With the new school year now well underway, Spring ISD held its first Central Office Staff Meetings for 2023-24 on Sept. 27, where Superintendent Dr. Lupita Hinojosa presented special recognitions honoring individual employees and district departments whose work has exemplified the Spring ISD Leadership Definition and whose contributions are making a difference in the lives of staff and students.
- Lisa Gonzalez, Family and Community Engagement, was singled out for her contributions to parent outreach efforts since recently joining the central office team. “In this incredibly short amount of time,” Hinojosa said, Gonzalez “has proven to be invaluable.” After jumping right in and supporting families through the annual student registration process, Gonzalez helped create a dedicated Parent Resource and Welcome Center at the district’s Family and Community Engagement facility, transforming an old conference room into a warm and welcoming space for parents, complete with helpful brochures and other information, as well as books in English and Spanish for parents to take home and share with their children. Hinojosa thanked Gonzalez and her colleagues for creating “a space where we can better serve our families, meeting their educational, social and emotional needs.”
- Tristan Scott, Transportation Department, was recognized for her work since joining the district earlier this year. As the individual responsible for helping keep campus administrators up-to-date on the latest changes impacting their bus routes and schedules, the job can be fast-paced and stressful, and Hinojosa praised Scott for balancing effective communication with just the right amount of warmth and good humor to keep spirits high, even on days when schedules are most in flux. Scott’s logistical, organizational, and interpersonal skills – developed over her 15 years’ experience in public- and private-sector transportation – have made Scott a valuable addition at Spring ISD, the superintendent said. “As an administrator in this department, it is important to have a bit of everything,” Hinojosa said. “You may find some that have a bit of one thing but not the other, but every once in a while, we get lucky enough to find someone that has ‘all of the above!’”
- Lt. David Borchardt, Spring ISD Police Department, was honored for his dedication, leadership, and service-oriented spirit that have resonated far beyond his own team. In particular, during the police department’s recent leadership transition period, Borchardt helped ensure his fellow officers stayed strong and effective as a police force. In addition, he helped lead the Spring ISD Police Department through important operational reviews conducted by the TEA, the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, and the Texas Police Chiefs Association, together with serving as point person for the districtwide rollout of the Raptor Emergency Management System. Hinojosa thanked Borchardt for setting a vision and leading by example. “Challenging times often reveal true leaders,” she said, praising Borchardt as “someone who doesn’t just uphold a mission, but who embodies it with every step.”
- A special “Superintendent’s Shout-Out” was also presented to members of the district’s Payroll and Human Resources teams for what Hinojosa described as “their tireless efforts to provide a positive experience for our staff and other stakeholders and customers.” Due to an unprecedented number of new hires last year over the summer of 2022 – with Spring ISD welcoming more than 1,100 new employees – the September 2022 payroll was a challenge. In order to avoid similar challenges this year, Hinojosa explained, “the Payroll and Human Resources teams collaborated this summer to help resolve issues before they happened. Working together, proactively, they developed a plan of action – including many layers of checks and balances – to effectively process the September 8, 2023 payroll.” The two teams maintained constant communication, working nights and weekends in order to successfully process payroll on time when this September rolled around. In addition to offering praise for both departments, Hinojosa particularly thanked Payroll Coordinator Brit’tny Garrett and Compensation Coordinator Aurora Ortiz for their teams’ hard work and dedication.
During both meetings – one session in the morning and one in the afternoon – employees also received an update from Chief of District Operations Mark Miranda on the district’s 2022 Bond and several bond-related projects already coming to fruition across the district, including new security fencing at a number of campuses, interior painting completed over the summer at several elementary and middle school campuses; as well as technology and transportation upgrades impacting both students and staff.
In addition, Miranda gave employees a look at upcoming Harris County road improvement projects along Ella Blvd. that will affect central office staff and visitors over the remainder of the school year, as well as staff and students at Westfield High School and The School for International Studies at Bammel.
During her remarks to staff, the superintendent thanked employees for their work to ensure a successful start to the new school year, while also emphasizing four key focus areas for Spring ISD for 2023-24: Enrollment, Attendance, Accountability, and Experience. The superintendent spent a portion of her presentation focusing on themes related to both accountability and enrollment, and she highlighted the district’s growing diversity – noting the fact that, while Spanish and English remain the two most prominent languages in the local community, more than 70 different languages are now spoken in Spring ISD.
“How do we embrace all of the cultures that are in our school district?” Hinojosa asked, challenging employees to consider how their work contributes to the district’s high-level focus areas and the success of every student.
Each meeting also began with a short activity focused on Spanish vocabulary presented by Community Engagement Coordinator Dr. Lorena Zertuche, who reminded staff of the importance of cultural awareness and sensitivity at a time when more than half of all district families are now Spanish speakers – including many district parents who are working to learn English but who may still have limited English communication skills.
“We don’t want a language barrier to be what keeps us from serving our students and their families,” Zertuche told staff members during her presentation