Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Board Approves Modification to 2017-18 Academic Calendar

Texas Education Agency has approved SBISD’s waiver request for missed school days as a result of Hurricane Harvey. Thus, SBISD will NOT have to use bad weather makeup days.

In support of our commitment to maximizing student instructional time while minimizing stress of the compressed semester as result of Harvey, there will also be no mid-term or final exams administered this semester for middle and high school students.

As a result,  last night, the SBISD Board of Trustees approved a modification to the 2017-18 calendar for Wednesday, Dec. 13, and Thursday, Dec. 14, to be full instructional days rather than early dismissal days. (These were originally scheduled as half days for final exams.) Friday, Dec. 15, will remain an early dismissal day for all students.

View Final Revised 2017-18 SBISD Academic Calendar >>

Public Forum Notices: Dedication of New Alumni Museum and Tully Stadium Press Box

Two separate public forums will be conducted from 4:30-5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 21, to consider and discuss dedications of the Tully Stadium Press Box and historical museum at the Spring Branch Education Center.

Both public forums will be held in SBISD’s Technology Training Center (TTC), Room 119. The TTC facility is located at 14330 Memorial Drive, directly west of Meadow Wood Elementary School and south of Spring Forest Middle School. Spring Branch residents are encouraged to attend these forums. Details include:

  • Dedication of the Tully Stadium Press Box will be discussed from 4:30-5 p.m. to honor coach and principal, Lary Reap, who passed away March 3, 2017. He served as principal at Spring Oaks Middle and Northbrook High schools. Mr. Reap also served for many years in the Tully Press Box during high school games. For details, please phone SBISD Talent and Operations at 713.251.2433.
  • Dedication of The Della Sivley/Mousner Museum located at the Spring Branch Education Center (SBEC), 9016 Westview Drive, will be discussed from 5-5:30 p.m. SBEC is home to Cornerstone Academy and Academy of Choice. It occupies the site of the former Spring Branch High School. A new museum focusing on alumni and district history will operate in the site of the old library there. Mrs. Mousner played a large role in preserving high school and district historical artifacts at SBEC for years. For details, please contact SBISD Talent and Operations at 713.251.2433.

Monday, September 18, 2017

We Love Mrs. Luna!

As the sun began to rise on Friday morning, district bus driver Veronica Luna was just another flooded-out homeowner. Her Richmond-area house, which had never flooded before, took on 6 inches of water in Harvey’s deluge several weeks ago.

Her first floor was ruined. The house’s sheetrock removed. She was living on the second floor, like many not sure if FEMA aid would put her house or life back together again.

Then on Friday, several stops into her Wilchester Elementary Bus No. 18 morning route, Mrs. Luna was suddenly greeted by students and adults, a homemade poster reading “We Love Mrs. Luna!” and cash donations that will soon help to start repairing her damaged home.

She is FEMA approved, but quickly learned that assistance alone will not fully replace the floors and sheetrock and paint that were destroyed.

At the first sight of the Wilchester Elementary bus stop gathering, she burst into tears. Beginning on Monday, her students and parents had asked about her home situation. A few had already handed her small gift card donations. This morning’s donation will help her much more.

“I feel so special,” said Mrs. Luna, who has driven the Wilchester route for four years. “At that bus stop this morning, I could not stop crying. I feel so blessed. Everyone has shown so much love to me.”

Carrie McKemie, one of several Wilchester Elementary moms who helped query, organize and then make a significant aid donation to Mrs. Luna, said parent concerns ran high in the Wilchester West neighborhood when they learned about the driver’s situation – living up on her second floor and her wait for FEMA aid.

During Harvey, many streets near the bus stop at Southchester and Alchester did flood, but there were no reports of flooded homes there.

“The whole neighborhood came together for Miss Luna,” McKemie said. “I was shocked in a really wonderful way by the generosity that resulted from a simple appeal.”

“She takes such good care of all of us, we wanted to take care of her,” she added.

As for Friday morning tears of joy at the bus stop, driver Luna was not alone, McKemie noted. “We were all crying out there.”

Friday, September 15, 2017

Community Rallies to Help Displaced Teachers, Staff

Call it the Boardroom Boutique.

Racks of gently used clothing arranged by gender and size filled the SBISD boardroom late last week, clothing donated by the SBISD community for staff and families displaced by Hurricane Harvey.

Those staff members who came were encouraged to fill bags with as much as much in their size as they could carry. Many looked for a checkout table as they left – volunteer Minda Caesar would ask “Do you want to check out? Check! You’re out!”

Caesar said the idea for the impromptu bazaar came about as she was helping a teacher friend in West Houston who had lost her home and belongings when flooded by release waters from the Addicks and Barker dams.

Watch KHOU11's video >>

Caesar said her friend told her that she knew other teachers who needed help. Caesar reached out to SBISD Council of PTAs president Suzanne Stiles and SBISD Community Relations Officer Linda Buchman and got the ball rolling.

The call for donations went out but weren’t accepted until 9 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 7. But there was a problem – there was a meeting for district counselors going on in the boardroom. An army of student and adult volunteers stood ready to accept, sort and display donations, but wouldn’t be allowed in the boardroom until 1:30 that afternoon.

Stiles swung into action, calling principal Bryan Williams at Spring Branch Middle School and asking if he had space where volunteers could temporarily work. Williams said sure, you can use the cafeteria.

So the staging moved over to Spring Branch Middle, where volunteers spent the morning sorting the donations and getting them ready to display on racks retrieved from Memorial High School that are normally used for its annual garage sale. (“We owe [MHS principal] Lisa Weir and [parent] Carolyn Bronson big,” Caesar said.)

By 1:30, the operation had moved back to the Administration Building, where racks of clothes filled the lobby and outside area near the entrance, waiting on the district meeting to end.

Three hours later, the boardroom had been converted into a boutique.

“We really wanted to (set up) in the boardroom,” Caesar said, because of location, access and that it’s well-known in the district.

Acknowledging that displaced families need more than just clothing, a “Wish List” table was set up where those with needs could be matched with those who wish to give.

Caesar said that the call for items was pretty specific, that they wanted quality clothing for staff – “something you’d want to see your teacher wear,” she said.

Volunteers were recruited through an online tool – so many showed up to help on Friday morning that most were thanked for their service but turned away.

“People right now so want to do something,” Stiles said.

Musical Duo Mom and Pop Raise Spirits at Several Schools

Younger students at Meadow Wood and Spring Shadow elementaries got a treat when they returned to school on Monday – a performance by the Arkansas-based musical duo Mom and Pop.

The interactive performances were a way to “lift the spirits” of children affected by Hurricane Harvey, said Melissa Peter of Bayou City Blessings in a Backpack, who coordinated the performances.

Using a variety of props, Mom and Pop – married couple Bobby Matthews and Virginia Ralph of Eureka Springs, Ark. – engaged the K-2 audience sitting cross-legged on the terrazzo of the Meadow Wood cafeteria with dialogue and arm movements as they performed their original children’s songs.

The musical duo used their own resources to travel and stay in the Houston area for three performances (they also performed at HISD’s Blackshear Elementary), Peter said.

“They said their main goal was to “bring the children joy and some relief from their worries’,” said Peter. “We believe they lifted the spirits of about 800 children during their three performances.”

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Westwood Elementary and Local Church Respond to Family Needs

In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Harvey’s deluge, teachers and staff at Westwood Elementary took quick steps to assess neighborhood needs for students and families.

The school also partnered with the nearby West Houston Chinese Church to provide food and clothing to families impacted by flooding.

On Sept. 2, Communities in Schools Project Manager Betsabeth Beyk and campus leaders invited families to the campus adjacent Agnes Moffatt Park to have fun, share popsicles and assess family needs.

After determining needs, CIS’s Betsabeth Beyk reached out to the nearby West Houston Chinese Church, which responded like a heavenly angel. A separate community event with the church was held on Sept. 5. Just three days later, a second donation was made to families.

“The church did a food drive for our families collecting milk, eggs, bread, canned goods, hygiene products, cleaning supplies, clothing, water and many other items,” Beyk said. “We hosted this event inside the gym at the church and had games for the kids to play and distributed books, school supplies and toys to our students. In addition, Westwood teachers made around 150 sack lunches and donated groceries as well!”

A good and generous neighbor, the church has also helped more than 150 students begin the new academic year ready to learn with school supplies.

The Tuesday event at the church was coordinated with Westwood school lunch. Westwood Elementary was a feeding site for students during the storm’s aftermath. Parents were provided sack lunches at the church’s event so that many of them could also eat lunch with their children at the school. Many families returned to the church later to receive donations.

Reports CIS’s Beyk, “I was overwhelmed with all the donations from the church and our staff. For a moment I was worried we would have a lot of items left over but to my surprise, we had a significant amount of people attend the event and we distributed everything.”

“I am immensely thankful to the West Houston Chinese Church for their generosity and caring hearts,” she adds. “They are a true blessing to our community!”

That sentiment was echoed by Principal Kay Kennard, who noted that a second donation occurred Sept. 8 after food and other supplies came to church officials from a distribution site.

“The West Houston Chinese Church has become an amazing community partner,” Kennard said. “They’ve also sponsored a Back to School supply drive that raised $3,000, and resulted in more than 150 packets of school supplies.”

Harvey Delivers Lemons, Frostwood Students Sell Lemonade

It’s hard, if not impossible, to catalog or report the hundreds of personal responses that occurred in Harvey’s wake. The responses were deeply genuine, and they often had incredible results – often at an individual or even the local street level.

In one Frostwood Elementary-area neighborhood, for example, Audrey Brown and a few other campus moms helped support a lemonade stand staffed by students.

The key goal was to raise funds for our teachers and staff impacted by flooding. Result? That little Frostwood student lemonade stand raised $1,822.35! Proceeds were to be split among teachers or staff impacted.

Lemonade stand drink makers, hawkers, pourers and cashiers included students Jack and Johnny Brown, Roman and Lauren Chang, Tia Cristini, Alec and Kai Feldhaus, Stefano and Franco Ferrier, Lily Johnson, Ava and Emmie Muras, and George Standige.

Frostwood Principal Pamela Pennington had a one word response to the effort: “Unbelievable!”

We think that there were dozens and dozens of “unbelievables” across the district in the past few weeks. Tell us about yours!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Hurricane Relief Tutoring Fund

In the wake of the recent hurricanes, Wyzant is donating $100,000 in tutoring vouchers to students affected by the storms.

Five hundred vouchers (each worth $200 in value) will be available—valid from now until the end of the year to help parents keep their kids on track at school in the aftermath of this catastrophic event.

If your family has been affected, complete this form to receive free, one-on-one tutoring from Wyzant for your student.

Clothing Donations Ready for Distribution to Area Families

Houston area business Gallery Furniture (Mattress Mack), along with The University of Houston Head Men's Basketball Coach (Kelvin Sampson), put out a plea to colleges and university athletic programs around the country for clothing donations to help Houston area families in need. 

Coach Sampson and Mattress Mac are happy to announce the clothes have arrived and are ready for distribution. Distribution is on a first come first served basis while supplies last.

Donation Distribution Site
Gallery Furniture (Katy)
7227 W. Grand Parkway South, Richmond, TX 77406

Thursday, September 14 from 2:00pm-6:00pm
(For students and families of Fort Bend, Katy and Spring Branch only.)

Friday - Sunday (September 15 - 17) from 8:00 am – noon
(All Houston families welcome.)

For more information, please contact Gallery Furniture Katy (281) 407-7161.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Low-Cost Sports Physicals for All SBISD Athletes

In collaboration with SBISD Athletics, Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center is offering comprehensive, low-cost physicals to all middle and high school athletes in SBISD. Physicals are $10 for students and free to those on free or reduced lunch. 

Students should to complete the Pre-participation Physical Evaluation-Medical History form and bring a completed copy with them on Saturday, Sept. 16.

All middle and high school athletes in SBISD

Saturday, Sept. 16, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Where: Landrum Middle School
2200 Ridgecrest Drive, Houston, TX  77055

For more information, please contact the Campus Athletic Coordinator at your campus or the SBISD Athletic Office at 713-251-1200.