• Board Recognition Recap

    May 16, 2023

    During the regular scheduled meeting, the Plano ISD Board of Trustees invited students and staff to recognize their recent accomplishments at the district and state level. 

  • To help open the meeting, students from the McCall Elementary Garden Project led in the Pledges of Allegiance to the United States and Texas flags.  

    8 students with hands over their chest performing the pledge of allegiance

    Students from the McCall Garden Project performing the Pledges of Allegiance

    After the pledges, Presiding Officer Nancy Humphrey invited Mr. Micahel Thibodeaux, staff sponsor of the McCall Garden Project, to share a little about his group of students.

    man in purple shirt talking to the audience with a microphone in hand

    Mr. Micahel Thibodeaux, staff sponsor of the McCall Elementary Garden Project

    "Our PTA was gracious enough to recently give us an indoor tower garden so that the kids can see where their food comes from and what it looks like while it's growing from seed to full maturity." The garden project is in its seventh year, while Mr. Thibodeaux has overseen the project for the previous six years. "McCall Elementary was named a certified green school for the second year in a row. We couldn't have done it without these tremendous students and the effort they put in."

    Next, Chief Learning officer Laurie Taylor recognized finalists and winners from The Texas Instruments Innovations in STEM Teaching Awards. For the last 17 years, Plano ISD has been honored to work with the Texas Instruments Foundation and the Plano ISD Education Foundation to recognize outstanding Plano ISD teachers of secondary science, technology, engineering and mathematics.The Innovations in STEM Teaching Awards are made possible through the generosity of the Texas Instruments Foundation. The TI Foundation’s top philanthropic priority is education, specifically STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math. Plano ISD had 21 nominees across all secondary campuses. Each nominee responds to an application, sharing about their instructional approach, why they believe their field of study is important, and how they measure student success. From those responses, Texas Instruments identified 6 frontrunners for innovation in STEM teaching, visiting classes of all 6 of those teachers in April. After their visits, Texas Instruments revealed to the campuses the names of this year’s winners. 

    Before recognizing the winners, Texas Instruments congratulated the three finalists: Shane Hemby, Engineering teacher from Plano West Senior High; Tracy Henry-Smith, biology teacher at Williams High School; Grace Haug, Chemistry teacher at Jasper High School. 

    5 individuals posing for the camera

    Harshal Chhaya of Texas Instruments and the Plano ISD Education Foundation (left), Grace Haug, Tracy Henry-Smith, Shane Hemby, Whitney Evans of Texas Instruments

    After the finalists received their recognition, the three winners were announced. Each winner received $10,000 in cash and awards: a $5,000 personal cash award and a $5,000 award for their school to go toward classroom technology or professional development opportunities. Read more on the winners here

    a group photo of 8 individuals in an outside setting. 3 of which are holding awards.

    Plano ISD Education Foundation Senior Executive Director Brittnea Ussery, Jennifer Bell of Renner Middle School, Patricia Walker of Rice Middle School, Ross Craig of Plano East Senior High School, Shane Hanby of Plano West Senior High School (finalist), Grace Haug of Jasper High School (finalist), Tracy Henry Smith of Williams High School (finalist), Harshal Chhaya of Texas Instruments and the Plano ISD Education Foundation.  

    • Ross Craig, Plano East Senior High School
    • Jennifer Bell, Renner Middle School
    • Patricia Walker, Rice Middle School


  • Afterward, Plano ISD Director of Athletics Jeff Smith stepped to the podium to lead the recognition of Plano West Senior High School Students Emma Thoms and Ani Reddy, who won First Place Gold in Mixed Doubles at the UIL Tennis 6A State Championship. The students were accompanied by Plano West Senior High School Tennis Coaches Morgen Walker and Brad Armour.  Director of Athletics Jeff Smith stated, "You can easily put two really good tennis players together to play, but for them to really gel in play as one is something that's really fun to watch. Watching these two play for a state gold medal and win it, was very exciting. We're just extremely proud of them and just the way they play the game, but also the way they represent our district in Plano West."

    Ani Reddy is a senior who is going to play tennis at Claremont University. Throughout his high school career, he has collected four state metals. Three in team tennis (one gold, two silver), and one in individual play. This year, he was named to the academic all-state team by the Texas Tennis Coaches Association. Emma Thoms is a sophomore. In her short high school career, she has collected two State Gold Medals.5 individuals posing for a picture, the middle two have recognition certificates

    Plano ISD Board Vice President Dr. Lauren Tyra, Coach Brad Armour, Anni Reddy, Emma Thoms and Coach Morgen Walker

    Following the athletics recognition, Executive Director for Counseling, CCMR and Advanced Academics, Dr. Kristyn Edney, stepped to the podium to invite Principal of Plano ISD Academy High School Cathy Gaschen to recognize students from the NASA Hunch program. The program was created by NASA engineers and astronauts to provide a project-based, 21st century learning opportunity for high school students. In the fall, Academy High School learners reviewed problem statements created by NASA, then chose one to research, design, and prototype. The two teams honored at the board meeting finished top five in the nation in their respective categories. Both teams were coached and supported throughout the year by CTE Facilitator Tina Cone. Christopher Newton, Colin Wong and Brian Winandy chose a design and prototype challenge for which they built a prototype of an auger that can be used to make bricks on the moon.

    3 individuals holding recognition certificates
    Brian Winandy, Colin Wong and Christopher Newton

    The next team: Alisha Nadeem, Sofia Pryor and Meghan Phung, chose a bio-medical challenge for which they created a prototype to keep astronauts cool when sleeping, thus improving their overall sleep quality. 

    three individuals posing with recognition certificates
    Meghan Phung, Sofia Pryor and Alisha Nadeem

    Following Academy High School's recognition, Coordinator for Secondary Social Studies Eric Haggard approached the podium to lead off the next two recognitions. Plano East Senior High School and their sponsor Rhett Carter were honored for qualifying for the National History Day competition. The students include: Shriya Bhat, Sukhran Chandrasekar, Dhilan Nag, Hardik Singh, Dhriti Mittal, Vidur Nangia and Kirti Gadde. Both the documentary and performance team placed first at the state competition in Austin, Texas in early April. For some of these students, this is not their first time placing in the state competition. In fact, Dhilan, Hardik, and Sukhran have placed in the state tournament all four of their high school careers. The team is ecstatic to be able to qualify for this year's national competition, as this is the first time in three years that it be held in person. 

    8 individuals smiling, with the middle six holding recognition certificates
    Rhett Carter, Sukhran Chandrasekar, Hardik Singh, Dhilan Nag, Dhriti Mittal, Kirti Gadde, Vidur Nangia, Board Vice President Dr. Lauren Tyra

  • The second recognition from Mr. Haggard was Plano West's Academic WorldQuest team: Madeline Tsao, Gabriel Bo, Kyle Letterer, Justin Zhu and their sponsor, Mr. John Scott. Each year, the World Affairs Councils around the United States hold academic world-class competitions for high school students. The World Affairs Council of Dallas / Fort Worth hosts nearly 100 North Texas area teams, which particiapte each February. Teams of four students study for a chance to compete in the National Championship in Washington DC against other regional winners. The competition consists of 10 sections of 10 questions, totalling 100 multiple choice questions. Participants prepare for the competition by studying an online study guide. The World Affairs Councils of America decide nine of the topics based on the most relevant global issues of the year, and the tenth topic is based on current events.

    After winning the Dallas / Forth Worth competition in February, the team advanced to Washington DC to win the entire national tournament, defeating 39 other regional champions across 24 different states. This is the sixth time Plano West has brought home an Academic WorldQuest Championship in the past 11 years.

    four individuals smiling, the middle two have recognition certificates
    Board Vice President Dr. Lauren Tyra, Justin Zhu, Madeline Tsao and staff sponsor Mr. John Scott

    For the final recognition of the evening, CTE Coordinators Alex Ritter and Kelly Moss approach the podium to recognize students that participated in career and technical student organizations. These organizations provide Plano ISD students with enhanced learning opportunities and real-world application of the skills they're learning in the classroom. Each of the students recognized participated at the state and national level for their organization. This included students from Business Professionals of America, DECA, AV Quiz Bowl, and HOSA. 

    business professionals of america state and national finalists
    Business Professionals of America state and national tournament finalists

    group photo of business professional of america tournament participants with recognition certificates
    DECA state and national tournament participants with their staff sponsors and Board Vice President Dr. Lauren Tyra

    AV quiz bowl participants with their recognition certificates
    AV Quiz Bowl Participants, Winners and Finalists with Board President Dr. Lauren Tyra (far left) and their staff sponsor (far right)