Superintendent Dr. Rodney E. Watson and the Board of Trustees – collectively referred to as Spring ISD’s Team of Eight – joined together to unveil the district’s new strategic direction, called Every Student—Every Teacher—Every Day, just a day before the district welcomed back all of its 33,000 students to campus for the 2021-22 school year.
The new plan was designed to build upon the work already accomplished and underway as part of the district’s EveryChild 2020 strategic plan, released in 2015, less than a year after Watson became the district’s superintendent.
“Spring has a rich history and an engaged community. Back in 2015, we saw the need to develop a five-year strategic plan in which every aspect of the plan would be student-centered, that would be about every child,” said Board President Rhonda Newhouse, going on to describe a few of the challenges the district had faced since then – including the pandemic and natural disasters such as Hurricane Harvey – and how the vision and mission set forth at that time had guided Spring ISD’s work to serve students and the community.
“Now those years are behind us, and it is time that we build a new plan designed to build upon the work already accomplished in the district’s EveryChild 2020 plan.”
In introducing Every Student—Every Teacher—Every Day, the superintendent said that the decision to release the plan on the eve of the start of the 2021-22 school year was intentional, considering the district’s goal of focusing on student outcomes in spite of the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we continue to move forward with the work here in Spring ISD,” Watson said, “we are confident that the plan that we’re putting forth will definitely guide us as we make the needed growth and gains.”
As explained during the presentation by the superintendent and members of the board, Every Student—Every Teacher—Every Day lays out six key priorities: Student Outcomes, Equity, Opportunities, Leadership, Well-Being and Engagement. Within each priority, there are also key imperatives and commitments that establish the district’s focus.
In discussing the various priorities of the plan, trustees connected its high-level strategic elements to the day-to-day work done with students, including at the district’s specialty schools and programs, which are helping to make additional opportunities and choices accessible for students across the district.
“So, the prong of our priorities dealing with opportunities is really about expanding academic offerings so students can explore, learn and excel,” said Trustee Winford Adams Jr., going on to discuss the district’s growing number of schools of choice as well as new specialty programs being offered within zoned neighborhood campuses, such as the International Baccalaureate program at Springwoods Village Middle School, the Bailey School for the Performing and Visual Arts at Bailey Middle School, the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) at Dekaney High School, and the district’s newly launched School for International Studies at Bammel, which will eventually be Spring ISD’s first pre-K–8 campus.
Describing the System of Great Schools (SGS) strategy that was helping inform the district’s current development of these types of programs, Adams said, “It’s a district-level problem solving approach that we are using to analyze and understand school performance and community demand, and deliver the schools families want and need in their communities.”
Touching on the topic of leadership within the district – another of the plan’s six priorities – Trustee Justine Durant explained how the district’s leadership definition was encouraging the development of leadership pipelines and pathways to identify high potential everywhere within the organization.
“In Spring ISD, we believe that everyone is a leader,” Durant said. “We identify and support leaders across every level within the district.”
She went on to explain that the district’s emphasis on strong leaders and ongoing leadership development – including ensuring excellent principals and administrators at each campus – also encompasses an emphasis on making sure current and emerging district leaders are outcome-driven, service-oriented, and relationship-centered.
“We have to set clear direction, clear opportunities, and support where the leadership is functioning and where we need to add additional education or additional training,” Durant said. “Whatever we need to invest to ensure that every individual has what they need to be successful.”
Introducing well-being as another of the plan’s priorities, Trustee Dr. Deborah Jensen stressed the importance of ensuring that schools are welcoming, safe environments where students’ social and emotional needs are met, which she explained was a critical foundation for learning to take place.
“This is why well-being is one of our strategic priorities,” Jensen said, “so that we can build the child up and they can achieve all they can do.”
Trustee Kelly P. Hodges, meanwhile, discussed the role of quality engagement with stakeholders and community members and how this engagement – which she described as a two-way street between the district and those it serves – was important to successful schools and successful students.
“Engagement is an integral part of the success of Spring ISD,” Hodges said. “So we encourage our parents, business owners, and all who have a vested interest in the community to get involved and to stay engaged.”
In introducing the theme of equity, Adams related Spring ISD’s decision last year to commission an equity audit of the district in order to identify areas where the district might be falling short in its efforts to serve the unique needs of every student on every campus.
“What we want to do going forward is eliminate any inequities in access to opportunities for our children, and continuously raise the level of achievement for all of our children,” he said. “So that means we’re going to be working to eliminate academic outcome disparities across the groups, and ensuring that personal characteristics – whether real or perceived – don’t predict any individual’s educational outcomes.”
Adams explained that staff, students, parents and guardians, and the entire community would work together to promote a culture of equity and high expectations for all students – a theme that the superintendent returned to again during his own summary at the end of the presentation.
“We believe that if we set the goals high enough that we will reach our goal of having a Spring ISD graduate who is a lifelong learner, a critical thinker, and a responsible citizen who displays good character, ready to contribute, compete and lead in today’s global society,” Watson said.
“Next month we’ll be coming back to our community to talk about specific metrics that we will be using to measure each of these actions,” he said. “With that, we thank you for supporting us through EveryChild 2020, and we transition to Every Student—Every Teacher—Every Day. Thank you.”