By Robin Harkey

On March 27, with shiny green and fuchsia pom-poms, oversized mock checks and noise clackers in hand, Dr. Carroll, assistant superintendent of curriculum, instruction and accountability, and I ventured out on an electronic journey stepping forth into the living rooms, the dining rooms and the offices of 17 worthy educators in VISD to present grant funding on behalf of the VISD Education Foundation. This surprise presentation process was supposed to take place at each school or department, but we were not about to wait. Our educators and our community needed good news, and now more than ever.

Our e-meeting marathon took more than four hours to complete. By the time it was over, I had a dull headache, and my jaw was so incredibly sore from all the smiling, laughing and carrying on. The ups and the downs of an hours-long adrenaline rush had my energy tank on empty, yet my heart was incredibly full.

This fullness is something I also want you to experience. To help, I have compiled my top ten moments of this crazy, this amazing, and at times, technologically challenged event.

No. 10: Seeing everyone’s goofy, perplexed or awkward faces, in freeze mode (or not) – mine included. No carnival, fun-house mirrors needed.

No. 9: The realization that work should be fun and that having a sense of humor is vital to our emotional and mental well-being during these times of uncertainty.

No. 8: The peace I felt living for the moment, right here and right now. Not worried about yesterday or tomorrow.

No. 7: Having VISD superintendent, Dr. Quintin Shepherd, make the time for all these meetings. I am sure that he is feeling like somewhat of an octopus right now, having to be in eight different places at once, yet physically, and for the most part, suctioned to one.

No. 6: Kelli Cotton’s observant comment: “Wow. This is a lot of excitement for a Friday.” Agreed. It was like working from home on steroids.

No. 5: Seeing Jonathan Sixtos jump back in his seat while uttering a quick “woah” when we started to cheer with pom-poms and hand clackers. We sure threw him for a loop.

No. 4: Best freeze-frame: Kayla Garner. We had disguised the meetings as announcements from Shepherd. It was priceless to see her take the bait.

No. 3: Shannon Sawyer’s humble reflection: “Thank you for answering my 492 emails, Robin.” To which I replied, “That is what I am here for.” Grant-writing is all in the details. Lots and lots of details.

No. 2: Being able to see our educators and asking how they were doing and feeling. With deep sighs, a few people got teary-eyed, and you could feel the weight of the world on their shoulders. It was rewarding to bring some salve of healing and emotional refreshment the Friday before these educators would start classes from home.

And drum roll please:

No. 1: Awarding a total of $45,596.68 in grant funding to help meet the needs of our students, while allowing educators to live their dreams, too.

And there you have it! For a video montage and a complete listing of our winners, please visit our Facebook page at