Asked about what makes Grapevine Colleyville school district special, superintendent Robin Ryan offered a list of more than 40 recent achievements.
He also produced an impressive list of “looking ahead to 2015” that included iUniversity Prep graduating its first class in May with 22 students.
The superintendent addressed many of those accomplishments, past and planned, in an interview Thursday at Colleyville Heritage High School — where he once served as principal.
Then, he summed it up by bragging on GCISD across the board.
“We feel like we are a destination school district,” Ryan said, explaining that families move to the area to enroll in the highly-regarded school system that boasts approximately 13,400 students. “Parents come from all over the country to ensure their kids have the opportunities provided by GCISD.”
A pet project introduced for 2014-2015 is the “25 book challenge,” where anyone district-wide is asked to read 25 books during the school year. Staff, students and others are encouraged to participate.
No reward is offered, he said, just the satisfaction of reading.
“What they do get is the depth of understanding from and the cultural awareness of reading 25 books,” Ryan said. “It exposes you to the joy of starting a book and finishing a book and starting another book.”
The night before, he fell asleep with one page left to finish reading “Killing Lincoln” by Bill O’Reilly. Next up was “One summer: America, 1927” by Bill Bryson.
For the interview, Ryan chose to sit in Colleyville Heritage’s new Go Center, an area in the school near the coffee bar that is a college and career service for students with the goal of creating a school-wide college going culture.
Grapevine High School initiated a similar program at their Technology Education and Career Center last school year.
“It helps set up our kids for success,” Ryan said.
Ryan talked about the importance of their continued implementation of their LEAD 2021 plan.
“Driven by the LEAD 2021 strategic plan, GCISD continues increasing the level of rigor and innovation in all areas of our students’ learning to address expectations of the community and better prepare students for success in college and their future careers,” Ryan said of the 10-year strategic plan developed in 2011.
LEAD 2021, which stands for Leading Excellence-Action Driven, has four core objectives — preparing students to be college and career ready, harnessing technology for learning, fostering citizenship and mutual respect and building community involvement.
In the “looking ahead” portion of the interview, Ryan addressed the upcoming graduation of its first class for iUniversity Prep, an open enrollment virtual academy. In its second year, the online school provides an alternative to brick-and-mortar public schools.
“Virtual learning is a place that education is expanding toward,” he said.
Another highlight is Grapevine-Colleyville ISD Collegiate Academy, which together with Tarrant County College Northeast is designed to make college an opportunity for all students.
The program allows district students to earn their high school diploma and as many as 60 college credits, while having access to college facilities, services and resources.
The accomplishments fit well into this year’s GCISD theme: “Always Driving Forward.”
“It’s the teacher who does the work and plans and works with the kids to make a difference,” Ryan said. “And it’s the rest of the staff. And it’s the engaged community. And it’s the great kids.”
Marty Sabota, 817-390-7367