As part of a commitment to bring students back to the classroom, Spring ISD administrators, teachers, and community volunteers took to the streets on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 17 for the district’s annual Success Walk, reaching out directly to students who haven’t yet returned to class this fall, or who are struggling with attendance
“It’s a powerful event that we do each year,” said Superintendent Dr. Lupita Hinojosa, “and we’ve seen the impact it can have in the lives of our students and their families.”
Spring ISD has already been busy reaching out to missing students, some of whom have been away since the start of the pandemic, when districts statewide saw enrollments drop. With an increased focus on call-outs and connecting with lost students, Hinojosa said the district had brought back close to 1,000 students since the start of the new school year, but she emphasized that the work continues.
“Our numbers are up,” Hinojosa said, “but there are still kids missing, and if even one is missing, we’ve got to do everything we can to bring them back, and to ensure that they’re on track to graduate.”
Spring ISD’s Success Walk – now in its ninth year – is part of the district’s EVERYday Counts, Attendance Matters campaign, bringing the district and the community together to keep students in school. The event also draws inspiration from Spring ISD’s new strategic plan – Every Student, Every Teacher, Every Day – and the plan’s emphasis on improving student outcomes.
“Our Spring ISD students are intelligent, they’re ambitious, they’re eager, they’re ready to make a difference and a change in this world, and I know that we’re all here to support them in accomplishing that,” Board of Trustees President Justine Durant told volunteers preparing to begin the day’s activities. “This is very simple: Every day counts. Attendance matters!”
Following the official kickoff event held at 9 a.m. at Spring High School and other district campuses – all linked up via Zoom – staff and volunteers manned phone lines and fanned out into the neighborhoods surrounding Spring ISD schools to visit in person with hundreds of students and their families.
Although aimed at students at every grade level, the event put a special emphasis on connecting with seniors who may be at risk of not graduating.
“We know that many have not returned because of challenges that they’re experiencing,” Hinojosa said. “Maybe they don’t want to come back to a big comprehensive high school, or maybe they’re working to help support their family, and so we want to be able to talk to them to let them know about the programs Spring ISD has that can help them.”
For example, Hinojosa mentioned the district’s new Momentum High School, where students can earn their diploma while taking coursework at Lone Star College on Fridays to prepare them for entry into college or a career. Momentum also offers a flexible option for students to attend half-day – on a morning, afternoon, or evening schedule – and still be able to work.
Jose Matute, who completed three years at Westfield before leaving school for family and work-related reasons last year, said the information district administrators and trustees shared with him and his grandmother on Saturday about Momentum High School was just what he needed.
“From what I heard, Momentum does help you move fast and get your diploma, and they’re really centered on trying to help everyone individually,” Matute said.
Matute’s motivation is fueled by his love for his family – both here and in Honduras. He plans to join the military to help support them once he finishes earning his diploma, and he said the personal visit from Spring ISD staff left him feeling excited about getting back into school.
“It makes you feel that you’re important, and that they’re going to be paying attention to you and helping you out,” Matute said, “so I feel like that was something good.”
Westfield parent Karina Enriquez said she was thankful for the visit and the promise from district administrators to help her son, Reyli Cruz, achieve his potential.
“I have hope right now,” Enriquez said through a translator.
At another stop, the group of administrators and trustees talked with parent Margarita Stelly about helping her son, Eugene, return to class so he can follow in his older brother’s footsteps and become a high school graduate. As a single parent, Stelly said the show of support from Hinojosa and others at the district meant a lot to her.
“To see all these beautiful faces, it was everything,” Stelly said after the group’s visit. “It’s like I’ve got a whole support system I didn’t know I had.”
“I won’t ever forget this day,” she added.