Spring Branch ISD Featured News

Memorial High School valedictorian embodies Core Characteristics


Last year, Memorial High School (MHS) student Carolyn Branca founded a club called Dyslexia-NOW as a place where students with dyslexia could support one another and share tips and tricks for learning strategies and self-advocating when help is needed.

“What prompted me to start this group was my experience in elementary and middle school,” Branca said. “My grades were not a reflection of my intelligence, but rather a lack of self-advocacy and accommodations.”

Once her middle school teachers made teaching and learning adjustments for Branca, her pathways with dyslexia were a lot easier. “As a result, I went from a C student to a straight A student, and now am one of the valedictorians at Memorial High School,” she said.

Members of the MHS club, which Branca continues to lead in her senior year, exhibit the Core Characteristics of being Ethical & Service-minded by giving back to the Spring Branch ISD community through service projects such as book drives, fundraisers and meeting with elementary students to help them build communication skills and confidence.

Branca has also expanded opportunities for students at other Spring Branch ISD schools to form their own dyslexia groups, which are also part of a district-wide Dyslexia Student Union (DSU).

“From learning how to advocate to little tips and tricks I had to learn, I wish someone could have shared their experiences with me,” Branca said of her initiative to form the DSU. “This sparked my idea to create an organization throughout the district as something that could help young dyslexics and even older members, too.”

Any student with dyslexia is welcome to join the DSU. The first district-level meeting of the school year is during Dyslexia Awareness Month; Oct. 28 at Memorial Middle School. Text @dsu2021 to 81010 to join the group and receive meeting details, other messages and information.

“We aim to build a stable network of dyslexic students, so members do not feel alone in their challenges,” Branca said. “The main reason I wanted to form the group, especially for younger members, is to teach everyone how to advocate for themselves. Advocacy was key in not only helping me achieve but enjoy learning.”

Branca is also a ballet dancer, and plans to major at college in business/law with a minor in dance. She has been accepted to the University of Texas, and is awaiting news from other out-of-state universities. She says that organizing the dyslexia groups has provided her with leadership skills like time management.

”I would say a lot of time management skills were created by my pathway with dyslexia -- figuring out a study plan and putting in the time and work to earn [good] grades.” 

Spring Branch ISD has established a list of Core Characteristics of a T-2-4 Graduate that outline who we aspire students to become:  

  • Academically Prepared
  • Ethical & Service-Minded
  • Empathetic & Self-Aware
  • Persistent & Adaptable
  • Resourceful Problem Solver
  • Communicator & Collaborator

We are #SBISDProud of Carolyn Branca for embodying each of these Core Characteristics!