Monday, February 17, 2014

REEP Business Fellowship for School Leaders

Four principals, three assistant principals, and a teacher recruiter from Spring Branch ISD have joined the yearlong Rice University Education Entrepreneurship Program (REEP) Business Fellowship for School Leaders.

The REEP Business Fellowship is offered through the Jones Graduate School of Business to better equip principals and other qualifying educators with the leadership tools they need in areas ranging from innovation and organization to marketing and staff management in order to be a successful campus CEO, or principal.

The four SBISD principals who have joined the 2014 REEP class are Lynn Austin of Thornwood Elementary; Jennifer Parker of Spring Woods High School; Stefanie Spencer of Sherwood Elementary; and Bryan Williams of Spring Branch Middle.

Three SBISD assistant principals are also attending the REEP Business Fellowship this year. They are Dave Parker of Memorial High; Brenda De La Rosa of Landrum Middle School; and Mike Stokebrand of Memorial Middle School. In addition, Human Resources Department teacher recruiter Katie Kavanagh is attending this program.

The nonprofit, educational advocacy group Raise Your Hand Texas is sponsoring the four SBISD principals, in addition to 22 other principals from Houston-area school districts, at a cost of about $8,000 per participant.

“A great principal can drive swift, meaningful results on a school campus through strategic instructional leadership, operational management, and community relations,” said Raise Your Hand CEO David Anthony, Ed.D., in a prepared news release.

“Raise Your Hand Texas invests in principals through the REEP program to help accomplished educators transform into more effective CEOs of their schools,” he adds.

The REEP program at Rice University was recently named the 2013 winner of the MBA Roundtable Innovator Award, which is given to acknowledge creative initiatives in Master’s of Business Administration education and higher education institutions that are driving change in the field.

Principals in the 2014 REEP Business Fellowship for School Leaders Class:

Lynn Austin

Lynn Austin has been principal at Thornwood Elementary School for the past three years. A native of New York, she has worked for 23 years in SBISD. She was a special education teacher and assistant principal at Spring Forest Middle School for nine years, and then served 11 years as an assistant principal at Spring Branch Middle and Spring Woods High. Her two sons are district graduates.

She earned a bachelor of science degree in rehabilitation from Springfield College in Springfield, Mass., and then a master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. In addition to Superintendent Certification, she has been awarded PTA Honorary Life Membership and the Anti-Defamation League Teacher Excellence Award.

“I applied to REEP to continue to grow professionally. I’m interested in attending a world-class business training program with educational-minded entrepreneurship values. I’m excited to connect with other school leaders in the area, and in networking to share ideas,” Principal Austin says.

Prior to joining SBISD, she was director of the Lighthouse Houston, which works with adults who are visually and hearing impaired.

Jennifer Parker

Jennifer Parker, the principal at Spring Woods High School, has 23 years in Texas education, including 17 years in campus leadership and teaching in Spring Branch schools.

Principal Parker earned her bachelor’s degree from Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, and she earned a master’s degree from the University of St. Thomas. She taught social studies at Spring Oaks Middle and Northbrook High schools.

Beginning in 1996, she worked in SBISD as a middle school principal, associate and assistant principal, including two years as the administrative principal at Spring Woods High. She served as Landrum Middle School principal from 2004 until 2007.

She also served six years as the coordinating principal at Hastings High School in Alief ISD. During her career there, the campus earned Recognized status through the Texas Education Agency in 2009-10, and the school was awarded a $40,000 grant through the Houson A+ Challenge educational nonprofit.

“I believe in continuously creating and maintaining diverse opportunities for all learners so that strong academic foundations and achievements will be achieved,” she said following her return to leadership at Spring Woods High.

Stefanie Spencer

Stefanie Spencer has been Sherwood Elementary principal for five years. She has served 18 total years in Texas education.

She earned a bachelor’s degree with emphasis in reading instruction from Texas A&M University, and then a master’s degree in educational administration also from Texas A&M. Her college distinctions include women’s swimming team, Dean’s List honors, and a scholarship earned during graduate school.

“I applied to REEP after hearing about the extraordinary learning and networking experiences that other SBISD administrators had experienced in the program,” Principal Spencer says. “Knowing that this program pulls experts from different fields intrigued me. My husband earned an MBA, and his perspective on developing people and structures to serve people has been useful. Learning this firsthand could only serve to grow me that much more!”

Bryan Williams

Bryan Williams has been principal at Spring Branch Middle School for three years, and he has served eight years in the district. He has worked 16 years in education.

Principal Williams earned a bachelor’s degree from Park University, and then earned a master’s degree and educational specialist degree in educational administration from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. He also holds a doctoral degree in educational leadership from the University of Houston, as well as both Principal and Superintendent area certifications.

“I applied to the REEP program to enhance my leadership skills, to grow professionally and to model continuous lifelong learning,” Principal Williams says.

New REEP Business Fellowship for School Leaders Class assistant principals include:

Brenda De La Rosa

A native of Houston’s East End and a graduate of Houston ISD, Brenda De La Rosa graduated from the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) and then returned to her neighborhood as a second-grade bilingual teacher. She served as a reading specialist, literacy coach and dean of instruction while earning a master’s degree in education administration at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville.

As Landrum Middle School Assistant Principal, Brenda is committed to SBISD’s T-2-4 goal of ensuring high levels of instructional content and programming while making sure that “every staff member cares for every child.”

“I am excited to have the support from SBISD to participate in Rice University’s Education Entrepreneur Program in an effort to find cutting-edge solutions to current issues that educators are faced with. Not only is this a professional investment, but a personal one, too. My family now resides in Spring Branch. Our ‘work’ is part of my own children’s educational journey,” Assistant Principal De La Rosa said.

James Parker

James Parker has served as an assistant principal and teacher for 14 years in SBISD, including 10 years as an assistant principal at Memorial High and four years teaching at Stratford High. In all, he has served 16 years in Texas education.

Principal Parker earned his bachelor’s degree in education from Nicholls State University. He also holds a master’s degree in administration and supervision from the University of Houston, and Principal Certification.

“I applied to the REEP program as part of my commitment to continued professional and personal growth,” he says. “I am excited to have the opportunity to share ideas and experiences with school leaders that represent nine Houston area school districts while simultaneously acquiring new strategies and exploring new educational innovations through Rice’s highly-rated Jones Graduate Business School.

Mike Stokebrand

Mike Stokebrand has served four years as assistant principal at Memorial Middle School. He began teaching and coaching in 1992 at Spring Woods High where he taught algebra, geometry and drafting. He also coached basketball, football, track and golf.

He also taught and coached in Houston ISD from 1986-1992. Mike earned a bachelor of science degree in education from the University of Nebraska. He holds a master’s degree in educational administration from Texas A&M University.

In addition, a Human Resources Department staff member will also attend this program:

Katie Kavanagh

Katie Kavanagh, who is currently a teacher recruiter in the SBISD Human Resources Department, has taught nine years in the district, including third- and fourth-grade at Pine Shadows Elementary and health fitness as a specialist at Westchester Academy for International Studies. She has also taught fifth- and sixth-grade math and reading intervention in the Alief Independent School District.

In SBISD, Katie served on many committees and teams, which included the team that brought Girls on the Run to the district. She also organized career and field days for her campus.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Texas A&M University and later earned a master’s degree in elementary education from Texas State University.

“I applied to REEP because of the encouragement of one of my former principals. My career goals include becoming an effective leader in my school district. Whether that is as a campus administrator or another capacity, I would like to facilitate positive change,” she said.

In addition to obtaining a business certificate, Katie is looking forward to refining her craft as a leader through the REEP experience, and the leadership networking activities that it should provide. “What I learn throughout the program and from the professors will be invaluable tools for my future,” she also said.


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