August Newsletter: A Slice of APIE


Quick Bites of APIE: Tips to Classroom Coaches

  • Take your time getting to know your students and establish good rapport on the first day of Coaching. This will help set the tone for the rest of the school year.
  • Keep an eye out for important emails from coordinators throughout the year.
  • Remember your students’ names by writing them down on the first day of class.
  • The first day of coaching can be hectic; be sure to arrive early and allow plenty of time to locate your class.
  • Implement your training and always strive to be a positive role model for your students.

Microsoft Donor SpotlightDonor Spotlight200

Austin Partners in Education is fortunate enough to be surrounded by tech companies willing to support and encourage Austin ISD students and teachers. One of our largest supporters is Microsoft. Employees, including Community Development Specialist Deidre Honea, work tirelessly to ensure Austin classrooms are equipped with the latest technology to make learning easier and more effective. Not only are teachers offered Microsoft products, but free training workshops and career development days are also made available.

With Deidre’s role as community liaison, Microsoft is committed to “changing the shape and future” of Austin education. As part of their commitment, Microsoft collaborates with APIE on exciting new opportunities. APIE’s new online volunteer training program is made possible through Microsoft’s generous donation of iSpring software. Throughout the year, Microsoft employees also volunteer to assist APIE staff with multiple projects, including event preparation for Salute and Celebrate as well as material assembly for classroom programs. We appreciate their enthusiasm for education and look forward to future opportunities to collaborate. As the new school year begins, Deidre encourages students, “to continually push boundaries, keep yearning, and keep finding new things to discover.”

Volunteer Spotlight: Toni LambertVolunteer Spotlight200

Since fall of 2006, Toni Lambert has taken time out of her job as an Assistant Director at Austin Public Library to volunteer with APIE as a 2nd Grade Reading Classroom Coach. At a young age, Toni’s love for reading was fostered by teachers and school librarians, which later influenced her to pursue a profession as a librarian. She describes her APIE coaching experience as gratifying and considers the time she spends reading to students the highlight of her week.

What is your favorite part about volunteering?

The kids! I’ve been volunteering with APIE since I moved to Austin in the fall of 2006, and I consider the time that I spend reading with the children the highlight of my week.  It’s so gratifying to see the smiles on their faces when we enter the room and to note how their reading skills improve.

Would APIE have benefitted you as a student?

Yes, I think so. I remember how frustrating it was when the reading lesson in class was at the wrong level. We were never all reading at the same level, so most lessons were too easy (and boring) for some students and too difficult for others. I think it would have made a difference to have someone come in every week to work with small groups who were reading at the same level. I would have loved having someone like an APIE volunteer come in to read with me each week.

What has been your proudest moment as an APIE volunteer?

Near the end of the school year, the year before last, I told the children that we could play a game or color if we finished the lesson early. I was thrilled when both of them told me that they would rather read to me from books that they had checked out from the school library. Earlier in the school year, when I made the same offer, they wanted to color; so it was great to have them choose reading! Until the program ended that year, I made sure to leave a few minutes for each child to read to me and the other children from the book of their choice.

Other thoughts or APIE related stories to share?

APIE makes it easy for volunteers to work effectively with children on their reading.  I’ve found the staff to be very supportive and I’ve noticed that the materials seem to get better every year.


In my 2nd Grade Dual Language Class at Dawson, Maria has made gains in her reading and comprehension. Maria started the year with a low self-esteem in reading. She read feeling very insecure pronouncing words and did not actively participate in discussions. I began to see a difference in her reading mid-year. She began to read words with fewer mistakes, and her comprehension increased. – Mr. Luis Soto, Teacher

Learn more about helping Austin ISD students here.


Interested in where we spend our time when we’re not in the classrooms? Here are a few places you can spot us around town:

  • Aug. 13: Back to School Bash with Microsoft at the Round Rock Express. Please RSVP to get your tickets in advance to
  • Sept. 1: UT Work Study Job Fair
  • Sept. 2: City of Austin Volunteer Recruitment Event at Austin Energy
  • Sept. 2: Dropbox Austin Open House – Welcome to the Neighborhood!
  • Sept. 3: St. Edwards University Part-Time Job Fair

APIE Donor Meterstackable books June
The 2015-2016 school year is quickly approaching. Help us start the school year off right with your gift of $15, $25, or $35. Donate now!

July Newsletter: A Slice of APIE

Quick Bites: APIE’s Top Reads This SummerPrint

Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change by Joseph Grenny

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

The Places That Scare You by Pema Chödrön

 The Martian by Andy Weir

 Summer Sisters by Judy Blume

 Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

 The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

 The Essential Rumi by Jalal al-Din Rumi

 Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

Donor Spotlight: Roger EdmondsonDonor Spotlight

Serving APIE as both donor and volunteer, Roger Edmondson has earned the distinguished title of APIE Ambassador. Although Roger is a successful Business, Sales and Marketing Consultant, he admits that completing his college degree would have provided an easier path to success. He has worked with youth in some capacity for over 35 years and believes education is “the real key to a vibrant society and productive life.” Education is definitely a central focus of his family. Not only does Roger volunteer weekly with APIE’s Classroom Coaching program, but his wife teaches at Austin Community College while his son is an AISD elementary school teacher.

Roger believes the most rewarding part of being an APIE donor is the reward of helping children who are ready and willing to learn. He remembers being an eager student himself who once read 100 books over summer break. He encourages students to continue working hard over the summer to achieve something they will remember for a lifetime. Roger is appreciative of the work APIE does to help students reach their goals and recognizes the need for support from the community to provide a quality education experience. Roger understands the challenges facing education today but believes, “it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.  If we can light enough candles we can illuminate the lives of the next generations of children.” To join Roger in supporting APIE students and teachers, please visit our donation page here.

Volunteer Spotlight: Kathy Garland



Kathy Garland is a retired Accountant for the City of Austin and a current APIE volunteer. For the past seven years, she has dedicated her time as a Classroom Coach for APIE’s 2nd grade reading program, and says her favorite part about her work is witnessing the progress each student makes throughout the year. “One boy started the year far below grade level; he was at beginning kindergarten level.  By the end of the year he was right on grade level.  He worked very hard and made tremendous progress.”


Retired Accountant for the City of Austin

What is your favorite part about volunteering?

Seeing the progress made in one school year. In 2nd grade they become such good readers and understand the content, not just reading the words.

How has education played a role in your own life and career?

I always loved school. Education was important in my family. It was expected that you would go to college.

Would APIE have benefitted you as a student?

I was very shy in school. The APIE program of working in small groups would have given me the confidence to speak up in class.

What has been your proudest moment as an APIE volunteer?

One boy started the year far below grade level, he was at beginning kindergarten level. By the end of the year he was right on grade level.  He worked very hard and made tremendous progress. The teacher was committed and well-liked by the kids. They would do everything she asked. I’m sure he wanted to please her.

APIE In the Classroom                                                       IMG_3700

During the summer, APIE’s Program Coordinators take actions to ensure the upcoming school year is even better than the last for both our volunteers and our students. They improve curriculum and training, organize hands-on and interactive activities for you and your students, and contact local businesses to begin recruiting volunteers.Pictured are APIE’s program coordinators who were awarded a Certificate of Recognition for their work at Webb Middle School this year.

APIE After School (Upcoming Events)

APIE After School

This summer, we’re taking advantage of everything Austin has to offer. Do you enjoy live music? Live theater? Spending time with fellow APIE volunteers? Join us at any of the following events. We’d love to see you this summer!

APIE Donor Meterstackable books July

Summer is in full swing at APIE. Become part of the momentum with your gift of $15, $25, or $35 in preparation for next school year. We’re busy making it the best ever, and you can help. Donate now!

June Newsletter: A Slice of APIE

Quick Bites: APIE’s Advice on Life After High School GraduationA Slice of APIE Logo

 “Explore everything you can and never put yourself in a box.” Natalie Persicano, Training Program Designer VISTA

“Dream Big!  Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right!” Dr. Cathy Jones, Executive Director

“Go for it!  Follow your dreams, climb every mountain.  But don’t forget to be kind and respectful to everyone on your journey—that should be your greatest accomplishment.” Dawn Lewis, School Connections Manager

“Keep your mind open to all the possibilities in front of you, and then do what makes you happy.” Barbette Cooper, Finance Director

When you’re feeling stressed, take a few deep breaths. It opens you to new ideas and feelings.” Elena Lorio, Elementary Reading Manager

“Don’t worry if you’re not sure what’s next.  Step into life and see what happens!” Jessica Lester, Elementary Reading Campus Coordinator

“Establish/Maintain good credit – so important. Stay optimistic. Dedicate time to figuring out what you are passionate about. Build your network.” Andrea Panter, Middle School Math Manager

Donor Spotlight: Applied Materials 

Donor Spotlight Applied_Materials_Logo 200

Applied Materials has nearly a decade long history of supporting APIE programs and events. This past year, they generously awarded a $30,000 grant to support our College Readiness program. Because Austin serves as Applied Materials’ volume manufacturing center, they invest in local education programs through Applied Materials Foundation grants, employee donation and matching as well as volunteering. By partnering with organizations like APIE, Applied Materials and its Foundation support students throughout their entire academic career, pre-K through high school graduation.

Applied Materials recognizes that students from economically disadvantaged communities have limited access to high-quality education. APIE’s College Readiness program offers advising and tutoring to underserved high school seniors struggling to meet college readiness standards. With Applied Materials’ help, we provide Austin ISD students a better chance at succeeding in college and launching a successful career. Students who graduate from high school meeting college readiness standards, experience higher self-confidence and are more likely to complete their degree. These are especially significant accomplishments for our students, many of whom are first-generation college students.

Applied Materials congratulates all students and teachers on another successful year, and encourages students to continue learning and exploring throughout the summer.

To join Applied Materials in supporting APIE programs, click here to donate.

Volunteer Spotlight and Q&A: Karen Yokum, IBM Electrical EngineerVolunteer Spotlight Karen_Yokum_Photo 200

Karen Yokum, Electrical Engineer at IBM, has volunteered with APIE as an 8th Grade Math Classroom Coach for 3 years. She has been influential in encouraging other IBM employees to become APIE volunteers and works to help students experience real world applications of their classroom studies. “My favorite part about volunteering each week is seeing the students.  They are generally excited to see the volunteers when we enter the classroom each week.  I love hearing about their days, and they love to hear about what we do at work each week.” Click here to read more about Karen and her experience with APIE.

Occupation: Electrical Engineer at IBM

What is your favorite part about volunteering?

My favorite part about volunteering each week is seeing the students.  They are generally excited to see the volunteers when we enter the classroom each week.  I love hearing about their days, and they love to hear about what we do at work each week.

How has education played a role in your own life and career?

Education is very important to both my life and career.  I grew up in a family that emphasized education and learning something new every day.  In high school, I started to figure out what classes sparked my interest.  I learned that I was passionate about science and technology.  I attended the University of Notre Dame where I was able to explore a wide array of classes that led me to pursue an Electrical Engineering degree.  One of the most important things I learned throughout my educational career was how to problem solve.  This is essential to my career at IBM.

Would APIE have benefited you as a student?

APIE would have greatly benefited me as a student.  In middle school and high school I was scared to raise my hand to ask questions or go up to the board.  Having the individualized positive attention would have encouraged me to ask questions in these small groups rather than relying on the “I’ll figure it out later” approach.

What has been your proudest moment as an APIE volunteer?

My proudest moment as an APIE volunteer occurred at the end of the school year when we did the final review for the Math STAAR.  At that point, I visibly noticed the strides the students made in both their confidence and math skills.  The students were more outgoing, willing to ask questions, and confident in their ability to do well on the STAAR.

If you could share one thing with 8th grade students as they enter high school, what would it be?

Entering high school can be a scary endeavor, but embrace the challenge.  Get involved, join clubs, and take electives that interest you.  It is never too early to begin thinking about your future.  Classes may seem more challenging than they were in middle school, but remember to take the time to understand the material and try your hardest to succeed!

Other thoughts or stories to share?

We have a bunch of volunteers at IBM who volunteer during their lunch hour on Wednesdays at Burnet Middle School and Thursdays at Webb Middle School.  At the end of the school year, once the STAAR tests are completed, we like to plan a field trip for the classes we volunteer with to come to IBM and see what we are working on.  We get to show the students our offices and labs, demonstrate interesting projects we are working on, and perform some cool liquid nitrogen science experiments.  The students love to see where the volunteers work and what they do each day.

APIE in the Classroom: High School Graduate, Prescilla MejoradoAPIE in the Classroom 200

Despite the struggles of growing up as an orphan and living in a children’s home throughout high school, College Readiness student Prescilla Mejorado is now a Class of 2015 graduate from Lanier High School. As she overcame adversity and hardships, she developed a strong passion for math, technology, and service. At least twice a month, Prescilla volunteers at the Austin Humane Society and Austin Pets Alive! and regularly volunteers to feed the homeless. She says, “It just feels really good and changes your perspective of how you see people.”

After graduation, she plans to attend Austin Community College to receive her associates and transfer to the University of Texas to study Mathematics. After college, her career dream is to become a CEO of a major gaming company.

Congratulations, Prescilla. APIE wishes you the best of luck in all your future endeavors.

APIE After SchoolAPIE After School Unplugged at the Grove 200

Summer doesn’t mean APIE stops working! Whether you are striving towards a diploma or degree, just graduated, or long since tossed your mortarboard, everyone’s invited to join APIE staff members and volunteers next Thursday, June 11th for our first summer gathering at Unplugged at the Grove. We’ll meet at Shady Grove, 1624 Barton Springs Road, at 7:30pm and The Oh Hellos go on after 8pm. For more information email Anne or visit the Unplugged at the Grove webpage.

Book-o-meterstackable books June

School may be out, but our fiscal year just started June 1, 2015. Help APIE start the year off right. Send your gift by Friday, 12 for a chance to win Cap City Comedy Club tickets for two Wednesday – Thursday. Tickets expire Tuesday, June 30, 2015.

May Newsletter: A Slice of APIE

A Slice of APIE Logo
Quick Bites of APIE: Teachers of Texas
1. AISD has 242 national board certified teachers – more than any school district in Texas.
2. The 2015 National Teacher of the Year is from Texas – the first time since 1957.
3. AISD has more than 6,300 classroom teachers.
4. 95% of participating teachers agree APIE programs are a good use of class time.
5. AISD teachers have an average of more than 11 years of teaching experience.

Donor Spotlight: Horace MannHMleft_blk_notag
Horace Mann has a 75 year history of providing educators with quality life, health, and car insurance. They are a longtime supporter of APIE and are this year’s Signature Sponsor for Celebrate and Salute events honoring excellence in AISD. Horace Mann maintains over 750 offices in 46 states with former teachers making up approximately 50% of their workforce. Regional Marketing Officer Lori Gray is one of these former educators and understands the high demands and stress associated with working long hours in the classroom. Horace Mann believes teachers are unsung heroes, so Lori and her colleagues work to provide educators with insurance products to meet their unique needs.

As part of Teacher Appreciation Month, Horace Mann representatives will be visiting schools throughout May to provide breakfasts, lunches, and treats to AISD educators. Lori enjoys the camaraderie of these school campus visits as well as the opportunity to recognize hardworking teachers in our community. “If we can put a smile on their face and put them in a better mood, at the end of the day the kids benefit from happy, well-fed teachers.”

Horace Mann understands the impact teachers have on young minds as they continue to grow and develop and gives teachers the necessary support and encouragement needed to continue in their often thankless positions. Lori hopes all teachers know, “You are an appreciated and respected part of society and the most valuable asset to the community. You are not just a teacher. You are THE teacher.”

Please join APIE and Horace Mann in recognizing AISD’s hardworking teachers on May 19 at this year’s Salute event.

To learn more about becoming an APIE donor, please visit

Volunteer Spotlight: David MatustikDavidMatustik_portrait
David Matustik, Deputy Communications Director for the City of Austin, has been a committed APIE Classroom Coach for the past seven years. Each week, he takes 45 minutes out of his busy schedule to read with 2nd graders at St. Elmo Elementary School. Since he was a child, his parents ingrained education in him and his siblings as the “ticket to success.” He strives to pass this along to his students in hopes they will have bright and successful futures. Most of David’s students are bilingual, and although he is not fluent, David has managed to make a deep connection with each of them.

“We become, in a sense, another family to the children,” he said as he reflected on his experiences. David said he learns as much as the students each week and enjoys the stories and laughs they share. One of his proudest moments was when his most timid student volunteered first to read aloud to his classmates in English. “I love to see the smiles on the children; that really brings me back every year.”

APIE in the ClassroomAPIE in the Classroom
Thanks to each and every volunteer who helped make this school year GREAT! You make a difference in the life of a child, and it doesn’t go unnoticed. Everyone needs someone who cares about them, someone to look up to, or someone to admire. You were that person for a student this year. We, and your students, thank you deeply.

“Many times at the beginning of 8th grade I said I hated math. I said that because I had zero confidence in myself. Now I’m great at math and have a lot of confidence… My confidence all began when APIE Coaches started coming… [they] boosted my confidence by making me feel wanted and making sure I knew the concept before moving on.”
–Iza, 2015 Math Classroom Coaching student

APIE After SchoolSalute - APIE After Class
We see the dedication of teachers and school staff members firsthand every day. This month we get to celebrate them. Join APIE and AISD to celebrate teachers in May at Salute: A Tribute to Excellence. We’ll be awarding Teacher of the Year, Principal of the Year, Librarian of the Year and more! We hope to see you Tuesday, May 19 at the new AISD Performing Arts Center. The reception begins at 5:00 p.m. followed by the program at 6:30 p.m. For more information, you can visit the Salute webpage.

APIE Donor Meterstackable books May

APIE donors give students an
educational boost! Please join
them to help us reach our
goal of $45,000 by May 31!

Teacher Appreciation Week

As Teacher Appreciation Week continues, we’d like to recognize our 2015 Middle School Champion, Ms. Kimberly Moctezuma. Ms Moctezuma

Ms. Moctezuma, a 6th grade teacher at Burnet M.S., creates an environment in which students feel respected and valued, and volunteers feel welcome. She really gets to know her students, and she gets to know the volunteers we bring into her classroom each week. Without fail, our volunteers say how much they enjoy being in Ms. Moctezuma’s classroom.



It’s that time of year! We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back.

Join the global giving movement known as Giving Tuesday. Upload a selfless selfie to your Instagram account and use the hashtags #UNselfie and #GivingTuesday and tag @AustinPartners to let us know how YOU’RE giving this year!

Helping Aspiring College Graduates Succeed

By Ben Hirsch, College Readiness Advocate

As October begins and students are settling back into school, Austin Partners in Education’s college readiness advocates have already begun helping high school seniors get ready for a successful academic career in college.

Senior year is an incredibly tumultuous time: there are the foreseeable hurdles of college applications, financial aid forms, and impending adult responsibilities; the excitement about the upcoming life change or fear inspired by leaving home; and the Hollywood-sanctioned coming of age moments: homecoming, prom, and finally graduation. On some level, though, last on their mind is the question “am I academically prepared for college?” That is where APIE comes in.

This is the beginning of my third school year helping seniors solidify the skills they need to be a high achieving college student. Successful college students can write clearly and persuasively, comprehend the main ideas, philosophical underpinnings and supporting details in the texts they read, and have the math skills necessary to pursue careers they find compelling.

As a College Readiness Advocate, I have the exciting job of helping students identify areas in which they are struggling and give them extra one-on-one or small-group instruction to improve in those areas. At Akins High school I worked with Alyssa, who was struggling to demonstrate college-level ability in math. In her own words math had always been “the worst” for Alyssa.

Working with Alyssa made it apparent that her struggles were the result of some real deficiencies in mathematical knowledge. She was confounded by fractions, had difficulties working with negative numbers, and found graphs incredibly confusing. While a class full of peers and friends is not the ideal environment to reveal deep-seeded confusion, a small group can be more supportive. When one student expresses confusion, others often chime in, “yeah, I never got that either.”

When you don’t have a basic understanding of mathematical concepts, most high school math feels like a series of random steps that, if you don’t do perfectly, will lead you to the wrong answer. This obviously causes stress. But after we discovered the foundation concepts that Alyssa was missing, she was able to make great strides. By solidifying her ability to do things like reduce fractions and grapple with negative numbers, we enabled her to make sense of complex algebra like rational equations (which are essentially just extremely complex fractions) and quadratic functions (which cannot possibly be solved consistently if you do not understand the real significance of a numbers sign).

At the end of the year, Alyssa passed the mast section of the Texas Success Initiative Assessment and was able to avoid developmental courses at the University of Texas San Antonio. She was especially happy because these courses would have been in math.  Working with students like Alyssa is why I am excited to work with more aspiring college graduates. Many students have the desire and capacity to be successful and happy in college, but they need a little academic support before they head off on the next incredible step in their life of learning.


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