Timberline Elementary Shows Long-Distance Support for Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook 2by Guest Writer, Cory Halliburton

Friday, December 14, 2012 will forever be a day of sadness and sorrow for the sleepy town of Newtown, Connecticut. For young North Texas students whose sense of geography has yet to extend beyond the Red River, the state of Connecticut may seem light-years away. Feelings of long-distance helplessness did not stop Timberline Elementary in Grapevine, Texas from taking swift action to support the students affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy.

As the sun rose on the Monday following the day that likely changed public education forever, Timberline Elementary started a fund-raising campaign to support Sandy Hook. Timberline, like Sandy Hook, is a quiet, suburban elementary school, and Timberline’s call to action was immediate. Each morning of the week following the tragedy, Timberline PTA representatives stood in the cold and windy student drop-off area and collected monetary donations, art work, and letters in a concerted effort to assist the healing of the hurt sustained just a days before in Newtown.

Some of the students tried to donate their lunch money, and when they were politely refused, the students gave hugs instead, knowing somehow that the parents were struggling with the events at Sandy Hook. The response from the Timberline families and students was powerful and overwhelming. The effort raised hundreds of dollars, and dozens of pieces of art and letters of hope and love.

A Timberline Elementary care package of the donations will be delivered to the Sandy Hook PTA for the benefit of students and families affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy. The floor mat in front of Timberline’s welcoming entrance describes the school as a place that changes the world. This recent exhibition of leadership and love of country is an example of how such bold aspirations may be put into action and achieved.


Cory Halliburton serves as an officer on the Timberline Elementary PTA Board of Directors, and he is an active supporter of the Timberline Dads Club whose mission is to exhibit leadership and to provide opportunity for the positive development of all students at TES.

Sandy Hook

New Year’s Resolutions for the Smart Employer

This article is by Cory Halliburton, Guest Contributor

Over the holidays, I left the law behind for a bit and spent some quality time with my wife on Main Street in Grapevine. As we strolled along the bustling streets of the Christmas Capitol of Texas, I noticed waitresses rushing about, Northgate workers getting it done, and other practical aspects of my practice area (employment law) that I had not reflected on in some time. For whatever reason, the occasion gave me ideas for these New Year’s resolutions for the employer.

Hire with Patience

Hopefully, economic growth in Grapevine and the Metroplex will stay strong in 2012. As employers hire, they should take the necessary amount of time to pinpoint the best-fitting employee for the company. We live in an age of technology that substitutes instant messaging for careful thought. Yet a favorable and beneficial hiring decision takes patience and commitment.

Every candidate should complete an application, and the company should contact the candidate’s references. An employer can learn much from an application and a simple phone call.

Some people may take jobs beneath their capabilities and below their earning potential while searching for better options. An employer that attempts to get a steal with a seriously overqualified candidate will probably lose on the deal.

Meaningful Performance Reviews

Resolve to conduct meaningful and fair performance reviews. For effectiveness, employers should tailor the forms towards the position being reviewed. Evaluation forms should be drafted with input from the managers that will conduct the reviews. Multiple supervisors reviewing the same employee should reach consensus before putting their thoughts into writing. Supervisors reviewing a group of employees in the same position should be consistent with their evaluations. Consistent standards give the process credibility.

Take Corrective Action Now, Not Later

I help many employers through difficult workplace situations. Often, the company wishes to discuss a ‘problem’ employee before making a decision. I often hear, ‘We should have fired him last year when we had the chance.’ In other words, last year the employee did something that would have been grounds for termination, yet he remained on the job. Additional chances rarely work when the underlying misconduct reflects dishonesty or substantially poor judgment. Few employers can teach ethics and integrity. Consider a performance improvement plan, but do not be afraid to terminate an employee who is a detriment to the company.

Read the Employee Handbook

The company’s employee handbook likely applies to you, so you might as well know what it says. By reading the company’s rules of employment, you might learn that the company’s rules don’t match the company’s practices. Also, in any employment-related lawsuit, the company will benefit by the employer knowing what the handbook says; trust me on this one.

This New Year, as other resolutions fall to the wayside, dedicate yourself to these four first-rate employment practices. Your company will thank you for New Years to come. I thank my fellow shareholder, Mark Levine, for his input to this article, and I thank GTO for publishing, among other things.