Spring Branch ISD Featured News

Reflection on kindness sparks Core Characteristics conversation



On the second day of school, Andrea Skaggs, a language arts teacher at Memorial Drive Elementary (MDE), excitedly prepared a literacy exercise for her students to introduce them to a new tool and assess their writing skills. The result? A confirmation of the powerful teaching and learning happening in the school. 

MDE's fifth grade class began its day reading The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy. The book follows a boy who wanders through the countryside, finding the animals from the title and conversing with them about kindness and friendship. Students then wrote a reflection through Canvas, the district's new learning management system.

"I had no idea how powerful our students' writings would be," said Skaggs. "This exercise showcases their excellent language arts skills and the ongoing academic work that's been taking place at MDE."

Skaggs and school educators are proud of the work for good reason and are not alone in seeing results. The district recently announced school ratings from the Texas Education Agency, confirming the incredible work of students and teachers before, during and since the pandemic.

In addition to academic achievement, Skaggs and school counselor Brandy Boza were equally excited to see student responses that included references to Spring Branch ISD's Core Characteristics of a T-2-4 Ready Graduate

The book highlights kindness, respect and empathy; characteristics that are essential in a student and long-term success. "These skills are especially important for students as they are transitioning into their middle school years," said Boza. 

The school is actively working to introduce and raise awareness about the Core Characteristics which are at the heart of SBISD's vision of T-2-4 for Every Child. That vision is for Every Child to attain a technical certificate, military training, or a two-year or four-year degree. 

"Our classrooms have posters on the walls with the Core Characteristics," said Boza. "It helps students understand what is expected of them by the time they leave elementary school." This awareness is critical to setting expectations for kids and ensuring they are on track for graduation with the skills necessary to succeed in the future.

Kai Sanderstead, a fifth grade student who participated in the exercise, says that the book helped him understand the importance of friendship and being kind to others. 

"This book taught me lessons that will help me in my future," said Sanders. "After reading this, I want to encourage other kids to always have empathy and be mindful of when someone is feeling down." 

Sanderstead thanks Boza and Skaggs for giving him and his classmates this assignment and mentions that everyone should learn to be kind and respect others. 

"Lessons like this are the basis of education," concluded Boza. "If our students are not feeling secure and respected, they won't be ready to learn." 

To learn more about SBISD's Core Characteristics, click here