Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Vote Certified, Trustees Sworn-In

Josef Klam was sworn-in following the election.
Incumbent Josef Klam and Chris Gonzalez were sworn-in Monday night following their re-election on Saturday, May 6, after Trustees certified the election results.

Position 2 Trustee Gonzalez defeated challenger Mary Curry Mettenbrink. Klam, who sits in Position 1, was unopposed.

Chris Gonzalez was sworn-in following the election.
Trustees re-elected Karen Peck as Board President for 2017-18. Peck served as president during the 2016-17 school year. Klam was elected vice-president and Gonzalez was elected secretary for 2017-18. Klam replaces Trustee Pam Goodson, while Gonzalez replaces Trustee Katherine Dawson.

Board members are elected to staggered three-year terms.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

SBISD Names 2017 Teachers of the Year

An elementary school health fitness instructor and a high school math teacher were named as Spring Branch ISD’s Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year on May 9.

The district’s new Teachers of the Year are Terri Doherty of Ridgecrest Elementary and Jonathan Claydon of Northbrook High, who teaches calculus and pre-calculus. They both received a $1,000 cash prize made possible through the generous local support of Memorial Hermann Memorial City Hospital and First Community Credit Union.

In a new event setting, the two winners, district Teacher of the Year Finalists and big group of SBISD retirees were all honored on field at Minute Maid Park before Tuesday evening’s Houston Astros-Atlanta Braves game. The Astros won 8-3.

As a part of the change, the district’s yearly Service Awards celebration honoring retirees and employees with service-year recognitions included a fun, pre-game reception in Union Station. Hundreds of SBISD employees attended the reception and received Astros tickets and pre-loaded food vouchers for event use.

The game’s start put everyone on their feet cheering as the Astros’ Carlos Correa and Carlos Beltran hit back-to-back home runs during a five-run first inning. The team’s win Tuesday was the seventh in nine games, for a 22-11 season opening.

SBISD Superintendent Scott Muri presented Gold Apple awards in gift bags for Doherty and Claydon during a brief, on-field announcement that played larger than life on the Jumbo Tron screen above the third baseline ceremony. Board Member Josef Klam represented Trustees on the field Tuesday evening.

Elementary Teacher of the Year Terri Doherty, a 17-year teacher at Ridgecrest, holds a bachelor of science degree from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Cortland in physical education. She earned her master’s degree in elementary education from the University of Houston.

Early Wednesday morning, Doherty was watching fourth-graders as they clocked outdoor track miles in the school’s Marathon Kids program, supported through a grant from the Oliver Foundation’s Healthy Choices program.

Keeping mileage logs for the third- and fourth-grade students is one of dozens of student-based programs that she helps operate at this large SBISD elementary.

“This is an incredible recognition for Ridgecrest,” she said. “Everyone here really works hard, and we are such a family, I could not receive this award without the people here and the support they have for what we do. And it’s also a great, big recognition for the work done by so many in SBISD Health Fitness.”

At the family level, she won new respect from her husband, Rich Doherty. “He said, ‘You were on the Jumbotron!’” Doherty recalls, joking.

Doherty’s award is the first in recent memory won by a Ridgecrest educator. As such, it’s a big deal for campus community and neighborhood.

“All of Ridgecrest is incredibly proud that Terri has won this honor. She truly does exemplify the best of both Ridgecrest Elementary and the district. She’s dedicated to educating the whole child by providing our students positive experiences in and out of school that promote a healthy body and mind,” Principal Michelle Garcia said.

“She genuinely cares about our community, and she goes above and beyond the call of duty to ensure their overall wellness. We are so proud of her!”

Northbrook High’s Jonathan Claydon has taught eight years at the high school. He is no stranger to educational awards, being named as a state-level finalist with the highly competitive Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching two years ago. Also in 2015, the University of Houston featured him as a Young Alumni Profile standout.

Claydon earned a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from UH in 2006, graduating cum laude with university honors. He worked in construction planning and management for several years, but found his real passion in teaching calculus and promoting math to teenagers, many of whom have a limited knowledge of its possible academic and career importance.

“I have a unique approach to math education,” Claydon says of his philosophy. “My students do not listen to lectures. My students produce something every day. My students do well because they know I believe in their ability to do well.”

On Tuesday, his students took the Advanced Placement test in calculus, the same day Claydon was named district Teacher of the Year. By Wednesday morning, the news was already “been-there, heard-that” with his students, who were taking it easy by calculating 20 percent down payments on first homes and monthly costs associated with home ownership, based on Google’s top rated sites.

“They are over it,” he said of his award, chuckling, “but it is a nice validation for me for the work that is involved with my students. Teacher of the Year is a neat way to be recognized for the work we do every day.”

He was surprised by the sudden announcement of his name on the baseball field, but had a feeling that something might be up when he was told to stand adjacent to Doherty, the elementary-level finalist. His parents were in the stands watching, and his phone blew up with congratulatory texts much of the night.

On Wednesday, Principal Randolph Adami was one of his first classroom visitors. The high school has now had back-to-back Teacher of the Year winners, which is rare from a district historical view. A math colleague, Amanda Tysor, was named secondary Teacher of the Year last year.

At Northbrook, where he finds time to help coach ninth-grade soccer, Claydon is well known for his large, digital classroom screens and emphasis on small group student projects. His students learn by doing and working together.

During his yearly Sidewalk Chalk Day, more than 250 pre-calculus and calculus students decorate the school walkways with images of graphed functions, polar equations or slope regions. A drone snapped aerial photographs from up above this year.

Claydon blogs about students’ projects and he has presented curriculum ideas and updates to math educators, both locally and nationally, online and at math conferences. His enthusiasm for math has even generated a coveted student T-shirt at Northbrook. 

“Jonathan is a highly innovative, student-centered teacher who makes learning both fun and real for his students,” Principal Randolph Adami said. “Whether his class is working outside while he films them with a drone or inside at their team tables, Mr. Claydon’s students are able to engage in true real-world learning. He creates a positive learning environment for some of our highest performing students. He is exactly the type of teacher parents want for their children.”

As district Teachers of the Year, Doherty and Claydon will represent SBISD next in regional competition. If successful, they will compete at state and national levels.

SBISD’s Teacher of the Year Finalists receive a framed certificate and a cash prize of $250.  This year’s finalists included Rebecca Ramey of Rummel Creek and Amy Griffith of Meadow Wood at the elementary level and Stephanie Mosley of Memorial High School and Ali Robbins of Spring Forest Middle School.

Named earlier this year as the district Principals of the Year were Stefanie Spencer of Sherwood Elementary School and Spring Branch Middle School’s leader, Bryan Williams.

The district this year is honoring about 100 retirees, who will be honored during a separate recognition at the May 22 Board of Trustees regular meeting. That event will be conducted at Memorial High School due to potential large crowd capacity.

Combined, these educators and supporting staff represent thousands of years in public education and in service to SBISD students and families.

The Union Station reception and Houston Astros event was coordinated by SBISD Community Relations and Communications teams with special event coordination by Becky Wuerth, who serves as SBISD Customer Services & Community Relations Program Specialist.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Board Approves the Formation of a Bond Advisory Committee (BAC)

Superintendent Dr. Scott Muri (center) introduces Bond Advisory Committee co-chairs Lewis Gissel (left) and David Slattery at the committee’s initial meeting at Hunters Creek Elementary on May 3.
Based on the Bond Oversight Committee’s recommendation, a 96-member Long Range Facilities Committee (LRF) has spent the last seven months studying and evaluating SBISD facilities, aided by consultants AECOM. The LRF delivered a preliminary report to the Board of Trustees in March, finding that the district’s facilities needs approached the $1 billion mark.

Memorial High School junior Charles Fenn participates in the Wednesday, May 3, Bond Advisory Committee meeting at Hunters Creek Elementary.

The Board heard the report and tasked district staff with forming a Bond Advisory Committee (BAC) to consider the recommendation of a bond package based on the work of the LRF. On April 24, the Board approved the charge, composition and membership of the 103-member BAC.

The BAC kicked off on Wednesday, May 3, at Hunters Creek Elementary, the first of seven meetings. The BAC is to deliver its recommendations to the Board of Trustees by June 30. Trustees will review and can act on the recommendations, or take no action.

Links of Interest:

2007 Bond Website
Long Range Facility Charge and Composition
Long Range Facility Membership
Long Range Facility Board Presentation
Long Range Facility Draft Summary Costs
Bond Advisory Committee Website

Monday, May 8, 2017

District Debaters Earn Spots at National Competition

Memorial debaters Samuel Yang, Olivia Du, Kendrick Foster and Parth Misra are headed to the national debate tournament.

Eight debaters from two SBISD high schools will be competing in National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) national tournament next month in Birmingham, Ala.

Spring Woods High School seniors Jeremiah Menslage, Joel Melendez and Cesar Bautista will compete in at the national tournament – Menslage in Senate, Melendez in Orignal Oratory and Bautista on the Space City World’s Debate Team. Spring Woods sophomore Hunter Brown will compete in Congressional Debate.

Spring Woods High School debater Cesar Bautista is going to Nationals.
From Memorial High School, sophomore Parth Misra and freshman Olivia Du will compete in Policy Debate, while juniors Samuel Yang and Kendrick Foster will compete in World’s Debate.

The national debaters placed recently at the NSDA Space City district tournament.

Menslage will compete Persuasive Speaking in the UIL State tournament this month after placing first at the UIL Regional. Also competing at the UIL tournament will be Misra and Du from Memorial, who qualified as a Policy Congressional team. MHS debate sponsor Cecil Trent said that Du was the first freshman he’s coached who has accomplished that feat.
Spring Woods High School debaters going to the Nationals are Jeremiah Menslage (left), Joel Melendez (top right) and Hunter Brown (lower right).
Menslage, Misra and Foster also competed recently in the Tournament of Champions, held at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky.

Yang is a third-year debater who has also earned his third trip to the national tournament. He has earned a spot on the Space City World’s Debate team, a relatively new event in which the U.S. is beginning to participate on an international level, Trent said.

Menslage placed fifth in Domestic Extemporaneous Speaking at the Texas Forensic Association’s state tournament – the largest state tournament in the country. He also received Most Outstanding Presiding Officer in Congressional Debate. Misra and Du also competed at the Texas Forensic Association event.

Trent coaches debate at Memorial High School. Victoria Beard coaches debate at Spring Woods High School.

H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards Winner!

Spring Woods High School chemistry teacher Jamie Flint was named as Leadership category winner among all secondary teachers across Texas on Sunday during the 16th annual H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards held in Austin.

For her deserved recognition as one of the state’s best educators, Flint earned a $10,000 personal check and a $10,000 grant for Spring Woods High School. H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt personally handed out more $430,000 in cash and grant awards during the Hilton Hotel in Austin ceremony.

Honored in Austin by H-E-B’s Butts were eight educators, two school districts, one early childhood agency and a public school board for being tops in Texas. Since its start in 2002, the H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards has issued more than $8.5 million in cash awards and grants.

“We have been treated like rock stars. People say it’s the Oscars of teaching, and it really is,” Flint was reported saying. She was selected for the Leadership award from a small pool of nominees. Across all H-E-B categories, only 58 finalists were judged by former award winners, public school administrators and university and community leaders.    

She was named in February as a finalist for the secondary-level award, which goes to a teacher with 10 to 20 years’ classroom experience. As a finalist, she earned a personal check for $1,000 and the high school was given $1,000, too.

Flint was Spring Branch ISD’s 2012 Secondary Teacher of the Year, and was named last year as a Cohort I Vanguard Fellow by the district.

A 2004 graduate of Texas A&M University at College Station, she has taught at Spring Woods High since her graduation. In addition to teaching three levels of chemistry – academic, Pre-Advanced Placement (AP) and AP – she is department co-team leader, a TAKS chemistry tutorial teacher, and an ACTIVboard trainer at the high school.

She has presented at the region, state and national level on her topics of interest in chemistry, teaching and technology, and was among early adopters in SBISD to “flip” instruction through the use of digital devices and video lectures.

“I like to see success in all my students,” Flint says. “Effective teachers radiate their passion and tell their students that failure is not an option and, if they try hard enough, they will prevail.”

H-E-B’s Excellence in Education is the largest monetary awards program open to educators in Texas, and among the largest such programs in the nation. Teacher nominations are open to H-E-B customers, employees and community members.

To learn more about Jamie Flint, please visit:

To tweet about the H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards, tag @HEB and use the hashtag #HEBEeducation. You can also find the awards on Facebook: facebook.com/HEBExcellenceinEducationAwards

WAIS, Pin Oak Take Top Honors in Inaugural Chess Tourney

Westchester Academy for International Studies and Pin Oak Middle School took home first-place trophies from SBISD’s First Annual Chess Invitational Tournament at Spring Oaks Middle School.

Nearly 40 middle and high school players competed in the tournament.

Watch the video >>

The tournament ran as a five-round system in which each participant played five games.

Trophies were awarded to the five highest scoring teams and individual players in the tournament. The tournament was open to all secondary students.

Broch Rhebergen of WAIS took individual first place for high school, while Pavan Marathi of Pin Oak won individual first place for middle school.

Students from middle and high schools throughout Spring Branch ISD, the Greater Houston Area and the state of Texas were invited to participate.

Chess Director John Vargas with Community In Schools at Spring Oaks Middle led the event. Spring Woods High School math teacher and chess coach Alex Teich along with several volunteers assisted Vargas in producing the event.

SBISD 1st Annual Chess Tournament Results

Individual High School Players
1st – Broch Rhebergen, Westchester Academy for International Studies
2nd – Joshua Castillo and Carlos Lopez, Spring Woods HS
3rd – Osvualdo Cabrera, Spring Woods HS
4th – Rodolfo Arroyo, Spring Woods HS

High School Teams
1st – Westchester Academy for International Studies – Upper School
2nd – Spring Woods High School

Individual Middle School Players
1st – Pavan Marathi, Pin Oak
2nd – Jorge Galvon, Hamilton MS; Oscar Lay, Pin Oak; Max Hsu, Pin Oak
3rd – Marcus Beasley, Pin Oak

Middle School Teams
1st – Pin Oak Middle School
2nd – Hamilton Middle School
3rd – Spring Oaks Middle School
4th – Landrum Middle School
5th – Westchester Academy for International Studies – Middle School

Teachers Head to Big Apple for STEM Conference

The SBISD team at an evening networking social in New York City.
Pine Shadows Elementary teachers Josephine Stringer, Miranda Wilson and Kathleen Hartsell, along with Westwood Elementary’s Angelique Moulton, were among the nearly 300 partners, educators and guests in attendance at the 2017 100Kin10 Summit, a national STEM learning event host by 100Kin10, in New York City last month.

Held at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum, the summit featured presentation and feedback sessions by educators from around the nation.

100Kin10 unites the country’s top academic institutions, nonprofits, foundations, companies, and government agencies to train and support STEM educators. 100Kin10 is committed to adding 100,000 excellent STEM teachers to America’s classrooms by 2021.

STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – in an interdisciplinary, applied approach. STEM education builds critical thinking, increased science literacy, and the capacity to solve problems and innovate.

SBISD educators at the summit were all recently recognized for their work on a STEM-focused, district-led design challenge initiative aimed at cultivating curiosity and problem-solving.

The district design challenge initiative, spearheaded by the SBISD Research and Design Division, is part of ongoing learning collaboration with other educators through Ideo and the Teacher’s Guild.

From curiosity cabinets to connecting with astronauts planning a mission to Mars, educators and students in the challenge had an exciting and diverse range of learning experiences. Winning challenges included:

•    Josephine Stringer – Literature and STEM Connections
•    Miranda Wilson and Kathleen Hartsell – STEM Bins for Early Finishers
•    Angelique Moulton – Mars Colonization and Roaming Rovers

While open to all SBISD educators and any challenge, the use of STEM as part of the solution was critical in the process. This laser focus was a catalyst for problem-solving that served to bridge the district challenge and the national summit event.

For Kathleen Hartsell, the entire experience was a way to “walk the walk” when it comes to the school district’s core values.

“This opportunity demanded radical thinking, limitless curiosity, and a passion to be a change agent in the field of education,” said Hartsell. 

“It was an honor to be picked as a winner in the SBISD STEM challenge and to be able to attend the 100K in 10 Summit in New York,” said Josephine Stringer who was selected for her marriage of literacy and STEM. “I truly just feel like a representative of so many teachers in our district who deserve the same recognition for their work in STEM education.”

For Stringer, the ability to find peers and a platform to share are paramount for educators facing the current, fast-evolving landscape of effective, relevant teaching and learning.

“We must work collaboratively to design sustainable, meaningful solutions that work for our kids,” said Stringer. “I was able to collaborate with other educators and partners. It’s thrilling.”

As Hartsell and her peers settle back into end-of-year routines and reflect on their experiences in the design challenge and the summit in New York, they’re already looking ahead to next school year.

“It reminded me that I never, ever want to stop learning, whether it’s from my students, other educators, like-minded individuals or those who challenge my ideas,” said Hartsell. “It is a driving force in my development to be the best teacher I can.”

Recognizing the importance that educators, schools, businesses and local leaders have as partners in the success of today’s students, Moulton’s already hard at work curating a list of potential community and industry leaders to contact as thought partners and supporters.

“It is well understood that future astronauts, authors, engineers, scientist, policy makers, etc. are sitting our classrooms today,” said Moulton. “Their learning only becomes relevant once we connect them beyond the school building and to the real world.”

To learn more about 100Kin10, click here. If you’re interested in supporting educators in SBISD, visit our partner page here. Or, contact SBISD Coordinator for Strategic Partnerships and Volunteer Programs, Abby Walker at (713) 251-2289.

Running for the Arts 5K & ArtFest Enjoys New Look

Participants in the 25th annual Running for the Arts 5K & ArtFest
You couldn’t have asked for a better day to host nearly 1800 runners for Spring Branch Education Foundation’s 25th annual Running for the Arts 5K & ArtFest on Saturday. Blue skies, mid-70s temperature and an occasional breeze greeted runners, vendors, performers and community members.

This was the event’s first year at the Altharetta Yeargin Art Museum, and everyone seemed to embrace the move. Runners Caleb Oliphant and Tim Berranger, both Stratford High School freshmen, loved the new venue. They enjoyed the shaded streets, but more important, they live in the area and liked seeing their neighbors as they ran.

Debbie Slack, SBEF board member and special events chair, believes the new location is perfect to grow the ArtFest. “There’s room to expand and showcase the district’s fine arts groups and involve the community,” she said. “Our entertainment is superb.” Performers ranged from string ensembles to choirs and jazz bands. Bach to Rock, a community partner that draws from district residents, joined SBISD’s talent.

Debbie envisions the art booths becoming an even larger part of the day – growing to 100 vendors – as community members anticipate the event as an art destination.

“We didn’t know you were here.”

Art lovers added to their personal collections as they browsed the art auction.

Kathy Goss, AYAM co-curator, said, “For the first time, the auction is where it should be – inside an art museum. The auction has great art from local artists. They’re happy to support us, and we’re thrilled to increase visibility for the art community and the museum.”

The art was on display for two weeks before the festival. “We had people come in and say they didn’t know the museum was here. We’re happy they’re finding us,” said Leann Newton, co-curator.

Running for first

Housman Elementary took home the Top Participation prize with 47 percent of the student body – yes, 47 percent! – registered to run. The school wins $500 certificates from Academy Sports and Outdoors and Young Audiences of Houston.

“We’ve come in second place for the last four or five years,” said Carmelo Pastrana, the school’s health fitness specialist. “There was no reason we couldn’t be first.” So he set out to make it happen. A two-finger typist, he personally completed online registration for each runner. But first, he involved every teacher, and classrooms competed against each other. It helped that HUG tutoring volunteers and teachers donated $1,305 for registration fees. The classroom with the most participation can look forward to a pizza party. Second and third place classrooms will enjoy popcorn parties.

True community

For participants, Running for the Arts 5K and ArtFest was seamless from the starting line to award presentations. Still, it takes a village of volunteers to make it happen. Spring Branch Education Foundation offers huge thank yous to everyone who made this expanded – and growing – event a success: board members, Health Fitness teachers, PTAs, ROTC students, fine arts performers, district facility staff, AYAM curators and board members, National Charity League volunteers, donors, sponsors, artists and vendors. And of course, the runners and community members who anticipate next year’s 26th annual event.

AYAM is Worth Another Peek

Participants in the 2017 Running for the Arts 5K
If this year’s Running for the Arts 5K and ArtFest was your first exposure to the Altharetta Yeargin Art Museum (AYAM), you’re in for a treat. You can’t help but smile when you see the Daniel Anguilu mural outside. Inside is just as good. Imagine this experiential art space filled with 90 inquisitive second-graders or a group of art students capturing their version of an African mask or a John Biggers painting.

You and your children can take advantage of all the museum has to offer. And you can help continue its success by being part of its 2020 Campaign.

Running for the Arts 5K and ArtFest auction items on display at AYAM 

AYAM is believed to be the country’s only school district art museum, thanks to Altharetta Yeargin, the district’s first art teacher. As she traveled the world with her photographer husband, she collected art and artifacts from around the world. By donating her vast collection to SBISD, she hoped students and community members would gain a deeper understanding and respect for other cultures.

A generation of students has. They experience first-grade Road Shows, second-grade field trips, hands-on First Saturday art programs for families and Tall Tales summer programs for children. Last year, AYAM was selected by the National Endowment for Humanities to host the traveling exhibit, The Power of Children, which tells the story of Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges and Ryan White. Spring Branch’s best-kept secret is getting out, and tour groups are coming from Clear Lake, Spring and further.

SBISD generously provides and maintains the museum’s beautiful facility, but all the programming, supplies and operations are funded through grants, donations and memberships. Members enjoy free admission and receive invitations to exhibits and events. At the PTA Sponsorship level ($150 and above), they may use the museum for a two-hour private event.

In the second year of its 2020 Campaign, AYAM’s goal is to raise $50,000 to support programming and double its membership by 2020. Leann Newton and Kathy Goss, co-curators and community leaders, believe the goal is within reach. “We not only want to increase the community’s awareness of the museum, we want to grow programming and expand our reach throughout the region.”

You can help make that vision a reality. Visit www.springbranchisd.com/ayam to learn more about the museum.

Donate to AYAM 2020 >>

May 6 Trustees Election Update

Complete but Unofficial Results: Two Trustees Re-elected

Two incumbents have been re-elected to the Spring Branch ISD Board of Trustees, based on complete but unofficial results in the May 6 election.

In Trustee Position 2, incumbent Chris Gonzalez, a director, won with 810 votes over Mary Curry Mettenbrink, a nonprofit executive, who received 248 votes, according to complete but unofficial election results.

Running unopposed for Position 1 was Board Member Josef Klam, a local pastor. Klam received 888 votes.

The seven members of the SBISD Board of Trustees are selected at-large to serve overlapping, three-year terms. Trustees serve without pay. Results of the May 6 election will be canvassed and certified during a Board of Trustees Special Meeting scheduled for May 15.

To view complete but unofficial Election results online by voting location, please visit the district's homepage.