New Bonner Elementary Principal Bobby Markle has put in place specific systems aimed at addressing the needs of students struggling with reading, math and writing.
"Our data shows that kids are growing," Markle said.
While acknowledging that Bonner received an "improvement required" rating last year in the state accountability system, Markle said: "These kids are performing at high levels. They are working really hard."
The principal said the school hopes to overcome the rating this year "and show that we were never supposed to be there in (that) category to begin with."
Markle said he believes systems put in place will be "the tipping point" to get Bonner to not only meet the standard, but do even better.
"I want Bonner to be a flagship and show that these kids have the ability that any kid in Tyler has and can perform at just as high a level as anybody else in this district," Markle said.
The principal said he wants Bonner to be recognized statewide as a school that not only turned around its low accountability rating, but also kept going in reaching higher standards.
"I also want (Bonner) to be a place that these families can be proud of. I want them to be at Bonner not just because they are zoned here, but because they are proud of Bonner," Markle said.
The principal said he is committed to filling in the gaps in learning that students have and helping them overcome barriers. Bonner students need to get their brain working quicker, he said.
The students are not all blessed to be able to go home with perfect families and have reading time with their family, Markle said.
"We try to provide time for them to just read (at school) and give them feedback about their reading in small groups and guided reading groups," he said.
Markle has put literacy first since he assumed the principalship last August.
"We put books in kids' hands; we said books are important. It's coming along real well. We've helped some kids move from being low-emerging readers to more advanced readers this year," Markle said.
"I think the more we do that, we will start to build a culture around here that language is important."
He has conveyed the message to the predominantly Hispanic student body that students can preserve their own first language, but to perform well in a school in an academic setting, they must know the English language inside and out.
Markle implemented "the first thousand words" that a student needs to know by sight, starting in kindergarten.
"The expectation is by second grade, they can say on sight those thousand words," he said, and write 800 of those words without any mistakes.
Another system Markle started is an accountability program called "Reading Counts" that sets goals for students. They read a book, take a quiz on which they need to score 85 percent or higher, and earn points.
In a computerized math program called "Dream Box," Markle said Bonner teachers set goals for the number of lessons and things students need to master in a week.
"It enables kids to fill in gaps in an engaging way and gives us feedback," he said.
A new "formative loop" system lets students practice math skills over and over and when they achieve an assessment, they get to go to the next assessment, Markle said.
The position of Bonner principal interests Markle because the school is a primarily bilingual community.
"This community offers a lot of family relationships and they offer a lot of camaraderie and they want to see their children achieve. It's fascinating to be in that type of community," he said.
"Bonner is one of the only neighborhood schools and everything is within about a 5-mile radius. I enjoy that about Bonner. I also got blessed with a great leadership staff, great teaching staff, great paraprofessional staff," Markle said.
Markle loves the challenge of working in a school, whether as a teacher or administrator. However, he has spent most of his 12 years in education as an administrator.
"I taught three years in Galveston, but I never intended on being a teacher. I quickly jumped into administration and stayed with it the last nine years. My personality is really designed to be more administrative, working with adults solving problems, coordinating efforts. It's just a good fit," Markle said.
After starting his career in Galveston, Markle served as principal of Cumberland Academy Elementary School in Tyler for a year, then joined Tyler ISD last year as assistant principal of Ramey Elementary before his promotion to principal of Bonner.
Markle has a bachelor's degree in outdoor education and a master of curriculum and instruction degree from Texas A&M University.