Klein News
Arctic Explorer: A Journey Through the Latitudes
Oct 20 2014 - 01:36:00 pm

“I have lived in Canada and Russia, so I knew about cold climates, but this was a view into the Arctic, a totally different biodome than anything I had experienced before,” said Tammy Koonce, Klein ISD Social Studies Instructional Specialist.


Having been one of only 25 distinguished educators from the United States and Canada, Koonce was elated to learn that she had been selected by National Geographic to serve as Linblad Expeditions and National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellow.


“I felt honored and very fortunate to have this opportunity,” said Koonce.


Koonce’s Journey


The trip began with an overnight stay in Oslo, Norway and ended by boarding the National Geographic Explorer, an expedition ship able to reach some of the planet’s most remote shores, in Svalbard, a group of islands located in the Arctic Ocean halfway between Norway and the North Pole. There, we spent several days visiting different islands, going ashore to hike in the tundra and snow and even got to kayak along the shores. We saw numerous polar bears, whales, walruses, birds, reindeer and even saw a spectacular glacier calve, the breaking off of chunks of ice at the edge of a glacier. 


Stopping in Scoresbysund, Greenland, we were treated to boat cruises among the icebergs. Later, we visited a remote Inuit village, Ittoqqortoormiit which is completely isolated from the rest of the world for months out of the year because of the ice. The people were eager to share their way of life with us.


We were granted permission by the Norwegian government to go ashore on Jan Mayen Island, the northern most island in the Mid Atlantic Ridge with pristine, black sand beaches.


The next stop was Iceland where we spent a couple of days in the northwestern Fjords hiking and taking pictures of whales and birds right at the edge of the Arctic Circle. We disembarked in Reykjavik, had a city tour and visited the famous hot springs of the Blue Lagoon.


I was gone almost three weeks and during that time it never got dark. In Reykjavik, it was dusk from about 2 – 4 a.m. but never got dark.


While on the ship, the three Grosvenor Teacher Fellows took water samples for salinity and temperature and charted air temperature changes as we moved. The temperature of both air and water reflect the origin of the water currents. These currents affect the climates of the lands they flow near.


Outside of learning about the climate, the natural habitat and native animals, we were also treated to an open bridge where we were able to learn about international law and ship access to ports and open water. The captain and his officers were eager to explain the instruments, maps and charts and how they use them.


One thing that surprised me about the Arctic was the solitude. There were hours that I would just look out at the ice, hearing only the wind and the breaking of ice under the ship. The air was so clean and clear, the water endless, and deep blue. It was beautiful, untouched, a fragile world in balance. 


This trip made me care about the Arctic region. Not just because it affects my life and climate, but because of the beauty and the unspoiled lands and the wildlife that depends on this region staying the way it is.


As a world geography teacher I taught about the oceans and the effects of currents on climate but to actually experience it was amazing. I want to communicate to students and fellow educators the importance of this region and why we should care about it. I’d like to inspire others to go and see for themselves how different a place the Arctic is and what we can do to preserve its beauty and function.


Check out a full photo album of the journey, click here. And to learn more about the National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellow Program, click here.

Character Counts in Klein ISD
Oct 17 2014 - 03:07:00 pm

The third week in October is designated Character Counts! Week. During this week, students and staff across Klein ISD will participate in many activities that reflect the ways we support each other and the ways we come together and seek common ground. Klein ISD has many programs and activities that help students learn about and build character. With these great programs in place, many students and staff have already shown great leaps in their character.


Many children who rely on free or reduced-price lunches during the school year go home to meager or no meals on the weekends. With the help of the Houston Food Bank’s Backpack Buddy program, Klein ISD students don’t have to face that.


The Houston Food Bank’s Backpack Buddy Program provides food for students who may go home to nothing over the weekend.  Each Friday afternoon, eligible students are given a sack of food containing important proteins, grains, fruits and vegetables, healthy snacks and milk in a discrete backpack. Staff members from the Klein ISD Warehouse have nearly perfected a system that allows these meals to be delivered to the schools quickly and discreetly.


“Whatever it takes, we’ll do,” said Allan Westmoreland, Klein ISD Director of Warehousing. After all, it’s for the kids,” he added.


Character has proven to be one of the strongest traits that Klein Oak sophomore Taylor Hammons has. Despite being given only two days to live after birth, she has more than beat the odds. Hammons is now a leader at her school and to more than 1,000 screaming Friday night fans while serving as the school’s mascot.


“I think she exudes the character of what the mascot is,” said Klein Oak assistant principal Kimberly Walters. “She represents our school both inside and out of that suit.”


Hammons believes that being the school mascot is not just about football, it’s about school spirit and being a leader. She not only attends football games, but she makes the time to attend volleyball and baseball games and even visits clubs and organizations at their meets and tournaments.


“It’s crazy to see how far I’ve come from being a baby who wasn’t supposed to live past two day to now being a leader in the school,” said Hammons. “Everything happens for a reason and you should never give up.”


Klein Oak freshman Eduardo Gonzalez was selected as an 8th grader at Doerre to attend the JASON Argonaut summer study program in The Bahamas this past summer. The six day adventure provided the opportunity to explore the different research activities taking place at the Cape Eleuthera Institute such as capturing and collecting data on sea turtles, snorkeling to compares types of organisms and much more.


Upon his return, Gonzalez hand wrote thank you notes to the people involved in his selection process. He personally took the time to thank district personnel for helping him through the interview process.


“This Argonaut experience has changed my life and has inspired me to learn more about the world of science,” Said Gonzalez.


Character Counts in Klein ISD and these are only a few of the stories that show our students and staff exhibiting this trait.  

Klein ISD Police Team Up for National Bus Safety Week
Oct 02 2014 - 04:04:00 pm

As part of National School Bus Safety Week which is October 20-24, 2014, Klein ISD Police officers will team up with Department of Public Safety Troopers, Harris County Sheriff’s Deputies and Harris County Pct. 4 Constables to  encourage drivers to obey state laws by not passing school buses while loading or unloading, if visual lights are flashing or stop signs displayed. Officers will follow and/or ride school buses to identify drivers who break the law.


During the period when children are entering or exiting the buses, drivers who fail to follow state law place the children at substantial risk of injury or death. 


“It is our hope that through this initiative we can raise the public’s awareness of traffic laws related to buses when loading and unloading and avoid any potential tragedies,” stated Klein ISD Police Chief David Kimberly.

In the United States approximately 26 million students ride a school bus daily (NHSTA). Texas Education Agency estimates 1.5 million students ride school buses daily in Texas.  In Klein ISD, approximately 20,000 students ride school buses daily.  The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that “an average of 18 school age occupants die in transportation related crashes each year.”


According to Texas statute, drivers traveling in either direction must stop when approaching a school bus that is stopped and operating a visual signal. The driver may not proceed until one of the following occurs: the school bus resumes motion, the operator is signaled by the bus driver to proceed or the visual signal is no longer activated.


It is also important to know that if a road is divided only by a left-turning lane, drivers on both sides of the roadway must stop for school buses when red flashing lights are activated.

High School Students Sell T-shirts to Benefit Charities
Oct 02 2014 - 04:00:00 pm

Student Council members at Klein Oak and Klein Collins High Schools are selling T-shirts as part of their fall philanthropy projects. “The House that Oak Built” is the fall charity project of the Klein Oak Student Council, benefiting Habitat for Humanity. They are selling T-shirts for $10 each and with a donation of $100 or more, they will add the donor’s name to the back of the shirt. To purchased “The House that Oak Built” T-shirt, please contact Susan Parent.


Members of the Klein Collins Student Council have selected the MD Anderson Cancer Center as their benefiting charity. Their “Neon Nights for Brighter Days” T-shirts can be purchase for $20 with $10 going to MD Anderson. The students are also accepting monetary donations in any amount. They have set a donation goal of $10,000 and will present a check to the organization at their Homecoming football game on Oct. 11, 2014. To purchase a “Neon Nights for Brighter Days” T-shirt or to make a monetary donation, visit https://kleinisd.schoolcashonline.com/Fee.

Klein Oak Choir Wins National Award
Oct 02 2014 - 03:55:00 pm

The Klein Oak Chorale was recognized as one of two National Choral Award winners by The Foundation for Music Education, a national organization dedicated to the support and advancement of music education in schools. Each year, the foundation sponsors a national competition called the Mark of Excellence for choir, band and orchestra. This year’s event included 223 total entries and more than 20 high school choirs. This also marks the first time a Klein ISD choir ensemble has been recognized in the Mark of Excellence competition. Congratulations to these students on this wonderful achievement.
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