The School Zone: News


On the brink of choosing high school courses and Endorsements, all Spring Branch ISD (SBISD) eighth graders (over 2,100) attended one of three scheduled Career Days in January to give direction to their high school and professional career choices. 

All campus groups of eighth graders attended a half-day visit to the district’s Guthrie Center to learn about Career & Technology class offerings. During the other half of their school day they were transported to the South Transition Campus to hear from professionals working in four different career fields. 

Prior to entering high school, students in Texas select one of five Endorsements that will consist of a related series of courses that align with students’ interests and career aspirations: 

  • Science/Technology/Engineering/Math
  • Business and Industry
  • Public Service
  • Arts and Humanities
  • Multidisciplinary Studies

Later in the month, eighth grade students in SBISD will tour the high schools to which they are zoned to attend. Their parents are invited to informational presentations as well.

“Spring Branch ISD offers a wealth of programs and courses for high school students,” said Lance Stallworth, SBISD executive director of Student Support Services. “We want our 8th graders to be well informed about those opportunities and how they fit with each student’s passions and interests." 

“Events like our Career Day and Guthrie Center visit provide our students an opportunity to engage with professionals and teachers as they think about their high school course selection and post-secondary aspirations,” he said.

“Find what you love and do what makes you happy,” said Career Day presenter Aaron Gillaspie, CEO of Willis Park Corporation and former teacher/principal/superintendent of schools in a New York district.  “If you become the best at what you do, you can make a lot of money.”

During The Guthrie Center portion of their day, the middle school students heard and saw brief presentations from teachers and current students about the school’s 15 different programs during a walking tour of the facility. 

“We work very hard in this program,” said Film Making program teacher Michael Ortiz. “We expect quality work from our students.”

The visiting students learned that many programs at The Guthrie Center offer entry-level certifications to assist graduates in finding jobs in these fields after graduation.

“Think about it: You can start working right after graduation and earn money while going to college,” said one of the Cosmetology program seniors.

When asked which of the programs he found most interesting during his Guthrie Center visit, a middle school student said, “I have about 10 favorites so far.”

During the eighth graders’ Career Day experience, more than 80 professionals from SBISD community and partner organizations shared their #Collaborative Spirt, an SBISD Core Value, to bring visions of future career possibilities to their middle school audiences.

“These kids are our future,” said Michele Carfello of the Texas Bankers Association. “I am happy to share my story in hopes it will plant some seeds in their minds about what is possible for their careers.”

The professionals who spoke represented a wide variety of industries, including: respiratory therapy, realty, law, small business owners, oil and gas, dentistry, law enforcement, banking, marketing, financial services, human resources, photography, art museum management, faith-based and community service providers, and many more. 

“Career Day would not have been possible without the support of our incredible community partners and district team members,” said Abby Walker, coordinator of Strategic Partnerships and Volunteers. “This event was a testament their belief in #Every Child [one of the district’s core values], and we are very grateful for the gift of their time and talents.”

“When I saw the email requesting speakers for Career Day, I knew this was my opportunity to give back to SBISD,” said Miguel Hernandez from CITGO, a child immigrant to the U.S. and a 1991 graduate from the district’s Northbrook High School. “I want the students to know that going for their dreams might be difficult but not impossible.” 

The speakers also advised the eighth graders what they should do now and in high school to prepare for career pathways. 

“Find examples of people you want to be like, get to know them, emulate them,” said Gillaspie.  “This will help you to know what great looks like.”

“People skills are important to develop,” said photographer and small business owner Cindy Crawford. “I like to find the good in every person.”

One of the middle school teachers accompanying the students from her campus said, “Only about 50 percent of the students know what they want to be when they grow up. Days like this will really open their eyes to many possibilities.”

The Houston Junior Achievement (JA) team assisted with the SBISD Career Day by recruiting some presenters, providing refreshments in the hospitality room and aiding with the event logistics. 

Each student received a copy of JA Inspire (Career Exploration Guide) featuring exercises for choosing and making a plan for a promising occupation, personal professionalism tips, how to prepare an elevator pitch, and more. 

Other event sponsors included HEB, The Abby at Memorial, BP Women’s Wells Association and Chick-fil-A Dairy Ashford.

Thorough, behind-the-scenes planning and logistics helped to smoothly move and engage over 2,100 eighth graders to two different sites on tight schedules each of the three days. The success of the experience also relied upon the #Collaborative Spirit of teams from the SBISD departments of Transportation, Custodial Services, Facilities, Child Nutrition Services, Student Support Services and Community Relations.

If you would like to support or participate in the 2020 Career Day program, please contact Abby Walker, Coordinator for Volunteers & Strategic Partnerships at

Read more about Career Day here.

Submitted by Becky Wuerth, SBISD Communications