Marshall ISD teachers and staff are planning to “rewrite” the district’s story this school year as they returned to work following the annual convocation ceremony at East Texas Baptist University in Marshall on Tuesday.

While the district’s teachers and other personnel officially returned to the classroom on Friday, the Mavericks officially celebrated the start of the 2019-20 school year on Tuesday with the convocation ceremony and guest speaker minister and motivational speaker Dennis Swanberg.

While Marshall ISD Superintendent Jerry Gibson said the past few years have been hard-fought for the Maverick employees and students, the fight has been worth the results.

“For the first time in 11 years this year, Marshall ISD does not have a single campus rated ‘improvement required,’” Gibson told the audience to a chorus of cheers and standing ovation. “For more than a decade, this district had at least one campus rated IR (improvement required) but not this year. And those days of IR campuses are over. We are not going to go backwards. We can’t do that. We’re not going to be a ping pong ball and go back and forth.”

Districts and campuses are rated either “met standard” or “improvement required” each year by the Texas Education Agency and the news this year for Marshall ISD means that for the first time in more than a decade, each of its campuses has met the minimum standards required by TEA.

“We are so proud of our accomplishments,” Gibson said. “Our students deserve the best. Our steps have been well-planned and our growth has been methodical over the years.

“I’m looking at a group of educators today who are enjoying the success but are not satisfied — educators who are still hungry.”

While TEA is set to officially publish each district’s and campus A-F rating on Thursday, Gibson revealed on Tuesday that the district overall had moved up from a “D” rating in 2018 to a “C” rating this year.

“We have done what people said couldn’t be done,” Gibson said. “It’s been a hard, heavyweight fight for the past several years, but the fight has been worth it when we have no ‘IR’ campuses.

“At times, TEA and others outside of this room left us for dead, but those of us in this room would not accept defeat. Marshall ISD is still alive and kicking and we are still hungry.”

In addition to the good news from TEA, the Marshall ISD Education Foundation volunteers were on hand Tuesday to award a record amount of grants to teachers totaling more than $73,000.

The grants will allow teachers to purchase supplies, software and other items to enhance classroom learning with funds above and beyond what’s provided by the district and government agencies.

Tuesday’s guest speaker Swanberg encouraged the district’s staff and teachers to be present in the present as the district proceeds with its theme this year of “Rewriting Our Story.”

“You always hear people tell old stories about the good old days,” Swanberg said. “But it’s not about yesterday. Today is the good day. Today is all you and I have. God has something just for you and the team and the students. Be strong. Be courageous. They’re are more firsts to come.”

Gibson encouraged the staff to use diversity to become stronger this school year as they rewrite their story.

“Our story is going to be that as a district, we took the next step,” Gibson said. “We have the perfect storm for success. They’re are still going to be people that are skeptical but that’s OK. I believe in you and please be assured of my support. Let’s have the best year ever.”

Marshall ISD students return to school on Aug. 26.