Manor ISD Adopts myON to Close Literacy Gap

The Texas District of Innovation will use the personalized learning environment to help students learn to read in early childhood programs and in grades K through 8


(MINNEAPOLIS, MN) September 20, 2016 – myON, a business unit of Capstone and leading provider of personalized literacy solutions for the K-12 marketplace, today announced its partnership with Manor Independent School District. Access to myON will play a key role in the district’s mission to further engage the community in closing the literacy gap.


The myON implementation and renewed focus on literacy is part of the district’s new long-range plan as a certified Texas Education Agency (TEA) District of Innovation. With this designation, the district is exempt from certain sections of the Texas Education Code that inhibit the goals of the district as outlined in the locally adopted Innovation Plan. Superintendent Dr. Royce Avery plans to use the TEA certification to turn innovative ideas into a reality by forming community partnerships, closing the literacy gap, and leveraging technology.


Dr. Avery and Manor ISD partnered with myON to give students participating in the district-funded, full-day pre-K program access to high-quality digital texts both at home and at school. Three new pre-K centers are planned to open during the 2016–2017 school year. The partnership with myON will also provide students and teachers in eight elementary schools and two middle schools online and offline access to more than 6,000 fiction and nonfiction books customized to fit each student’s personal interests and reading level.


Manor, a booming suburb of Austin, TX, has a diverse population of urban and rural families, many of whom are English language learners.


“We see great value in myON’s wide variety of Spanish and dual-language titles,” said Dr. Avery. “Our goal as a community is to develop young readers long before students enter our school buildings. Investing in our younger generations will pay off as they mature through out their years in Manor ISD. With myON, and our focus on 21st-century teaching and learning, students and families can read together using technology and develop a love for reading in and out of the classroom.”


Enrollment in the district is expected to jump from 8,700 students this school year to 20,000 in five years. To guarantee a smooth transition during a major time of growth, Superintendent Avery is focused on collaborating with the city council, school board, and other community organizations to involve community members in the focus on overall student success.


“We are honored and excited to partner with Dr. Avery and his team at Manor ISD. We share his vision for instilling a love for reading in all students,” said Todd Brekhus, the president of myON. “With such a diverse and growing population, we will work with Superintendent Avery and the Manor community to put more books in the hands of students to further close the equity and literacy gap.”


About myON

myON, a business unit of Capstone, has created a personalized digital literacy environment that transforms learning. myON expands the classroom for teachers and students by providing unlimited access to the largest collection of more than 11,000 enhanced digital books with multimedia supports, real-time assessments, and a growing Literacy Toolkit that enhances the myON literacy ecosystem. myON empowers students and teachers with real-time, actionable data—number and type of books opened and read, time spent reading, results of regular benchmark assessments, and more—based on embedded Lexile® assessments that measure student reading and writing growth. With myON, every student experiences the benefits of personalized literacy instruction to propel them to new and unlimited learning opportunities. To learn more, visit



New Self-Help Book Illustrates the Five Most Important Leadership Skills

Life Lessons in Leadership: The Way of the Wallaby combines literary text with whimsical poetry and illustrations to inform and entertain leaders of all ages

(Los Angeles, CA) September 20, 2016 – Co-authors Ann McMullan and Michael Barrett today announced the publication of their book, Life Lessons in Leadership: The Way of the Wallaby. The educational and entertaining self-help book teaches essential personal leadership skills through a clever combination of literary text targeted to adult leaders, combined with captivating, childlike stories.

The book was written for anyone who currently serves in (or aspires to serve in) a leadership capacity in their professional or personal life—as well as school-age children and young adults. “We readily recognize principals, CEOs, and presidents as leaders, but parents are leaders, too. So are kids. Being the oldest sibling in a family or a leader in school activities requires all sorts of leadership skills,” said McMullan. “Whatever leadership role you find yourself in, there are basic principles of leadership that will strengthen your abilities and support your success. This book will help you understand those skills and apply them to your own situation.”

Life Lessons in Leadership: The Way of the Wallaby uses a literary style similar to Spenser Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese? to illustrate real-world lessons through the stories of engaging fictional characters.

Each of the book’s five short chapters focusses on an essential leadership skill and begins with McMullan’s lessons, written in prose, describing the importance of that skill. As the book flows from one chapter to another, McMullan demonstrates how each leadership skill builds on the others and how all are critical to the success of any leader.

Following McMullan’s description of each specific leadership skill, Barrett uses playful, rhyming language and joyful illustrations to share a related story featuring two lovable wallabies. Sheila and her baby daughter Josephine present examples of positive leadership skills, which are contrasted by examples of ineffective leadership. Readers can see sample pages from the book

In her praise of the book, Kathy Hurley, the CEO of Girls Thinking Global and co-author of Real Women, Real Leaders, commented, “Ann McMullan and Michael Barrett have penned the perfect leadership book for people of all ages. Life Lessons in Leadership: The Way of the Wallaby is engaging, entertaining, and inspiring. Whether you are 8 or 88, this fun, very readable book provides a blueprint for developing the essential leadership skills needed to grow your organization and motivate everyone around you.”

Life Lessons in Leadership: The Way of the Wallaby is available for $14.95 on CreateSpace and Amazon.

About the Authors

Ann McMullan is an education consultant based in Los Angeles, CA. She works throughout the United States and internationally as a public speaker, writer, and advisor focused on leadership and educator professional development. A frequent speaker at state and national education conferences Ann is also a contributor to educational publications, including eSchool News, Scholastic EduPulse, EdNET Insight, and CoSN. In recognition of her 16 years of work as the Executive Director for Educational Technology at Klein ISD (TX), Ann has won ISTE’s Making It Happen award and TCEA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. For more information or to contact Ann, please visit

Michael Barrett is a freelance writer who for many years has written for the San Antonio Express-News, including a monthly video column that ran for 20 years. His other publications include the San Antonio Light, San Antonio Current, Video Watchdog Magazine,Nostalgia Digest, and He received an Artists Grant from the Pace Foundation for his creative writing. He is currently collaborating on an animated film featuring the wallabies that is in development in Los Angeles. For more information or to contact Michael, please visit


Bush Institute Releases State of Our Cities: Profiles of Education Performance around the Nation

Comparable data on 100+ cities previewed during Mayors Roundtable at Bush Center


DALLAS, Texas (September 20, 2016) — The Bush Institute at the George W. Bush Presidential Center today released State of Our Cities: Profiles of Education Performance around the Nation, a new online tool that provides comparable education data on more than 100 cities across the country.

The interactive resource, designed to help mayors better engage in their city’s education landscape, was previewed this morning at a Mayors Roundtable hosted by the Bush Institute, which welcomed mayors and superintendents from across Texas for a discussion on education and how their cities are performing.

“Educators, parents, policymakers, and importantly, our mayors, need access to objective, comparable data so that they can make decisions to support the success of all students in their communities,” said Holly Kuzmich, Executive Director of the Bush Institute. “Mayors and state and local policymakers have an even greater role to play than ever before in improving the schools in their cities, and this tool is an especially valuable resource for them.”

State of Our Cities is the updated and enhanced version of the Mayors’ Report Card on Education, which covered education metrics for 33 cities and was first released at the request of Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings in January 2015 at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting.  While education data has been collected and aggregated at the state level, the Mayors’ Report Card was the first time that data was collected and aggregated at the city level.

The State of Our Cities tool includes data on 114 cities and allows users to make comparisons at the state, national, and even global level by including data from the Bush Institute’s Global Report Card, allowing city leaders, policymakers, parents, and educators to compare their community’s scores with global competitors.

“Our education systems are key to the success of our cities,” said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. “And as mayors armed with this tool, we will be able to better understand how well we’re doing at educating all of our students, as well as see what’s working in other cities that we can take and adapt in our own.”

The data outlines performance on indicators including: a high-quality education for every student; supported pathways to college and career; early childhood education that prepares students for the classroom; and effective educators and principals. Armed with these observations and data as a starting point, mayors can work with their communities to address important needs or accelerate change.

At this morning’s roundtable, Mayor Rawlings was joined by Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne, and Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams for the discussion, along with education leaders from across the state of Texas including: Superintendent Marcelo Cavazos, Arlington I.S.D.; Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, Dallas I.S.D.; Superintendent José Parra, Irving I.S.D.; Superintendent Kent Paredes Scribner, Fort Worth I.S.D.; Deputy Superintendent Dr. Emilio Castro, San Antonio I.S.D.; Ana Acevedo, Education Policy Administrator, City of San Antonio; Council Member Victoria Farrar-Myers, City of Arlington; Pete Geren, President, Sid W. Richardson Foundation; Lanet Greenhaw, Vice President of Education, Dallas Regional Chamber; Dr. Frank Hernandez, Associate Dean of SMU Simmons School of Education and Human Development; Dr. Cynthia Miller, Vice President Workforce Development and Education, Fort Worth Chamber; Juliet Stipeche, Director of Education, City of Houston; Todd Williams, Executive Director, Commit! Partnership, Dallas; Ken Hersh, President and CEO of the Bush Center, and Holly Kuzmich, Executive Director of the Bush Institute.

The roundtable highlighted that State of Our Cities is a starting point for compiling available data from multiple sources and helping inform mayors and city leaders about what is needed to help prepare all students for success in college and the workforce.

“I’d like to thank all of the mayors and superintendents who joined us this morning for an important conversation, and particularly Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings for asking that we take on this project,” said Kuzmich. “Our cities and school districts must ensure all students are receiving an education that prepares them for college and the workforce, and we agree that data is a first step in getting there.”

State of Our Cities includes cities from all states except Hawaii, which has a statewide school district. Featured cities were chosen based on the availability of comparable student achievement data and information of interest to mayors. All data in the tool is from publically available sources; the majority of the data comes from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the Office of Civil Rights’ (OCR) Civil Rights Data Collection, and Ed Facts.

The project, which will be routinely updated, is part of the Bush Institute’s Education Reform initiative to help ensure all students are on a path to success. To view the State of Our Cities and learn more about our work, visit:


RoboKind Debuts Robot with African-American Likeness to Engage Students in STEM
Guided by standards-aligned computer science and coding curriculum, humanoid robot Jett is designed to empower African-American students to embrace STEM

DALLAS (Sept. 20, 2016) – While the nation casts attention on a projected STEM employment deficit, activists and education leaders are addressing the diversity gap in education programs as a contributing factor. RoboKind, the world leader in social robotics, debuts a humanoid robot designed to expand access and engagement for African-American students in K-12 STEM education. The robot, with African-American likeness, will deliver the Robots4STEM curriculum designed in partnership with Quadrant 4 System Corporation (QFOR).

Guided by the Robots4STEM curriculum, the robot Jett helps students in third grade and beyond gain foundational skills in coding and computer science. The program is designed to support educators with or without experience in computer science in implementing Robots4STEM, all while meeting math and science curriculum standards.

To read the full release, click here