Friday, February 24, 2017

SBISD Principals of the Year Named

Elementary Principal of the Year - Sherwood Elementary Principal Stefanie Spencer

Secondary Principal of the Year  - Spring Branch Middle Principal Bryan Williams
Sherwood Elementary Principal Stefanie Spencer and Spring Branch Middle Principal Bryan Williams have been named Spring Branch ISD’s Elementary and Secondary Principals of the Year. The two leader recognitions were revealed during surprise visits by district leaders.

Principal Spencer was surprised early Monday morning, Feb. 13, at her local campus. At Spring Branch Middle School, Superintendent Scott R. Muri, Ed.D., shared the good news about their principal with students and staff during morning announcements. Joining Dr. Muri were senior staff from the nearby district administration building.

Both SBISD principals will be honored soon during the Principal Recognition Dinner sponsored by the Region 4 Education Service Center. The principals will also be honored at SBISD Service Awards, which will be celebrated in early May. District Teachers of the Year are named at the Service Awards, too.

SBISD Principals of the Year are selected by their peers based on the following criteria:
  • Concern for all staff and students and the ability to inspire both of these groups
  • Ability and willingness to work cooperatively with all staff and administrators
  • Proven drive to initiate and implement effective strategies supporting continuous improvement in student performance
  • Ability to work with diverse community groups and all district stakeholders
  • Proven desire for continuous personal and professional growth
  • Ability and willingness to make meaningful contributions to education
Among other accomplishments, both Principals Spencer and Williams were participants in the 2015 Rice Educational Entrepreneurship Program (REEP) Business Fellowship. REEP provides a comprehensive management and entrepreneurship experience to area education leaders that improves the delivery of education and student outcomes.

Stefanie Spencer, Sherwood Elementary School

“I am just so honored and shocked,” said Principal Spencer after her surprise recognition. “The elementary principal group in SBISD is such a fantastic group of lead learners. To even work or be employed with them is an honor. I learn something from one of my colleagues every single day.”

The Principal of the Year award, she added, “really honors the relationships and support we give one and another.” It is essential to share her honor with Sherwood Elementary family –students, teachers, parents and community, she also said.

Sherwood Elementary principal since 2009, Principal Spencer has served in public education for 21 years, including more than a dozen years as an administrator. She earned both a bachelor of science in interdisciplinary studies and a master’s degree in educational administration from Texas A&M University in College Station.

Among other career honors, Principal Spencer served in 2000 as an intern for National Teacher of the Year, Terry Dozier, at the U.S. Department of Education based in Washington, D.C. Dozier headed up the National Teacher Quality Initiative, which studied teacher training, certification, retention and preparation among the 50 states, and later presented findings to then-Secretary of Education Richard Riley. Spencer communicated with each state’s education agency to help gather and prepare those findings.

In addition to her SBISD service and leadership, Principal Spencer was employed as an assistant principal in Pearland and Alief ISD, and served as a principal in Goose Creek ISD.

She attributes her Sherwood success to a strong network of support within SBISD in the form of parent and community partnerships with Klotz Associates, Family Point Resources, Memorial Assistance Ministries (MAM), and Pines Presbyterian, Chapelwood United Methodist and Christ Community area churches. In addition, the Sherwood Elementary PTA is always thinking of new ways to provide support and energy the community, as does Sherwood’s Council of PTAs Sister School, Rummel Creek Elementary.

Sherwood Elementary is one of several SBISD schools located in neighborhoods that are rapidly redeveloping and adding potential new families with students. 

Her elementary school can’t be defined by a single, state-issued letter grade, or by a one-time measure, Principal Spencer said. More than ever, everyone – teachers, principals, families and communities – must be advocates for positive education growth and change, she adds.

“At Sherwood,” she said, “I define success by multiple measures – the engagement of our community, the kindness and leadership my students are learning to employ within our school community and beyond, their academic gains as measured by a variety of metrics, and the increased collaboration and risk taking I am seeing my staff demonstrate in their own professional learning. All these pieces are critical attributes of a successful school.”

“We will need to be better in our work, each and every day . . .  the good news is that educators are better at their work than they’ve ever been. Be brave about the work ahead, resilient in facing the challenges, and never stop advocating for those you represent,” she said.

Principal Spencer has big hopes for SBISD’s strategic plan, known as The Learner’s Journey, and its goal of personalization for all students. Personalized learning requires “a ton of work and a ton of mind shifting,” but she believes “it is moving the needle that much further toward doing what is right by kids.”

Bryan Williams, Spring Branch Middle

Spring Branch Middle Principal Bryan Williams said he is honored that his colleagues selected him to represent SBISD as its secondary Principal of the Year. “I feel humbled, I feel surprised, and I am in awe,” he said after Dr. Muri announced his latest honor during Feb. 13’s morning student announcements.

He credits his recent success to the entire Spring Branch Middle School team – teachers, staff, parents and community partners.

“I have been taught and firmly believe that there is no ‘I’ in team,” he said. “I define success as having a positive impact on student learning and student achievement, and ensuring that all of our students are prepared academically, socially and emotionally.”

“I also define success as inspiring our teachers to believe that what they do really matters and the work they do – day in and day out – really makes a difference in the lives of students they touch,” he also said.

In 2016, Principal Williams was recognized by the Austin-based educational partnership, Raise Your Hand Texas, after being chosen as one of 95 principals from across Texas for a leadership program sponsored by the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

He attended the weeklong National Institute for Urban School Leaders held at the Cambridge-, Mass., based graduate school last June. He was chosen after a rigorous, months-long interview process.

Earlier this year, Spring Branch Middle was selected as one of only 10 educational sites across the nation to join a first-year effort to rethink and reimagine what the form and content of the current classroom might be. “I’m excited about the work our school’s design team is exploring to create positive outcomes for all students,” the principal said.

As part of “human-centered design thinking” work sponsored by a redesign group called The Collaborative, Spring Branch Middle may test new options for the classroom, or pilot student programs, later this spring. The design process is supported through nonprofit funding.

Spring Branch Middle leader for six years now, Principal Williams was also an assistant principal at Spring Oaks Middle School. He has taught in Aldine ISD and Kansas City, Mo., schools, and he has also worked in his career as a family support specialist and coordinator.

He earned his doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Houston, and received his master’s degree in educational administration and an educational specialist degree from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Park University, located in Parkville, Mo.

A big-time believer in the Golden Rule’s “Treat others the way you would like to be treated,” he is an optimist, especially when it comes to all things Spring Branch Middle School. “I continue to look forward to creating a positive and healthy school culture and climate where all students at Spring Branch Middle experience success,” he said.


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