“Our Shared Future” Summit Commitments

“Our Shared Future”: 2016 Student-Led Education Summit

Participant Commitments

On August 2nd at the historic Julia Ideson Library, the Houston ISD Student Congress hosted the “Our Shared Future”: 2016 Student-Led Education Summit with nearly 50 round-table panelists and more than 60 audience members. These panelists included five state representatives and senators; seven business leaders; four non-profit leaders; three school board members; nine educators and professors; eight community advocates; three education lawyers; and seventeen high school students and recent graduates.

These leaders, who often have conflicting opinions and rarely sit at the same table together, brainstormed common ground alongside student panelists to collectively and individually create specific, measurable, and actionable commitments towards the future of the 5 million Texas public schoolchildren. Pictures can be seen here.


Their commitments for action are listed here:

Ailyn Gonzalez (HISD Student Congress) commits to continue to provide a voice for students while in college in Missouri.

Andrew Brennan (National Field Director, StuVoice.org) commits to providing support/strategy to the HISD Student Congress during the next legislative session, connecting them with national media to help tell student stories, and amplifying the voices of Houston students to a national audience.

Andrew Dewey (Vice President, Houston Federation of Teachers) commits to using local and national resources for training teachers in working with HISD and working to increase voting participation by putting voting registration in schools.

Andrew Farias (Research Chair, HISD Student Congress) commits to working with Janet Pozmantier to explore and potentially develop a mental health curriculum for HISD schools.

Ashlea Graves (Director, HISD Government Relations) commits to participating in and offering resources to student-led summits in the future.

Berlinda Mojica (Communications Director of ONE Houston) commits to publishing brief white paper to make a better and informed position on student discipline issues, and to continue amplifying student voices from Beechnut Academy to be heard.

Celina Moreno (Mexican American Legal Defense Fund) commits to fight for fair and adequate funding, advocate for adequate school funding in the state legislature, and work with students on how to get creative in order to get voices heard.

Demetron Dotson (Issues Chair, HISD Student Congress) commits to work with Roy Watson to help get industry professionals into schools.

Diana Tang (Director of Leadership Development, Teach for America) commits to hosting a series of house meetings in August with students, parents, and community leaders about the school-to-prison pipeline and commits to meet with the HISD Student Congress to talk about collaboration and coalition building.

Dr. Ruth Lopez Turley (Director, Houston Education Research Consortium) commits to producing research informative to HISD.

Dr. Stephen Klineberg (Founder, Kinder Institute) commits to complete his book “Prophetic City: Houston on the Cusp of a Changing America” to help ensure universal access to quality education in Houston from birth to college, from cradle to career.

Janet Pozmantier (Director, Harris County School Behavioral Health Initiative) commits to addressing mental health needs for HISD students.

Jessica DeBoe (Speaker, HISD Student Congress) commits to organizing 100 high school students for a trip to the Texas State Capitol in Austin.

Juliet Stipeche (Director of Education, City of Houston) commits to assisting in obtaining facilities for further HISD Student Congress events as well as working with the Student Congress in future activities and endeavours.

Kelly Frels (Bracewell LLP) commits to continue advocacy for early childhood education and other programs that will provide a quality education for all of Houston’s children.

Kenneth Huewitt (Interim Superintendent, Houston ISD) commits to fighting together with other board members to effectuate change in HISD and informing new HISD Superintendent Dr. Richard Carranza about the summit and HISD Student Congress.

Leah Barton (Chair, EMERGE Fellowship) commits to sending her son to an HISD school, getting business leaders involved in the classroom, and continuing to grow EMERGE, which sends high-achieving low-income students to college.

Louis Malfaro (President, Texas American Federation of Teachers) commits to working with HISD and other school districts to better support community schools and to continue fighting the A-F ratings given to schools and districts in Texas.

Mario Salinas (Mi Familia Vota) commits to providing non-partisan voter registration to the community.

Mike Holland (COO of Marek Systems) commits to continue to connecting young men and women with education curriculum and opportunities that match their skills and interests.

Rep. Alma Allen (Texas House of Representatives) commits to working alongside HISD to work together on bills they would like passed, fighting against bills that threaten public education, and providing transportation to Austin for members of the HISD Student Congress.

Rep. Cecil Bell Jr. (Texas House of Representatives) commits to pursuing career and technology options for HISD students

Rep. Gene Wu (Texas House of Representatives) commits to raising the juvenile jurisdiction age and identifying other juvenile issues that can be used to end the school to prison pipeline.

Rep. Ron Reynolds (Texas House of Representatives) commits to meeting with HISD Student Congress students as well as continuing to fight for education and fostering more discussion and dialogue in the senate concerning education.

Rhonda-Skillern Jones (Houston ISD Board Member) commits to pushing district to provide resources to HISD students including librarians, social workers, and counselors.

Rocio Villalobos (Texas Appleseed) commits to offering data and other resources to the HISD Student Congress for their lobbying efforts.

Roopa Gir (Director, iEducateUSA) commits to partner with HISD Student Congress to provide summer programs for elementary school students in her mentorship program, iEducate USA and working to implement iEducate in other local school districts.

Roy Watson (Chair of Workforce Development, Chevron Phillips Chemical) commits to bringing the Chevron association to schools and inviting them into the classroom to teach students and offer them opportunities of career readiness.

Scott Van Beck (Director, Houston A+ Challenge) commits to not leave the existing model of teaching and learning in education by identifying the moral and ethical responsibility of changing teaching.

Sen. Sylvia Garcia (Texas Senate) commits to refilling legislation concerning community schools in education.

Alpa Sridharan (Community Voices for Public Education) commits to getting 100 parent voices to the Texas State Legislature.

Tracy Davis (Director Retail Management Program, UHD) commits to getting industry professionals involved in HISD.

Uyiosa Elegon (HISD Student Congress) commits to meeting with state representatives regarding student education issues.

Zaakir Tameez (Founding Speaker, HISD Student Congress) commits to proposing student-voice related legislation in the Texas Legislature.



Other panelists included:

Amy Fan (Fmr. Speaker, HISD Student Congress) 

Angela Cotie (Project Executive, Gilbane Building Company)

Anna Eastman (Houston ISD Board Member)

Billy Reagan (Fmr. Superintendent of Houston ISD)

Bobby Tudor (Chairman, Tudor, Pickering, & Holt) 

Carlos Duarte (Texas Director, Mi Familia Vota) 

David Thompson (Partner, Thompson & Horton LLP) 

Dawona Miles (Maritime Education Coordinator, Port of Houston Authority) 

Jennifer Wagley (Director, Avenue CDC)

Kelly Krohn  (Director, TEACH)

Rita Farias (Director, American Latino Center)

Wanda Adams (Houston ISD Board Member)

Yamanda Wright (Texas Appleseed)

Nine other high school students


Student organizers included:

Zaakir Tameez (CVHS ’15)-  Invited all participants, created the summit agenda, and moderated the summit.

Jessica DeBoe (HSPVA ’17)- Designed the video presentation, chaired the student house meeting, commissioned and edited summit photographs, and co-moderated the summit.

Amy Fan (Bellaire ’16)– Invited all audience members, created social media content prior to the summit, created the summit agenda, and live-tweeted the summit.

Andrew Farias (Energy Institute ’17)– Designed summit handouts, created the summit agenda, and documented participant commitments.

Zoe Parker (Debakey ’17)– Invited all audience members, designed the video presentation, oversaw participant and audience registration, and kept time during the summit.

Ailyn Gonzalez (Davis ’16)– Created social media content prior to the summit, oversaw participant and audience registration, designed the video presentation,  oversaw thank you cards, and participated as a student round table representative.

Uyiosa Elegon (Debakey ’16)– Designed summit handouts, delivered lunch, and participated as a student round table representative.

Jalesha Bass (Yates ’17)– Created social media content prior to the summit and designed the video presentation.

Daniel Okulu (Westbury ’19)- Recorded interviews for the video presentation.

Demetron Dotson (Austin ’17)-Assembled summit microphones and participated as a student round table representative.

Juliana Dunn (CVHS ’15)– Created the summit agenda, designed nameplates, and oversaw participant and audience registration.

David Valerio (CVHS ’15)- Created the summit agenda and oversaw participant and audience registration.

Kate Ham (HSPVA ’16)– Designed summit handouts and nameplates.

Amna Ali (Debakey ’16)– Created social media content prior to the summit.


State of the Schools 2016


On Thursday, March 3, the following students represented the Student Congress at the State of the Schools at the Hilton Americas downtown. In other words, our students were invited to one of HISD’s most important luncheons along with 2,000 educators, business leaders, and community supporters.

Thanks to the following people who came and represented their district:

Ailyn Gonzalez, Davis High School

Delano Young, Mickey Leland College Prep

Tabitha Cerda, Milby High School

Uyiosa Elegon, Debakey High School

Amy Fan, Bellaire High School

Kaitlyn Galbadon, Westside High School

Eduardo Garcia, Lamar High School

Timeria Conley, Barbara Jordan High School

Aviance Obie, Westbury High School

Read more about the State of the Schools here.

StuCon Radio: Faculty


DearHISD.org should be coming up soon I hear. But StuCon Radio is still running strong! Check out the second episode of the year!

  1. Go to http://kpft.org/archive/
  2. Search “Letters and Politics”
  3. Find the one that says “Thursday, March 3, 2016 4:30 pm”
  4. Click to Play/Download the MP3!

3/3/16 4:30 pm

Dylan Anderson (Carnegie, 2017), Sean Atar (Energy, 2017), Janet Asante (DeBakey, 2017), and even our host Isabella Jarosz (HSPVA, 2017) weighed in on the hot topic of school faculty. The four discussed student-teacher relationships, which range from wonderful empathy to blatant unfairness and favoritism. They explored how their teachers handled reconciling a system of numbers with a network of human connections in the classroom, and their freedom to teach with the district’s demands. How different are student-teacher relationships at different schools, among different people, and in college versus high school? Hear how these students answer these questions.

StuCon Radio: Arts Programs


DearHISD.org should be coming up soon I hear. But StuCon Radio is still running strong! Check out the second episode of the year!

  1. Go to http://kpft.org/archive/
  2. Search “Letters and Politics”
  3. Find the one that says “Thursday, February 4, 2016 4:30 pm”
  4. Click to Play/Download the MP3!

2/4/16 4:30 pm

Our very own Isabella Jarosz interviews Savanna Lim (HSPVA, 2017), Trinity Kendrick (Carnegie Vanguard, 2017), and Uyiosa Elegon (DeBakey, 2016) about the beloved arts programs. The guests talk about their experiences at their respective high schools, discussing how the schools treat the arts. Just how important are “extracurricular” activities like arts education and even physical education? How has the amount of funding effected high school arts programs? Find out what our guests have to say.

New Leadership Structure


Time for a change, right?

At the Cabinet Workshop in December 2015, the HISD Student Congress Cabinet revamped the entire organizational structure of the Congress. Everyone agreed that the old structure obstructed good communication and efficiency. With this new structure, we’ve fixed those things and more. Thanks to the lovely Autumn Caraway for creating this wonderful presentation, which we’ve unveiled at multiple meetings.

Please take a look for yourself!


StuCon Radio: Second Semester


Sorry, but I’m still trying to embed audio files on this site with our current subscription. Until I figure out how to do this, here’s how you can get to the StuCon Radio Show on 90.1 KPFT.

  1. Go to http://kpft.org/archive/
  2. Search “Letters and Politics”
  3. Find the one that says “Thursday, January 14, 2016 4:30 pm”
  4. Click to Play/Download the MP3!

1/14/16 4:30 pm

Our host Isabella Jarosz talks with Sam Linda (HSPVA, 2016) and Joshua Ledford (Bellaire, 2017) discuss the second semester of high school, from freshman year to senior year. What do your peers have to say about the workload, clubs, college, finals, APs, and their experiences at their respective schools?

Meeting at East Early College

On a wonderfully rainy and miserable morning, a group of teenagers roamed the halls of East Early College High School for the second-to-last Student Congress meeting of the year.

And after some bragging about the Austin trip (TL;DR: 100 PEOPLE + TALKING W/ LEGISLATORS + PICTURES+ STUDENT-RUN STUDENT-LED POWER) and the Student Code of Conduct (TL;DR: GIANT MEETING WITH 50+ IMPORTANT PEOPLE AND STUCON TAKES UP 80% OF THE AGENDA), we had some special guests join us.

Audene Chung and Amanda Oceguera from HISD Nutrition Services brought along samples of some chili and sweet potato cake for us to munch on. Meanwhile, they gave a thorough presentation about how Aramark and HISD Nutrition Services operate and took our questions and feedback about HISD food.

They also brought up the app Nutrislice where students can view the lunch menus on their phone and offer feedback on specific dishes.

Afterwards, Ann McCoy, a professor at the University of Houston, talked with us and asked us what we would change and keep about our schools.

And since there was a surplus of chili and cake, we ate that for lunch and then broke up into committee meetings.

Advocacy left the Student Congress meeting early to attend a Restorative Justice Conference at the University of Houston. (Ditchers. :P)

Finance brainstormed ideas for fundraisers and potential sponsorships.

Governance worked out the logistics for the last meeting at T.H. Rogers.

Initiative brainstormed ideas for their booths for the middle school meeting and started planning their arts initiative.

Outreach discussed future plans for TEDxHISD and worked out plans for booths at the middle school meeting.

Photos from the meeting can be found here.

Austin Trip!

By: Sara Ho, Bellaire, 2016

On March 22, 2015, 100 people clad in stylish blue Student Congress t-shirts gathered in the parking lot of the Hattie Mae White building in the wee hours of the morning. Two full yellow school buses carted everyone, two or three to a seat, from Houston to the State Capitol in Austin.

After everyone exited the bus, we were recognized by the State Senate. Group pictures with important people followed. Thanks to Senator Sylvia Garcia, Senator John Whitmire, Senator Senforia Thompson, Senator Rodney Ellis, and Representative Jim Murphy! HISD board member and former president Juliet Stipeche and current president Rhonda Skillern Jones followed along with us too. After a break for lunch, we watched the Texas 84th legislature at work in the House, and we were recognized again. (We’re so famous.)

Later, we met in the Agricultural Museum inside the capitol building to have Q&A sessions with some awesome people who had the time to meet with us. Thanks to the following people for speaking with us (and for taking selfies with us afterwards)!

  • Sen. John Whitmire
  • Sen. Rodney Ellis
  • Sen. Sylvia Garcia
  • Rep. Senfronia Thompson
  • Rep. Sylvester Turner
  • Rep. Harold Dutton
  • Rep. Armando Walle
  • Rep. Alma Allen
  • Rep. Gene Wu
  • Rep. Ana Hernandez
  • Rep. Jessica Farrar
  • Rep. Debbie Riddle
  • Rep. Gilbert Pena

We learned a lot about infrastructure, education, and government funding, among many other things. We also wrote letters to everyone we met afterwards on our three issues: truancy decriminalization, increased pre-K funding, and Chapter 41 public school funding equalization.

After some minor bus issues, we returned home to Houston safe and sound, after a quick stop at Buc-ee’s, of course. Shout out to Austin ISD for lending us a bus!

Special thanks to Ashlea Graves from Governmental Relations and Susan Kaler from the Student Support Office for helping us organize the trip!

Find pictures from the trip on HISDStuCon’s Facebook page.