“You have to be an advocate for your children. Do not allow them to be stepped on. Serve your children by getting involved and vote for a pro-education senator.” – Convocation Keynote Speaker Charles Foster Johnson, pastor and education advocate.

By Keisha Roland/ETR
The famed Green Marching Machine’s drum beats shook Lobo Coliseum and signaled renewed hopes, high student achievement and anticipation for the new school year. There was excitement, hope and confidence with a pep rally-type atmosphere. Longview ISD ROTC honor guards presented the flags as the award-winning Lobo band played the national anthem. Reverend Evan Dolive opened the with prayer, asking the Lord’s blessings for the new school year.
Following invocation, Longview ISD Superintendent Dr. James Wilcox recognized administrators, teachers and staff for their devotion to excellence.
“You are the best school district east of I-45,” reiterated Wilcox. “You are doing great things for students, and because of you, our students are excelling.”
Assistant Superintendent for Campus Accountability Horace Williams thanked and encouraged the principals, teachers and staff, urging them to continue on the path of excellence. According to Williams, if the Lobo nation continues chasing student achievement, distinguished stars will come forth.
With 6 distinguished stars, Hudson Pep and Ned E. Williams Elementary Schools are two of the highest performing schools in Texas in their TEA groups. Other accomplishments Williams cited include:
*Bramlette, JL Everhart, Johnston McQueen and Ware Elementary Schools all received 1 distinguished star.
*Judson Middle School received 6 distinguished stars.
*Foster Middle School is one of the highest rated schools in the state in its demographics comparison group with 7 distinguished stars.
*Hudson PEP Principal Sue Wilson was named Regional President Principal of the Year.
Longview ISD Montessori Prep Academy will house 1,100 students, making it the largest Montessori school in America.
Others who took the podium included inspiring and dedicated Lisa Mize, 2016-2017 Secondary Teacher of the Year from Foster Middle School. Mize believes that “actions have an endless impact on students.” She asked teachers and staff to “count it all joy” even in the darkest moments. The highlights of her speech hovered around courage, collaboration and unity. “We have the power with the right words to build a bridge of community, encourage, build up knowledge and inspire students,” said Mize. “There is a whole world that can tear us down. Let’s not do it to one another here.”
Dr. Jody Clements, Longview ISD assistant superintendent for community relations introduced the keynote speaker; Charles Foster Johnson, pastor and education advocate. Johnson is founder and co-pastor of Bread, a faith community in Fort Worth, Texas. He founded Pastors for Texas Children, a statewide organization mobilizing the faith community for public education ministry and advocacy.
Reverend Johnson enthusiasm about education radiated as he lavished adulations on administration, teachers and staff for their hard work. “Keep motivating, keep encouraging and keep pumping knowledge in the upcoming school year and the kids will fly,” stated.
Johnson emphasized that we have a great Creator and cannot do everything on our own, but together anything is possible. It is important to note, advocacy is important for Johnson. He informed a packed Lobo coliseum of elected officials who do not support public education. Johnson urged educators, and anyone who works in the field of education to continuously advocate for students and public education
“You have to be an advocate for your children,” he said. “Do not allow them to be stepped on. Serve your children by getting involved and vote for a pro-education senator.”
The convocation was packed with excitement and hopes of reaching higher heights. For instance, Longview ISD Montessori Prep Academy Principal Dr. Jackie Barnett is excited about the upcoming school year.
“The greatest satisfaction is that we will all be together,” said Barnett. “We will set the foundation for the future, molding and instilling strong values into our students.” But she is not alone in this endeavor.
Scott Fischer, first year principal at Johnston McQueen Elementary School, is ready to provide top-quality education.
” I am looking forward to all the smiles and excitement of the first day,” he said. “Most importantly, I am ready for the students to learn and grow. Increasing the growth in our students is a major priority.”
Judson Middle School ELA teacher David Gutierrez is ecstatic about teaching his students the importance of effective communication skills.
“My number one goal is to teach students writing with purpose and excellence,” he said. “Writing skills are more important than ever. Understanding and mastering this skill will allow students to better express themselves in school, life and careers. It is the first step in solving any conflict.”
As the convocation ended, Pastor Richard Williams gave a heartfelt benediction.
The Longview Independent School District is a diverse and award-winning 6A public school system serving more than 8,400 students and employing about 1,400 staff members. Convocation is a great way for campuses to get together and build unity as a district.