The School Zone: News

By Becky Wuerth, SBISD Communications  

Hundreds of fresh, new faces gathered for new Employee Orientation at Northbrook High School at the start of a new month (Aug. 1) and a new school year.

The employees heard Dr. Muri via Skype about the good choices they made to work in Spring Branch ISD! They heard about the district’s Core Values, the T-2-4 Goal, the Strategic Plan, the family culture of the district, and the functions of each division on the SBISD organization chart.

Networking with each other, SBISD department personnel and District partners, the new employees created a buzz in The Commons area of NHS.

Let’s meet a few of the new faces who have arrived in SBISD with various levels of experience. We will follow their progress and growth throughout this school year, so stay tuned.

Christian De Los Santos will be a teacher at Treasure Forest Elementary this school year. He has come full circle since doing his student teaching in SBISD 25 years ago.

“I am so happy to be back in SBISD,” said Mr. De Los Santos.  I want to bring all the resources and connections I have made throughout my career to the students and families of Treasure Forest.”

Along the way, he has been a teacher, an administrator, a migrant program director, an Alternative Certification Program trainer, a health fair organizer and more. These experiences are sure to enrich the students, families and programs of Treasure Forest.

Patricia Mason will be a bus driver for routes in the Stratford, Memorial Middle and Sherwood Elementary school zones. She is happy to be a rehire in the Transportation Department now that the buses have air conditioning. In this way, she, too, is having a fresh start with SBISD.

“I really like SBISD,” said Ms. Mason. “I will be driving bus #72,” she added with pride. “I also really like Ms. Sherri [Lawson] and Ms. Laurie [Kadell],” the Transportation Director and Route Supervisor, respectively.

Ms. Mason’s winning smile, her cool demeanor and previous experience will translate into pleasant rides for each of her students this year.

Welcome back to the SBISD family, Ms. Mason.

The dynamic duo of Winston Rathey and John Vu, with the Facility Services Department, each have connections to SBISD that drew them to want to work here as delivery drivers, equipment and furniture movers and to help with set-up for district events — such as New Employee Orientation!

Mr. Rathey’s daughter is a student at Spring Forest Middle School and Mr. Vu is graduate of Northbrook High School. In effect, they were part of the SBISD family before becoming employees here. 

Mr. Vu, whose former career was as a CAD jewelry designer said, “I didn’t just want to sit at a desk anymore.” They will be working the afternoon/evening shift, so if you see them at your next event, get to know these new, friendly members of the SBISD family.

Officer Daniel Vela, a new officer with the SBISD Police Department, might run into Mr. Vu and Mr. Rathey as he conducts night patrols around district facilities. He is a former fireman and fire marshal, as well as a master peace officer.

“I heard good things about Spring Branch, and its family-oriented culture,” Officer Vela explained when asked why he came to work here.

As a teenager in the Pasadena area, teachers were a huge support for him after the death of his mother when he took on the responsibility of raising his three younger siblings. He struggled to stay awake in class because he worked full time at night. 

“Teachers really mold our students. I can still name all the teachers I ever had,” said Officer Vela. “But, if I ever win the lottery, I am going to share it with my Government/Economics teacher who really helped me during that tough time. She allowed me to sleep as long as I kept up my grades—I got an A in her class!”

He continues to be involved with the National Latino Police Department Association, organizing fundraisers to support scholarships for students, including some SBISD students in the past.

We thank Officer Vela for his service keeping our facilities and staff safe, and for joining the SBISD family.

Two Teach for America (TFA) program teachers have been placed at Treasure Forest Elementary this school year. Lacey Mailman will be teaching Kindergarten and Catherine Etienne will teach fourth grade ESL with ELA and social studies content. Ms. Mailman hails from New Hampshire and came into the TFA program from working at various non-profit organizations in Colorado and Texas.

“TFA attracts young professionals who want to make a difference in high needs schools with a goal to end inequities in education,” said Ms. Mailman. 

Ms. Etienne is from Cape Cod, Mass., about 165 miles away from Smith College where she graduated last spring.

“I joined TFA because I really wanted to change the narrative of public education,” said Ms. Etienne.

As they settle in to their new SBISD family, these two new teachers are excited to make positive impacts this fall with each of their students and their families.

These are just a few of the many stories that filled the New Employee Orientation spaces on Aug. 1. We hope they enjoy working alongside other SBISD family members as we, with Collective Greatness, serve Every Child.