Friday, June 5, 2015

First in Class & Full-Day PreK Program

Maribel Paredes (in gown on left) and Heybi Torres (in gown on right) with Lion Lane Director Sharee Cantrell (middle) and The Lion Lane School employees
Northbrook High’s valedictorian, Heybi Torres, and salutatorian, Maribel Paredes, made district history for more than their stellar academic grades as they graduated May 30 in Don Coleman Coliseum alongside the high school’s Class of 2015.

In 2001, Heybi and Maribel were 4-year-olds enrolled at the Lion Lane School for Early Learning as that self-contained educational facility at 2210 Ridgecrest began its first year of operation. The two future top students were enrolled in Lion Lane’s first class of 300 students of which 90 graduated with the Class of 2015.

On May 30, these two proved in a deeply human way on the stage at Don Coleman Coliseum just how powerful full-day PreK education can be. Their dreams are big!

Heybi is focused on a medical career. She will attend Texas A&M University this fall. “I remember coming over to Lion Lane to be enrolled and taking a language test. I thought everything was cool. I think prekindergarten prepared me well and that by kindergarten I was already reading,” she said. “That was a big deal for me.”

Maribel recalls a bashful 4-year-old who loved naptime and the first Water Day at Lion Lane, a fun-filled celebration. “Being able to go to Lion Lane, and then to be prepared for kindergarten, helps you in the future,” she said.

The first in her family to attend college, Maribel will head to Texas A&M, too. She plans to major in environmental design. Her dream is a career in architecture where she designs homes for others.

Both Lion Lane students attended Ridgecrest Elementary, Cornerstone Academy and Northbrook High. At Ridgecrest, they were in the same classroom.

Top row, third student from left:  Heybi Torres in The Lion Lane School
2001-2002 class photo
Lion Lane Director Sharee Cantrell isn’t surprised by the success of the two girls. She has been following Lion Lane and other preK students since district program options began 20 years ago, as well as since the five, full-day district Schools for Early Learning opened 14 years ago.

Spring Branch ISD has five, full-day prekindergarten programs headquartered in stand-alone buildings with secure playground courtyards. The program is free to those who meet eligibility guidelines; tuition of $595 per month is charged to all others for nine months when the schools are in session. Scholarships are available.

All prekindergarten teachers at The Lion Lane School are degreed teachers, with state certifications and unique training in child development and early education.

Top row, second student from left:  Maribel Paredes in The Lion Lane School
2001-2002 class photo
“I’m just really proud of them,” Cantrell said of the two grads before turning her remarks to the overall performance of Spring Branch ISD prekindergarten grads.

Cantrell said that data shows that prekindergarten students score higher than the district and state averages on assessments throughout their elementary, middle and high school years.“We know from the data that prekindergarten makes a difference," she said.

Heybi and Maribel have simple advice for those coming up after them. “Don’t let your Zip Code define your future,” Heybi said. “Everything is possible as long as you have a goal and you stick to that goal no matter the obstacles.”

“Work hard, and don’t be afraid to ask for help,” Maribel said. Lion Lane’s rules live on in their first graduates, their former teachers and Director Cantrell report. 

For more information on SBISD prekindergarten, please visit the Early Childhood page.


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