FAIRFIELD — Ten teachers and administrators from the Fairfield-Suisun School District will travel to Texas next month on a $12,000 trip to attend the No Excuses University national convention at the San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter.
Gretchen Schwab, a teacher at Fairfield High who will travel to Texas, said participants in the Oct. 6-9 event stay in a nice hotel and she understands “if people are worried about how much money is being spent on this.”
But she said Texas-based No Excuses, a program that emphasizes that every student has the right to be educated in a way that prepares them for college, has done wonders to help change the culture and environment at Fairfield High.
Moreover, teachers face challenges that make No Excuses’ message crucial, Schwab said.
“If you’re in our business and you don’t see the positive parts, it can be pretty draining,” she said.
Pat Shamansky, a trustee for the Fairfield-Suisun School District, said money that can only be used for professional development pays for the trip.
“That is such a small investment,” Shamansky said of the cost. “It’s goes a very, very long way.”
The $1,200 expense for each participant includes convention registration, airfare, hotel, ground transportation and food.
Trustees at their board meeting Thursday approved the travel for teachers and administrators at Fairfield High, including Principal Tim Halloran, as well as Dino Battaglini, coordinator of secondary education for the school district.
Martha Lacy, principal at the David Weir Preparatory Academy in Fairfield, where 730 students attend kindergarten through the seventh grade, said travel to Texas for her and two teachers won approval from school district trustees last month. More than 90 percent of the staff members at David Weir have undergone No Excuses training, Lacy said.
Such professional development is a key reason why student learning in the school district continues to improve, she said.
“I know it seems like a long way away and extravagant,” Lacy said of the trip.
But the convention allows educators to meet with colleagues from around the country who are doing great things for schools, she said. Teachers start their travel Sunday and Fairfield schools are closed Monday – meaning instructors give up two free days to attend the convention, Lacy said.
Dan Lopez, president of No Excuses University, said the organization based near Dallas doesn’t have a campus and moved 18 months ago to Texas from California.
“We have a lofty 15- to 20-year goal of creating the No Excuses University campus,” said Lopez, whose brother Damen Lopez is the founder of the organization. Dan Lopez said the campus would be for foster children only and that fewer than 3 percent of foster kids graduate from college.
Damen Lopez is scheduled to speak Oct. 9 at the convention.
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.