The School Zone: News

Dear SBISD Families, Students, Colleagues and Community Members,

Last Friday, in accordance with guidance issued by Governor Abbott, I announced that we will continue remote instruction through the end of our planned school year. While I appreciate the Governor’s decision to prioritize our community’s health, I share the disappointment of parents, students and colleagues that our SBISD family will miss being back together in person for the last weeks of the school year. I am deeply sorry that this is all happening around us, and I wish I could wave a magic wand to make things return to the normalcy we have always known and now cherish even more.

While the way that we work and learn has changed, the spirit of what makes SBISD so special has in no way diminished. Our community’s Collaborative Spirit and Collective Greatness is stronger than ever. With this in mind, my message today is about celebration. For, despite our current situation, we have so much to celebrate. 

Teacher of the Year Finalists

This is an exciting week to celebrate our superlative educators! Six campus Teachers of the Year have been named as Finalists by our Teacher of the Year Committee. They now will go on to compete in our district Teacher of the Year competition.

Please join me in congratulating and celebrating our outstanding SBISD Elementary and Secondary Teacher of the Year Finalists. They are:

Elementary Teacher of the Year Finalists

  • Kathryn McCracken, Meadow Wood Elementary
  • Claire Rottino, Woodview Elementary
  • Andrea Gilmore, Memorial Drive Elementary

Secondary Teacher of the Year Finalists

  • Crystal Fain, Stratford High
  • Kate Waldorf, Spring Branch Middle
  • Yolanda Matthews-Porter, The Guthrie Center

Learn more about these amazing educators and the Teacher of the Year selection process here.

Celebrating the Class of 2020

The SBISD Class of 2020 is a special group of nearly 2,900 students we look forward to celebrating in the weeks ahead. These students are particularly resilient, enduring Hurricane Harvey and now facing a different end to high school than planned due to a global pandemic.

Yesterday, I “Zoomed” with our senior class officers, leaders and high school principals to explain the restrictions we face, and to discuss the ideas we have been considering to ensure a memorable and meaningful, yet different, graduation experience. The students asked great questions, offered excellent insights and helped shape our final plan. Our students never cease to amaze me- their maturity, insight, compassion, wisdom and empathy left me humbled and proud.

Before the end of the week, I will share a specific message with our seniors and their families outlining our Class of 2020 graduation plans.

Volunteers Make a Difference

It is National Volunteer Week, and a great opportunity for me to thank and celebrate the more than 11,000 SBISD volunteers who give tirelessly of themselves on behalf of our students, schools, the Spring Branch Education Foundation and the district.

Not including countless hours spent outside the school day on our behalf, SBISD volunteers logged over 171,000 hours of service through March 12! While national metrics on the value of a volunteer hour affirm our volunteers’ collective service equates to more than $4.4 million, to me, every minute spent on behalf of our 35,000 students is priceless!

Whether you have served as a mentor or tutor, helped out in the office or library, worked a concession stand, planned a carnival, or made sure our kids have weekend meals, we appreciate and value your effort, time and contribution to the lives of our children. From the bottom of my heart - thank you!

Celebrating Collective Greatness

Last Friday at our Board of Trustees Retreat, district leaders shared highlights of the work that has been happening over the past weeks as we have transitioned swiftly to working and learning remotely.

Critically important are our 2,200 teachers who continue to support student learning at home. They continue to be our frontline heroes, providing countless hours of online instruction, planning, lesson development, parent outreach and more, as they help our children continue to learn in myriad new ways. They have truly embodied SBISD’s Limitless Curiosity core value, as have our families and students. We never stop learning and growing! 

Here are just a few highlights of our SBISD team’s recent efforts to support our students and families:

  • Through a robust outreach effort, our school teams have connected with 98% of our students.
  • Our Academics and Communications teams have curated and posted five weeks of Digital Backpack curriculum for grades PK-12. There have been over 160,000 clicks into the Digital Backpack content in four weeks!
  • Child Nutrition Services staff have served over 112,000 meals over the past four weeks.
  • Our Talent team has hosted online Meet & Greets, participated in virtual Job Fairs and has conducted 111 remote interviews to continue hiring the brightest and best teachers for next school year.
  • Communities in Schools of Houston (CIS) staff members housed at SBISD campuses have provided 2,158 students with over 2,000 hours of direct student services and have made 4,043 referrals to 253 partner agencies.
  • 2017 Bond construction work continues, and in some places has accelerated while our facilities are closed.

As I stated to the seniors when we Zoomed yesterday, my father always taught me that you can choose to focus on what you cannot control and feel defeated, or you can focus on what you can control and how you choose to respond. I am so proud that the SBISD Family has chosen the latter.

Have a healthy rest of the week. For our families and staff beginning the observation of Ramadan, I wish you a meaningful holiday.

With appreciation,

Jennifer Blaine, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

  • Class of 2020
  • Superintendent's message