HOUSTON – March 6, 2019 – Spring ISD held its third round of Central Support Staff Meetings for the 2018-19 school year on Wednesday, with employees receiving updates on district news, projects and current initiatives. During the meetings, held at the Gordon M. Anderson Leadership Center Boardroom and at the district’s Transportation Center, Superintendent Dr. Rodney E. Watson welcomed staff and introduced a Spring Break-related icebreaker activity before his main presentation on a range of topics.
“This is a good opportunity for us to get together and talk about what’s going on in the district,” Watson told attendees during the meeting.
His presentation started with a look at current opportunities and challenges for the district. This included a snapshot overview of recent enrollment trends both for Spring ISD and the area. In looking at area-wide declines in new student enrollment, coupled with the rising presence of nearby charter schools, the superintendent said that districts like Spring ISD need to innovate and respond in creative ways to meet evolving student needs.
Watson discussed positive trends in several testing areas for Spring ISD students – including significant gains in the number of third graders reading at level – along with investments the district has been making in special education resources, targeted professional development for teachers, increased student access to AP and Pre-AP coursework and AP testing, and early childhood programs like Smart Start.
On the horizon, Watson discussed a variety of bond-related projects and other initiatives, including the district’s new teacher professional development center opening this spring, the replacement district stadium opening later this summer, the introduction of ninth-grade centers currently scheduled for 2020, and the expansion of specialty middle school programs now underway to serve students at a critical juncture in their education.
Employees were also reminded to mark their calendars for several upcoming events, including the district’s annual Fun Run and Wellness Fair on March 23 (with registration still open to staff, students, families and community members) and the Spring ISD Livestock Show and Fair coming up on March 28-30.
During the meetings, Watson also took the opportunity to recognize 10 staff members whose contributions had been singled out due to their impact on the district. Each employee – nominated by fellow staff members and supervisors based on their significant contributions – was given a special recognition certificate and a commemorative Spring ISD mug.
- Ana Garcia (Financial Services) was recognized for her work as Spring ISD Finance Specialist. Having previously worked on a campus, Garcia brings both valuable experience and an ability to empathize with the needs of campus personnel, Watson said. He also praised her efforts following Hurricane Harvey, when she assisted campuses in replacing supplies lost during the storm and assisted with FEMA claims. She was thanked for her commitment to operational excellence and her focus on outstanding customer service.
- Rony Canales (Communications) was singled out for his professionalism, his team spirit and good humor, and his commitment to excellence. As a web specialist, Canales helped create a custom solution to manage donations for Spring ISD’s State of the District Take-Home Book Bag fundraising campaign, while also boosting the district’s ability to create special web landing pages that are visually engaging and easy to navigate. In recognizing Canales, Watson noted, “He genuinely enjoys helping others and always brings a smile to the office.”
- Valeria Salinas (Communications) was recognized for her work to develop the district’s social media reach, nearly doubling Spring ISD’s Instagram followers over the past six months. Salinas was also recognized for her work as an interpreter and translator on behalf of Spanish-speaking families. Whether translating urgent parent messages, offering interpretation services at school and community meetings, or performing day-to-day tasks, Salinas “always brings an upbeat and positive attitude to every task or assignment,” Watson said. “She exemplifies wonderful customer service, and she always treats everyone with dignity and respect.”
- Tyesha Coleman (Human Resources) has made a number of significant contributions to the district in her role as Substitute Coordinator, and the superintendent singled her out for several specific projects, including cleaning up the substitute pool to ensure accurate and up-to-date listings; organizing a substitute in-service event; revamping the Substitute Handbook; hosting the district’s first Substitute Recognition gathering; and currently planning Spring ISD’s first-ever “Sub of the Year” award. Coleman’s work “makes a real impact on our campuses,” said Watson. “Armed with a clear vision of what needs to be accomplished, she will go out and make it happen.”
- Abel Salazar (Operations, Audio Visual) was recognized for his work as a dedicated member of the Operations Department’s maintenance team, focusing on audio-visual support. Regularly called on to step in and answer urgent equipment needs all around the district – and sometimes at all hours – Salazar “consistently displays excellence in all his work,” Watson said, adding, “He is prompt and courteous with everyone he meets and deals with. He exemplifies service excellence.”
- Lorie Mills (Planning and Construction) has only been Project Coordinator with the district for a year, but, Watson said, had already made her mark as an integral part of the Planning and Construction Department. “Whether it means staying late to balance the budgets, or stepping up to support the Project Managers,” Watson told the audience, “she always accepts new responsibilities with a smile and is consistently willing to go the extra mile to ensure successful outcomes for all involved.”
- Shake Mohamed (Building Operations) was recognized for his work as small engines repair person for the Building Operations Department. Having held a number of titles during his years with the district, Mohamed was praised for consistently displaying a “Whatever It Takes” attitude, as well as for his deep expertise and know-how and his positive approach. “When you see the floors in our facilities shine and the carpeted areas looking good and clean,” Watson said, “you can bet he had something to do with it.”
- Officer Clyde Spradlin (Spring ISD Police Department) was honored as an 18-year district veteran whose dedication makes him an asset to the district and its police force. In his work at both elementary and secondary campuses, Watson thanked Spradlin for consistently going above and beyond the call of duty – helping students with their schoolwork, building positive relationships with students and staff, and clearly communicating how district officers help keep students safe. “He has been caught ‘doing something great’ many times out on the campuses,” Watson said.
- Matthew Pariseau (Special Education) was recognized for being a strong district leader who exemplifies the Spring Way Core Values in his day-to-day work and interactions. Watson in particular praised Pariseau for his commitment to constant learning and improvement, as well as for displaying a sense of compassion and purpose as an advocate for students and student achievement. “He approaches all he does with a ‘whatever it takes’ attitude,” Watson said. “Many aspects of our Special Education Department have been highly impacted by his leadership.” Watson added that Pariseau’s can-do spirit regularly inspires and motivates others as well. “This is not just a job, but his mission.”
- Stacy Parker (Curriculum & Instruction) received the day’s final award for her work as the district’s director of elementary curriculum. Parker was praised for her commitment to excellence, her effective and honest communication, her careful research, and her ongoing commitment to best practices. In presenting the recognition, Watson also noted Parker’s sense of humor and knack for encouraging others, saying that she makes a habit of being approachable and leading others by example. “She is thorough in her vision, not only for Spring lSD, but also for her team,” Watson said.
Employees at the Central Support Staff Meetings had the opportunity to pose questions, with several inquiring about the status of specific bond projects and district facilities.
Following the recognitions, the superintendent shared a video produced for Spring ISD’s State of the District event. Whatever their position in the district, Watson encouraged employees to reflect on the State of the District theme – “Higher Purpose, Greater Achievement” – and how it connected to their own work.
“I want to challenge you to think about why you do what you do,” he said, “to connect with that higher purpose day in and day out.”