The School Zone: News

#IAMSBISD Awards issued for Class of 2020 Graduation held outdoors at Tully Stadium and for the recent opening of the District Employee Childcare Program

Several teams of Spring Branch ISD employees were honored recently at separate Board of Trustees meetings for special efforts to achieve two key goals resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on students, families and district teachers and staff members.

At Sept. 29 and August 24 Board meetings, individuals and teams earned #IAMSBISD Awards for two events. One involved the Class of 2020 Graduations held over the week of June 1-6 at Tully Stadium outdoors. Another involved the successful opening of the District Employee Childcare Program located at the East Transition Center.

#IAMSBISD: Class of 2020 Graduations

IAMSBISD recipients

At the Sept. 29th Board of Trustees meeting, a special presentation event was held to issue #IAMSBISD awards to more than 30 individuals and teams for working on virtual graduation plans, and then in-person events held at SBISD’s Tully Stadium during the first week in June.

Trustee Josef Klam in special remarks said, “Once we knew that in-person graduations at Don Coleman Coliseum could not happen due to the COVID-19 pandemic, teams of Spring Branch employees engaged in planning virtual graduation ceremonies and celebrations. Weeks of planning had already occurred when it became possible for outdoor graduations to be held at Tully Stadium.

“This group jumped on the opportunity to give our students a full, if different, in-person graduation experience, and our Class of 2020 received their diplomas in a beautiful ceremony outside of Tully Stadium – in full regalia, caps and gowns, and with the addition of campus-specific masks to mark their milestone moments,” he added.

SBISD staff members were then recognized – as individuals and as larger teams – by district leaders. Associate Superintendent for Community Relations Linda Buchman echoed Trustee Klam’s high praise for what was done for outdoor Graduation.

“If I had not been an active listener on all the dozens of Zooms, and hours and hours of planning that took place to give thousands of kids the opportunity to walk across the stage and get their diploma, I would not have believed it would happen, but it did, and it was remarkable! And that there was only one minor rain delay.

“I don’t believe there is another district in the state of Texas, much less the nation, that could have pulled off as magnificently, as eloquently, and with so much grace and style, what our teams did to make Graduation 2020 happen,” she said before introducing other Senior Staff.

SBISD’s Associate Superintendent for Administration and Talent and Operations Karen Heeth issued awards to employees and leadership from Athletics, Safety and Security, Nursing, Police Dept., Maintenance, Planning and Construction. 

Award recipients from these departments included Paige HersheyCheryl EtlingerMike StokebrandDwayne EggermanDavid HughesRandolph AdamiJudy ChristophersonJames MoraTravis Stanford, and Sgt. Dwayne Hernandez.  

Community Superintendent Bryan Williams honored the participation and work of high school principals and registrars. Campus registrars honored were Candice AyalaDiane BalchNancy EspinoGene RutlandTyita Webband Julianne Bernard. Principals recognized included Lisa WeirJennifer CollierValerie MunizRaymorris Barnesand Tony Avalos. Accepting on behalf of retiree Donna Burnett and staff member Adrina Vines was Keith Haffey.

Associate Superintendent for Technology Christina Masick detailed some of the issues involved in a big, outdoor summertime event held for a first time. She honored more than a dozen staff members.

“I am so proud of the tech team that pulled off the area’s first outdoor graduation,” she said. “We proved to be the model for the City of Houston and other surrounding Graduation events.”

The June heat resulted in issues. “How hot was it?” Masick asked rhetorically. “There were casualties that happened on the first day. We lost Camera No. 5 and a laptop because the temperatures on the field exceeded well over 100 degrees,” she said. 

That was before rains and lightning occurred one day before a Graduation. “Technology equipment and heat and water don’t go together. What does go together are the many technology staff members who exemplify SBISD Collective Greatness,” she said.

The associate superintendent cited district employees in areas ranging from networking and special events to campus techs who helped run field cables, upgrade network switches, and implement the high-definition live streaming seen on the Jumbotron stadium screen and by families watching at home on digital devices.

Technology Team recognitions included Petra AguinagaPaul CharbullChristian CastellonGerry DiazAllen GuzmanKyle MickelsonNosa OgbeideKhalid PhillipBrent MartinEric UrteagaRoland Muniz and Filiberto Montes.

Associate Superintendent Buchman recognized several Communications Team members who helped with planning, event camera coverage and a variety of related messaging and publicity concerns. Recognitions include Paul BryantMelissa Wiland and on behalf of the team, Steve Brunsman.

#IAMSBISD: District Employee Childcare Program

IAMSBISD recipients

At the August 24th Board of Trustees meeting, several district employees were honored with #IAMSBISD special recognition awards for their efforts to meet the childcare needs of district employees due to the continuing pandemic.

The first #IAMSBISD award issued in several months highlighted work involved in opening the district’s new employee childcare program, located at the current East Transition Center. The renovated center now occupies the former site of the Edgewood Elementary School.

During an in-person, socially distanced Board meeting held inside the Northbrook High School auditorium, Board Vice President Chris Gonzalez praised the center concept, development and August opening.  

“Tonight,” Gonzalez said, “begins one of many celebrations of [SBISD’s] Collective Greatness. We recognize some very special, superlative employees who collaborated and thought outside of the box to conceive, develop and execute an amazing plan that made today possible for several hundred SBISD colleagues and their children.”

Sharee Cantrell, SBISD’s director of early childhood education and one of several honorees, noted in a special video about the childcare center that time-sensitive opening of the site required great coordination.

“With COVID-19, one thing is certain: We cannot deliver an excellent educational experience for every child without the help of our wonderful employees,” Cantrell stated.

The new SBISD Childcare Program serves the children of district employees ages 6 weeks through fifth grade. Childcare rooms are staffed with a teacher and teacher assistant, and distance learning is supported for elementary students. 

Local, state and national health and safety guidelines, as well as social distancing, are part of the center’s regular practice and protocols.

SBISD Associate Superintendents Kristin Craft and Travis Stanford, who lead Academics and Construction and

Planning and Operations, respectively, helped celebrate the August 24 opening. Childcare center work began only months before in June.

“Our employees live all over the greater Houston region,” reported Associate Superintendent Craft. “As each school district was announcing their return to school plans, we saw early on the need for flexibility and creativity. Principals were concerned about what SBISD teachers would do if their child’s district did not have the same schedule as ours.

“We needed to build a program to support infants and the needs of elementary students. We literally built this program from scratch,” Dr. Craft added. Support from the district came from multiple divisions.

Associate Superintendent Stanford noted that maintenance and custodial teams spent many hours and weekends to be sure the building was ready and safe for operation. Construction and Planning’s team helped meet tight timelines, and even furniture and equipment needs met goals quickly.

Employees recognized with #IAMSBISD awards from operations and planning, maintenance and custodial include James MoraMax Buja and Gerald McCall.

Employees recognized from the Academics area include Sharee CantrellLynn Austin, and Deirdre Glover.