February 11, 2019
Windfern School of Choice students listen to Shannon Perry (far right), who served as a keynote speaker during the school’s 1st Annual Windfern Summit on Jan. 31. Students worked with speakers during multiple sessions throughout the day, addressing topics such as goal setting and overcoming adversity. Female students (“Lighthouse Ladies”) wore pink shirts while male students (“Guys with Ties”) wore ties and collared shirts.
Feb. 11, 2019—In helping empower its students, Windfern School of Choice staff held the 1st Annual Windfern Summit on Jan. 31. The full-day event allowed both male (“Guys with Ties”) and female (“Lighthouse Ladies”) students to hear from featured speakers, work on goal setting and overcoming adversity and even speak with campus alumni in breakout sessions.
“Students oftentimes think that the adults they see every day have it all together and have never had to struggle through difficulties,” said Martha Strother, Windfern principal. “The speakers at our summit busted that myth as they shared their personal stories of overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The message we were hoping to convey to all students is that to overcome odds, you have to live life with a ‘whatever it takes’ attitude.”
Windfern graduate Mike Garcia (right) signs a square for a student’s “Lighthouse Bingo” card, which was used as an opportunity to earn tickets for door prizes. The topics on the bingo card ranged from finding someone who owned a cat to finding a fellow student who plays Fortnite.
Students began their day breaking into groups and picking up goodie bags, with the males also picking out ties to wear with their collared shirts. Male groups were named after qualities such as integrity and respect, while the four female groups were named after gemstones such as a ruby or emerald.
The day continued with a rotation between keynote speakers and breakout sessions. Male students began the day with a session on etiquette in addition to tying their ties or getting assistance if anyone was in need.
Shannon Perry and Darryl Bush served as the keynote speakers. Perry is an accomplished speaker and author who hosts a weekly TV show called Grace in High Heels. Bush is a Houston native and currently serves as a CFISD volunteer and community youth service specialist at Woodard Elementary School and Cypress Ranch High School.
Following the keynote addresses, the groups moved throughout the campus to breakout sessions, each running for approximately 40 minutes with speakers not only delivering messages but also opening dialogues with students. Many also included worksheets where students wrote down goals, their stories of adversity or what they took from the summit.
“I wanted to empower the students to know that they can accomplish anything they are willing to work hard for,” said Wendy Glasscock, a Windfern government and history teacher and summit speaker. “I also wanted the students to know they are overcomers and that there is treasure in painful life lessons.”
Added fellow speaker and Windfern teacher Julio Ayuso: “As teachers, sometimes we think that students are not listening, but we later find out that they were listening more intently than we think. I felt like the students were very receptive. They were enthusiastic to know that I am just like them. We all have struggles to overcome and this connects all of us as human beings.”
Thornton Middle School Assistant Principal Humberto Abitua speaks with students during the 1st Annual Windfern Summit. Abitua served a speaker during the summit’s breakout sessions and shared his personal story of overcoming adversity.
Joining Glasscock in speaking to the female students were Windfern administrator Jolene Foust, Windfern graduate Lea’h Sampson and author and motivational speaker Soul Singh. Joining Ayuso were Thornton Middle School Assistant Principal Humberto Abitua, CFISD Director of Digital Cinema Dave DeJohn and Windfern graduate Mike Garcia.
“This experience gave me an opportunity to grow as a leader and a future principal someday,” Abitua said. “It’s always fun to share and help students make the right choices. I believe the students saw me as someone like them, from the same culture, and that my success is an example of what they can accomplish. It is their turn, their time to take steps in the right direction and that it’s not too late to make a change in their lives.”
Lea’h Sampson joined fellow Windfern graduate Mike Garcia in serving as speakers during the school’s student summit. Students rotated through 40-minute sessions throughout the day.
In addition to speaking with students during the Windfern Summit, a number of speakers added worksheets to their talks. CFISD Director of Digital Cinema Dave DeJohn for example, used a worksheet incorporating the different aspects of a movie to have each student tell his own story.
Students were served lunch while sponsors also donated items for door prizes during the meal and at the end of the summit. Tickets were used to better each student’s chances at prizes, earning the opportunity with participation in sessions. “Lighthouse Bingo” was also used to earn tickets, with students approaching other participants or speakers and finding those who matched bingo squares, which ranged from being an only child to owning a cat.
“Our ‘Lighthouse Ladies’ and ‘Guys with Ties’ were fully engaged throughout the day while learning how to set and reach goals, and how to overcome obstacles, have self-respect, have respect for others, have perseverance and to plan for their future education and/or career,” said Susan Calda, Windfern director of instruction who led in the planning. “Students laughed together, cried together, hugged one another, helped one another, seemed to become closer and more confident, and they appeared to stand a little taller realizing they have a special place in this world where they will make a difference using the unique skills they are meant to use in this world.”
Male students began their day picking ties and learning to how to property tie them with assistance from teachers. Each male summit participant wore a tie and collared shirt.
Windfern teacher Julio Ayuso shared his personal story with male students during the school’s first student summit, an empowerment event. Ayuso’s talk, entitled “From Puerto Rico to the Classroom,” centered on his childhood on the island and eventual journey from a professional baseball player to the logistics industry to teaching.