Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Butterfly Festival Emerges from Newspring

Little-known fact: A swarm of butterflies is a kaleidoscope. A guaranteed-to-make-you-smile fact: A kaleidoscope of butterflies will soon land in our neighborhood.

Thanks to a collaboration between Newspring and area schools, 50 super-sized butterflies – a Butterfly Festival – will brighten expected and unexpected spots around the community. You won’t miss them. They are five feet across and as unique as the artists who create them. Art students and teachers are breathing life into designs submitted by art classes and professional artists.

Several Spring Branch ISD schools are decorating the aluminum butterflies: Buffalo Creek, Housman, Ridgecrest, Sherwood and Terrace Elementary Schools; Landrum, Northbrook and Spring Woods Middle Schools; and Memorial, Northbrook and Spring Woods High Schools.

 “When we imagined this project, we chose the butterfly because it’s a symbol of transformation,” said Robert Westheimer, chairman of Newspring, a faith-based nonprofit dedicated to making a positive social and economic impact in the Spring Branch area. “Once completed, these butterflies will transform our community landscape, and the proceeds will fund scholarships for at-risk students and transform their lives.”

Community patrons and local organizations are buying the artwork: several area churches, MetroNational, Blazer Building, SpringSpirit Baseball, Memorial Assistance Ministries and Allpoints Surveying, among others. In addition to buying several butterflies, David Weekley Homes will award a $2,500 scholarship for each of the five best student designs selected by the homebuilder’s staff.

Sponsorships, ranging from $7,500 to $50,000, are available. Email for more information. In addition to student, teacher and professional artists, Newspring is partnering with Holly and Tom Forney of Forney Construction, MetroNational and Best Collision.

Stop by Memorial City Mall at the end of November to see the kaleidoscope. After that, the butterflies will wing their way to spots chosen by the purchasers. That’s when the guaranteed-to-make-you-smile fun begins. You’ll turn a corner and discover a larger-than-life work of art that is transforming lives.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Spring Branch ISD Board Calls for Nov. 7 Bond Election

Early Voting October 23 – November 3
August 22, 2017 For Immediate Release – The seven-member Spring Branch ISD (SBISD) Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Monday, August 21, 2017 to call an $898.4 million bond election to appear on the Nov. 7, 2017 ballot.

The Board is asking voters to consider a proposition that, if approved, would provide funding to replace nine of the district’s oldest elementary schools, replace Landrum Middle School, add a new classrooms building at Memorial High School, replace the auditorium at Stratford High School, renovate the library and cafeteria at Spring Woods High School, construct a new classrooms building at Northbrook High School, upgrade major systems and technology district-wide, and replace the oldest buses in the district’s fleet. The bond money would also fund Career and Technical Education (CTE) classroom equipment upgrades, practice field turf installations at the high schools, and new musical instruments and uniforms at secondary schools.

This action comes after SBISD’s Board of Trustees asked the district to evaluate the physical condition, safety, security and capacity of all facilities. The SBISD Bond Advisory Committee, comprised of community members and SBISD staff, reviewed the district’s Long-Range Facilities Plan, facilities conditions reports, demographics, and building capacities, and then identified and prioritized the most critical projects.

“We are a 70-year-old, mature school district with aging infrastructure,” said Karen Peck, SBISD Board of Trustees President. “The physical condition, safety, security and flexibility of our facilities all impact the quality of education students receive in Spring Branch ISD. This bond will touch the lives of our youngest by rebuilding elementary schools and creating equity in facilities across SBISD. We are also very focused on our older students by beginning the work of rebuilding and making key improvements in our secondary schools. The Board is intent on preserving our district’s standing as a great school district, and a big part of that is making sure that we have modern, functional school buildings that provide the outstanding educational environment that SBISD is known for.” 

The 7-0 election call occurred on the first day of the new school year, which was also the Board’s regular monthly meeting date. “Our Board of Trustees held a series of weekly meetings and analyzed a detailed report of the district’s current and future facility needs created by the Bond Advisory Committee and Long-Range Facility Planning Committee,” SBISD Superintendent of Schools Scott Muri, Ed.D., said. “A variety of stakeholders engaged in the two committees. They included parents, students, business representatives, retirees, local teachers and other patrons from across the district. The Bond Advisory Committee work was informed by a Long-Range Facilities Plan, which collectively identified more than $1.3 billion in potential facility needs.”

SBISD educates more than 35,000 students and maintains more than 6 million square feet of buildings. The most recent bond issue was approved in 2007 by 60 percent of voters. It provided funds to rebuild 13 elementary schools – one more than originally planned – and resulted in major safety and security upgrades district-wide. Most remaining elementaries not rebuilt in the past 10 years are now more than 50 years old.

The district does not expect any tax rate increase as a result of this bond election, if passed by voters. The SBISD Board of Trustees has not raised the school tax rate since 2010. SBISD offers every tax break allowed by law, including the full 20 percent homestead exemption. District homeowners have the second lowest tax burden in the Houston area. The annual school tax bill on a home valued at $500,000 is currently $5,229 in SBISD, compared to $5,400 in Cy-Fair ISD, $6,982 in Spring ISD, and $7,024 in Katy ISD.

By state law, there would be no tax increase for senior citizens 65 or over as a result of this bond election. The school tax rate and the amount paid are frozen when a taxpayer turns 65 years old.

Visit for more details.

Friday, August 18, 2017

New Campus Leadership Announcements for 2017-18

Spring Branch ISD will start the 2017-2018 school year with several new campus leadership announcements. They include principals at the following campuses:

Campus Principal Appointments

High School:

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Spring Branch ISD Names New Meadow Wood Elementary Principal

Spring Branch ISD is pleased to welcome Hailey Haynes as the new principal at Meadow Wood Elementary School.

Principal Haynes has 12 years of public education service. Most recently, she was an assistant principal at Kuehnle Elementary in Klein ISD where she worked for one year; she was an assistant principal for four years at Schultz Elementary School, also in Klein ISD. She has also taught at elementary schools in Klein ISD, Phoenix, Ariz., and in Louisiana.

She holds a bachelor of arts degree in elementary education from Southeastern Louisiana University (SLU) in Hammond, La., and she later earned a master of education in curriculum and instruction, also from SLU. Mrs. Haynes also has a master of education in administration from Concordia University Texas, based in Austin, Texas.

“I am so fortunate to be joining the Meadow Wood Elementary community,” Principal Haynes said. “In just a matter of weeks, I have met some amazing people connected to Meadow Wood Elementary, learned about the rich traditions, culture and history here, and admired the strong ties that the school and its families share.”

“I have three general hopes and goals for the year ahead – establish and foster positive, professional and productive relationships; be an active listener to gain a full understanding of the mission, vision, values and traditions of Meadow Wood; and create and maintain a safe and positive school culture where students, staff and parents are eager to enter the school building each day,” she also said.

Principal Haynes replaces Pamela Redd, who has been appointed to a position at the secondary level.

Spring Branch ISD Names New Director at Westchester Academy for International Studies

Spring Branch ISD is pleased to name Valerie Muniz as the new campus director at Westchester Academy for International Studies.

Director Muniz has now served 25 years in public education, including 10 years in Spring Branch ISD. Before WAIS appointment, she served as a principal at Bunker Hill Elementary School Principal for the past decade.

Earlier in her career, Director Muniz worked as an assistant principal at a junior high and elementary school in San Marcos Consolidated ISD. She has also been a counselor and teacher at the elementary and middle school levels in Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD.

Her education qualifications are many. She earned a bachelor of arts in education and a master of education in counseling from Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas. She has also earned a doctoral degree in educational leadership from the University of Houston.

“Westchester Academy for International Studies is a very special place with a unique culture, a great history, and a regional and national reputation for excellence,” she said. “I embrace opportunities to do things differently while honoring traditions and values held by the community. I commit to bringing this spirit and dedication to the staff and students at WAIS.”

Director Muniz replaces school founder and Interim Director Pamela Butler, who led the combined secondary schools last year.

Spring Branch ISD Names New Spring Oaks Middle School Principal

Spring Branch ISD is pleased to welcome Mary Lou Davalos as the new principal at Spring Oaks Middle School.

Principal Davalos has 22 years of public education service, all of them in Spring Branch ISD. Most recently, she was principal at Housman Elementary School for nine years. Before that, she served eight years as an assistant principal at Housman Elementary and Northbrook Middle schools.

She taught language arts, math support and Spanish for one year at Northbrook Middle School, and she worked as a bilingual teacher for five years at Housman Elementary School.

Principal Davalos earned a bachelor of arts degree in academic studies from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, and then later earned a master of education degree 
in educational administration from Prairie View A&M University.

“I hope to be a strong instructional leader who builds campus culture and climate as a collaborative leader. As a Spring Oaks Middle team, we need to ensure that students are challenged academically to be ready for success at the high school level in rigorous courses,” she said.

“I am honored to have been a part of the vision and mission of learning, growth and risk taking at Housman Elementary, and I am honored to become part of an inspiring new community of students and adults at Spring Oaks Middle School. I view my commitment and dedication to education as a calling, and I am inspired to serve every day, in any way, and to take on new challenges and opportunities,” Principal Davalos also said.

Principal Davalos replaces Paul Seuss, who was appointed to a position at the secondary level.

Spring Branch ISD Names New Cedar Brook Elementary Principal

Spring Branch ISD is pleased to announce Alejandra Perez as the new principal at Cedar Brook Elementary School.

Principal Perez has 12 years in public education service. Most recently, she served as assistant principal at Mark White Elementary Dual Language School, a French immersion language campus in Houston ISD. She was also an assistant principal for two years at Valley West Elementary School, also in HISD, where she worked as a teacher specialist for one year.

She has also worked as a bilingual teacher and instructional coordinator at teacher at Valley West and Gabriel Mistral CEC, also in HISD.

In 2005, she earned a bachelor of science degree in interdisciplinary studies from Texas A&M University at Kingsville. In 2015, she received the master of education degree in educational leadership from the University of St. Thomas.

“I join Cedar Brook Elementary with great pride and enthusiasm. As we begin this new school year, academic excellence and a culture built on a strong sense of community and collaboration will be our primary areas of focus,” Principal Perez said. “I am excited about joining a school with such a strong, positive reputation both inside and outside of SBISD; this is truly a dream come true.”

“At Cedar Brook, we will work hard to inspire and equip all students with the necessary mindsets, skills and dispositions needed so they are well prepared for the world they will inherit. I look forward to building strong relationships with parents, students, staff and community members, and establishing a community of mutual respect where everyone has a voice,” she also said. 

Principal Perez replaces Jeffery Post, who has resigned to pursue another position as a Texas public school administrator.

Spring Branch ISD Names New Treasure Forest Elementary Principal

Spring Branch ISD is pleased to name Celeste Barretto as the new principal at Treasure Forest Elementary.

Principal Barretto has 10 years of service in public charter education. Since 2013, she has been a School Leader at two KIPP Houston Public Schools, including KIPP Voyage Academy for Girls and KIPP Dream Prep.

She has also worked as a founding teacher, interventionist, special education coordinator and founding assistant principal at KIPP Explore Academy. She also taught for two years at Houston ISD’s Pilgrim Academy.

She earned her bachelor of arts degree through Douglas College at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, located in New Brunswick, N.J. She also holds a master of business administration (MBA) through the Rice University Education Entrepreneurship (REEP) program.

“It is an honor to serve the community here in Spring Branch ISD. Serving students has been my life calling, and I can’t wait to learn from the Spring Branch community,” Principal Barretto said.

“I look forward to leveraging our collective greatness to bring out the best in every one of our children, teachers, and anyone who comes in contact with the Treasure Forest Elementary family!”

Principal Barretto replaces Aaron Dominguez, who resigned to accept a private school appointment.

Spring Branch ISD Announces New Housman Elementary Principal

Spring Branch ISD is pleased to announce Lindy Robertson as the new principal at Housman Elementary.

Principal Robertson has 18 years of service in public education, including four years in Spring Branch ISD. Most recently, she served as assistant principal at Northbrook Middle School. She has also worked for four years in elementary schools in Galena Park ISD, also as an assistant principal.

Elsewhere in her education career, Principal Robertson has worked in multiple positions in SBISD, Galena Park ISD and for the Beauregard Parish School Board in DeRidder, La. Her previous positions have included teacher, campus instructional specialist and instructional coach.

She holds a bachelor of science degree in family and child studies from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, La., as well as a master of arts in teaching degree from the University of Houston.
“I believe that Every Child is at the heart of our vision at Housman Elementary. We will work as collaborative teams to support the growth and honor the progress every child at Housman Elementary makes on his or her personal learning journey this year,” Principal Robertson said. 

She replaces Mary Lou Davalos, who was  named new principal at Spring Oaks Middle School.

Spring Branch ISD Names New Stratford High School Principal

Spring Branch ISD is pleased to welcome and announce Chad Crowson as the new principal at Stratford High School.

Principal Crowson has 11 years of public education service. Most recently, he was an assistant principal at Klein Oak High School in Klein ISD where he worked for five years. He has also worked as an assistant principal and teacher in La Porte ISD for several years, and he taught in Philadelphia, Penn., for one year. 

He holds a bachelor of arts degree in government from the University of Texas at Austin, a law degree, or J.D., from the University of Houston Law Center, and a master of education degree in educational administration from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas.

“I am thrilled to be the new principal of Stratford High School,” Principal Crowson states. “As I have met members of the Spartan community in recent days, their comments and kindness affirm what I already knew – Stratford High is an incredibly special place! Having the great honor to lead our team to ensure the success of each and every student is a responsibility that I do not take lightly.”

“Prior to coming to Stratford, I have worked at both the middle and high school level as a teacher, instructional technology coach and administrator. Throughout my career, I have sought to build meaningful relationships with the entire campus community. I wholeheartedly believe that schools with a Collaborative Spirit, born from the interconnected web of relationships between educators, families and students reach extraordinary levels of achievement,” he also said.

Principal Crowson replaces Danny Gex, who resigned to accept another position as a Texas public school administrator.