Spring ISD held its second Central Office Staff Meetings for 2023-24 on Oct. 25. Along with relevant news and updates provided during the meetings, Superintendent Dr. Lupita Hinojosa also presented recognitions honoring employees whose work has exemplified the Spring ISD Leadership Definition and whose above-and-beyond contributions support the success of students and the district.
- Officer Marvin Marks, Spring ISD Police Department, was recognized for his many contributions during his more than 20 years of service to the district. Marks has served on a number of campuses, where he is known for sharing positive affirmations and words of encouragement regularly with students and staff. Hinojosa also described Marks as “a bridge-builder, creating strong, positive connections between nearby campuses that support neighboring schools and school communities.” Marks has also taken part in outreach efforts involving neighborhood apartment complexes to build stronger lines of communication and support. Finally, Hinojosa talked about how Officer Marks had responded to Roberson Middle School students’ requests for a soccer team by stepping up to become a volunteer coach, offering his time, talent and treasure to support students and the team.
- Sara Ditson, Financial Services, was honored for exemplifying the data-driven and outcome-driven elements of the Spring ISD Leadership Definition, and for building trust and embodying integrity in her work as data coordinator, both with other departments and with campuses. Hinojosa described Ditson as “data-driven, team-focused, and service-oriented in every way,” going on to praise her “compassion, heart and true grit.” Ditson approaches each job with professionalism and a commitment to getting the job done right, and has been known to put in long hours to make sure every detail is correct and the needs of her customers and colleagues are served. In describing Ditson’s incredible responsiveness to questions and queries, Hinojosa said that “before the question mark even comes out of your mouth, [she has] the answer, the document, the manual, and the location of the resource to provide you with 110% coverage and an effective response to your question.”
- Phonisha Hawkins, Academics Department, was described by Hinojosa as “an individual who not only upholds the values of Spring ISD but brings them to life in their daily commitments.” As the superintendent noted, “This celebration of excellence isn’t just about fulfilling responsibilities; it’s about surpassing them, about touching lives, about transforming the way we perceive dedication. This recipient is someone who embodies this spirit wholeheartedly.” In her work as a Middle School Math Specialist, Hawkins was singled out for her outcome-driven approach and strong sense of purpose and dedication that inspires all those around her. “Perhaps most impressive of all is [her] ability to forge sincere, lasting connections,” Hinojosa said. “For [her], being relationship-centered isn’t a strategy; it’s a natural inclination. [She reaches] people on a human level, building bridges of trust, respect, and mutual understanding.” Hawkins has been named an ambassador for Carnegie Learning, and was recently spotlighted in the online publication K-12 Dive in a series on “Rising Leaders in Education.”
- Gloria Luevano, Family and Community Engagement, is a familiar face to many in her role as receptionist at the Spring ISD Community Engagement Center, helping to set a tone in her workplace that results in a welcoming atmosphere of teamwork and good spirits. But like many in support roles in the district, Hinojosa explained that Luevano’s job description doesn’t come close to encompassing all the ways she assists and supports the facility and her department, and the ways she practices relationship-centered and service-oriented leadership each day. “There is a saying that states, ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup.’ Well, this person makes sure others’ cups are always full,” Hinojosa said. “They meet so many needs that they’ve come to hold several unofficial titles in addition to what’s on their job description.” Hinojosa described Luevano as a “way-maker,” “helper,” “caretaker,” and even as a “creative mastermind,” always on the lookout for small ways to bring joy to her work and her department. Hinojosa concluded by thanking Luevano for continually “setting a tone that enables and empowers others to have a productive, engaging work experience. We could not imagine a day without all that she brings to our workplace family!”
During both meetings – one session in the morning and one in the afternoon – employees received an update from Chief Financial Officer Ann Westbrooks regarding the ongoing legislative special sessions in Austin and how proceedings there may impact schools and school financing.
Lt. David Borchardt of the Spring ISD Police Department also briefed staff members on the Standard Response Protocol (SRP), the system used by Spring ISD and many other districts to distinguish between and respond to a range of incidents and threats on and near campuses and other school district facilities. Borchardt reviewed the main response types employed by the SRP framework – including Lockdown, Secure, Evacuate, Shelter, and Hold – and gave practical tips and examples of how to assess threats and respond proactively.
Employees were also encouraged to download and utilize the Raptor Alert app, which enables district staff both to initiate responses to threats at their campus or facility and to stay informed and notified as situations unfold.
During her remarks to central office staff, Superintendent Hinojosa reviewed recent enrollment increases – bringing the district closer to its target goal for 2023-24 – and spoke about the importance of enrollment and daily attendance, both in meeting school funding needs and in ensuring that every child living in the district receives a quality education and the opportunities that go along with it.
“If we can educate our kids, and they can leave us being successful at entering college, a career, or the military, then we are bettering this community, we’re helping society, we’re helping our children and our families find a better life,” Hinojosa said. “So, attendance is very important because of the funding we need to operate and to be sustainable, but even more important, it’s about the kids learning and them being able to leave us as successful and productive young people.”
Employees were invited to consider ways that they, in their own roles and departments, are already contributing to students’ and families’ experience of the district, and asked to consider how they could help improve the positive experience of stakeholders throughout Spring ISD.
“You, as an individual, are the district. You’re not just your department or your job title, you are Spring ISD,” Hinojosa said. “We started this discussion this summer, talking about ‘The Power of You,’ and it is within each one of us to be able to make a difference.”