School News

Academy of Choice Headlines

The Spring Branch Independent School District has selected the following early dismissal days to be used for professional development or parental involvement. Not all schools may follow this schedule, so please contact your child's school directly if you have any questions.

  • October 17-18 Elementary Early Dismissal – Parent/Teacher Conference
  • December 18-20 Secondary Early Dismissal; December 20 Elementary Early Dismissal
  • February 13-14 Elementary Early Dismissal – Parent/Teacher Conference
  • May 26-28 Secondary Early Dismissal: May 28 Elementary Early Dismissal

Click here to review the SBISD Academic Calendar for 2018-19.

 

Academy of Choice recent graduate Marian Lopez-Breceda might be the first to say that Spring Branch ISD’s core value of “Every Child” was put to a test when she arrived only two years ago, determined to finish high school despite serious challenges.

Except for a semester at Northbrook High School, Marian’s school history had been erratic and interrupted by a young life filled with the kinds of hard knocks that many adults might crumble under – broken family ties, shelter living, and bad choices ranging from drugs to jail detentions over minor charges followed by a successful probation.

Marian and her long-time boyfriend now have two children – Evelyn, almost 3 years old and Elena, who is now 14 months.  Despite starting a family at age 15, Marian found a way to make school a priority and will graduate on the foundation plan with two endorsements, academy officials report.

Through all her ups and downs, Marian has retained an upbeat point of view and is determined to find a career path that will pair the objectivity and logic of math, one of her school likes, with the empathy found in professions like counseling. She likes to listen to others talk and share.

A nurse practitioner might be her best career match, she says of the future. She is working in a restaurant, and is serious about her community college options.

One of Marian’s best matches was Academy of Choice, a small district secondary school of 200 or so students that is designed to meet a teenager wherever they are in life and learning. The AOC staff works with students like Marian and their learning needs in a more personal way.

Marian entered Spring Branch ISD as a homeless student, another example of her motivation to succeed and the district’s ability to help ‘every child’ graduate with a future learning goal.

“It’s a smaller school here,” Marian said. “I think that I was more focused here, and I wanted to finish school faster than in a traditional school, and then start thinking about a career. I wanted to graduate, and that’s important. And it was nice here because no one knew all my history.”

She has nothing but praise for AOC’s instructors. Her children had district provided daycare for the hours she was in school, and Marian found separate support, encouragement and practical help for everything from new baby clothes to diapers through a Christian-based group for teen moms called Young Lives. “They played a big part in my success,” she said.

AOC leadership and staff walked with Marian every step of the way, too. AOC’s former director Jill Wright babysat Evelyn one day last fall so that Marian could finish one of her exams. A local group, Memorial Assistance Ministries, also assisted with clothing and household necessities.

“Marian has a personality larger than life and brings laughter and joy to all those around her,” said Lindsey Heinzman, Academy of Choice’s lead counselor. “She has overcome numerous obstacles along her journey, but manages to find a way to use past mistakes and experiences positively for both herself and others.”

“One of my favorite things about Marian is that what you see is what you get, because she is authentic and honest in her interactions with all people,” the AOC counselor also said.

 

Stability and consistency are qualities that mentor Lee Anna Lackey has provided to her mentee, Jade, in the past two years of their relationship at Academy of Choice in Spring Branch ISD.

Jade and Lackey have built a relationship built on trust and honesty.

“She has helped me stay focused,” Jade said of Lackey, who visits her to have lunch once a week as part of the SpringBoard Mentoring Program.

A series of family moves in the past few years could have distracted Jade from completing school, but she has stuck with the alternative high school program at AOC.

“This school has helped me a lot,” said Jade. “I didn’t want to mess up by transferring to another school.”

Jade’s mom, who now lives in another town, has provided encouragement to her daughter to stay in school and be successful. Jade has been living with an aunt this school year.

“She has good family support,” said Lackey. Several cousins are enrolled in college and are role models’ for Jade.

The mentor has met members of Jade’s family at events such as Christmas Bingo, organized by the AOC mentor program coordinator and school counselor, Lindsey Heinzman.

“There is not anything we don’t talk about,” said Lackey, who recently uplifted Jade with a set of inspirational cards.

Lackey, an SBISD parent with three boys who have been or are enrolled in the district, heard about the SBISD mentoring program in a promotional email and volunteered to have a middle or high school mentee. She’s happy she was matched with Jade at Academy of Choice.

Her advice to aspiring mentors is to stay in contact with your mentee and listen a lot. “Be consistent and be willing to talk about anything,” Lackey also advised.

She will be at Jade’s graduation on May 25 and plans to stay in touch after this milestone event.

As the two chatted about Jade’s plans after graduation, they discussed the pros and cons of a variety of next steps the student is considering: military service, community college or a certification course.

Talking it out, Jade seems ready to take on whatever comes next for her knowing that she has persevered to this point in her young life.

If you would like to be a mentor in SBISD for the 2019-2020 school year (and beyond!), please contact mentor@springbranchisd.com or call 713-251-2212.

by Becky Wuerth, SBISD Communications, Becky.wuerth@springbranchisd.com