Monday, February 8, 2016

New Rummel Creek Built on Savings but Still Feature-Rich

Principal Nancy Harn cuts the ribbon at the grand opening of Rummel Creek Elementary.
What a difference a year makes.

In the case of Rummel Creek Elementary it’s not the just passed year that makes such a difference, although daily life for teachers and students has for a month taken place in a sparking new building.

No, the real difference-maker year was 2010. That’s when a weak national economy led to lower construction costs and more favorable interest rates, which Spring Branch ISD turned to its advantage by accelerating the building schedule as part of the $597.1 million bond program approved by voters in November 2007. Five schools were built in 18 months during the accelerated phase.

Rummel Creek Elementary made the list of rebuilt elementary schools a baker’s dozen that year, added to the original list of 12 schools.

View more photos of the grand opening >>

Former Superintendent Duncan Klussmann recognized the “school built on savings” during remarks at Rummel Creek’s grand opening program on Tuesday, Feb. 5.

“There was lots of sacrifice that resulted in something great,” Klussmann said, referring to the acceleration and Rummel Creek’s new building at 625 Brittmoore. Klussmann wrapped up his remarks with a statement he often used at previous grand openings: “The quality of the building now matches the quality of education going on inside.”

Trustee Katherine Dawson opened her remarks by earmarking her personal copy of The Giving Tree, which she received days earlier in a Board meeting, to the Rummel Creek campus.

"Many of you have read this special book about a tree that gives itself out of love to a boy.  The young, growing tree in the beginning is a lot like our new RCE building.  It is new, evolving and full of opportunities and potential," she said.  (See Katherine Dawson's full remarks below.)

The new two-story building interplays with both the surrounding neighborhood and to the site around it through its architecture and planning. The building’s fa├žade steps back in stages from the front in a nod to the mix of single and two-story homes surrounding it. Walls of glass not only let in plenty of light but also connect the inside with the park-like setting surrounding the building. Rummel Creek’s much-loved kiva has been recreated in a corner of the school’s Learning Commons.

Superintendent Scott Muri welcomed guests and dignitaries, noting that the district core value of Collective Greatness was on full display in the new building, the best efforts of architects, builders, district staff and the Rummel Creek community.

Principal Nancy Harn agreed, saying the new Rummel Creek was “truly lucky number 13.” She said the Rummel Creek community’s hearts were full of gratitude, of amazement and of thanks, that the architects “asked what we wanted to see” in the new building, then made it happen. (See Nancy Harn's full remarks below.)

Cub Scout Pack 598 presents colors at the grand opening.

Rummel Creek PTA President Heather Sheffield held the Council of PTAs trophy for “Most Outstanding PTA” as she spoke, noting that Rummel Creek had won the award “numerous” times over the years and that she fully understands why.

“As a former teacher … I’ve never seen a group who work to do so much for children,” she said. Rummel Creek’s PTA raised money for enhancements to the new building. (See Heather Sheffield's full remarks below.)

Former trustee Mike Falick, who attended Rummel Creek Elementary as a student, whose own children attended Rummel Creek and who served on the board during much of the 2007 bond program, said that he was “so honored” to be part of the program.

“What this community has given to itself by supporting the bond … is unique,” he said. “I’ve never seen any place like it.”

State Rep. Jim Murphy, who grew up in nearby Bendwood, spoke of the Rummel Creek pride he sees when walking the neighborhood. Houston District G Council Member Greg Travis said Rummel Creek was a great school in a great district, noting that both his parents were educators.

Houston At-Large Council Member Jack Christie, a former Spring Branch ISD trustee and chair of the State Board of Education, told students to thank their parents and neighbors for paying the taxes that paid for the new school. And Trevor Gordon represented Houston At-Large Council Member Mike Knox, sending congratulations for the new school.

Charlotte and Keith Kovacs enjoy the grand opening with their granddaughter, Kate, a Rummel Creek third-grader.
Guests were encouraged to walk around the new building, aided by Rummel Creek students strategically positioned and ready to answer any questions.


Rummel Creek Elementary
625 Brittmoore
Houston, Texas 77079

Capacity: Around 750 students
Building Size: 107,000 square feet (+) 5,700 square feet covered play area
Campus Opening: January 2016
Campus Established: Fall 1962

Principal: Nancy Harn
Architect: Stantec
Builder: Westfall Constructors
Project Manager: Kris Drosche

Remarks by Principal Nancy Harn

Greetings and welcome to our parents, students and special guests! It is my honor to be the principal of Rummel Creek Elementary.

Today our hearts today are full – full of appreciation for the farsightedness and thoughtful planning that our district, our School Board and Duncan Klussmann used from the beginning of the Bond project. We are truly lucky No. 13. 

And thank you to our voters for approving the bond. Again thanks to the district for being so prudent with management of the bond program – so that there would be enough savings in the bond program to rebuild Rummel Creek.

Our hearts are also full of gratitude that from the beginning our architects, Stantec, asked our staff, our children, and our parents what we wanted to see in our new school. We responded through surveys, committees and word of mouth. 

And our construction company, Westfall, took care of all the details in making our wishes become the gorgeous reality that we see today. And now as you walk throughout the school, you see the connection to nature, the numerous spaces for students to learn and play, and the words on the walls that students feel embody what a RCE student is all about. There will be many instances of historic learning that will take place in this school for many years to come.

Personally, I was grateful daily for the guidance and wisdom that Kris Drosche and Travis Stanford shared with me during the design and construction process.

Our hearts are full of amazement for this tremendous faculty with their gift of teaching, the gift of patience and the gift of time that they gave throughout the planning, packing and moving process that it took to get to this point. We will continue to be full of pride for the students of today, yesterday and the future.  They will bring laughter, learning and love to these special halls in the days and years to come.

Lastly, our hearts are full of thanks for the concern that our past and current PTAs have exhibited. Since we first learned, in 2010, that RCE was going to be rebuilt, each PTA group set aside significant amounts of money for enhancements to this building.  And our PTA last year put the giving into overdrive.  In all, our PTAs donated $500,000 for some fabulous additions.  We greatly appreciate their hard work and the generosity of these gifts. 

At this time, I would like for those PTA presidents to stand and be recognized.  (Lynn Harrison, Jen Koithan, Karen Ross, and current PTA President Heather Sheffield).

Remarks by Rummel Creek Elementary PTA President Heather Sheffield

Thank you so much, Nancy! I would first like to thank the Bond Committee, past Rummel Creek PTA presidents and boards, our current board, past and present SBISD Board of Trustees, Dr. Klussmann and Dr. Muri.

I am honored to speak today on behalf of our PTA and to be a part of the dedication of the new Rummel Creek Elementary School. Last year, our Rummel Creek PTA, under the direction of the fabulous Karen Ross, won the SBISD Council of PTA’s “Most Outstanding PTA” award. This trophy really means a lot and sends a message. If you look at the side of the trophy, you will see that the RCE PTA is named several times and it is clear that we have always been strong.

Our PTA was one of the reasons that I chose to move my family into this neighborhood and send my children to Rummel Creek. As a former teacher and someone who researched many schools, I can honestly say that I have never seen a group of parents and teachers work so hard to do what is best for children. I am eternally grateful for our staff and for the parents who do big and small jobs to make our organization and school what it is.

Many amazing volunteers have given and continue to give their time, talents and money. Over the past few years, our exceptionally generous PTA had the foresight to begin raising and saving half a million dollars! This $500,000 was used to fund many extras for the new school such as the new playground structure, swings, an upgraded track, a gazebo, an upgraded gym floor, water bottle filling stations, the seal by the cafeteria, the outdoor learning center, the stunning Rose Toro artwork, and many other things that Stantec (architects) and Westfall (builder) worked with us to add, and we’re not done yet!

I love serving our children and the staff in this space, noticing and being grateful for these enhancements that we have worked together to provide for them. These things and memories will live on for generations to come. I cannot thank enough those of you who have contributed in some way for your outstanding and substantial donation.

Our Rummel Creek PTA is proud to have a long legacy with the school and community and while we have a new building, our legacy, immense school spirit and community-mindedness remain strong and as evident as ever. As president of this big-hearted group of parents and teachers, I want to say “Thank you!’ to those of you who have made all of this possible. You have made our Roadrunner dreams come true. Thank you!

Remarks by SBISD Trustee Katherine Dawson

Good Afternoon, Roadrunners, and greetings from the SBISD Board.

Recently, each Board Member received two books, a book to keep and a book to give. Today is the perfect day for me to give my book, The Giving Tree, to Rummel Creek Elementary.

Many of you have read this special book about a tree that gives itself out of love to a boy.

The young, growing tree in the beginning is a lot like our new RCE building. It is new, evolving and full of opportunities and potential. However, for the tree to maintain, it must have a strong root system/foundation and be nurtured just like this building needs.

This building took root not from seeds or just concrete, but from community belief and support. Our taxpayers believed in this district and passed a bond that allowed us to build Rummel Creek.

Our RCE community is like the tree bark, and through Collective Greatness surrounds and supports the school with the community’s time and energy.

The teachers and staff are the heartwood of this building and they now have a state-of-the-art facility to match their top-notch instruction for every child.

This building’s roots are the students whose Limitless Curiosity and hard work keep this building alive, growing and strong.

This building, like the tree, offers many things such as natural light, beautiful artwork and a safe, dynamic learning environment. But just like the tree, the building must be cared for by keeping it clean and allowing our Moral Compass to guide our daily actions and efforts while here in this building.

The Rummel Creek building, like a tree, will change and serve different roles through the years for each of us. But as the years go on, the building – just like the tree – ages; however, it will always be at the heart of this community and a warm and welcoming place to call home.

Congratulations, Roadrunners, on your new building!


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