HCDE kicks off new school year with ‘The Art of Being Exceptional’

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August 15, 2022 by HCDE Communications

Before Harris County Department of Education employees embark on the first day of school on August 22, the Department hosted its annual Convocation to kick off the school year.

To view the full Convocation photo gallery, click here.

To view the full Service Awards photo gallery, click here.

HCDE’s 980 employees attended the event at the Kingdom Builders Center in southwest Houston to hear the Department’s plans and goals for the upcoming school year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, HCDE hadn’t been able to host an in-person Convocation since 2019.

County Superintendent James Colbert Jr. led the program.

“You have to do exceptional things to be exceptional,” he said, alluding to this year’s theme, “The Art of Being Exceptional.”

Julian Guerrero is a Fortis Academy graduate—and an exceptional young man. Now an employee with HCDE’s Records Management division, his story of addiction and sobriety was shared during the all-staff event. It was his first time attending.

After receiving a standing ovation, Guerrero got a spur-of-the-moment chance to speak to HCDE employees at the Convocation on Friday. He says he is proud to share his story of recovery, made possible with the help of HCDE.

“If I can help someone the way I was helped, and it can benefit and change someone’s life the way mine was by sharing my story, then I’ve done my job. People like me wouldn’t be recognized without events like Convocation,” said Guerrero. “It’s a blessing and an honor to be in this position. I couldn’t have done it by myself.”

Colbert also highlighted Academic and Behavior School East student Christopher Morrison Jr., a talented artist diagnosed on the autism spectrum. At ABS East, Morrison’s talent for art was fostered. His creativity flourished, and now uses his drawings as a way to channel frustration.

Guerrero and Morrison’s stories were featured as part of Superintendent Colbert’s multifaceted strategy for the 2022-2023 school year.

“One thing we need to recognize is that there is nothing like us in the entire state of Texas,” he said. “Our primary objective is to address the blind spots in public education.”

The strategy focuses on facilities, students, advocacy, programs, trustees, and employees.

“Multifaceted strategies are hard to conceive. But when you pull it off, the gains are tremendous,” said Colbert. “We’ve got six components of how we’re going to be the standard bearers in the nation. We’re going to be the best.”

About Harris County Department of Education: Harris County Department of Education is a unique educational entity that serves school districts, government agencies, nonprofits, and the public in the third-largest county in the U.S. Annually, HCDE serves a quarter-million students and educators through schools for students with profound special needs; one of the oldest adult education programs in Texas; Head Start early childhood education; school-based therapy services; and afterschool programs. HCDE also offers educators professional development and certification, school safety training, records management, and a purchasing cooperative. #SeeTheImpact at www.hcde-texas.org.

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