Tuesday, August 13, 2013

New teachers in SBISD share inspiring life stories

One is a Northbrook High School graduate and the first in her family to earn a college degree. Another has written adventure/fantasy books. A third spent 24 years in the U.S. Navy before he created from scratch a high school Navy Jr. ROTC program.

New teachers in Spring Branch ISD have great, inspiring stories to share. All are focused on the positive shaping of student lives. SBISD this year will hire 326 campus professionals, including 293 teachers, to replace open positions or fill newly created ones.

On Aug. 26, Natalia Solano will have one incredible déjà vu moment when she greets seventh-grade mathematics students at Northbrook Middle School. A May University of Houston graduate who completed her student teaching at Cornerstone Academy, Natalia is a Northbrook High graduate.

She attended Ridgecrest and Valley Oaks elementaries and Northbrook Middle School. Today, the married mother of three lives within minutes of her middle school. The first in a family of seven to graduate from college, she never thought about teaching elsewhere. She is ecstatic about her middle school posting.

“I love Spring Branch ISD, and I believe that all the of the SBISD schools are great! When my husband and I purchased our house, I told him that I wanted a house with a big kitchen and said it needed to be right here in Spring Branch because that is where I want to live and teach. I wouldn’t want to be teaching in Katy or in Houston ISD, or anywhere else,” Natalia says. Her student teaching at Cornerstone Academy was even a reminder of where she belonged.

Jill Wright, the director there, was Natalia’s eighth-grade teacher at Northbrook Middle School. Navy Retired Cmdr. Jerry Coufal has already joined Master Chief Mark Heuser at the district’s Guthrie Center as part of the new leadership team in the popular Navy Jr. ROTC program. The elective program is open to high school students across SBISD. Cmdr. Coufal joins the program here after leading the Navy Jr. ROTC program for 11 years at George Bush High School in Fort Bend ISD.

In addition to starting up the high school program there, he served 24 years in the Navy in naval engineering and combat systems. A 1977 graduate of Texas A&M University, Cmdr. Coufal lists career highlights that include teaching at Texas A&M University in College Station for two years, serving 18 months at the naval base in Yokosuka, Japan, and working with the Navy Jr. ROTC consortium classes that met at Rice and Prairie View A&M universities and included students from the University of Houston.

In 2001, he helped start up the high school ROTC program at George Bush High School. After 12 years there, this retired Navy officer was ready for a new challenge. His new Guthrie Center position will reduce his commute from his home in The Woodlands, too.

“The Guthrie Center is unique in that the students come from different high schools, and return to their high schools. The Guthrie Center has an outstanding reputation, and I do like the family atmosphere that I have experienced so far,” he says.

He began working here this summer. Watching students enroll in ROTC as high school freshmen, and then grow over four years has been fulfilling for him. “The Jr. ROTC program has been the most satisfying experience I have had in my career. I really want to be that father figure for students and see them later graduate,” Cmdr. Coufal says.

At Spring Forest Middle School, meanwhile, students will get a self-published author as well as a new instructor when they meet Marselus Martin in seventh-grade language arts. Martin is the author of several adventure/fantasy books, including “Deceptions: The Children of the Sky,” which is available in paperback online at Amazon.com.

A Chicago native, Martin earned a bachelor’s degree in both criminal justice and Japanese from Illinois State University in Normal, Ill. His goal at that time was to teach in Japan, but he served three years in the U.S. Navy at the Great Lakes facility near Chicago and then earned a master’s degree in teaching from Aurora University in Aurora, Ill., which is also near Chicago.

In addition to writing several novels, he has worked at the Chicago Palmer House Hilton, one of the city’s top hotels, in the international travel area. His commitment to personal publishing won over his principal, Dr. Kay Williams. “I’ve learned enough about self-publishing to know that others can do it, too. Dr. Williams told me that all my writing and book publishing will apply well here,” he says.

1 comment :

  1. To all the 7th graders to have Mr. Martin...you are going to have an awesome year with him!! He is one of the best teachers we ever had!!! Good luck with your students Mr. Martin, we miss you back here in Naperville!!


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