Elementary student Charlotte Moffett spoke clearly and forcefully to the Humble ISD school board at its April meeting. Photos by Bruce Olson

A fifth-grade elementary student captured the hearts and minds of the Humble ISD board of trustees and a standing room-only audience as she pleaded her case for more art classes in 11 of district’s elementary schools. At the April 9 Humble ISD board meeting, board President Dr. Charles Cunningham invited Charlotte Moffett to come forward to make her requested public comment. The well-composed fifth-grade student came to the podium that seemed nearly her height. She adjusted the microphone from above her head to a more proper position and began to speak. The room immediately became silent as her firm voice was both eloquent and passionate about her favorite subject, art classes.

“My name is Charlotte Moffett and I am a fifth-grader at Shadow Forest Elementary School. I recently started the Humble ISD Art Cause which is advocating for the elementary schools that don’t get year-round art. Our mission is to give students an equal opportunity to year-long art classes, allowing them to freely express themselves in a calm and welcoming environment. We are trying to accomplish this goal by the end of this school year and hope that year-long art classes in all elementary schools will be put into effect next year,” she said.

Moffett took her full five minutes of allotted time to explain the situation as she saw it. She pointed out that her art teacher at Shadow Forest was only able to teach art there for part of the year instead of the whole year. She explained that the situation is the same at 11 of the 28 elementary schools in the district. The rest have art teachers all year long. She thinks that causes thousands of students to be left without art. She said that she had previously met with Humble ISD Administrator Dr. Roger Brown and others about the situation.

“I understand from their explanation that the budget is the complication here, but I am still not following how this is fair,” Moffatt said. She noted that she had researched the value of art in education and enumerated its benefits, which include reducing violence by letting students express their emotions, language development while learning colors and shapes, and overall improvement in academic performance rates. If students are consistently involved in art classes, it improves motor skills and social skills.

“Humble ISD wants all elementary students to participate in the Portrait of a Graduate Competencies each year but what they aren’t considering is that art fits into every one of those competency categories,” she said. Moffat provided each board member with a pamphlet she had prepared about her Humble ISD Art Cause Project and invited them to visit her booth at the Fine Arts Festival Saturday, April 27, at the Lone Star-Kingwood College campus.

Following her comments, there was a hearty round of applause from everyone in the room. She had truly impressed all who heard her. Nearly all the board members commented on how effective she had been and thanked her for calling the issue to their attention.

Retiring board member Keith Lapeze may have summed up the overall impression best when he thanked Moffatt and said,

“You’re in fifth grade? Wow, that is unreal …You need to keep doing what you are doing. You have a lot of people listening to you. We will see if we can make a difference about that.”

Retiring board member Keith Lapeze (center) was honored by his fellow board members.

Following public comments, the planned highlight of the meeting began to unfold as members of the board, in making their monthly comments, each took time to thank Lapeze for his 13 years of service in making Humble ISD and the school board among the best in Texas by any measure. Most reminisced about their own memories working with him. Dr. Charles Cunningham, on behalf of the district, presented Lapeze with a crystal bowl honoring him for his outstanding leadership as its past president and his many years of service.

Following the presentation, Lapeze made his closing set of comments as a trustee. He addressed the question of why he and others should serve on the board when he said, “[The] school board is one of the most important positions you can have in a local community and its effect on a community.”

About the upcoming election of trustees he said, “Humble School Board elections, at least as long as I’ve been around, have been fairly competitive. I think that’s a good thing, and the reason why is because hopefully you kind of shake out the crazies and get good citizens who want to put the children of the district first to serve on the board. As long as I’ve been here, for the past 13 years with all the different board members, including the board that I’m sitting here with today, that’s what we’ve done: we put kids first.”

Lapeze urged everyone in the district to be more involved in the Humble ISD elections. “We want to make sure we elect the right people for that job,” Lapeze said. “I would not be rolling off the board if I thought I needed to stay on the board. The district is in the best shape financially, administratively now, than it’s been in, I think, since I’ve been on the board. I’m very proud about that fact. The future of this district is extraordinarily bright.”

School board meetings are normally held at 7 pm, the second Tuesday of each month at the Humble ISD Administration Building, 20200 Eastway Village Dr., and are open to the public. Agendas are posted on the district website: humbleisd.net.

Bruce Olson
Author: Bruce OlsonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I have been married since 1970 to Kerry, my best friend and a great Australian woman. I served and survived Vietnam in the U.S. Air Force. I fought forest fires in the summer while in college, where I earned a B.A. in economics from Oklahoma State University and an M.B.A. from the University of Texas. I retired from Continental Airlines. I have a son and two granddaughters in Kingwood, and a daughter and two grandsons on a farm near Mazabuka, Zambia. I am now enjoying life as a grandfather, Tribune correspondent and Humble ISD guest teacher when not traveling to Zambia or Australia.

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