Raise Your Hand Texas, an organization dedicated to advancing public education by igniting fiercely innovative leadership and advocacy for the more than 5 million students in our state, visited Spring Branch I.S.D. on April 13th and 14th. The purpose of their visit was to showcase the work of the SKY Partnership and its collaborative efforts to leverage each districts' strengths for the benefit of the students in our community. The video they are creating will include interviews with principals, students, and staff and will leverage the strengths of our charter-district partnership to allow other districts to witness the power of collaborative spirit and imagine more possibilities to positively impact students across our state and nation.
Monday, December 14, 2015
Spring Branch I.S.D. CHOICE School 2016 Orientation Dates:
Elementary School Orientation Dates
Pine Shadows Elementary
Jan. 14, 2016 - 8:30 a.m. or 5:30 p.m., Feb. 18, 2016 - 9:00 a.m.
Jan. 11, 2016 - 8:30 a.m. or 5:30 p.m., Feb. 23, 2016 - 3:00 p.m.
Cedar Brook Elementary
Jan. 13, 2016 - 8:30 a.m. or 5:30 p.m., Feb. 24, 2016 - 3:00 p.m.
Middle School Orientation Dates
Spring Forest Middle School
Jan. 13, 2016 - 6:30-8:00 p.m.
YES Prep Northbrook Middle School
Jan. 28, 2016 - 4:30-5:30 p.m.
KIPP Courage @ Landrum Middle School
Jan. 21, Jan. 28, Feb. 2 & Feb. 9, 2016 - 6:00 p.m.
Spring Woods Middle School
Jan. 12, 2016 - 5:00-6:30 p.m.
Located at the Transition Campus, 8655 Emnora
Jan. 23, 2016 - 9:00 a.m. & 11:00 a.m.
Westchester Academy for International Studies
Jan. 19 - 6:00 p.m.
High School Orientation Dates
YES Prep Northbrook High School
Jan. 13, Jan. 27 (6 p.m.)
Westchester Academy of International Studies
Jan. 19 (6 p.m.)
Spring Woods High School
Jan. 20th (6 p.m.)
Westchester Academy of International Studies
Jan. 19 (6 p.m.)
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Hundreds of families flocked to the Spring Branch Independent School District’s CHOICE Festival held at Cedar Brook Elementary on Thursday evening, November 19th, to discover the unique options available for children within our district.
Popcorn overflowed and smiles beamed as each school represented shared the opportunities they offer and families listened eagerly as they learned of the possibilities available to them.
One family flew from Alaska to search for the right place to send their children in their upcoming move to Houston. When they arrived at the CHOICE Festival, they said they knew the right place for each of their three children was in Spring Branch I.S.D. Their 10th grade daughter was Facetimed in from Alaska to meet future classmates present at the festival and the positive energy from Houston was felt from across the country and well received.
Several families who currently send their children to private schools were intrigued and impressed at the public and charter options available to their children within their district and close to home.
With so many dynamic learning environments available, the CHOICE Festival was the perfect place to learn and embrace the possibilities that exist within the Spring Branch community. To learn more about each school, please see www.springbranchisd.com/choice.
Monday, November 2, 2015
Dippel: Next HISD board should seek charter partnershipsBy Colleen Dippel
Published 6:18 pm, Friday, October 30, 2015Next Tuesday, HISD voters will select four individuals to sit on the Houston Independent School District's board of trustees. This board could create a unique opportunity to chart a new path for HISD by promoting an environment of collaboration with our city's highest-performing public charter schools.Tens of thousands of Houston families are put on waiting lists each year for a seat at a KIPP Houston, YES Prep or Harmony public school. In the 2014-2015 school year, the waiting list included more than 35,000 students in Houston. Early data show a similar trend for the current school year. We also know that thousands of families languish on the district's magnet school waiting lists.Parents recognize and are looking for high-quality schools. Parents don't care which label - traditional public, magnet, public charter school or private - is applied to the school capable of providing that quality education for their child.My experience comes from the grassroots. The mission of my nonprofit organization, Families Empowered, is to empower families to engage in the marketplace of schools. We work with thousands of HISD-zoned parents who are attempting to navigate a complicated system to find the best educational environment for their children, and we do so without advocating for any particular school or model. We work with all schools of choice: district schools, private schools and open enrollment charter schools.Choice doesn't have to be an either-or proposition. HISD should take cues from districts that partner with charters like the Grand Prairie Independent School District or look closer to home at the innovative collaboration that is taking place between the Spring Branch Independent School District, KIPP and Yes Prep, known as the SKY Partnership. These traditional districts are proof that collaboration is a productive option, and that innovation is not a threat.Under the SKY Partnership, KIPP and YES Prep staff are contracted to provide instruction, while the students (and their publicly funded education dollars) stay within the district. This allows the district to keep zoned students inside their district, while giving parents the freedom to consider an educational model that is a better fit for their student. Charter teachers and "traditional ISD" teachers work in the same building and are sharing best practices and engaging in shared professional development.Grand Prairie ISD has created a similar partnership with the Uplift network of charter schools. Superintendent Susan Simpson-Hull and the Grand Prairie school board turned the district into an open enrollment district that allows any child to apply to any school. Instead of seeing only competition, as charter schools "steal" their zoned students, Grand Prairie ISD put the interest of the students first. District staff is regularly invited to and engaged with the "education reform community," which brings innovators and cutting-edge researchers and best practices to the district.In both of these examples, the innovative opportunities were made possible because a forward-thinking school board supported a progressive and thoughtful superintendent. There is nothing to prevent HISD from engaging in similar partnerships.As leaders of the seventh-largest district in the country, HISD school trustees should work to offer our community not only schools of choice - but rather, schools that would be any parents' choice. The next board should seek a new superintendent who will be open to collaboration with public charter schools.We should focus on a common goal: bettering the education for all our kids, rather than focusing on which "provider" gets credit for student outcomes. District/charter collaboration and innovation can make Houston a truly progressive city, one that prepares all students for a productive future.Dippel is founder and executive director of Houston-based Families Empowered.
Thursday, September 24, 2015
“Taking the best of both programs on one campus is where the power of synergy unfolds, “ Steven Speyrer, principal of Landrum Middle School shared with both staffs as he and Eric Schmidt, principal of KIPP Courage, stood side by side.
The partnership between Spring Branch I.S.D., KIPP Houston Public Schools and YES Prep Public Schools values collaboration and believes that when districts and charters partner together and align under one vision, students benefit in many ways.
“Together we will go far.”
By Sarah Perkins
Monday, September 21, 2015
The SKY Partnership hosted a festive tailgate party and the N.H.S. cheerleaders danced and the drum-line played as the tailgaters enjoyed each other's company and some delicious Chick-Fil-A.
“It was wonderful to see and meet the families of our colleagues and students joining together in support of our dedicated high schoolers!” one Spring Branch I.S.D. employee shared.
The Raider’s hard work paid off and they were victorious that evening on the field and in bringing together the teams of people that cheer for them in the classroom and in the stands!
By Sarah Perkins
On a Monday morning in late July, while most Spring Branch ISD students were still enjoying summer vacation, the charter students at YES Prep Northbrook High School were reminded of their significance in district history.
“There are very few times in life that you get to say you were the first,” Bryan Reed, the school’s founding principal, told YES Prep Northbrook High students during summer session, a required orientation in July.
Not only are the some 140 ninth-grade students at YES Prep Northbrook High the initial high school class in Spring Branch ISD’s innovative SKY Partnership, they’re the first Spring Branch ISD students to return to classes for the 2015-16 school year.
They’re also the largest ever grade-level class at YES Prep, Reed said. Program administrators are hoping to be closer to 150 students once the dust settles on the new program and school year.
Now in its fourth year, the SKY Partnership is an innovative alliance between Spring Branch ISD, a public school district, and YES Prep and KIPP Academy, public charter schools. Most of the YES Prep Northbrook High students completed middle school at YES Prep Northbrook, located at Northbrook Middle School.
KIPP Academy operates KIPP Courage at Landrum Middle School. KIPP Courage also opened three years ago but with fifth-graders, who are this year’s eighth-graders and who will matriculate next year.
Back at Northbrook High, though, YES Prep students are attending school for their second day on this Wednesday (Aug. 12), releasing around noon following a morning of assembly and schedule adjustments.
The assemblies are designed to impart both information and the YES Prep culture, which emphasizes not only college-readiness but college success. They’re a combination traditional school assembly and pep rally, with teachers and administrators leading cheers and chants.
The class was divided into two groups during summer session – maroon and gray, the colors of the Northbrook Raiders – who take turns repeating lines of the chant before ending silently with an extended fist.
Side 1: Up to It
Side 2: Down to It
Side 1: Northbrook, we power through it
Side 2: Do it cause we used to it
Together: Fight, Raider Nation, Fight!
As for Tuesday’ first day of school, Reed said that YES Prep Northbrook had a great day, but only one of many.
“I told the staff and the kids that it was a great day, but that it really just felt like a stop along the journey,” said Reed, “because we spent four days getting to know one another (during summer session). We already felt like a family.”
Adds Dean of Students Chris Di Matteo: “This is an outstanding group.”
Northbrook High School Principal Randolph Adami said it’s fun having students back on campus and in the building, adding that “they’re so well behaved you barely realize they’re here.”
A portion of the Northbrook High School facility was reconfigured throughout the spring semester for the YES Prep Northbrook High, which not so much a school-within-a-school as it is a program-within-a-school.
“(The YES Prep students) are Northbrook students,” Reed said. “That’s such a huge advantage. We just don’t have these kinds of resources at other YES Prep (campuses).”
YES Prep students are indeed Northbrook Raiders, with a number already participating in athletics, band, orchestra, theater and other activities. Reed said there is a commitment at Northbrook to making sure extracurricular activities aren’t going on while YES Prep students are in class. YES Prep uses a slightly longer school day than Spring Branch, attending class from 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Paola Martinez was one of four teachers who told students about the reasons they want to teach YES Prep Northbrook High students.
A first-year teacher – and Northbrook High School alumna – Martinez told students that she loved growing up and attending school in Spring Branch, and that she always knew she wanted to come back.
“And the best way,” she said, “is as a YES Prep teacher.”
Other teachers talked about how important social change and social justice is to them personally, and that the power of that change comes from individuals like the YES Prep students.
And Dean of Instruction Jeremy Williams told students that what’s happening at Northbrook right now gives him hope, and brought home again the notion of firsts, with the founding class of both YES Prep Northbrook Middle and YES Prep Northbrook High schools.
“When we prove that it works,” Williams said, “everybody will know that it started right here.”
By Rusty Graham
By Rusty Graham