School News

Hello Zilker Elementary Families,

Here are some school-related updates to get you all back in the swing of things.


It is my pleasure to announce Hannah Hallmark as the new assistant principal of Zilker Elementary.  Hannah has been a teacher in AISD for the past eleven years where she taught Spanish at O’Henry Middle School. During her career in education,  Hannah has made it a priority to build strong relationships with all members of the school community and ensure her instruction supports the social, emotional, and academic development of each child. We are pleased to have her join our team at Zilker.


Congratulations to grade teacher, Tammy Thompson, who will be joining Baldwin Elementary as the new full-time assistant principal.  We are excited for her as she begins this new adventure in her career and wish her the very best in her new position. 

We have already started the process of finding a new third grade teacher and will work diligently to ensure a smooth transition in the process.    


Austin ISD is calling for a bond election to be held on November 7 of this year. The district will be conducting community meetings from August through November to ensure that you are informed and that your opinions are heard. For more information about the bond, go to:

To find out more about how this Bond will impact Zilker Elementary and the rest of the Austin Vertical Team specifically, click on the “View 2017 Bond Projects by School and Facility” button on the landing page.  


August 7-10 New Student Registration

August 18 Meet the Teacher 11:30 am -1pm

August 21 First Day of School!

Enjoy the rest of the summer! And, don’t hesitate to contact me directly if you need anything from me.


Wishing You All the Best in Zilkerland!

Dear Zilker Families,

Well, that time is really here now. While I am officially the Zilker principal through June 30, for all practical purposes, Alicia Hill is. I have shared with Ms. Hill how hard it has been to let go, and she said she understands that after only a few times on our campus. She already recognizes what a special place Zilker is.

So all of my personal effects are out of the principal’s office, and I am about to turn over the last two Zilker keys that I have. Ms. Hill has begun moving her things into her new office and is looking forward to new adventures in the coming years. I have to admit that I am a little jealous, but this is all as it should be. I am confident that you are in good hands with Ms. Hill and your new assistant principal still to be named.

And how about Patrick Aziz and Joslin! Just when we were feeling a bit discouraged, Joslin happened! I know Mr. Aziz will miss Zilker, and you all will certainly miss him, but I also know you join me in congratulating him and wishing him only the best. He will be amazing as the interim principal for the Joslin Jaguars.

When you happen to see me around town, please be sure to say hello. I may forget names, but I will remember faces and that you are/were Zilker Panthers. I guess I will stop here. Just know how much you all have meant to me, know that I will always remember these past nine years as the ones when I was “the luckiest man in AISD,” and be sure to keep working together to ensure that Zilker continues to be “…a great place for kids!” I love and already miss you all.

Most sincerely,

Randy Thomson

Randy Thomson Has Resigned–Effective June 30, 2017

Dear Zilker Families,

I hope you received my voice mail message or email last Thursday, March 23.  In case you did not, the text of the email is included below.  I know I will be seeing and talking to you in the coming days and weeks, but just know again how very much my time in Zilkerland has meant to me.  I will so miss our Panthers and their families and teachers and everyone else who works at Zilker.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.


Randy Thomson


Dear Zilker Families,

This is my last semester as the principal of Zilker Elementary School. I submitted my formal resignation to our associate superintendent, Sandra Creswell, just this past Tuesday, March 21. My last official day as the Zilker principal will be June 30, 2017.

There is absolutely no way—no way—that I can express to you how very much the past nine years have meant to me. It is because of you and all of our Zilker team. Nine years… how can that be? That is longer than I have ever worked anywhere else in my life! My daughters, Lauren and Hayley, were in high school when I came to Zilker in 2008, and those of you who were here through their high school and college days (and even beyond) listened to so many of my “brag stories” about them. Thank you for indulging me or humoring me through those times. Now Lauren and Hayley are grown, successful, professional, working women living in Chicago and Little Rock. That ol’ “time thing” can really sneak up on you, so enjoy, love, and appreciate every moment that you have with your children in the coming days and years.

To our Panthers, the Zilker faculty/staff, all of you… it’s been an absolute pleasure and joy for me to have had this opportunity to serve you. Again, there really, really are no words that can adequately express my gratitude to each and every one of you. I guess it likely became so trite and predictable for me to say, “I am the luckiest man in AISD!” again and again during the past nine years, but I always meant it—sincerely. And I still do.

How very proud I have always been to tell people that I am the principal of Zilker Elementary School—the best and most wonderful title I’ll ever have. If I allowed myself to be the selfish one that I could easily be, I’d stay here forever. It is time now, however, for a post-Thomson era in Zilkerland. I know you will join our teachers as you and they take our Panthers to new heights with new adventures in the coming years! I look forward to hearing about your achievements and accomplishments. I know there will be many.

Thank you so much for your continued support of our teachers and staff who work so hard and diligently for your children as they (and you) continue to make “Zilker… a GREAT place for kids!”

Most sincerely,

Randall W. Thomson



One More Faculty Change for 2017-18

In addition to the other “shuffling” among our faculty that I already shared with you, there is now one more change to report.  Emily Day, current 3rd grade teacher, will move to 4th grade for next year; and Tammy Thompson, current 4th grade teacher, will move to 3rd grade for the 2017-18 school year.  At this time, that still leaves us with only one teaching positiong to fill for the coming year:  4th grade bilingual.  We hope to begin interviewing soon!



If you have a child who will be in kindergarten here at Zilker for the 2017-18 school year, please join us for KINDERGARTEN ORIENTATION on Tuesday, April 4, at 9 a.m. in the school library.  This is really a time for adults to complete and submit registration materials, and you’ll also find out about our kindergarten program.  While children really won’t be that interested, and there won’t be anything especially planned for them, do feel free to bring them if that is the only way you can attend.  We will have our “Kinder Kamp” one morning later in May–date TBD–when you and your children may return for a campus tour and fun time together.  Stay tuned for more information.  We hope to see you on April 4!

When you come on April 4 for orientation, be sure to bring with you two copies of each of the following:

* Proof of address (house contract, lease agreement, or electric/gas bill)

* Child’s birth certificate

* Child’s social security card

* Child’s immunization record

* Photo IDs for parents (driver license or other government-issued ID)


Teacher Assignments for 2017 – 2018

We will have a few changes among our faculty for the coming school year, and we wanted you to know about them.  Families will have an opportunity to provide input regarding their children’s class placement the week after spring break.

1) Steve Wagner, special education/PPCD teacher at the kindergarten level, has announced his retirement.  He is ready for whatever the next chapter in life brings his way, and we wish him all the best.  Congratulations, Mr. Wagner!

2) Jan McLendon, current 1st grade teacher, will move to the open PPCD position due to Mr. Wagner’s retirement.  Mrs. McLendon requested this change and is ready for a new challenge!  She has served as a special education teacher in the past.

3) Alison Balic, current 2nd grade teacher, will move to the open 1st grade position due to Mrs. McLendon’s move to PPCD.  We are losing one 2nd grade teacher–from five to four–due to projected 2nd grade enrollment based on current 1st grade enrollment, so one 2nd grade teacher needed to change grade levels.

4) Emily Peters, current 4th grade teacher and Mrs. Lugo’s successor, will move to 5th grade.  We are gaining a 5th grade teacher–from three to four–so Ms. Peters is needed there.  Our 5th grade teachers are planning to “team teach,” so our 5th-graders will have each teacher for one academic subject each.

5) We will be hiring a new bilingual 4th grade teacher to take Ms. Peters’ position since she is not bilingually certified, and we always have one bilingual class at each grade level to serve our English language learners.

While we may have other openings due to unanticipated changes in other teachers’ plans, these are the only changes at this time.  We will have only one teaching position vacant that needs to be filled (4th grade bilingual).  We will keep you apprised of any additional changes as they may occur.  We are very fortunate at Zilker to attract a large number of applicants and then to retain our teachers–very little mobility among our faculty/staff!



Congratulations to MS. ELDA GARCIA, music teacher, for being selected by her peers as the 2017 Zilker Teacher of the Year!  Each year our district sponsors this endeavor, and teachers and other school employees throughout AISD choose a teacher to represent them at the district level.  Ms. Garcia is this year’s recipient of this honor and distinction!

We at Zilker are so very fortunate to have excellent teachers who want to be at our school and who want to stay.  This decision, therefore, is always a difficult one because we have so many outstanding candidates for this recognition.  Our other finalists this year were:  Ms. Ashley Cohn, PE teacher; and Mrs. Judi Thompson, 5th grade teacher.

Thank you, Ms. Garcia, for your many contributions to our school and community.  We appreciate you!


Texas Education Agency’s New “Grading” System Begins in August 2018

January 2017

Dear Zilker Families:

Starting in the 2018–19 school year, a new A–F rating system will be implemented in Texas schools. As a preliminary review of schools and districts, the Texas Education Agency just released “what if” ratings.  These are not official ratings and do not replace the TEA rating that Zilker and other schools received earlier this year.

TEA Commissioner Mike Morath issued this statement about the A–F “what if” results:

“It is important to note that the Met Standard/Improvement Required ratings issued in August 2016 and updated in November 2016 are the official academic accountability ratings for the 2015–16 school year. A similar process will be used for the 2016–17 school year.

The A–F ratings are for informational purposes to meet a legislative requirement and represent work-in-progress models that are likely to change before A–F ratings become effective in August 2018. No inferences about official district or campus performance in the 2015–16 school year should be drawn from these ratings, and these ratings should not be considered predictors of future district or campus performance ratings.”

In summary, the A–F data released does not take away from any of the accomplishments at Zilker and other schools. In fact, Zilker was awarded an academic distinction designation by TEA this year. We will continue to focus on student achievement, high-quality programming, and building a great school community together.

Thank you for your support as we navigate this new system.


Randall W. Thomson, Principal




Please see the attached report regarding Zilker’s annual “Report Card” for the 2015-16 school year from the Texas Education Agency.  Feel free to contact the school office if you have questions or comments.

TEA School Report Card for Zilker–2015-16