Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Schaper Bringing 55 Years in Spring Branch ISD to a Close

When Wayne Schaper Sr. arrived in Spring Branch, in 1961, John F. Kennedy was president, man had just orbited the earth for the first time and the Astrodome was only a gleam in the eye of Judge Roy Hofheinz.

Spring Branch was Houston’s western suburb and along with the Memorial villages was growing at an incredible pace. Likewise, the 1950s and 1960s were a period of meteoric growth for Spring Branch ISD. Enrollment was nearly 16,000 and growing by 2,000-3,000 students a year, up from the district’s humble beginning in 1946 with nearly 300 students.

Schaper arrived at Landrum Junior High that year, 1961, as a math teacher and athletic coach from Ball High School in Galveston, lured away by former district athletic director Darrell Tully. A former Texas A&M and minor league pitcher, it wouldn’t be the first – nor the last – time he was recruited.

Wayne Schaper Sr. is bringing a remarkable 55-year career to an end in Spring Branch ISD, serving as teacher, coach, principal, administrator and trustee. His resignation from Position 1 Trustee, for health reasons, was reluctantly accepted Monday, June 13, by the Spring Branch ISD Board of Trustees. He has one year left in his fifth three-year term.

“Mr. Schaper is a true gem – public education and public service have been his life’s calling,” said Board President Karen Peck. “He has served with integrity and a strong belief in providing an outstanding education for Every Child.”

A community reception honoring Schaper will be held prior to the board’s regular monthly meeting on Monday, June 27, from 4 p.m.-5:30 p.m. A formal program will begin at 4:45 p.m.

Schaper transferred to the newly opened Spring Woods High School in 1964 – district enrollment had grown to nearly 22,000 -- where he also served as teacher and coach for a year before being “asked” to go to Memorial High School in 1965 as an assistant principal. District enrollment had grown by nearly 2,300 students that year, to just over 24,000.

“That’s how (former superintendent) Dr. Landrum did things,” Schaper said in a 2011 interview. “He told you what you were going to do. You didn’t say no to him.”

Turns out Dr. Landrum was right – Schaper spent one year as an assistant principal at Memorial before becoming principal, a post he held for the next 21 years, before moving into the district administration building as senior administrative officer in 1988. District enrollment had peaked in 1976 at 41,000 and in 1988 was at its lowest point since that peak, at just over 24,000 students.

That building today carries his name – the Wayne F. Schaper Leadership Center, at 955 Campbell Road – and houses offices for the superintendent and other district administrators. The Board of Trustees named the facility for Schaper in 2012.

“The wisdom that he brings to the board table and the community as a whole is important to me as I transition here,” said Superintendent Dr. Scott Muri. “He’s passionate about the district – he loves Spring Branch ISD so his decisions are certainly made with the best interest of the district at heart.”

Schaper has served with every district superintendent during his career in Spring Branch ISD – three as a member of the Board of Trustees. His steady hand through tumultuous transition between superintendents in 2004 led a former board member to praise his leadership.

“Because he had been around so long in the district and had worked with every stakeholder group, he had the trust of everyone,” said former trustee Susan Kellner. “He knew exactly what to say and how to calmly and wisely lead us through the storm. He was able to apply the correct pressure — and also the correct support — when needed.”

Trustees hired former superintendent Dr. Duncan Klussmann in 2004 and current superintendent Dr. Scott Muri in 2015.

Trustees helped get approved in 2007 a $597.1 million bond program that rebuilt 13 elementary schools, upgraded every district facility, replaced a number of aging school buses and put technology throughout the district. Schaper was instrumental in developing and passing the bond, then as board liaison to district staff and helping oversee the work.

Schaper was recognized for 50 years of service at the 2011 Service Awards, and was honored by the Spring Branch Education Foundation with the creation of the Wayne F. Schaper Sr. Fund for Excellence, which has raised tens of thousands of dollars for student scholarships and related educational support in Spring Branch ISD.

Among his many professional accomplishments: he started the nation’s first program for using drug dogs in schools. He was the only principal to serve as chairman of the University Scholastic League’s Legislative Council. He earned a Master’s in educational leadership and administration. He helped introduce the one-act play competition in the UIL, as well as the two- and three-team playoff system for athletics, allowing more students to compete closer to a season’s end.

“Students who are involved tend to do better in all aspects of school life,” said Schaper.

Education is all about engagement, he said, both with the community and with individual students.

“An effective school system must receive input and support from all avenues of the district,” Schaper said, “including but not limited to civic organizations, churches, parents, business leaders and election officials.”

And every student can be engaged (learn) if “provided the proper and correct tools to learn in a safe and clean environment,” and if educators are flexible, he said.

“All students learn in different ways and a good educator will seek what is best for the student,” said Schaper.

Beyond the school district, Schaper is a community advocate, an active member of the Memorial Spring Branch Rotary Club and the East Spring Branch Food Pantry. He’s an active leader at Holy Cross Lutheran Church and serves as chairman for the American Cancer Society Neighborhood Fund.

He’s also known beyond Spring Branch.

“Everywhere I go across the state people ask me about Wayne Schaper,” said Dr. Muri, who’s a year into the superintendent’s job. “The level of respect is just tremendous.”

And perhaps his most dubious claim to fame? He might well hold the record of having pitched the ball that’s the longest measured home run on record – 730 feet during a 1959 minor league game in Carlsbad, N.M. Schaper, pitching for the Odessa Dodgers, laid a floater over the plate that Gil Carter of the Carlsbad Potashers sent sailing.

Carter had gotten a double earlier in the game, breaking up Schaper’s no-hitter. “I was throwing at his ribs, but the ball just hung out over the plate,” said Schaper. “Everybody knew it was gone when he hit it.”

Schaper and his wife, Ruby, have four grown children, all graduates of Spring Branch ISD.

Read more about Wayne Schaper Sr.'s resignation >>

Rusty Graham


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