Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Founders Day Celebration

 A Memorial High School engineering teacher and three longtime volunteers in Spring Branch ISD earned special recognitions during the annual Founders Day Dinner and Celebration held Feb. 6 at Meadow Wood Elementary School.

During the annual dinner, dozens of volunteers who serve on campus PTAs won special honors. In addition, the Spring Branch Education Foundation presented a donation for more than $6,000 to support student and teacher scholarships.

Founders Day is held each year in recognition of the February 1897 meeting in Washington, D.C., where the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) in the United States held its first meeting.

Today, SBISD Council of PTAs has a membership of more than 10,000 parents.

The dinner included remarks by Superintendent of Schools Duncan F. Klussmann, Ed.D., plus several key PTA Award presentations.

Honorees included Shelly Tornquist of Memorial High School, who earned the top School Bell Award, and volunteers Misty Ellis, Warren Matthews and Iris Story, all of whom received the Council PTA Life Award for their deep commitment and service to SBISD children.

In his remarks, Superintendent Klussmann noted that he was raised in Brenham, a small community, and later Huntsville. He never dreamed that Houston would be part of his future. The city seemed too big to him back then.

“Spring Branch offers the small-town quality that you can’t get anywhere else,” he said. Nothing is guaranteed forever, but SBISD and its Council of PTAs makes the Spring Branch area highly desirable as a place for family life and public education, the Superintendent said.

“The conversation that I hear is that if you want your child to go to public schools, then go to Spring Branch. That is a very powerful statement about our schools and about the strength of our PTAs,” Dr. Klussmann said.

Memorial High’s Shelly Tornquist won this year’s School Bell Award. A graduate of SBISD, she leads Memorial High’s Academy of Engineering program. Shelly is a Master Teacher in SBISD and with the science and engineering-related, national Project Lead The Way program. She is also an Autodesk Certified Instructor.

The Council of PTAs presents this award each year to an outstanding educator who promotes the organization’s objectives and is an advocate for all children. Winners receive an engraved brass school bell. Shelly also received a $250 cash award from the local Patriot Bank.

“I am a product of Spring Branch, having been born on Longpoint at the Spring Branch Memorial Hospital and graduating from Northbrook Senior High School in 1980,” she said.

Her parents chose SBISD for its nationally ranked schools. “It was clear to me from my earliest memories that I was in a great place. I still, in fact, know my kindergarten teacher – the best teacher in the whole world – Dorothy Greer. I can name most of the teachers I have had, and can never recall one that I did not love in some way,” she told the audience.

“People may say I did not get very far, but I would say I they are wrong. Before teaching, I worked with Shell Oil, and once crossing over into teaching 24 years ago I could never imagine living or working anywhere else. When I came to the district many of my teachers were still here, and they helped me find my inner courage and my heart for teaching,” Shelly also said.
Honored with this year’s Council PTA Life Awards were Misty Ellis, Warren Matthews and Iris Story. Council of PTAs President Dmel Tatum introduced each honoree and included testimonials from SBISD students and graduates about how volunteers like them had touched and improved student lives.

Misty Ellis was recognized for her fearless resolve to improve opportunities for all SBISD children. Her lengthy PTA service includes committee and leadership posts at Frostwood Elementary School and on the Council of PTAs, where she served as Council President for two years. She’s Choir Booster Club President for Memorial High today.

Warren Matthews has led the Spring Branch Education Foundation as Chairman, and he remains an Executive Committee Member there. For the past 10 years, he has selflessly led and built up the Council of PTA’s Scholarship Program, which includes the presentation of student biographies during annual programs. Last May, he honored more than 80 SBISD scholarship recipients and described their life goals and objectives.

Iris Story is known throughout SBISD for her dedication and bold enthusiasm for the student-centered Odyssey of the Mind program, as well as her work with PTA and campus booster groups. Under her leadership, Odyssey of the Mind grew and offered life-affirming lessons in innovation and teamwork to hundreds of students across SBISD. Odysseysof the Mind teams have won regional, state, national and international honors.

PTA President Dmel Tatum said that Misty, Warren and Iris all served in separate areas, but they shared several traits in common.

“All three are passionate about their commitment to service, and they each strive diligently to serve not only their individual campuses, but the SBISD community at large. None of them are self-promoting nor do they define themselves by their acts of service. Rather, their service is an outpouring of who they intrinsically are. Their service is their character. And finally, all three remain involved in programs and opportunities that have had, and continue to have, a long lasting impact on our SBISD community,” the PTA President said.

Founder’s Day Dinner co-chairs this year were Caroline Bennett and Jodi Vogan.

The Founders Day dinner and complimentary favors were provided by Brio Tuscan Grille in City Centre. Sarah’s Florist provided floral arrangements and decorations.

The Council of PTAs noted that this year’s 18 School Bell Award nominees (see below) comprise an exceptional group. They include:

2013 School Bell Award Nominees


  • Susie Kneppler of Bunker Hill Elementary
  • Esmeralda Warshaw of Cedar Brook Elementary
  • Lisa Branon of Frostwood Elementary
  • Mary Sherman Willson of Hunters Creek Elementary
  • Lynne Luberger of Meadow Wood Elementary
  • Sara Cooney of Memorial Drive Elementary
  • Roy Moore of Nottingham Elementary
  • Brandy Demeris of Rummel Creek Elementary
  • Patrick Toomey of Valley Oaks Elementary
  • Denise Doherty of Wilchester Elementary
  • Lindsey Heinzman of Cornerstone Academy
  • Abigayl Flores of Landrum Middle School
  • Julio Petraglia of Memorial Middle School
  • Gaye Goff of Westchester Academy for International Studies
  • Shelly Tornquist of Memorial High School
  • Dan Nagel of Spring Woods High School
  • Jana Stiffel of Stratford High School
  • Nini Burt of Zebra Zone Early Childhood Center

2013 Texas PTA Lifetime Members

Elementary Schools

The Bendwood School: Karen Madaras

Bunker Hill Elementary: Shelly Curry, Jana and Pete DeLongchamps, Donna Jackson, Jennifer Lassiter, Mary Moll, Angel Todd, Susan Wienert

Frostwood Elementary: Jennifer Blan, Lisa Brannon, Angela Buegeler, Annabel Fonseka, Joey Gauss, Lee Anna Lackey, Hayley Stewart, Leigh Tomaski

Hunters Creek Elementary: Julie Reader Boyd, Julie Carillo, Belinda Henry, Mindy Voyles, Laurie Wendler, Laura Shelby, Liz Swan

Meadow Wood Elementary: Terry Armstrong, Linda Baker, Meredith Dixon, Mary Schleninschok, Alison White

Memorial Drive Elementary: Maggie Dietert, Jennifer Espy, John Glover, Allison McClanahan, Ricardo Moreno, Ellen Morey, Kitty Oldham, Talya Robertson, Solace Southwick, Jay Williams, Beth Woodson

Nottingham Elementary: Gina Gelber, Amy Kenney, Sylvia Wolf, Michelle Murphy

Sherwood Elementary: Elizabeth Meshkoff, Jane Watts

Valley Oaks Elementary: Debbie Autenreith, Sandra Agudelo, Karin Donovan, Lauren Hollier, Laura Hollingsworth, Amy and Joseph Klam, Sarah Lee, Danielle Price, Susan Ramsey, Heather Talbert, Tracey Tomaro-McCall

Wilchester Elementary: Mika Arend, Laura Benes, Jeff Peters, Kristina Seiler

Middle Schools

Landrum Middle: Dede Springer

Memorial Middle: Ron Heathcock, Lee Ann Lackey, Stephanie Laguarta, Bridget Stevens, Mary Moll, Pam St. Martin, Amy Greebon

Spring Branch Middle: Rebecca Highes, Joanna Johnston, Daniel Hernandez, Susan Kellner (Extended Service), Mary Smith

Spring Forest Middle: Gwen Bosco, Pam Daniel, Richard Fanning, Patty Mustacchio, Robin Sturgis, Kaye Williams

High Schools

Memorial High: Kristi Barnhill, Joe Kingsley, Renae van Zeelst, Cathy Bottoms, Patti Nommensen

Westchester Academy for International Studies: Lynne Schneider, Alberto Halos, Sangeeta Dias, Ann King

View more photos here http://springbranchisd.smugmug.com/organize/Other/Founders-Day-2014

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