Monday, June 25, 2018

SBISD Superintendent Named to Chiefs for Change


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 20, 2018

Spring Branch ISD Superintendent Scott R. Muri, Ed.D., was named today as one of four new members of Chiefs for Change, a bipartisan network of state and school district chiefs that represents some of the nation’s boldest and most innovative education leadership.

Chiefs for Change, a 3-year-old nonprofit group, includes a diverse group of leaders who believe that every child deserves a high-quality education and pathways to college and meaningful degrees. Members lead public educational systems serving more than 7 million students, 435,000 teachers and 14,000 schools.

The nonprofit increases to 31 members with the recent appointment of Dr. Muri and three other district superintendents. Joining SBISD’s leader are Superintendents Emmanuel Caulk of Fayette County Schools, Ky.; Sharon Contreras of Guilford County Schools, N.C.; and Donald Fennoy with The School District of Palm Beach County, Fla.

“We are pleased to welcome this impressive group of educators into our community,” said John White, board chair for Chiefs for Change and the state superintendent of education in Louisiana. “They have shown a deep commitment to expanding opportunity for all children and are leading innovative work in their districts. As members of our network, they will play an important role in our national and state-level efforts to promote policies and practices that are best for students.”

The selection of Dr. Muri and others followed a rigorous review process that included extensive research and staff conversations with potential candidates. The group’s Board of Directors approved their membership earlier this month.

Dr. Muri and the three other new chiefs “have implemented a range of school choice initiatives to give families greater access to excellent schools and instructional programs, supported efforts to provide all teachers with top-tier instructional materials and related professional learning, and developed programs and partnerships to set students up for success long after graduation,” Chiefs for Change states in a news release.

“Chiefs for Change is a group of state and district leaders with fresh, out-of-the-box thinking about how to create schools that personalize learning,” Dr. Muri said. “Much like our work in Spring Branch ISD, the members are developing new approaches that center around students’ unique skills, interests and learning styles.”

“With the [federal] Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) providing greater opportunities for innovation, this is an exciting time for us to share ideas and design entirely new instructional models,” Dr. Muri also said.

Dr. Muri was named SBISD’s Superintendent of Schools three years ago. From his first role as a classroom teacher, Dr. Muri has followed a career path with increasing administrative duties, but his heart is still in teaching because that’s where he believes the key work that matters takes place – with children in the classroom. 

Of the 25 active chiefs in membership, 16 are school district chiefs and nine are state educational leaders. More than half of the members are leaders of color, and more than 40 percent are women. Four key areas have been the focus of advocacy for this group:

·        Equitable access to outstanding schools
·        High-quality curriculum and the supports for teachers to use it effectively
·        College affordability and completion
·        Safe and welcoming schools where children are free to learn, free from fear
Chiefs for Change CEO Mike Magee said the four new members share all these values, but also “have a track record of acting on those beliefs and standing up for kids.”

“Each one of them is a strong, effective leader,” Magee said. “They are committed to creating schools that will allow every child to achieve his or her potential and realize the American dream.”

Chiefs for Change members include these district and state leaders:

● Malika Anderson: Former Superintendent of the Achievement School District, Tennessee
● Katy Anthes: Commissioner of Education, Colorado
● Robert Avossa: Former Superintendent of The School District of Palm Beach County, Florida
● Desmond K. Blackburn: Superintendent of Brevard County Schools, Florida
● Tom Boasberg: Superintendent of Denver Public Schools, Colorado
● Steve Canavero: Superintendent of Public Instruction, Nevada
● Emmanuel Caulk: Superintendent of Fayette County Schools, Kentucky
● Christopher D. Cerf: Former Superintendent of Newark Public Schools, New Jersey
● Tommy Chang: Superintendent of Boston Public Schools, Massachusetts
● Veronica Conforme: Former Chancellor of the Education Achievement Authority, Michigan
● Sharon Contreras: Superintendent of Schools in Guilford County, North Carolina
● Paolo DeMaria: Superintendent of Public Instruction, Ohio
● Lewis D. Ferebee: Superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools, Indiana
● Donald Fennoy: Superintendent of The School District of Palm Beach County, Florida
● Deborah A. Gist: Superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools, Oklahoma
● William R. Hite, Jr.: Superintendent of The School District of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
● Barbara Jenkins: Superintendent of Orange County Public Schools, Florida
● Hanseul Kang: State Superintendent of Education, District of Columbia
● Christina M. Kishimoto: Superintendent, Hawaii
● Pedro Martinez: Superintendent of San Antonio Independent School District, Texas
● Candice McQueen: Commissioner of Education, Tennessee
● Scott Muri: Superintendent of Spring Branch Independent School District, Texas
● Kunjan Narechania: Chief Executive Officer of the Recovery School District, Louisiana
● Paymon Rouhanifard: Superintendent of Camden City School District, New Jersey
● Robert W. Runcie: Superintendent of Broward County Schools, Florida
● Christopher Ruszkowski: Secretary- Designate of Education, New Mexico
● Sonja Santelises: Chief Executive Officer of Baltimore City Public Schools, Maryland
● Hanna Skandera: Former Secretary of Education, New Mexico
● John White: State Superintendent of Education, Louisiana
● Antwan Wilson: Former Chancellor of DC Public Schools, District of Columbia
● Carey M. Wright: State Superintendent of Education, Mississippi

For more details on Chiefs for Change, please visit:

Thursday, June 14, 2018

EMERGE Seniors Choose Colleges and Universities


More than 40 seniors who attended Spring Branch ISD high schools and participated in the EMERGE program made May 1 college and university decisions.

The EMERGE program operates in several Houston-area public school districts, including SBISD. EMERGE prepares high-performing students from underserved communities to apply, attend and graduate from the nation’s most selective colleges and universities.

From sophomore through senior year, EMERGE students receive added support, including after-school programming focused on building college knowledge, workshops for families, individualized college advising, standardized test preparation, and summer college tours.

EMERGE student decisions in SBISD this year include the following:

Albion College, Albion, Mich. – Frank Hernandez, Spring Woods High
Austin College, Sherman, Texas – Youna Song, Stratford High
Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y. – Glenda Molina, Northbrook High
Brandeis University, Waltham, Mass. – Diana Soria, Northbrook High
Brandeis University, Waltham, Mass. – Blanca Rodriguez, Northbrook High
Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Pa. – Sandra Melgar, Northbrook High
Clark University, Worcester, Mass. – Madison Graham, Spring Woods High
Colgate University, Hamilton Village, N.Y. – Brissa Gaona, Northbrook High
Connecticut College, New London, Conn. – Juana Lopez, Northbrook High
Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. – Abel Aguilar, Northbrook High
Denison University, Granville, Ohio – Anel Sosa, Northbrook High
Earlham College, Richmond, Ind. – Jessenia Fanini, Stratford High
Howard University, Washington, D.C. – Jasmine Anderson, Westchester Academy for International Studies
Knox College, Galesburg, Ill. – Kenya Coffman, Westchester Academy for International Studies
Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa. – Evelyn Batres, Spring Woods High
Lewis & Clark College, Portland, Ore. – Ariely Mejia, Northbrook High
Mount Holyoke College, Paola Granados Jaramillo, Spring Woods High
Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill. – Sydney Simmons, Stratford High
Rice University, Houston, Texas – Sergio Espinoza, Northbrook High
Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, N.Y. – Myriam Dominguez, Northbrook High
Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pa. – Wilber Dominguez, Stratford High
Syracuse University, Syracuse, N.Y. – Kimberly Acosta, Westchester Academy for International Studies
Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas – Emily Resendiz, Northbrook High
Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas – Paul Kim, Northbrook High
Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas – Lucio Ramirez, Spring Woods High
Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas – Kathryn Weimer, Spring Woods High
Union College, Barbourville, Ky. – Genesis Gonzalez, Northbrook High
University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill. – Omar Hussein, Spring Woods High
University of Dallas, Dallas, Texas – Donte Castillo, Spring Woods High
University of Houston, Houston, Texas – Thanh To, Northbrook High
University of Houston, Houston, Texas – Nitzarindani Angeles, Northbrook High
University of Houston, Houston, Texas – Azucena Huerta, Northbrook High
University of Houston, Houston, Texas – Lisette Chavez, Spring Woods High
University of Houston, Houston, Texas – Juan Rivera, Spring Woods High
University of Houston, Houston, Texas – Lorena Zelaya, Spring Woods High
University of Houston, Houston, Texas – Eunice Martinez, Westchester Academy for International Studies
University of Rochester, Rochester, N.Y. – Melissa Vicente, Westchester Academy for International Studies
University of Texas, Austin, Texas – Erick Chungata, Northbrook High
University of Texas, Austin, Texas – Hyunwoo Lee, Stratford High
University of Texas, Austin, Texas – Moises Olmos, Spring Woods High
University of Texas, Austin, Texas – Yamiletz Lucio, Westchester Academy for International Studies
Wagner College, Staten Island, N.Y. – Jasmin McClinton, Spring Woods High
Wellesley College, Wellesley, Mass. – Meliza Perez, Northbrook High
Wellesley College, Wellesley, Mass. – Naudia Johnson, Northbrook High

Omar Hussein: His Father Would Be Incredibly Proud

The American Dream never dies. Here’s how one remarkable recent Spring Woods High School graduate summed up his childhood, which was marked by family tragedy and great personal achievement:

My name is Omar Hussein.

I am the youngest son of two immigrants – a Mexican mother and a Pakistani father.

I am smart. I am driven.

And when I was in kindergarten, my entire life changed when my father was brutally murdered in our family store. Within a matter of hours, our family of four became a family of three, and I had to grow up – fast!

When Omar walked across the stage at Don Coleman Coliseum on May 26 and received his Class of 2018 diploma, he had exceeded the expectations of many of his own teachers and even astonished family members.

This fall, Hussein enters the freshman class at the University of Chicago, one of only a few EMERGE program seniors in Spring Branch ISD to get full-scholarship awards to their “dream” colleges.

Admitted to the University of Chicago by early decision, Hussein had the time in the months leading up to May graduation to let many others learn about his personal and school journey. It’s worth the time to hear.

His father, Saeed Hussein, was murdered at the family’s electronics store in southeast Houston after Hurricane Katrina. An attacker has never been found. Omar was just 5 years old. He was then left with his mom, an older brother, and a grandmother.

He has lived in Spring Branch ISD with his mom, Martha Hussein, and his grandmother, Ines Cervantes, through school years. He’s a graduate of Westwood Elementary, Cornerstone Academy and Spring Woods High.

In his youth, he was known as a bit of a class clown, but smart enough to get regular A’s. “I’m sure my teachers would have appreciated a different me. I managed to get work done, but they would have appreciated me far more if I wasn’t so talkative. I was pretty energetic, and I moved around a lot,” Omar recalls.

The fun loving Omar hid another young person. “I became a provider for my mother, and a stable force of positivity in our home. While school was the place where I focused my energies, I often struggled to balance my time between academics and working to support my own family,” he told an audience at one public event.

Omar needed no lessons in time management. As he grew up, he helped in the family store, Party Piñatas, on Gessner. By age 12, he was a tutor for Kumon Learning in math and reading. A positive, natural ability to connect with others then led to a middle-school age counselor position at Memorial Drive United Methodist Church, where he worked for several years.

Before being chosen for the EMERGE student program, Omar viewed his college prospects as low. “Texas A&M or UT, those were out of my reach,” he recalls thinking.

EMERGE program support and encouragement from a program manager, Sherese Woolard, changed his view. He upped his high school game with AP classes, the Debate team and Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) program at Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center.

The University of Chicago, where he aims to be a successful pre-medical student, was off his radar completely until he learned that a cousin was a student there.

“I didn’t know that the University of Chicago existed before my junior year,” he said. The university flew him up for a visit and interview. After a night in a dorm room, he was sold on the Hyde Park campus and the Windy City.

When the early decision notice came last December, he drove immediately to his mom’s piñata store. “I told her that I had been accepted, and she was in tears. It was a great moment in my life, and it made me so proud that she was so happy,” he said.

His father would be extremely proud that his son was headed to a top-level college, Omar believes. “A child achieving his dream is something that any parent can support. My father would have been overjoyed that I can live out my dream,” he says.

The Spring Woods High teachers and other adults who know Omar well consider him an amazing story. EMERGE manager Sherese Woolard is using the word “exceptional” to describe his drive and commitment.

“Despite many significant challenges that Omar has had to overcome in the last 18 years of his life, Omar persevered and pushed himself to achieve a level of academic success that is truly remarkable,” she said.

“I was so impressed with how hard Omar worked completing applications, crafting a strong resume, and revising essays often, all while balancing a demanding work schedule and full course load,” Woolard also said.

Omar is not the only good news EMERGE story in SBISD. More than 40 seniors participating in the program made decisions to attend colleges or universities nationwide, ranging from well-known East Coast names to a number of top colleges in the Midwest, West and here in Texas.

The EMERGE program operates in several Houston-area public school districts, including SBISD.

“What we do in EMERGE is ensure that students who have great potential are able to navigate systemic barriers to fully realize the potential in their lives,” Woolard said. “The hardest part of this job is seeing students who have done everything ‘right’ face the barriers that come with applying to college as a first-generation and/or low-income student in our country. The most gratifying part of this job is seeing students take on those barriers, overcome them, and despite the odds, achieve success. Omar is the epitome of this success.”

Spring Woods High Debate Team’s instructor, Victoria Beard, worked with Omar for just two years, but he did “more than many have accomplished in four years.” Omar earned Special Distinction for winning his tournaments in Congressional Debate. He also competed in extemporaneous speaking.

“Omar is not just an excellent debater, he has a compassionate heart for his fellow man,” Beard said. “He mentored and tutored novices on my team, and genuinely cares for each one of them. He is passionate about volunteering in the community. Omar is truly one in a million. I know that no matter what path he chooses in life, he will be successful and make a huge difference.”

Woolard agrees. “Omar has set a standard that I hope will continue to inspire and encourage other students to reach for the stars and advocate for the support they need to see their dreams become reality,” she said.

Omar is both nervous and excited about his future that begins this fall. “I am excited to graduate and to leave Spring Woods High School, but I’m nervous to move to a new city, and live in a dorm, and learn to study for that level of academics,” he says.

His family is helping him forward focus. “I will be upset to leave here and leave my family, but they have been so excited for me, and they view my decision as an opportunity of a lifetime. I’m more nervous than them!”

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Summer End of Course Testing

Summer End of Course Testing
 
The June STAAR EOC tests will be administered as follows:
  • June 25, 2018 (English I)
  • June 26, 2018 (Algebra I)
  • June 27, 2018 (English II)
  • June 28, 2018 (Biology, US History)

Please report for check-in at 7:30am.Testing will begin promptly at 8:00am.
Please note the new Spring Branch location:
Northbrook HS
#1 Raider Circle

Houston, TX 77080
Because the TAKS and TAAS tests are no longer being administered, former TAKS and TAAS examinees (including former TEAMS examinees) will take the STAAR EOC Algebra I and/or appropriate part of the STAAR EOC English II test(s). STAAR EOC scores will be matched to the appropriate TAKS and TAAS passing standards.
On the day(s) of testing, examinees should arrive at the test site 30 minutes before the designated testing time. Examinees must present picture identification, such as a driver’s license, DPS ID, military ID, school ID, or resident alien card to test. Examinees will not be allowed to take the test(s) without a picture ID.
If you have any questions about OOS registration, please contact Spring Branch ISD Assessment and Compliance at 713-251-2266.

Top U. S. Colleges Select Northbrook High Grads

Three Northbrook High graduates reflect an increasingly visible pathway to excellence in higher education for identified students – EMERGE program student participation and Posse Scholar financial awards for selective U.S. colleges and universities.

Naudia Johnson and Meliza Perez, for example, will head this fall to Wellesley College, a private women’s liberal arts college located near Boston. Sandra Melgar will take her artistic talent to Bryn Mawr in the Philadelphia area, another college viewed as one of the nation’s best choices in higher education.

All three students took part in EMERGE and were named Posse Scholars, earning financial awards valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars for all three students.

By early May, almost 50 seniors from SBISD high schools who were part of EMERGE and Posse programs chose colleges and universities. Their picks ranged from Brandeis University over on the East Coast to Lewis and Clark College in scenic Portland, Ore.

“Naudia, Meliza and Sandra are exceptional students who embody what EMERGE is all about,” said Sandra Nuñez, academic program manager for EMERGE. “They are hard-working, resilient, full of potential and committed to improving their communities and their world.

“They have set a new standard for what is possible for students from underserved communities with their acceptances to Wellesley and Bryn Mawr, two of the nation’s most selective colleges. There is no doubt that what they will accomplish and what they have already accomplished will inspire many students who come after them,” Nuñez also said.

The Posse Foundation was created to identify, recruit and grow high school students with leadership potential. Posse Scholars like Johnson, Perez and Melgar earned four-year, full-tuition leadership scholarships from the Posse partnering colleges and universities they chose, too.

Behind the obvious financial benefit, students chosen for Posse leadership awards are terrific college-completion bets. Nine out of 10 Posse Scholars graduate from college, compared to six in 10 students who graduate at the national level for all colleges and universities.

The EMERGE program now operates in several Houston-area public school districts, including SBISD. From sophomore through senior years, EMERGE program students receive added support, including after-school programming focused on building college knowledge, workshops for families, individualized college advising, standardized test preparation and summer college tours.

From Homeless to Wellesley

Naudia Johnson did not know that Wellesley College even existed until she took a junior-year trip to Massachusetts with other Posse students. “I knew that I wanted to go there when I stepped off the bus. I loved how the air smelled there, how the trees looked. I set foot on campus and just loved every part of it,” she says.

Johnson’s path to an Ivy League college was not on her radar as a younger student. A Northbrook High graduate, she also attended Spring Woods and Northbrook middle schools. Her background includes homelessness due to parental illness. She attended other schools across the region, too, but she has always viewed SBISD as “home.”

During recent years, she figured out a way to commute from Conroe every school day for Northbrook High’s classes. “I love Northbrook. It’s been the right home for me, a place where I did anything and everything,” Johnson says.

A National Honor Society student, she considers debate and Northbrook’s Ladies of Distinction organization two of her favorite school programs and student groups. Wellesley reminds her of the comfortable “women’s vibe” feeling that she found in the Ladies of Distinction high school group.

A Spring Woods Middle science teacher, Rachel Harris, turned Johnson, a self-described “floating” student, into a science fan, she says. “Microscopes are my kryptonite,” Johnson quips. “She made sure that if I wasn’t showing an interest in a subject, she would find a way that I would get interested.”

Today, Johnson’s career goals include advanced degrees in both physics and biomedical engineering. That middle school teacher changed her life, Johnson says.

School, Work and Wellesley

Meliza Perez’s life changed in sixth grade when her mom had a stroke and Perez, an only child, learned to take care of herself, with help from an aunt. Her mom may return to her native El Salvador soon.

“When my mom had a stroke, it struck me that I was on my own in so many ways. It’s been hard, but it’s also pushed me to grow as a person and to be capable of doing things on my own,” Perez says.

Perez has worked throughout her high school years at Salata restaurant in Memorial City Mall. At one point, she held a second job, but found that her grades went down. Her grades are exceptional. She graduated as No. 9 in her class, crossing the finish line with many AP classes and college credits.

She earned dual credits for six Houston Community College classes. They ranged from college-level English to psychology and government.

Whether the topic is grades, graduation, her Wellesley admission or Posse scholarship, she is still pinching herself a bit. “I never thought that I would get to this place. There were so many obstacles for me growing up,” she says.

Her mother’s difficult medical history and current situation motivates Perez to pursue her dream to become a pediatric neurosurgeon.

“I want to help or serve children. I am curious about how everything works together inside the brain because of my mom, and how that might impact the young,” she says.

Born in the United States, Perez is deeply moved by the plight and struggle of so many immigrant families and children. “Growing up like I did, you see and you hear about the struggles of people working two jobs, and trying to make a living and care for their family,” she says.

She is interested in working in Central America after college. Emerge and Posse experiences prepared her to pick Wellesley for its leadership focus impacting thousands of women graduates over the decades.

“Wellesley women make changes happen. They are leaders in the world, and I want to make a change, especially in Central America,” Perez says.

“Everything goes back to my mom,” she adds. “I watched her work so hard before her stroke. She came to America to give me a better life, and I want to do better by her.”

Bryn Mawr Speaks to Student Artist

Sandra Melgar, who is also a graduate of the high school’s special Posse and Emerge student program cohorts, will attend Bryn Mawr College, near Philadelphia, this fall where she plans to study fine arts and education.

As a top-rated student, gifted artist and Posse Scholar, Melgar heads off to a pricey college with a full-tuition scholarship valued at $200,000, or more.

Melgar credits an art instructor, Andres Bautista, with helping her find her passion and her path forward. A highly acclaimed middle school teacher, Bautista died in 2015. A Teacher of the Year in SBISD, he had a special ability to connect with students and to identify their potential talent in art and related areas.

Like Melgar, many of Mr. Bautista’s Landrum Middle students have gone on to receive college scholarships in art and related areas. In addition to her Posse scholarship, Melgar was awarded a $5,000 scholarship award from the community-based Newspring organization.

“I was stubborn. Mr. Bautista told me I had potential in my first year, but I did not listen. But the next year, I submitted one of my works to Newspring (a local arts program and annual student competition) and it was accepted. I realized through him that I really did have potential,” she said.

Read more about Sandra Melgar in a separate 2018 Graduation story.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Newspring Awards Five $5,000 Scholarships

Butterflies on display earlier this year at Memorial City Mall.
Newspring awarded each of five students with a $5,000 scholarship recently at the annual Student Art Auction, each one an “impressive student working to make a better future for herself and her family,” according to release from the organization.

Newspring scholarship winners at the Student Art Auction.

Receiving scholarships were:
  • Daniela Cruz, Northbrook High School, who will study geosciences and studio art at Stephen F. Austin State University.
  • Emalee Higgins, Northbrook High School, who will study graphic design and fine arts at Sam Houston State University.
  • Sandra Melgar, Northbrook High School, who will study the arts at Bryn Mawr College.
  • Alicia Villalta, Northbrook High School, who will study science at the University of Houston and hopes to pursue a career in a medical field.
  • Natividad Mosqueda, a University of Houston-Downtown senior pursuing a degree in mathematics and art with a certification in secondary education.
Collaborative Spirit at work on the butterfly on the left between Rummel Creek Elementary and Sherwood Elementary.
The scholarships were funded through an original donation from the now-closed First Baptist Church of Spring Branch and sales of large butterflies over the past 18 months.
The butterflies, on display various places around the Spring Branch-Memorial area, are five-feet across and “as unique as the artists who create them” – art students and teachers who bring to life designs submitted by art classes and professional artists.
Sherwood Elementary students with the Sherwood butterfly.
Spring Branch ISD schools that decorated the aluminum butterflies include 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. “(T)hese butterflies will transform our community landscape, and the proceeds will fund scholarships for at-risk students and transform their lives.”
Some of the butterfly “kaleidoscope” (a swarm of butterflies) can be seen at Memorial City Mall. Other butterflies have made their way to other points across the district.
Sponsorships ranging from $7,500 to $50,000, are available. Contact Robert Westheimer at rwestheimer1@comcast.net for more information.

Celebrating Woodview Elementary's SPARK Park

Woodview Elementary principal Becky Hagan addresses students and dignitaries at the May 31 dedication of the school’s new SPARK Park.

Local dignitaries joined Woodview Elementary students and principal Becky Hagan recently to dedicate the school’s new SPARK Park, a playground area that can be enjoyed by the community after school hours. Major funding for the park came from generous institutional givers, but the Woodview school community raised $12,000 of the park’s $125,000 cost. 

Chatting under the entry arch to Woodview Elementary’s new SPARK Park.
Parents, students and staff organized a penny drive, a fun run with Hunters Creek Elementary (Woodview’s sister school), PDQ meal cards and engraved brick sales. Local artist Rose Toro and art teacher Kathleen Firth worked with students to create ceramic tiles for serpentine concrete seat walls and in entry columns to the park. Woodview Elementary is at 9749 Cedarview.
Go here for another story on the dedication.
Go here to learn more about SPARK parks.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Summer 2018 Health Department Letter

SPRING BRANCH ISD WILL SERVE UP GOOD NUTRITION FOR LOCAL CHILDREN THIS SUMMER

Bringing healthy summer meals to Spring Branch children ensures kids have a healthy vacation and return to school ready to learn.

Houston – This summer, Spring Branch ISD will connect children 18 years old and younger with healthy Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) meals at no cost to the child. SFSP is a U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition program administered in the Lone Star State by the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA). For the children who rely on school meals during the academic year, these meals offer a source of good nutrition when school is out for the long summer vacation.

For the full letter, dates and locations of where the meals will be distributed, click here.

Posse Scholar Shines Light on Great Art Teacher


Somewhere up in heaven, former Landrum Middle School art teacher Andres Bautista is looking down on one new Northbrook High School graduate, Sandra Melgar, and beaming brightly.

Melgar, who is also a graduate of the high school’s special Posse and Emerge student program cohorts, will attend Bryn Mawr College, near Philadelphia, this fall where she plans to study fine arts and education.

As a top-rated student, gifted artist and Posse Scholar, Melgar heads off to an Ivy League college with a full-tuition scholarship valued at $200,000, or more. Melgar today is not the tentative middle school art student she once recalls.

Bautista, a storied and highly acclaimed art instructor, died in 2015. A Teacher of the Year in SBISD, he had a special ability to connect with students and to identify their potential talents in art and related areas.

Melgar was one of Mr. Bautista’s Landrum Middle students, many of whom have also gone on to receive scholarships in art and other academic areas.

“I was stubborn. Mr. Bautista told me I had potential in my first year, but I did not listen. But the next year, I submitted one of my works to Newspring (a local arts organization program and annual student competition) and it was accepted. I realized through him that I really did have potential,” she said.

Both Melgar’s potential and her strong body of art works led the Newspring organization several weeks ago to award her and four other student artists scholarships valued at $5,000 each. Through Newspring, Melgar has sold more than a half dozen personal art works in recent years.

She has received recognition for her work, too, through Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo and other art organizations. She loves abstract art, likes to paint and has worked on locally produced aluminum butterfly sculptures, a new and highly visible, Newspring community project.

“When I was given the task of nominating students for Posse, Sandra was one of the first students I thought of. During the interview process, I was fortunate to spend more time with her and got to know her well. Through our conversations she told me her story and talked about the people like Mr. Bautista, who have mentored her and helped her create change in her life,” Northbrook senior counselor Anne Styler said.

“Sandra is smart and driven, and an amazing artist. She has had help and encouragement, but she has done the hard work. I am thrilled that she has the opportunity to attend Bryn Mawr College. She is going to do great things in her life,” Styler also said.

This soon-to-be Bryn Mawr freshman came to the United States at age 8 with her brothers from Honduras. She attended Housman Elementary for two years, and then Landrum Middle and Northbrook.

A National Honor Society member, Melgar ranked No. 11 in the Class of 2018 at Northbrook. A summertime visit to Bryn Mawr helped her decide the college was far enough from Houston (“I need that”) and flexible for a student like her who may wish to take college courses at nearby schools and universities, one of Bryn Mawr’s selling points.

Her native Honduras, a troubled land today, pulls at her heart. Melgar is thinking about teaching there after college, in part because of the needs in Honduras, and partly because of the current U.S. political situation.

“Everything happening is leading me in the direction of being a teacher. I have thought about art education as a possible way to combine both arts and education, but at this point I am open (to the future), she said.

Melgar credits both Posse and Emerge programs for her bright prospects. The Posse Foundation was created to identify, recruit and grow students with top leadership potential. Posse Scholars like Melgar often earn four-year, full-tuition leadership scholarships from Posse partner colleges and universities.

Nine out of 10 Posse Scholars graduate from college, compared to about six in 10 college students who graduate nationwide.

The Emerge program now operates in several Houston-area public school districts, including SBISD. It connects high-performing students who live in underserved areas or have minority backgrounds with select U.S. colleges and universities.

From sophomore through senior years, Emerge students are given added support, including after-school meetings and programs, workshop options, individual college advising, standardized test preparation and college trips and tours during summer breaks.

Melgar says that the test preparation, exposure to college options, and all the advising and networking provided was “amazing” in her own journey. “They were always there to guide me,” she said of Emerge.

When she looks forward today, Melgar is not certain about her future, but Mr. Bautista’s invisible hand may still be guiding her.

The careers she has identified all have “art” in their titles – art studio owner, art business owner, art teacher.

Sandra Melgar found a big part of her future story back in middle school.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Memorial Duo Crowned State Mixed Doubles Tennis Champions


MHS mixed doubles 6A state champions
Andrew Esses and Drew Morris
The Memorial High tennis team had an amazing showing during recent state team competition play. As defending doubles champs, Andrew Esses and Drew Morris once again won the mixed doubles state championship held on May 18.

Memorial Coach Bud Booth reports that Esses and Morris had an undefeated season, winning six separate doubles titles: Corpus Christi, Spring Branch ISD, Kemah, District, Regionals and State.

The tennis doubles pairing finished a perfect season with a three-set victory over a Lake Travis High doubles pairing, winning 6-0, 6-7, 6-2  to stack another gold in Mustangs’ tennis history.

In addition, freshman Aleksandra Dimitrijevic finished as a state semifinalist. She won a bronze medal after losing a tough, three-hour match that went three sets against a University of Florida-signed player ranked fifth in the nation, Booth said.

Also earning a state bronze medal was the Memorial boys doubles team of Artur Zigman and Ben Westwick. Zigman was a defending state champion; Westwick was a state finalist. The two fell to a strong Austin Westlake High team that went on to win the state title.

The mixed doubles team of Cole Rassner and Natalija Dimitrijevic finished out as state quarterfinalists after a tough match against a Lake Travis team, which then advanced to state finals.

Congratulations all around to Mustang Tennis!

The Houston Chronicle published this story May 19 about Esses and Morris:

Memorial ends stellar year with mixed doubles tennis title
By Adam Coleman, Houston Chronicle


COLLEGE STATION – Memorial bookended its first team state championship in tennis in the fall with more gold in the spring.

Senior Andrew Esses and freshman Drew Morris won the Class 6A mixed doubles title at the UIL Tennis State Tournament on Friday at Texas A&M University.

The duo defeated Lake Travis’ Mitali Khoje and Jesse Wikso, 6-0, 6-7 (4), 6-2. It’s one of three individual tennis titles for the Houston area this spring.

“After winning the state championship in team tennis, these guys in mixed, they had an amazing year,” Memorial coach Bud Booth said. “They’ve won every tournament they’ve played in. Lake Travis is a good team. I knew that was going to be a tough match. But you know, they haven’t lost this season and just to finish it off. We knew we could do it but you still have to play well. And they did. They played great. Very proud of them.”

The duo are on the opposite ends as far as classifications go. For the senior Esses, it caps off a landmark year for the program.

“It’s my senior year. It’s my last go around. So being able to cap it off with two state championships means the world to me,” Esses said.