The Spring ISD Board of Trustees on Tuesday voted on the appointment of two new board members – Carmen Correa and Natasha McDaniel – to fill the two positions left vacant by the retirement from the board in July of Donald Davis and Jana Gonzales.
Both Correa, who was named to Position 6, and McDaniel, named to Position 7, were sworn in during the meeting and will serve as appointees on the board through the Nov. 2 election, when both trustee positions will be on the ballot for a vote by district residents.
“Change on a local school board – including saying goodbye to former members – isn’t always easy, but we were fortunate to receive some wonderful applications from candidates who share our board’s passion for Spring ISD and the students and families who live here,” Board President Rhonda Newhouse said. “On behalf of my fellow school board members, I extend a warm Spring ISD welcome to both Trustee Correa and Trustee McDaniel. We’re excited to have them on the team.”
Correa is a 22-year resident of the district and longtime Spring ISD volunteer. Her volunteer work in the district includes serving as parent co-chair of the Spring ISD Student Health Advisory Council; serving as a member of the Spring ISD Parent Advisory Council and the Ponderosa Elementary School Parent Advisory Council; and serving as vice president and membership chair of the Ponderosa Elementary School PTA.
With a bachelor’s degree in global business management from the University of Phoenix, Correa also brings private-sector experience from previous jobs in the mortgage, financial services and business consulting industries. She has also been active in recent years as a volunteer math and English tutor and as an area youth sports league coach.
“I have a true passion for helping others,” said Correa, who also spoke about how her experience of community-focused volunteerism had helped strengthen her sense of empathy, together with a wish to more fully understand the needs and perspectives of others in order to work together and collaborate successfully.
“I feel that I can bring a unique perspective to the board,” she said, “along with a desire to be a part of positive change for the students and families of the district. I’m honored and excited to be a part of the board’s work.”
McDaniel, meanwhile, has lived in the district for almost 10 years, having arrived in the Spring area in 2011.
“After college, I moved from Ohio to Texas, on my own, seeking new opportunities, greater diversity, and a chance to pursue my dream of impacting the lives of children,” McDaniel said.
An experienced educator, with her bachelor of science in early childhood education from Bowling Green State University as well as a master’s in curriculum and instruction from Sam Houston State University, McDaniel has worked as an elementary school teacher, a language arts specialist and a district literacy coach in Aldine ISD. More recently, she served as a classroom management coach with a local educational nonprofit and worked with area teachers as a cohort leader for HB3 Reading Academies offered through the Region 4 Education Service Center.
“When I was a new teacher living in a new community, far from home, Spring welcomed me with open arms,” McDaniel said. “While most of my classroom experiences were in Aldine ISD, many of my kids transferred to and from Spring ISD during those years. I like to say, ‘All kids are our kids.’”
As a dedicated advocate for educational equity – especially for those from marginalized communities – McDaniel also took part in a 2020-21 fellowship program with Leadership ISD, a Dallas-based nonprofit that works to equip educators and other community members to advocate on behalf of academic excellence and equity at both the local and state level.
“With five years as a classroom teacher and five more spent training and coaching teachers, I offer a fresh perspective on the needs and voices of both students and teachers,” McDaniel said. “As a Leadership ISD alum, I’m also equipped with practical knowledge of school board governance, and I’m very excited to engage in effective conversations through an educational equity lens, including the area of racial equity.”
Spring ISD Superintendent Dr. Rodney E. Watson was among those who welcomed the newly appointed trustees when they were sworn in during Tuesday’s meeting. Afterward, he said he was looking forward to the contribution both would bring in their new roles with the school board.
“One of the things that really sets Spring ISD apart is how blessed we are by our community, in having so many residents who are so passionate about ensuring a quality education for every child, and who truly believe in the mission of our public schools,” Watson said. “Congratulations to our two newest trustees on their appointments, and I look forward to working with them as we recover from the pandemic year and strive to make our district the best it can be, for all students.”
After Davis and Gonzales announced their retirements earlier in the summer, the district put out an official call for applications from qualified candidates to fill the two unexpired terms. With applications due to the Spring ISD Office of the General Counsel on July 12, the district and the board then proceeded to review applications and meet with potential candidates before voting on the appointments.
In addition to basic age and U.S. citizenship requirements, all candidates for the vacant positions had to have resided continuously in the state of Texas for 12 months and within Spring ISD district boundaries for no less than six months prior to the date of appointment to the board. In addition, eligibility requirements also mandate that candidates be qualified voters who are currently registered to vote in the territory from which the office is elected.