Rudder FFA’s Fazzino Sisters Head to Nationals

She walked in not knowing what to expect. She’s been to competitions all her life, but this wasn’t like the rest. This was different. There’s no preparation for the feeling of being surrounded by 63,000 people.

At least her sister Rosemary was there for support. Family is something she can always count on. Just when nerves were about to get the best of her, family came through. Overcome by anxiety, she remembered her mom’s advice. She clung to the words of “The worst you could do is be 12th best in the nation, and that doesn’t sound so bad.”

Successful Sisters

Group Fazzino State Fair
HAPPY WINNERS – Olivia Fazzino, left, and Katherine Fazzino proudly display their State Fair of Texas Agricultural Science Fair Champion ribbons.

Katherine Fazzino, Rudder High School senior, was not 12th in the nation. She earned second place in her category at the 2015 National FFA Convention and Expo in Louisville, and now she’s hungry for more. Headed back to the national convention for the second straight year Oct. 19-22 in Indianapolis, Fazzino hopes to earn first place in the environmental and natural resources division. And she’s not alone. Her little sister Olivia, Rudder High sophomore, will be competing in the “greenhand” division, qualifying as a freshman during the July state convention in the plant systems category. Going to Indianapolis together excites both sisters almost as much as going to the national convention.

“I’m really excited about going to nationals,” Olivia said. “But going with my sister makes the experience 10 times better.”

Katherine said she was more nervous more about whether Olivia would get to go than she was herself because she feels being at the national convention is an experience that she wants everyone on her FFA team to experience. When talking about Olivia’s progression in the FFA program, she said it was similar to the maturation she experienced learning from her older sisters.

“Knowing Olivia is coming, and kind of following in my footsteps is really exciting,” Katherine said. “You can see the way she loves her project. And it’s a really special feeling because you can see her passion now.”

Olivia has three more years in Rudder FFA and she plans on cherishing every minute of it.

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ORGANIC SUCCESS – Olivia Fazzino stands next to her winning science fair project.

“My favorite thing about Rudder FFA is all the people because they are all so fun and they believe in the things I believe in,” Olivia said.

A Fazzino doing well in FFA is not an uncommon site. There are five Fazzino sisters and all of them experienced success with Rudder FFA. Larry White, agriculture teacher at Rudder, said there’s a reason for their success.

“They’re an outstanding family,” White said. “It goes back not just to their mom and their dad, but to their grandparents as well. It’s one big family. When you get one of those five girls, you get the whole family.”

Intentional Service

Like many Rudder FFA alumni, Fazzino girls who graduate come back to support the program. Because the program is entrenched in the Brazos Valley community, it’s easy to find an event where they are serving.

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PROUD DAD – From left, Katherine Fazzino, Olivia Fazzino, Anna Marie (Fazzino) Drymalla, MaryFrances Fazzino and Rosemary Fazzino stand above their dad Lee Fazzino, Jr.

From working with children at the Twin City Mission to participating in the KBTX Food for Families drive, as well as many other events, Rudder FFA students, sponsors and family members are a common site in Bryan and surrounding areas. This community service helped the chapter place third out of 1038 active FFA Chapters in the state of Texas at this year’s state convention earning the chapter a “Golden Horizon” award for total involvement in the school and community. In a press release, the FFA said it considers its Golden Horizon award “the highest state rating to be bestowed on an FFA chapter.” Also at the state convention, Rudder FFA placed eighth in the state as an overall chapter to win the Gold Emblem National Chapter Rating and advance to nationals to be judged in the National FFA Chapter Contest.

Lasting Tradition

Rudder FFA started with just 39 students when the school opened in 2008. It has grown to a chapter of over 400 students. Katherine said there’s a reason the program is so successful.

“Our teachers help us develop our own passion for FFA,” Katherine said. “None of our teachers tell us what we have to do. They lay the foundation by helping us find our passion. We take what they give us and run with it.”

In preparation for nationals, Katherine and Olivia aren’t slowing down. They recently earned first place in their divisions at the State Fair of Texas’ 4-H/FFA Agricultural Science Fair. The prizes came complete with a $1,000 scholarship for each sister.

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SOIL POWER – Katherine Fazzino shows off her State Fair award-winning science fair project.

Scholarships are something the sisters have become accustomed to earning. As a senior, college is on the horizon for Katherine, and she’s very appreciative of opportunity scholarships bring. Olivia and her are planning to attend Texas A&M to join their sisters MaryFrances and Rosemary who are currently attending the university. Anna Marie Drymalla, the oldest Fazzino sister, graduated from Texas A&M and is working as a teacher in the area.

Katherine, who wants to major in agribusiness and minor in economics, said FFA prepares students for all walks of life. Once called Future Farmers of America, the official name of the organization is now the National FFA Organization, welcoming members who aspire to be teachers, doctors, scientists and many other professions. Katherine said skills gained in FFA like interviewing will be invaluable to whatever career she chooses. But those thoughts are for the future. Right now Katherine is focused on the task at hand – nationals.

“Winning would be really exciting because that would mean that all my hard work these past three years is finally coming together,” Katherine said.

She added that she’d love to bring back the top spot at nationals because then their chapter would “be known at the national level.”

“I really want people to know about Rudder FFA because Rudder FFA is such an important part of my entire life,” Katherine said.

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Children First. Always.

Welcome to Our New Look!

Change is in the air at Bryan ISD. A new school year has started, construction projects are all around and has a new look!

We hope you like our new design. It was born out of the desire to create a website that would better serve your needs.

The New Is:

  • Adaptable – Our new website is a Adobe Spark (87)“responsively-designed website.” This fancy term means our layout will automatically adjust when you access our site from your smartphone, tablet or desktop computer.
  • Accessible – Each scrolling photo at the top of our website is connected to a featured story from our news section, blog page or a video from our YouTube page. Additionally, items from other outlets may be in this space. Just click on the photo or the caption, and you can instantly access the best of what Bryan ISD has to offer.
  • Clear – The new, clean design is organized, simplified and features the pages and menus that you visit the most. The introduction of infographic-style icons allows you to scan quickly through our homepage to find what you need. If what you’re looking for lies outside the boundaries of Parents/Student, Employees or Schools, it is likely located in the “MORE” tab. If you ever have trouble finding something on our website, simply use the magnifying glass search icon on the top right of to arrive at your destination quickly.
  • Social – You might notice that there’re a few more buttons at the bottom right. Bryan ISD now has a presence on the social media channels of Instagram and LinkedIn, in addition to our established outlets of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. As mentioned before, we also have a new district blog. Finally, if you haven’t discovered the Bryan ISD App, now’s the time. It’s available for download on your Apple and Android devices.

Thanks for your continued support of our district. We hope you like the new

Children First. Always.

Bryan High School Auto Program Earns National Honor

Car trouble isn’t a good excuse for students in Bryan High School’s automotive technology program. These students are already becoming experts in the field. Their program will be honored at the Bryan ISD Board meeting Monday.

FOCUSED PRECISION – Bryan High auto tech students work under the hood of a vehicle during class.

At the end of last school year, the automotive training program received accreditation by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation in the categories of maintenance and repair.

The honor is the culmination of a rigorous evaluation by the foundation. The group performed a two-day evaluation based on hundreds of standards and curriculum measures. With the accreditation of an automotive training program comes credibility, prestige and recognition.

Hard Work

Nathan McCann, Bryan High School automotive technology instructor, has always spent his time ensuring the program improves, before accreditation and after.

Preparation for the evaluation started at the beginning of last school year and continued until the foundation’s evaluation team visited the school in the spring. McCann constantly goes through a self-evaluation checklist to make sure his students follow procedure.

Local Support

David Reynolds, Bryan ISD career & technical education director, was confident the automotive program was ready for the challenge of evaluation. He helped McCann bring in local industry experts to guarantee the program met the latest industry standards.

“Input from people who work in the auto field every day was invaluable,” Reynolds said. “It gave students real-world knowledge and helped prepare them for the strict standards of evaluation.”

HELPING HAND – Nathan McCann, automotive teacher, helps Bryan High senior Westen Weathers operate a tire changing machine.

Atkinson Toyota, Sterling Auto Group, Aggieland Automotive, Advanced Auto Repair, Tom Light Chevrolet and Lithia Chrysler Jeep Dodge all provided support to Bryan High’s auto program. Atkinson Toyota went so far as to supply parts for the program and aligned its knowledge with the curriculum Toyota uses to train its technicians.

Reynolds said industry support from around the community was vital to the program’s success. He said the auto program’s accredited status means many local shop owners will be assured of quality job applicants in the coming years.

Bright Future

Former National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation Chair Donald Seyfer agreed with Reynolds assessment. His organization is a non-profit, independent organization that evaluates and accredits entry-level technician training programs against standards developed by the automotive industry.

“As a result of the quality education provided by Bryan ISD, the motoring public will benefit since better repair technicians will join the workforce,” Seyfer said.

In addition to the program’s national accreditation, auto tech students had the opportunity to earn ASE Student Certification. An achievement that gives Westen Weathers, Bryan High senior, confidence about his future.

“Being certified will help me get a job because it will look good on my resume,” Weathers said. “Shops are looking for people who are already certified and know what they are doing.”

Children First. Always.

About Bryan ISD Career and Technical Education:

Bryan High School’s automotive technology program is a division of Bryan ISD’s career and technical education department (CTE). By blending hands-on experience with rigorous academics, CTE prepares Bryan ISD students for an emerging global marketplace. The challenging courses help students identify career goals, determines the education necessary to achieve their pursuits and acquires marketable skills for post-graduation.

For more information about the Bryan ISD CTE Department, click here.

Six Bryan ISD Schools Earn Coveted Energy Certification

Lights are burning clean and bright at Bryan ISD, as six schools achieved Energy Star status.

SHINNING BRIGHT – Energy Star was introduced by the EPA in 1992 as a voluntary, market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency.

Johnson Elementary, Neal Elementary, Rayburn Middle School and Long Middle School recently joined the list of Bryan ISD schools to achieve the prestigious Environmental Protection Agency certification. Houston Elementary and Navarro Elementary previously achieved Energy Star certification.

The honor means these schools are among the top 25 percent of similar facilities nationwide for energy efficiency and meets strict energy efficiency performance levels set by the EPA. All of these energy achievements occurred since Bryan ISD placed Paul Buckner in the newly created position of Energy & Sustainability Specialist two years ago. A job he takes pride in.

“We’ve made great strides in energy efficiency the last few years,” Buckner said. “We don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.”

In addition to creating positive environmental impact, the new energy efficient measures have lowered energy costs. Buckner said Bryan ISD’s commitment to energy efficiency has helped the district have an avoided energy cost of $228,650 over the last two years. Money that can be used in the classroom and to improve the learning experience of Bryan ISD students.

The lights themselves have provided a better learning environment according to Buckner.

“Our volleyball and gymnastics programs have already commented on how the new lights in their gyms have created a better gym for them to play in,” Buckner said. “Teachers and students are also starting to get much better lighting in classrooms and hallways.”

TREND SETTERS – Neal Elementary is one of six Bryan ISD schools to achieve Energy Star status.

Energy Star commercial buildings, including schools, use an average of 35 percent less energy than typical buildings and also release 35 percent less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Bryan ISD improved its energy performance by managing energy strategically across the entire school district and by making cost-effective improvements to its buildings. In turn, the school district prevented greenhouse gas emissions equal to the electricity use of 324 households per year.

Buckner will present the district’s latest energy efficiency developments at the Sept. 19 Board meeting. He said the results are clear, and Bryan ISD’s commitment to energy efficiency serves as an example for Bryan-College Station and surrounding communities.

“The six Energy Star schools have accomplished something few schools the Brazos Valley have achieved,” Buckner said. “We’re proud to lead the way through our lasting commitment to energy efficiency.”

Children First. Always.

Flip Flippen Visits Johnson Elementary

Johnson Elementary welcomed a prestigious guest this morning. Flip Flippen, founder and chair of the Flippen Group, visited one of his company’s 11 Capturing Kids’ Hearts National Showcase Schools.

FUNNY READER – Flippen reads Johnson students a funny story. His visit to the school coincidentally coincided with International Literacy Day.

The Flippen Group is a professional development organization that works with school districts, Fortune 500 companies, governments, sports teams and non-profit companies. Capturing Kids’ Hearts is the Flippen Group’s education extension that according to its website aims to “turn struggling schools around and make high-performing schools even better.”

Flippen estimated his organization goes on 500 school visits a week around the nation. Out of these schools, Johnson Elementary was chosen as one of the top 11 schools in the nation by the Flippen Group. When Flippen entered Johnson this morning, he walked by a banner profiling its Showcase Schools award from last year, but the banner also left plenty of room for awards in future years.

It was clear to Flippen upon entering that the school doesn’t intend to slow down on implementing his education philosophies anytime soon.

“Within the first 30 seconds I walked to the school, all I got was happiness,” Flippen said. “There were social contracts on the wall every classroom I went to. The kids love their teachers. I mean they really love their teachers.”

HANDS HELD HIGH – Flippen observed Jaime Mosqueda using music to teach Spanish to his bilingual class at Johnson.

The appreciation went both ways. Amy Newbold, principal of Johnson Elementary, was thankful Flippen took the time to observe Johnson’s innovative learning styles.

“It is a huge honor for him to come to Johnson,” Newbold said. “He has such a busy schedule worldwide, and he is taking time to come to our school in Bryan, Texas.”

Real Relationships

Newbold said winning the award served as an affirmation of all the hard work her staff put in to keep “a positive culture at Johnson. She said it has also provided talking points for students and parents.

Flip Flippen Ballons
BALLOON SEARCH – Johnson Assistant Principal Amy Thomman, left, and Principal Amy Newbold pose with balloon wielding Flip Flippen, founder and chairman of the Flippen Group. Balloons served as parting gifts for each of Flippen’s classroom visits at Johnson. Each balloon came with a clue that led him to his next class. At the end of the day, he almost had enough balloons to reenact the movie Up. 🙂

“Our families now have a better understanding of why we do what we do,” Newbold said. “Some of the Capturing Kids’ Hearts structures and processes have crossed over to the homes of our students.”

All of Johnson’s teachers and staff are trained according to Newbold and are using the procedures every day in their classrooms. She says that there is “100 percent buy-in” to the value of the program. Third-grade teacher Aubrey Rives agrees with Newbold’s assessment.

“Our teachers show genuine love for our Johnson families with their hearts,” Rives said. “And in turn, our students and parents trust us with their hearts.”

Daily Commitment

It’s the relationships formed and a commitment to the Capturing Kids’ Hearts process, that Flippen believes is the reason for Johnson’s success. When asked what a school that wants to be a Showcase School should do, Flippen said they should start by stopping by Johnson Elementary to observe its process techniques in action. He went so far to say that Johnson Elementary is “among the best on the planet” at instituting the process of learning.

Assistant Principal Amy Thomman said that Johnson’s success means they are embracing Bryan ISD’s vision of “Children First. Always.” She went on to say that Capturing Kids’ Hearts is here to stay at Johnson Elementary.

“We believe in Capturing Kids’ Hearts and live it,” Thomman said. “It’s not a program or a checklist. It’s our way of life.”

Bryan ISD
Children First. Always.


Expand Your Business, Become ‘Bryan ISD Friendly’

Bryan ISD Friendly graphicIf your small, medium or large business would like to expand its reach with our over 2,200 employees, consider becoming a “Bryan ISD Friendly Business.” To enter this relationship, simply offer discounts to Bryan ISD employees, and send the following three pieces of info to

  1. Your company’s name
  2. Discount details (percent or dollar amount off, any other pertinent details)
  3. Your website address if you have one

Once we get this info about your business, Bryan ISD will add you to the list of “Bryan ISD Friendly Businesses,” and will showcase your company and your discount to our employees. We’d like to thank all local businesses for making the Bryan-College Station community a better place.

Children First. Always.

Crockett Elementary’s Bookmobile Brings the Library Home

Eager eyes and small hands scroll through buckets filled with bright, colorful books. Suddenly, hands and eyes stop to focus on the perfect book. It’s a scene that brings joy into the heart of Polly Wilson, Crockett Elementary first grade teacher. Thankfully, it’s a scene she experiences over and over again at Bookmobile, a Crockett Elementary mobile library held every Wednesday from June 22 to July 27 at the Saddlewood Apartments and Timberlake Mobile Home Park in Bryan.

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HELPING HAND – Megan Paterson, second grade teacher from Crockett Elementary, helps Isaiah Nutall, fifth grade student from Branch Elementary, find a book.

This morning’s Bookmobile event was the last event of the summer. The books that weren’t checked out by children today were packed away to be used in school classrooms and to be given out to children next summer. Wilson is entering her 35th year as a teacher, but come June 2017, you can count on her, and a team of volunteer employees from Crockett and other Bryan ISD schools to set up makeshift mobile library stations all over again.

Throughout her career, Wilson understood the importance of reading. She observed that children who read over the summer excelled at a faster pace than students who didn’t read at all before school starts. Wilson later realized there is a valid reason many students don’t read at home in the summer.

“I found out that many families don’t have adequate transportation to go to the library to check out books,” Wilson said. “So I decided to do something about it. I told myself that if my students can’t get to the books, then I’ll bring the books to them.”

Finding Solutions

Wilson took the idea of a mobile library to Debra Ehrhardt, principal of Crockett Elementary, who thought it was a great project. Together, they worked with Assistant Principal Katrina Horace and fellow Crockett teacher Helen Russell to gather enough funds to get Bookmobile rolling in June 2014. Parents, students and educators realized the value in the project right away.

The initial success inspired Wilson to write three grants to keep the project going. Bookmobile is currently funded by the Bryan ISD Education Foundation, the Bryan Rotary Club and the Texas Retired Teachers Association. The grant money has helped sustain the project, which Wilson said has grown every year, but it has not made the process of finding reasonably-priced used books any easier.

“We look for books at all the local used bookstores,” Wilson said. But we also ‘scrounge around’ to ask people if they have extra books.”

Creating Excitement

The hard work has paid off, as Wilson said it’s obvious that Bookmobile is successful because you can see the results in the employees that choose to volunteer during their summer vacation and on the faces of parents and students. Many of the Bryan ISD teachers and administrators that volunteer at Bookmobile realize the success of the event immediately. Megan Paterson, a second grade teacher at Crockett, said that two students at last week’s event didn’t even wait to get back into their home before opening up their books.

Fast Readers
FAST READERS – Two eager Crockett students open their new books right away and start to read on their front porch.

“The kids are excited,” Paterson said. “Parents love our setup. A lot of them just see us pull up and then come on over.”

The result of keeping children engaged in summer reading and preventing the “summer slide,” as Wilson call it, pays off in multiple subjects during the school year. Cristal Gallegos, a fourth grade math and science teacher at Crockett, volunteered for Bookmobile because she understood that reading impacts the subjects she teaches.

“I always tell my kids that reading is the most important thing,” Gallegos said. “Because if you can’t read, you can’t learn any other subject.”

Providing Opportunity

Wilson said that if a child wants a book, “we’re not going to turn them away.” For this reason, the program is not limited to Crockett Elementary. Families from other Bryan Schools and even other school districts can participate in the book exchange.

Bookmobile Team
WORKING TOGETHER – Bookmobile volunteers pause for a photo op. From left: Gary Blazek, Nancy Wiese, Polly Wilson, Mary Rosas, Cristal Gallegos and Megan Paterson.

Like an actual library, volunteers write down the name of the books that are checked out and the parent or child who checked them out. Once the children are done reading the books, they can bring them back the following week to get another set of books. Wilson said the children are on an honor system, and the volunteers stated they have had “great success” in getting the books back. Also, children can select a few titles from the donated book boxes to keep.

Wilson said today was a “slow day” compared to past Bookmobile events, but won’t keep her and the rest of the Bookmobile team down.

“If we can get books in one kid’s hands, we’ve done our job,” Wilson said.

Children First. Always.

If you want to donate books to Crockett Elementary’s Bookmobile mobile library, contact Polly Wilson at

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Children First. Always.