IHS principal talks about getting serious in the fall semester

Image: IHS Principal, Lee Joffre, and Andi Windham prepare for the first day of school.

IHS Principal, Lee Joffre, and Andi Windham prepare for the first day of school. (Anne Sutherland)

It’s 100º plus outside and the streets are scorching. Swimming and playing are things on the minds of IHS students, as well it should be. However, when August rolls around, school should be uppermost on the minds of students. Luckily we have someone looking out for our kids’ future and serious minded about it.

With one school year at IHS under his belt, Principal Lee Joffre shows he’s a mover and a shaker. He, the administration/current teaching staff and eleven newly hired teachers have some plans for the new school year that will help shape our school into academia.

This summer, in preparation for the upcoming school year, Mr. Joffre and staff are steadily getting ready, “During the summer we stay pretty busy. We plan events for next school year such as registration, schedule pick-up and meet the teacher night. We start putting improvement ideas together. We attend many trainings that are available. We also make sure the classrooms are ready for the teachers when they return.”

Joffre explained there are some new standards for the students to meet, “The school board has not changed any policies. However, there are some new campus procedures students need know. For example, we will begin a ‘Zeros Aren’t Permitted (ZAP) Saturday School’. Any student that has earned a zero for not completing an assignment or project will be assigned to Saturday School until they are caught up on their classwork. We will not tolerate academic apathy. We have also made changes to the Dress Code and the Tardy Policy.”

When asked if Italy Junior High will see any changes, Mr. Joffre explained, "The students in 7th and 8th grade will have two periods of mathematics instead of one. This change is to prepare students for the rigor of high school mathematics and set a foundation that will help students with SAT/ACT tests and fundamentals of Science. Junior high students will also be required to participate in UIL Academic competitions. This will be a valuable enrichment to the curriculum and reignite the academic pride Italy schools deserves.

Upper class men will have Dual Credit Welding as an option. Students will have an Online Testing & Education Reference Center available to them. This will help students prepare for SAT and ACT Tests.
We need to improve our students’ ability to write. Our teachers and I are preparing to challenge our students to write critically in all of their classes."

As far as high school schedule changes, Joffre said, “We will be adding an Activity Period to the schedule. This will allow students that participate in UIL Activities to practice during school hours. During the Activity period we will assign juniors and seniors to SAT/ACT prep classes.”

Among the modifications, the staff is looking for different ways to communicate with the parents, “We are also researching methods to communicate with the parents quicker. We are excited about different calling systems we have seen. These systems will allow us to send messages to all of the parents within in minutes. We hope to find a system that fits our needs.”

In the athletic area, Mr. Joffre and the new athletic director, Hank Hollywood, have been planning and working out details, “The coaches, and some athletes, have been working hard to prepare the facilities for next school year. They are renovating the field house and weight rooms. One of Coach Hollywood’s goals is to add a weight room. This will allow male and female athletes to have the necessary equipment and preparation time needed to be at the top of their game. I have seen the student-athletes working out during the summer. They are working hard for championships. I am confident the student-athletes will make Italy proud.”

Another new addition to IHS will be the symbols of school spirit and athletic achievement lined up and down the hallways, “The idea for trophy cases came from our desire to increase school spirit and pride. Many of our younger students do not know or understand the significance in the history of Italy Schools. We hope that moving the awards to the hallways will instill a respect for the past while charging up an excitement for the future. I am very pleased with the response from the community. We have met 40% of our financial goal for the project. We hope that our recent outreach for support will help us finish the project before school starts. The community seems to be very excited.”

Each parent needs to expect a mailed registration time a few weeks prior to the start of school. Parents are strongly urged to attend and must also bring proof of residency (gas, electric, water bill or lease agreement). Mr. Joffre explained, “The registration schedule is set for August 7th and 8th from 4PM – 7PM. Registration packets will be available the week prior to registration. The packet will need to be completed prior to coming to registration. It is important that a parent/guardian come to registration with their child.”

“One of my goals as the principal is to increase parent involvement at the school. I am challenging parents to become involved in the academic preparation of their child by attending academic events. I am also asking parents that want to volunteer to e-mail me at ljoffre@italyisd.org.”

Mr. Joffre is a fresh pair of eyes looking at IHS and IJHS with a whole new perspective. The community of Italy is uppermost in his mind and our students take an even higher level. Joffre is trying to reorganize Italy High School and put academics back in the forefront. His door is open if you need to conference with him about your student, call 972-483-7411 to set up an appointment or email.

Lee Joffre is excited about his tenure at IHS and he agrees his first year was great, “We had a good school year. I am proud of the students and teachers for the way they adjusted to the changes brought by a new administration. The community has been welcoming to my family and me. I am truly proud to be a part of Italy, Texas.”