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Each Thursday during the Special Language Summer School Program at Shadow Oaks Elementary, teacher Bridgette Stinnett greets prekindergarten and Kindergarten students in the parent drive and the hallways of the school dressed as a different kid-popular character.
Students with perfect attendance that week are entered into a drawing to have their photo taken with the character-of-the-week and receive a tee-shirt provided and decorated by Stinnett.
At five schools around Spring Branch ISD this summer, Special Language academies for about 750 young English language learners are underway each morning, Monday through Thursday through July 1. There is no cost for current Spring Branch ISD students to attend.
Classes are designed to improve students’ language development by immersing students in settings in which most of the content is taught using techniques that bridge the gaps between their primary languages and English. Reading stories, repeating rhymes, singing, and collaborative student projects that spark conversations are some of the strategies being used.
The site coordinator for the Special Language Program at Shadow Oaks, Carlos Ortiz said, “Our students need a sense of normalcy and I believe that the summer program is helping rebuild that. The emotional aspect for every single student is something that we cannot take for granted and we as educators need to do our best in making sure every student is ‘feeling right’ and if not, we must restore that feeling. Ms. Stinnett has helped us bring that sense of normalcy and safety.”
The pre-K and Kindergarten students attending the Shadow Oaks summer program go to four other Spring Branch ISD schools during the regular academic year.
“It must be overwhelming to a child to come to a new school not knowing who will be there or what it will be like,” Ortiz said. “Ms. Stinnett helps bring that assurance that everything will be fine by dressing up every Thursday and welcoming students.”
Stinnett is a product of Spring Branch ISD, and several members of her family have also worked in the district. She truly enjoys making a positive impact on the lives of students and her peers.
“As a Kindergarten teacher, I have spent my 27 years making it a priority to give my kiddos experiences that allow them to love school and, in the process, become learners,” she said. “My heart is all about having fun at school. Yes, there are tough things that we have to do, but we can also balance that with things that make lasting positive memories.”
Parading around Shadow Oaks this summer in her character-of-the-week costume excites students and staff, who seem to be “star struck.” She also visits each classroom in costume to have a photo taken with the whole class.
“I have been dressing up for my home campus (Westwood Elementary) for as long as I can remember,” Stinnett said. “It all started with me buying a lion mascot costume for our campus in 2005. It was a huge hit with kids, parents and teachers, too! It helped bring in more families to school events and more spirit to our school.”
She now owns 10 different character costumes.
During the first two Thursdays of summer school, Stinnett greeted kids and families wearing Minion and Olaf costumes. Students and staff will be surprised with two more friendly characters in the final two weeks of the summer program.
“There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the faces on the kids when they see and interact with me,” Stinnett added. “It is priceless!”
Thank you, Ms. Stinnett, for encouraging young learners and for using your Limitless Curiosity to encourage and motivate so many in the Spring Branch ISD family. We are #SBISDProud of you.