During the third set of Spring ISD Central Office Staff meetings of the 2022-23 school year – held Wednesday at the Spring ISD Community Engagement Center – district administrators updated staff on recent district news and upcoming events. Superintendent Dr. Lupita Hinojosa also presented employee recognition awards celebrating the contributions of outstanding staff members from several departments.
- Andre Ollivierre, Technology, was recognized for his contributions since joining the district almost a year ago. In his work with the Technology department, Ollivierre is geared toward equitable outcomes for students and staff members, as well as assisting Spring ISD staff in any way possible to promote academic achievement. Hinojosa praised Ollivierre for his integrity, kindness and expertise as a programmer, including during his work on a recent Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer Submission, where he worked tirelessly to ensure that all eligible Spring ISD students and parents were granted their benefits.
- Gerald Points, Technology, was honored for many contributions during his nearly 10 years with the district, leading up to his current role as a system engineer. “Providing our teachers with the individual attention needed to help them work through any technology issues, he enables teachers to teach so they can help their students succeed,” Hinojosa said, adding how Points had helped support the transition to online and digital resources so that every student had equal access to the resources needed to achieve their academic goals.
- Abel Salazar, Maintenance Department, was recognized for the important part he plays in the daily operations of the school district. Now in his 14th year with Spring ISD, Salazar works to guarantee the safety of all SISD facilities and helps ensure that all students, teachers, and staff members have safe environments for working and learning. Hinojosa explained that Salazar is one of the few in the district trained to do a nighttime fire watch, patrolling a school building overnight when normal emergency alert systems are malfunctioning. “Day in and day out, this gentleman displays an unwavering commitment to assessing the safety of our buildings,” Hinojosa said.
- Cynthia Williams, Career and Technical Education, was lauded as a champion for excellent, equitable outcomes among both staff and students, and someone who regularly goes the extra mile in her role as CTE Director to ensure equitable practices and resources across Spring ISD campuses. Williams was praised for displaying integrity and compassion, empowering others, and truly listening to all stakeholders, including maintaining an open-door policy for all members of her own team. “She is focused on the success of her entire team and those they serve – which truly brings her joy,” Hinojosa said.
- Susan Coffey, Office of School Leadership, was recognized for her many years of dedicated service across a number of departments, most recently supporting Feeder 2 schools and families as an Executive Secretary in the Office of School Leadership. Coffee, who is also a district alumna and long-time community member, has held roles at both the campus and district levels, amassing a wealth of knowledge and expertise that have made her an integral member of several district teams as well as a sought-after trainer and support person for important projects and initiatives of all sizes. “Every person she meets is important to her,” Hinojosa said, “and is served with dignity, respect, and integrity.”
- Melissa Obregon, Office of School Leadership, was also identified for her work in support of schools and families as the Feeder 1 Executive Secretary in the Office of School Leadership. A dedicated team player, Hinojosa described her as taking pride in providing excellent customer service, with one of her strengths being in addressing the concerns of parents who feel their needs have not been met at the campus level. Hinojosa praised Obregon for de-escalating difficult situations while addressing the needs of both parents and campuses. “We’re grateful for her commitment to our district, for her commitment to leading from her own position, and for doing her part to ensure equitable outcomes for all students in Spring ISD,” Hinojosa said.
In addition to the recognitions, each meeting also featured a presentation from the superintendent based on the book “Breathing Oxygen: How Positive Leadership Gives Life to Winning Culture,” by Jason V. Barger. Hinojosa discussed several insights from the book and discussed how they relate to the Spring ISD Leadership Definition and the district’s ongoing focus on developing and engaging the leadership qualities of all employees no matter their position.
“Positive leadership,” Hinojosa explained during her discussion of one of the book’s main themes, “is about being honest, open, and transparent about the challenges we are facing, and still choosing to be optimistic about the role we play in creating a better future.”
In particular, Hinojosa emphasized Barger’s concept of “inhaling” what is useful while “exhaling,” or letting go, of what isn’t supporting us in doing the work we want to do and in being the kind of people we want to be. She explored these ideas in relation to three of the “mindsets” advocated for in the book – Grit, Rest, and Ownership.
“In Spring ISD, we are gritty,” Hinojosa said. “We have grit, and we don’t give up. We don’t give up on our students, we don’t give up on each other, and we don’t give up on ourselves.”
She also discussed themes in the book that had particularly challenged her, including Barger’s contention that – in addition to deliberate practice to sharpen key skills – one of the greatest secrets to elite performance and leadership excellence was a commitment to quality rest and relaxation, as well as getting consistently adequate sleep.
“How many of us sleep maybe five hours and we think we’ve done great?” Hinojosa asked, eliciting both laughter and nods of recognition from staff members present. “And what he says is that, in reality, we’re hurting ourselves, that we actually have to get the rest and the sleep. That really got to me, because that’s not what I do, and I know that’s not what a lot of us do.”
Instead, Hinojosa invited attendees to challenge what she called the “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” mentality and instead embrace the search for greater balance in their lives – even when it seems difficult to obtain. She also emphasized another important mindset from the book, that of taking ownership for the commitments we make, both to ourselves and to others.
“It’s the expectation that, as leaders, we get in the work with each other,” Hinojosa said, “that we work side by side with each other, that it is a mission greater than each one of us.”
Additional presentations at the meetings covered other topics relevant to central office employees:
- Chief Financial Officer Ann Westbrooks gave staff an update on the district’s 2023-24 budget planning process, including a discussion of challenges the district will face as pandemic-era federal ESSER funding comes to an end.
- Westbrooks also offered a brief overview of the recent kickoff of the 88th Texas Legislative Session, including mention of several pieces of legislation the district will be following as they move through committee and debate by lawmakers in Austin.
- Web Specialist Rony Canales offered a brief overview of the new Spring ISD intranet employee portal, Spring ISD Insider, which will offer staff a more user-friendly collection of news, information and employee resources applicable to them in their roles, along with helpful new features like interactive organizational charts and a revamped SISD Now format.
- Employees were reminded to mark their calendars for several upcoming events, including the districtwide Attendance Walk on Feb. 4, the State of the District Breakfast on Feb. 7, and the Fun Run and Wellness Fair on March 4.