were released this week, and the Houston School District increased its graduation rate to 89.1%.

In 2015-2016, the graduation rate of HSD was 67.6%. The following year, the rate was 82.9%, just barely under the state average of 83%. The state graduation average for 2017-2018 is 84%.

“This most recent graduation rate is also a 30 point jump from 2010, during which the district’s graduation rate was 58.2%,” said Tony Cook, HSD superintendent.

Increasing the graduation rate has been a major goal of HSD since Cook became superintendent.

“Higher graduation rates means that more students have a better opportunity for success in life after high school, whether they go to college or straight into the workforce.” said Cook.

Cook is also quick to point out that improving the graduation rate is not just a high school issue, but rather a joint effort elementary through high school.

“We track year-to-year progression and put an emphasis on graduation beginning in pre-K and continuing through 12th grade,” said Cook. “We have also hired a graduation coach to make sure at-risk students at the middle and high school levels are on track for graduation.”

School attendance is also heavily monitored at each building and interventions are put into place for those with chronic absences. Academic interventions are also implemented to increase student growth.

The Houston School District is also providing special opportunities for students who are behind, as well as students who are advanced.

“Early graduation is offered to students two years behind grade level to ensure they complete school,” said Cook. “We also provide opportunities for our advanced students through the Duke Tip program, PSAT and increased numbers in our accelerated courses.”

The Houston School District is also promoting graduation through college walls, college field trips, graduation banners, guest speakers, college scavenger hunts, college bulletin boards, career expos, career days and college days.

Bullying Procedures for Processing a Complaint

10 days ago

By Shane Presley

Procedures for Processing a Complaint  

Any student, school employee or volunteer who feels he/she has been a victim of bullying or harassing behavior, or has witnessed or who has reliable information that a student, school employee or volunteer has been subject to bullying or harassing behavior shall report such conduct to a teacher, principal, counselor or other school official.  The report shall be made promptly but no later than five (5) calendar days after the alleged act or acts occurred.  The school official shall complete a “Bullying/Harassing Behavior” complaint form which shall include the name of the reporting person, the specific nature and date of the misconduct, the names of the victim of the misconduct, the names of any witnesses and any other information that would assist in the investigation of the complaint.  The report shall be given promptly to the principal or superintendent who shall institute an immediate investigation.  Complaints against the principal shall be made to the superintendent and complaints against the superintendent shall be made to the Board chairman.    

The complaint shall be investigated promptly.  Parents will be notified of the nature of any complaint involving their student.  The District official will arrange such meetings as may be necessary with all concerned parties within five (5) working days after initial receipt of the complaint by the District.  The parties will have an opportunity to submit evidence and a list of witnesses.  All findings related to the complaint will be reduced to writing.  The District official conducting the investigation shall notify the victim and parents as appropriate when the investigation is completed and a decision regarding disciplinary action, as warranted, is determined.   

 If the victim is not satisfied with the decision of the District official, he/she may submit a written appeal to the superintendent.  Such appeal shall be filed within ten (10) working days after receipt of the results of the initial decision.  The superintendent will arrange such meetings with the victim and other affected parties as deemed necessary to discuss the appeal.  The superintendent shall provide a written decision to the victim’s appeal within ten (10) working days.   If the victim is not satisfied with the decision of the superintendent, a written appeal may be filed with the Board.  Such appeal shall be filed within ten (10) working days after receipt of the decision of the superintendent.  The Board shall, within twenty (20) working days, allow the victim and parents as appropriate to appear before the Board to present reasons for dissatisfaction with the decision of the superintendent.  The Board shall provide a written decision within ten (10) working days following the victim’s appearance before the Board.

Houston School District's Tony Cook Named Mississippi's Superintendent of the Year

10 days ago

By: Lisa Karmacharya, Director of MASA

“A dynamic, driven and dedicated leader that promotes excellence in our students, teachers, school leaders and community” are the words one administrator used to describe Mississippi’s 2018-2019 Superintendent of the Year. The Mississippi Association of School Administrators (MASA) is pleased to announce Mr. Tony Cook, Superintendent of the Houston School District, has been selected as the 2018-2019 Superintendent of the Year for the state of Mississippi.  


In the spring of 2015, Mr. Cook was given the opportunity to return to his hometown of Houston as the superintendent and has since led the school district in achieving its highest rating in history.  An incredibly passionate and child-centered leader, Mr. Cook is not one for excuses, but rather, one for solutions.  By engaging his local community for support, the Houston School District has been able to overcome some of the challenges that rural and high poverty districts face.  Mr. Cook believes in working alongside his staff and provides them with the support they need to ensure the success of children as evidenced by the ongoing improvement of student outcomes.

Mr. Tony Cook pictured with State Superintendent Dr. Carey M. Wright.

An educator for more than twenty years, Mr. Cook understands the challenges and opportunities in the public school arena and is dedicated to providing a quality learning experience for all children.  He continues to engage in his own professional learning, demonstrating his belief in continuous improvement by modeling and leading by example.  Mr. Cook is a servant leader who understands and respects the value of experience and collective wisdom.  He has been honored to serve on many state and local committees including the state accountability task force and the state superintendent’s advisory committee.  In 2009, Mr. Cook was selected as Administrator of the Year for the Pontotoc City School District.  Mr. Cook’s thoughts about his move back home and the successes they have seen is summed up in this quote “I'm so proud of my hometown and my home district. Once a Topper, always a Topper.”

Mr. Cook is married to the former Ms. Pam Kyle of Pontotoc. 

MASA’s Superintendent of the Year Program provides our school district leaders an opportunity to share their successes in the areas of leadership for learning, communication, professionalism and community involvement with the winner competing during The American Association of School Administrators, The School Superintendent’s Association Annual National Conference on Education.  This year’s competition will be held in Los Angeles where all state affiliate winners will be honored.  On behalf of the entire MASA membership and Board of Directors, we are incredibly proud to have him representing the great state of Mississippi and we wish him and the Houston School District continued success!