Spring ISD held its second Central Office Staff meetings of the 2022-23 school year on Wednesday at the Spring ISD Community Engagement Center.
During each meeting, district administrators updated central office staff on recent district news, including the results of assessments given to Spring ISD students at the start of the new academic year, along with updates on the 2022 Bond Referendum as Election Day, on Nov. 8, draws closer. The meetings also featured employee recognitions celebrating the contributions of staff members from several departments.
Superintendent Dr. Lupita Hinojosa began each session with an update on Spring ISD’s Beginning-of-Year (BOY) assessments, including the CIRCLE Progress Monitoring System used by Pre-K teachers to determine student’s knowledge in key developmental areas; the mClass foundational literacy assessment, offered in both English and Spanish to students in kindergarten through second grade; and the MAP Growth assessments in reading (Grades 3-12) and mathematics (Grades K-12) that give Spring ISD educators access to norm-referenced data covering more than 10 million students around the country.
Together, Hinojosa explained, these assessments allow teachers to know where their students stand across various fundamentals and key learning areas so they can help them to grow. The annual testing indicates where each cohort of students currently stands, and also gives the district valuable year-over-year insights into how students in Spring ISD are doing in key subjects in comparison to other students across Texas and throughout the country.
The most recent BOY results show trends reflecting challenges to student growth during the pandemic, as well as more positive trends reflecting the gains Spring ISD has made in its state accountability ratings.
“There’s a lot of work to be done,” Hinojosa said, “but there’s a lot of hope in what the teachers are doing right now in the classrooms.”
She also expressed her own hope that staff from central office departments would see some of their contributions in the data, and come away with a clearer sense of how their work can help bolster student success and create more equitable outcomes for all students.
“When we’re doing our daily work, or when we’re thinking about new projects, let’s always make sure that we stay grounded in the priorities,” Hinojosa said. “That’s the whole core of why we exist. Spring ISD exists to educate all students – to ensure those excellent, equitable outcomes. So regardless of what position we hold in the district, what role we do, it’s all about student outcomes.”
Following Hinojosa’s presentation on the BOY assessments, Executive Chief of District Operations Mark Miranda gave staff an update on the lead-up to Election Day, Nov. 8, when area voters will decide whether to approve the district’s 2022 Bond. The $850 million bond referendum – broken down into three independent propositions on the ballot in accordance with current state laws – would bring changes and updates throughout the district, ultimately impacting students at every campus and grade level.
In addition to promoting the bond website, Miranda detailed other steps the district is taking to get the word out, including a series of community meetings. Staff were also invited – if they choose – to volunteer their personal time to assist in handing out informational materials about the bond during early voting and on Election Day. Miranda reminded attendees that the district cannot endorse the bond or tell residents how to vote, but nevertheless had a responsibility to inform voters.
“It’s really important that people understand what they’re voting for or against,” Miranda said, “and really have the best information that they can have, so they can make an informed decision.”
Using the signup form available through the bond website, interested Spring ISD staff and community members can volunteer for two-hour shifts at one of three Spring ISD sites during the weekend of the early voting period, Oct. 29 and 30, as well as on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, at any of 20 locations in Spring ISD.
Hinojosa thanked staff members for their continued support of the district’s mission, vision, and continued growth and success, and encouraged them to think creatively about how they and their departments could enhance their positive impact on schools and students.
“As we come to these meetings, we learn more and more about Spring ISD, and that’s how we become empowered,” Hinojosa said. “Knowing about our district, knowing what we are doing, empowers you and it empowers the entire team. And of course, we come together to bring joy to each other.”
The winners of the October HUGS door decorating contest were also announced at the meetings. Every department was encouraged to participate, with doors themed around favorite storybooks. The 3rd place spot was taken by Instructional Technology, for their door inspired by “The Rainbow Fish;” 2nd place went to Child Nutrition, which combined themes from several beloved tales, including “The Butterfly in the Sky,” “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” “Johnny Appleseed,” and “Winnie the Pooh – Pooh’s Secret Garden;” and the top spot was taken by the Communications Department, for a colorful display inspired by the book “Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn.”
Hinojosa also recognized several outstanding employees – nominated by their peers and departments – for exemplifying the district’s Leadership Definition in their work.
- Tyesha Coleman, Human Resources, was recognized for her professionalism and dedication as one of the district’s HR Business Partners. Noting that the summer of 2022 was one of the busiest hiring seasons in the district’s history, Hinojosa thanked Coleman for utilizing her gifts, talents, and experience to support the department’s work. “Upon realizing the critical needs to support campuses, with ease and with a smile, she trained new staff and served as a point of reference when guidance was needed,” Hinojosa said. “We are thankful for her level of service and actions that demonstrate her belief in striving for excellence – and that we truly win as a team.”
- Aurora Ortiz, Human Resources, was praised for stepping up after an unexpected resignation left her team short-staffed. Faced with many new hires and employee status changes, Ortiz focused on what she could do to support not only her own team but also the payroll department, serving as an example of leadership for others through her positive spirit and embracing feedback to drive improvement. “In the midst of change and challenges is when leaders arise,” Hinojosa said. “It has truly been a team effort between HR and Payroll, and she serves as a critical part of managing change, getting the work done and continuing to persevere no matter what we face.”
- Jesus Garcia, Technology, was recognized for making a significant impact during his relatively short time with the district, especially in his work ensuring the district’s cybersecurity protocols and network systems are ready to handle constant online threats so that instruction can continue. “He is someone who genuinely expresses joy in the workplace every day. He comes to work with a smile on his face and with a mindset that anything is possible,” Hinojosa said. “During his time here, he has been tasked with many challenges and consistently has surpassed them. He communicates effectively with staff members and empowers others.”
- Natalya Hogan, Family and Community Engagement, was singled out for her extraordinary attention to detail as an experienced member of the district’s Home Instructor team. Hinojosa praised Hogan for her honesty, straightforwardness, and willingness to ask questions to get things right, adding that Hogan’s commitment to supporting parents had made her a beloved representative of Spring ISD for many families. “Her desire to equip learners with all that they will need for success is what drives her,” Hinojosa said. “Although she is thousands of miles from her family, we are happy that she has called Houston her home. More importantly, we are blessed to have her as a valued member of our Family and Community Engagement Department.”
- Anthony Childress, Guidance and Counseling, was recognized for his commitment to making sure every student receives the correct schedule. In addition to collaborating with the Multilingual Department to ensure that emergent bilingual students have the specialized scheduling support they need to be successful, Childress personally supported Burchett Elementary and Dueitt Middle School on the first day of classes, greeting students and walking them to class. Childress is always at the ready to ensure student needs are consistently being met, Hinojosa said, adding that he epitomizes a focus on student outcomes through his “dedication to ensuring that the work he does is student-focused, data-driven and supports campuses through change.”