During the district’s first Central Support Staff Meetings of the 2021-22 school year held on Wednesday, Spring ISD Superintendent Dr. Rodney E. Watson and other district leaders met with employees to talk about Spring ISD’s new strategic plan, COVID-19 and its effects on the district, and how central support staff members can implement service-oriented leadership in support of campuses and the broader community.
“At the end of the day, it’s important that we all understand that every role – every role that each of you have in this district – is an important role, and is needed to make sure we have a stronger Spring ISD,” Watson told employees during the morning session.
In discussing the new strategic plan – Every Student—Every Teacher—Every Day – Watson spoke about how it was designed to build on the district’s existing mission and vision through an enhanced focus on six strategic priorities – student outcomes, equity, well-being, leadership, opportunities, and engagement. He urged all staff to think about how their individual role allows them to serve the needs of Spring ISD schools.
“When we’re looking at what we do to get excellent, equitable outcomes, it’s important for all of us to know that, as a district, we serve our students and the community,” Watson said, “but internally, we have to make sure our schools have everything that they need, because they’re the ones day-in and day-out educating the kids, training the teachers, getting them ready to get the excellent, equitable outcomes.”
Watson also discussed how the district’s Leadership Definition offered employees a tool to help strengthen and guide their own contributions to the success of the strategic plan and, by extension, to the success of students throughout the district.
During the meetings, Watson also recognized several employees nominated for their commitment to the district and its students, and for exemplifying the service-oriented qualities built into the Spring ISD Leadership Definition.
- Kendall McCarley, Research, Accountability and Assessment, was recognized for her work to develop and maintain the online COVID-19 district map and dashboard. “We know our Spring ISD stakeholders count on the district for clear and timely data and information, and that has certainly been true in the months since the COVID-19 pandemic began,” said Watson, thanking McCarley for her efforts to keep Spring ISD stakeholders informed.
- Ysabel Luna, Family and Community Engagement, was honored for continually going the extra mile to support both her team and the families throughout the district who rely on the department for information and support. “When our district families come calling, she connects them with the resources they need, exemplifying service-oriented leadership on a daily basis,” Watson said.
- Ellen Flemings, Transportation, was recognized for helping her department get through a challenging time, dealing with the safety requirements of the pandemic and the industry-wide driver shortage. Watson praised Flemings for utilizing her knowledge of bus routes and the layout of the district to help get every student to campus, and for “providing a calm, confident, and decisive voice during what can seem like chaos.”
- Terry Baumann, Transportation, was singled out for exemplifying several aspects of the Leadership Definition, including building trust, managing change, communicating effectively, and collaborating with fellow bus drivers and transportation team members. Watson praised Baumann’s adaptability, cheerfulness, and kindness toward all. “Whether adding additional stops to help provide coverage, or checking in with dispatch to see where else he can assist, he does so willingly and cheerfully,” said Watson, also noting the important role bus drivers play as the first and last district staff many students see each day.
- Shawn Wade-Smith, Special Education, was honored for demonstrating service-orientated leadership through communicating effectively, being team-focused, empowering others, and celebrating the success of her team. “Specifically throughout the pandemic,” Watson said, “she has actively listened to the concerns of parents of medically vulnerable students, coordinating with her team of teachers regarding COVID-19 safety measures and procedures and how best to serve our homebound students. She empowers her team to continue doing great work for students, promoting excellent, equitable outcomes for all.”
- Christy Hedrick and Sandy McGuire, Technology, were recognized for their tireless work as System Engineers on the Application Support team, including their adaptability and service-oriented approach to meeting the technology needs of campuses and departments. “No matter where you work in the district, chances are one or both of them have helped you solve some technology puzzle or another,” Watson said. “With their trademark good humor and seemingly unending patience, they’re always going above and beyond and always doing what’s best for the district.”
In addition to the individual recognitions, the meetings also provided an opportunity to highlight the stand-out contributions of several central office teams.
- The superintendent thanked Transportation employees who went above and beyond on the evening of Sept. 2, when an active crime scene created a safety hazard preventing the delivery of approximately 30 middle school students to their bus stops. “Drivers and staff quickly developed a plan to safely hold the students, then adapted over the next several hours until students were safely reunited with their families,” said Watson. “Focusing not on their own needs but on the needs of the students in their care, these employees – whose days start well before dawn – remained at their posts until after 8 o’clock that night, ensuring their charges were well cared for.”
- The Instructional Services Department’s Literacy Team was honored for their devotion to helping students develop the fundamental skills needed to be successful. Watson praised the team’s collaborative focus and ongoing pursuit of excellence in support of student outcomes. “They have designed, delivered and are now supporting campus implementation of literacy strategies that are crucial to our students’ academic development,” Watson said, “ensuring that a culture of literacy is being built across the district.”
- The Spring ISD Curriculum Team was also recognized, in particular for managing the changing educational landscape of the past 18 months and empowering teachers to continue supporting student growth. “Since the very beginning of the pandemic, they stepped up to tackle a host of challenges unlike any most of us have ever experienced,” Watson said. “They made sure that teachers and students had what was needed for learning to continue, and they dedicated themselves to ensuring every student had access to high-quality instruction.”
- The district’s Workforce Development Team was honored for their efforts to maximize student learning by supporting the growth of teachers and other district employees. “They can be extremely proud of all that has been built through their creativity, including online professional development, districtwide leadership and teacher conferences, and professional development monitoring tools to keep leaders up to date on staff development,” Watson said. “For empowering others day-in and day-out, please join me in thanking our Spring ISD Workforce Development Team!”