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David Vinson, Ph.D.

David Vinson, Ph.D.'s Multimedia Blog

Blog EntryBlog: Wednesday, April 16, 2014

College Career Awareness, Knowledge and Immersion...The Wylie Way!

A big responsibility of school is preparing students for a successful life beyond high school. We believe this includes providing them a set of values that promote respect, responsibility, kindness, gratitude and preparation. The value of being prepared includes setting their sights on a career and working towards that goal. How do we do this? We believe this can be achieved in three steps:
  • Building Awareness
  • Building Knowledge
  • Immersion

What did you want to be when you were little? I bet you could put fireman, policeman or teacher on the lists of many elementary aged kiddos. Why, because kids are aware they exist. For this reason, we are going to do our best next year to make Wylie students aware of a wide array of jobs. In the near future, our kids will be introduced to videos like these that tell them about potential high wage, high need regional careers, introduced by our very own “career kid.

When students get to junior high, this awareness needs to become knowledge. This knowledge includes what kind of certification or degree is required for a career. What kind of grades students need to make for admission into schools required for these certifications or degrees. What does this career pay and does it fit my personality. In fact, all 8th grade students will choose a major and have a plan before entering 9th grade.

We will immerse our kids in careers beginning in 9th grade with a principles class that provides an overview of the student’s career interest and end up with a set of dual credit college courses during their junior and senior year. We are also developing an actual career experience that will provide them the real world knowledge to understand the job. For example, if a student wants to pursue video productions, do we have a deal for you!!!! Pirates and Raiders can actually run the video board at the high school football games and get paid for doing it…all while learning about a career in this field. Check out PiRaider Productions.

Is this cool or what???? If you have a high school student that is creative, wants to get involved and has a desire to learn more about video productions, email Kristen Gallegos at Kristen.gallegos@wylieisd.net and let’s get started!!!! Preparing your kids for a prosperous life, it’s the Wylie Way!!!!

Posted by David Vinson, Ph.D. at 10:56 AM
Blog EntryBlog: Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Think College Thursday Night!

Are you a student that is thinking about college? Are you a parent thinking what you should be doing for your own kid to prepare for college? There is a LOT to cover. When should you start your application? What are the best ways to prepare for entrance exams? What about dorm life or selecting and/or changing a major?

Hao (on the left) is preparing to start her path towards a degree in Neuroscience next year at The University of Texas at Austin. Nhat-Vy Pham-Vu (on the right) is pursuing a degree in broadcast journalism for a career, and radio/TV/film at the same University. 

This is Michaela Patton. She will also start her college experience next year; pursuing at degree in Architecture at Oklahoma State.  These awesome seniors didn’t get here by accident or without careful planning. They are such good planners, they want to pass their success secrets on for others to benefit. 

Hao, Nhat-Vy, Michaela and the rest of the National Honor Society kids at WHS have set up one awesome experience where the questions above and more can be answered called Think College Thursday Night!!!

Where: Wylie High School

When: Thursday, April 10, 2014/ 6:00-8:00 p.m.

Who should attend? 

  • Graduating Seniors
  •  Current Juniors
  • Underclassmen (Freshman and Sophomores)
  • Even Parents!!!!

Click here for the information and registration website (thinkcollege.webs.com). 

If you haven’t clicked yet, here’s a sample schedule of what you will learn…

If you are a junior attending the event:

  • A class taught by a high school senior regarding the importance of class rank
  • Another class about how to apply for different universities, making a resume and financial aid.

If you are a senior:

  • A class taught from some of our really cool graduates currently attending Rice and UT about dorm life
  • A class about attending college out of state from one of our own attending Wellesley
  • Even presentations from Wylie ISD personnel ranging from how to use jumper cables to choosing the right laptop for your experience.

But wait, there is more…much more!  If you are just beginning your journey in high school or are a parent who needs help, they have sessions for you too.

The Wylie High School NHS has asked me to ask you to help them by logging onto the site and registering so they know how many folks to expect.  Thanks for helping them out and thank you kids for this awesome display of community service and maturity.  A big part of the Wylie Way is preparing our students for a prosperous life beyond high school. Thanks to these awesome kids, they are making this a reality!!!!  I hope to see you there!

Posted by David Vinson, Ph.D. at 10:00 AM
Blog EntryBlog: Monday, March 31, 2014

A Light for Their Pathway

Needless to say that it has been a trying few weeks for our Wylie ISD family.  A student death is difficult enough; when it occurs as a homicide at the hands of another teen, it shakes our foundation to the core. These things happen other places, not here. This has sent our world spinning, but it’s finally slowing down enough to get our bearings.  I keep asking, why? It’s only now that I feel equipped to provide you what I do know and how we plan to move forward.

First, I need to tell you about the student who lost his life. Ivan Mejia was an honorable young man full of faith and promise. He was a leader with a bright future, respected by teachers and peers alike.  He came from a good home with parents who loved him. The Mejia family has forgiven those who took the life of their own son. I am in awe of their faith and capacity for forgiveness.

Second, I want to let you know about the two accused.  I have looked desperately to find an indicator that would allow me to better understand what would compel any teen from taking the life of another. I have found nothing. These boys came from homes with two parents, they were engaged in school and members of the Air Force ROTC.  They volunteered at a local elementary as mentors to younger students. One attended my church.

When you consider our community, it is among the lowest in the nation for crime. Our school discipline reports reflect a fantastic student body with very few incidents of violence of any kind. Our students are among the elite in Texas and the U.S.  Student performance on college entrance tests are above state and national averages. In fact, our high schools have been nationally recognized for advanced placement performance. Our Wylie East future valedictorian turned down offers from Harvard and MIT to accept his spot at Stanford.

Not one piece of this puzzle fits, but somehow I must find a way to keep the promise made to the Mejia family that the death of their son would not be in vein.  I have placed Ivan’s picture among my family photos in my office as a reminder of this promise. After all, I consider your kids my own.

What I Do Know?

I do know that this is an extreme version of a problem that exist with most teens. I can tell you that many teens seek permanent solutions to short term problems. I want to help them to better understand and manage their responses to a perceived crisis. This is a common problem that would be helpful for any teen to learn how to better manage.

I also know that our kids need us, no matter the age. A parent told me the other day that high school is the age when society tends to pull back and let the students manage themselves. She explained that this is really when they need us the most emotionally. While we want for our children to become independent, high school is often our last chance to pick them up after a fall and make sense out of success and failure.

Finally, I know that raising our kids involves all of us. This starts at home and includes our places of worship, extra-curricular groups and extends to the entire community.  When you reach out to your kids, we can grab the other arm and help you pull them to safety. As we address this issue, it will take all of us.

Walking through a campus last week, I saw a student-created poster that said, “Where there is no light to guide us, we are often lost in the darkness.” Please help me in holding the flashlight for our kids as they walk down these narrow pathways towards a life of prosperity and promise. After all, it’s the Wylie Way.

Posted by David Vinson, Ph.D. at 9:21 AM
Blog EntryBlog: Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Planning Your Child's Future...The Wylie Way!

Our “#Ihaveaplan” 8th grade parent meetings went very well last week. In fact, of the nearly 1,000 eighth grade students, 732 attended.  Parents were full of questions and some were dizzy from the offerings.  Parent Marco Hernandez teased by saying that he and his wife Stacie were still looking for the
appropriate table for their son. Jokingly, he said Stacie was looking for the "I'm lazy and don't want to do any hard work, but I want to make a lot of money" table.  Marco is joking, of course, and their son, Christian, is a great kid. However, Marco points one issue that many parents have - what should my student pursue as a career and do they have the desire and tenacity to get there?

Christian has a leg up on many kids. He has parents who care and want more for their child.  He will attend a high school like Wylie East or High that offers plans to help him accomplish his goals, and he will be supported by a caring staff and high achieving friends. It’s my impression that most kids want to succeed if they can find something that fits their strengths and passion. It’s the goal of Wylie ISD to provide pathways for students to find their perfect “fit.”


So, what’s Christian’s fit and what should he do to get there? If he desires a certification in welding, he pretty much starts the welding certification process day one in a freshman level “Principles of Welding” class and goes from there. During his high school experience, he will gain several of the 20 industry certifications that will help him prepare for the world of work or prepare him for welding school he may attend at a junior college or trade school.

But what if Christian wants to be an engineer? His pathway is longer and has a few more steps. He’s preparing in high school to enter into a 4 year degree program, but prepping will start his freshman year. He’ll continue on through high school to a point where he is taking dual credit engineering, as well as other dual credit courses – and Christian can potentially graduate with more than 33 hours of college credit (just think, that’s a lot of saved tuition for Marco and Stacie!)

Here are a few things that every student needs to know to get ahead of the game:

Take Hard Classes

College readiness expert David Conley says that kids can be college ready not only by making good grades, but taking hard classes that will make them college prepared. If you take easier classes in high school, he says that you WON’T be ready in college. (You can read more about this in his book College Knowledge)

Career Inventory

My daughter took a career inventory the other day and it suggested that she aspire to be a house cleaner.  With difficulty in keeping her own room clean, this might not be very accurate. We are in the process of finding a more effective and accurate tool…but for now, take those with a grain of salt. 


Find What You Love (and What Will Pay) + Strengths

Does your kid have a passion for something? One of mine loves helping people. In fact, every student at WISD takes the Gallup strengths inventory. It said that my son is caring, a discoverer, and an explorer. With his love for science, we are encouraging him to pursue something in the medical field that may help others…perhaps cure balding?! 

Say your kiddo loves dancing, but they may not be able to dance forever – but they can own a dance studio. The key here is matching what your kids love to do and finding jobs that will pay.  If you child is great at math, PLEASE look into the field of math and engineering. Our country needs them. Do they play Minecraft? It takes programmers to make that stuff. You can buy a book on Scratch programming and begin their career now.


Note: Your child is likely to change their mind from one career to the next. This is a great thing; it brings them one step closer to what they want and can do for a career!!!!


Take College Entrance Tests Early

Some of our kids work their fingers to the bone scrapping their way to the top 10 percent. This is important; but just as important is taking the PSAT and PLAN tests as early as possible.  The more they take them, the better their score. The better their score, the more money saved through scholarships and entrance to better universities. 

Find a Mentor

My daughter expressed an interest in being an engineer. I was explaining this to Kent Novak, Vice President at Texas Instruments. He offered a tour of his facility in Plano. It was amazing!  Kent’s division makes the components in projectors, and it changed my daughter’s world. When she got home, she asked for computer parts to make her own computer. There is not a prouder 5th grade owner of a computer than her.  I imagine we will be bothering Mr. Novak for more advice someday, but what an incredible mentor! 


When your child gets to high school in WISD, they will be hearing a lot about careers and the pathways to get there. If parents can join in, our chance for matching your child with success is incredible! A goal of the WISD board of trustees is to prepare students for a successful life beyond high school. Working together, this is definitely possible…it’s the Wylie Way!

Posted by David Vinson, Ph.D. at 6:23 AM
Blog EntryBlog: Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Importance of Considering a Career Early

What does success beyond high school look like? It’s something we as parents don’t often think about as we rush our kids from gymnastics to basketball practice, finish homework and get them off to bed. This is a REALLY important question for our school and your children. What our kids decide can have a big impact on their future. Not so long ago, a college degree was the golden ticket to a prosperous life. According to Forbes Magazine, 60% percent of current college graduates cannot find work in their field of study. According to Kids Health Magazine, 75% of children change their major after their first year of college.

Our Goals

Please know that we are not going to intentionally track anyone into a narrow pathway. Instead, our intent is to get them thinking about what kind of career they need to provide a successful life after high school. We hope this topic becomes a big discussion for you at the dinner table and in our classrooms.

We want to inform our kids about the jobs that pay and those that are simply not in demand. We want to match a student’s interest and strengths with a career they will love and pursue in college.

Just as important, we want our kiddos to determine what they DON’T want to do.

We want the last two years of high school to be the first two years of college. (We define college as an advanced educational experience that includes trades, certifications, or a university.)

Stumble While They Are Close

A lot of high school graduates go to college only to find it overwhelming. If we can get our kids a taste of college and a career while they are still at home, it will be much easier to help them work through the struggle.

Dr. Shane Lopez is the world’s leading researcher on HOPE. Reading his book, Making Hope Happen, you understand just how important hope is to all of our success. In a recent study, Dr. Lopez showed that kids with a career focus in school get better grades and are more successful than those without. In other words, if they know what they are working towards they are more likely to find the work at school more important.

Our Strategy

We are using some measurements with incoming freshman to help them select a career focus. In my next blog, I will tell you more about those measurements and provide some questions you can ask your own children about college and career that will start your family down this pathway.

Preparing our kids for a prosperous life; it’s the Wylie Way!

Posted by David Vinson, Ph.D. at 9:02 AM
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