Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Cat in the Hat Performances Support Literacy

Our Partners collaborate to support literacy at district PreK sites and call on community for program growth next year.
Three years ago, SBISD corporate Seitel had an idea: their employees would come to their adopted PreK campus, Panda Path, dressed in costume to perform Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat to the students in celebration of the birthday of Dr. Suess.

Seitel is a leading provider of seismic data and related geophysical services to the oil and gas industry in North America, with headquarters in Houston.

Richard Kelvin, Chief Technology Officer at Seitel, has led the Seitel and Panda Path partnership. “Following our performance at Panda Path three years ago,” Kelvin said, “we recognized that we had stumbled upon a way of bringing books to life and had clearly caught the children’s attention.”

During last year’s Good Neighbor Event, Seitel was recognized for their support of SBISD. The SBISD Good Neighbor Program recognizes and celebrates the district’s superlative partners who complete three or more activities in support of the district, a campus, a classroom, a child or the Spring Branch Education Foundation during a school year.

SBISD Community Relations Officer Linda Buchman highlighted Seitel’s efforts to support SBISD’s literacy initiative for our youngest students and challenged the partners in the audience to help make this opportunity possible at not just one, but all SBISD PreK sites.

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Thanks to this challenge and the support of wonderful and willing SBISD partners, this March all five SBISD PreK campuses enjoyed the magic of this performance. In addition, this initiative put a copy of Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat in the hands of nearly 1,500 PreK students, thanks to the support of SBISD Good Neighbor Blue Willow Bookstore.

This initiative is an example of the power of partner collaboration. Nexen Petroleum, an upstream oil and gas company that develops energy resources in the UK North Sea, offshore West Africa, the United States and Western Canada, has been an SBISD Good Neighbor since 2013 and was first to answer the challenge. After Seitel hosted a training at their offices, Nexen’s “Reach Out” committee put together a team to bring the production to the students at Wildcat Way and Bendwood.

For the Seitel and Nexen employees, the opportunity to give back had a lasting effort on their teams. Said Kelvin, “For Seitel, it is an amazing team building opportunity that brings together employees from all departments and all levels of the company.  We have such a good time putting the show together that it is easy to lose sight of the goal.  Yet, once the performance begins and the children laugh at the foolishness before them and interact with the performers, we remember that we are bringing a book to life and introducing children to what we hope is the start of a lifetime of loving reading and learning. When we return to the office, our employees are filled with such enthusiasm and camaraderie that they often remark it feels like we gain more than we give.”

The challenge created a buzz internally within the SBISD Administration Building as well. SBISD’s Community Relations and Communications Department put together a team to bring the show to the students at Lion Lane. Soon afterwards, the SBISD Finance team also agreed to participate, and performed for the students at Bear Blvd.

“SBISD has an ambitious and focused goal for all learners – achieving post-secondary success through T-2-4,” remarked Kim Hammer, Director of SBISD’s Bear Blvd. “Developing strong literacy skills in early childhood sets the foundation for achieving this goal. Putting books in the hands of students is critical for literacy development.”

For Kelvin and his team, this year is only the start of a much larger challenge. “Looking forward to next year,” said Kelvin, “our goal is to recruit more volunteers from other organizations and bring the performance to every PreK classroom in the District; beyond that, who knows, maybe Broadway!  If our efforts lead to even just one child opening a book or asking for a bedtime story, surely it is all worthwhile. Each performance requires a team of 12 to 15 – can we count on you?”

To learn more about The Cat in the Hat initiative or the SBISD Good Neighbor Program, contact Abby Walker ( or 713.251.2289)


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