Spring Branch ISD Featured News

Beautiful new school buildings reflect great things happening inside

Students and staff arrived for Back to School at two completely new, rebuilt schools in Spring Branch ISD thanks to funding provided by the voter-approved 2017 Bond: Hunters Creek Elementary and Landrum Middle School. After the first week of the new school year, they are settling in to new, modern and well-designed spaces to learn and grow and into routines that also seem new.

Educators at Landrum Middle School and Hunters Creek Elementary have unique perspectives about the learning experiences to come in their new schools and classrooms. Read about their impressions:

Tracey Tomaro-McCall, a math intervention specialist at Hunters Creek, has worked in the district for 26 years. In her role, she goes to different grade level sections of the new school and works with students needing extra math supports or enrichments. She now is able to meet with them in the new community spaces (pods) just outside their classrooms. All pods and classrooms have active walls installed for interactive teaching and learning with technology.

“It is fabulous,” Tomaro-McCall said of the new school’s design. “The community spaces are great because students can see other students reading and working.” 

She said she likes seeing kids sitting in the pods reading and having conversations about their reading. The grade level pods can also be used to gather all the students for a whole group lesson before the students return to their individual classrooms or break into smaller groups to work on associated projects and assignments.

 

Spring Branch ISD’s 2021 Elementary Teacher of the Year Kayla (Gibson) Van Buren is an APPLE (Autism Program Preparing Learners for Excellence) teacher at Hunters Creek. Speaking of the new school year, she said, “Being in person with our students is a surge of relief and happiness.” 

To help the APPLE students adjust to the new school, she and her teaching assistants take the students on “motor breaks” throughout the day to walk around the school to locate the library, office, gym and other new spaces. 

“The huge new school is a lot to take in for my students,” Van Buren said, noting that the motor breaks help calm the students so that when they return to the classroom they are more prepared to learn.

The APPLE classroom at Hunters Creek is located in the same pod as Kindergarten classrooms. “I love that the Kindergarten students can see our students and start to build acceptance and awareness from day one,” Van Buren said. 

 

Landrum Middle School’s 2021 Teacher of the Year Eva Zapata says there are a lot of ‘firsts’ to get used to for staff and students, including navigating the stairways of the new, three-story campus since the previous campus was all one level.  

“We were all excited to get in here and get started,” she said while sitting in her new, brightly lit classroom. “The new library and courtyard are awesome, too,” she said.

“I feel a sense of Lion pride among staff and students,” Zapata said. “This school is something new that is theirs, which is not an opportunity many students have had.” 

Zapata is a Spring Branch ISD alumna, having graduated from Spring Woods High School (SWHS) in 2013. She now teaches 8th grade U.S. History. She was inspired to become a teacher by her own 8th and 11th grade U.S. History teachers Laura Davis (Spring Woods Middle School) and Lora Clay (SWHS).

 

Landrum health fitness teacher and volleyball coach Amanda Houston, also a SWHS alumna (2008), is part of a multi-generational family whose many members also work or have worked in Spring Branch ISD.

In this new school there are two second-floor gyms; one for boys’ and one for girls’ health fitness classes and athletic programs. “The state-of-the-art gym has brought pride back to our program,” she said. “And it has lit a fire in the volley ball team by getting them pumped up for the season.” 

She is very thankful to the Spring Branch ISD Board of Trustees and the community who approved the Bond in 2017 and is excited that Landrum Middle School now brings new pride into the community.

“The building is beautiful, but also it is the great things happening INSIDE that are special,” Houston said noting that the school’s theme for the year is PRIDE. “The new school lifts the spirits of the students and community, and gives them a statement piece that says, ‘We believe in you. You deserve this.’