May 30, 2023
“School’s out and it’s sort of a buzz…” - “Summertime”, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
And just like that, the school ‘22-’23 school year is in the books. Thank you all for the collaboration and for making it a great one.
After the students went home on Friday, SSE staff gathered and put a bow on the year. We reflected on the successes, shared some laughs, shed some tears, and looked forward to next year. In the midst of it all, we also ate! SSE PTA provided the staff with lunch from Freebirds. Thank you, it was all appreciated by everyone and a perfect way to celebrate.
I know everyone is excited about the break and the upcoming trips. But Stripes already misses our Tigers. He is a mess about it and kind of in a tough spot being stuck here at school alone. I felt awful about that, so I did the best thing I could do and invited him to go on vacation with you and your family. Click here to print out your Stripes and take him sightseeing! You can email me your photos, and I’ll post them on our Facebook and Instagram pages. We would love to see how many places he can visit and the adventures he can have this summer! Tips: If Stripes misses a plane or fails to clear customs, we would love to see Stripes just having fun. Printing him on cardstock usually results in an extended stay with your family. If you are uncomfortable putting your family photos online, I'm happy to report that Stripes is pretty good at selfies.
I hope to fit Stripes into my bag a few times this summer. My family and I head back to Colorado (Breckenridge this time) for almost a week. We landed tickets to a Rockies game to knock one more stadium off our list. After that, there is some Port A beach time planned. I'm looking forward to every second of the summer and recharging. I’ll try to stay out of your inboxes as much as possible, but I will email you with updates when possible. Meaning, when possible, I’ll reach out to share any staffing updates, important dates, and the like. In the meantime, keep visiting us on Facebook, Instagram (@sse_tigers), and the SSE PTA for the latest news.
Lastly, I want to extend my kind appreciation to our outgoing PTA members: Evelyn Robinson - President, Kayla Fullen - Hospitality, Cody Gillund - Communications, Michelle Galaviz - Membership, Sara Parr - Fundraising, and Nicole Knapp - Council Representative. Thank you all for the time, effort, energy, tears, and heart you have provided to Sycamore. We appreciate your service.
Have a great summer, and I’ll see you around Drip!
Sycamore Springs Elementary
May 19th, 2023
“I’ve been working here Monday, it’ll be a year…” - “If it Takes a Lifetime, Jason Isbell
Our annual Journey Day was this Thursday, and our third-graders were able to participate in a pilgrimage to America. This immersive learning experience was so powerful to see in action. I’m proud of the students for their level of commitment and how they handled themselves during this stressful process of citizenship. The third-grade team poured so much into this event to make it special for our students. Thank you for the extra hours, planning, and collaboration to create a core memory. I also want to thank all of our parent volunteers. This event wouldn’t be possible without those staffing the various positions and screening those seeking admittance. Thank you for giving your time to our students.
Each year, a campus faces changes in staff. This is nothing new to you, and you all know this well. Even with your experience, the familiarity doesn’t make it any easier. SSE will have some staff changes this year, and I will share them with you at the proper time. Today, I wanted to shine a light on three of them. It is bittersweet to share the retirements of three cornerstones of SSE. Teressa Salazar (custodian), Sol Gutierrez (custodian), Lisa Stoll (fourth-grade teacher) will be leaving us. All three opened Sycamore, and their contributions and impacts are present everywhere. All three are staff and student favorites and make a positive difference with every interaction. Collectively they have 77 years of service, wisdom, and advice that we are grateful to have benefited from but will greatly miss. Thank you for all you have done for so many.
Our week coming up is full of events and summer with deadlines. Be sure to access our Thursday folder when you need a date/time for an event. Particularly; our end-of-the-year class celebrations. By clicking the link, you can find times and RSVP links. We would love to see you attend, and on your way out of the building, stop by and check out Lost and Found, as any items left here after the last day of school will be donated. Lastly, you may have heard, Friday is our last day of the school year. It is also an early release day, and students are headed home at 12:00. Prior to that, there are a few housekeeping items to address. Students should have returned all of their library books back to SSE. (I can share that the Spraberry family will be gifting a copy of “I Survived the Attack of the Grizzlies” to Rooster Springs as it seems to have entered the "void" never to return). Any student medications housed at SSE also need to be picked up next week.
As you can see, next week is busy and means a great deal to many. The end of a school year can come with strong feelings across the spectrum. The lens of a student, a parent, or a staff member offers different perspectives but is always emotional. Personally, this one hits a little differently. Monday marks the one-year anniversary of my joining DSISD. I wanted to use this opportunity to offer my gratitude to the students, staff, and parents at SSE. Thank you for welcoming me into the community and having fun with me. From my family to yours, thank you.
Sycamore Springs Elementary
May 12th, 2023
"On down the road we go" - "Covered Wagon", Miranda Lambert
Welcome to the weekend!
We are on the home stretch for sure. As we head into our final two weeks of the school year, the traffic is becoming more aggressive. Please remember to keep the front of the school clear for buses and be mindful of our bikers. As the weather gets warmer, we’re getting more and more kids coming to school on wheels. If you are dropping off in the South lot (between campus and Highpoint), thank you for not pulling forward and exiting in the lane.
On another traffic note, I want to provide you with an advanced warning about an event occurring next week. Next Friday, May 19th, from 1:30 to 2:30, our neighbors at SSMS will celebrate their 8th graders in their pavilion. As such, the innermost lane of the parking lot (the one most parents use to pick up) will block off through traffic in hopes of preventing 8th graders and cars from meeting each other. They hope to have the lane functional by our dismissal. However, if you arrive early to be first in line, it may look different than what you are used to. You are likely aware that as dismissal extends into the afternoon, both lanes of the stadium parking lot become full. By clicking here, you can see that access could be less than what we are accustomed to. Please be aware of possible delays and backups. This might be a perfect day to carpool, walk, or ride home.
Today marks the last day of Staff Appreciation Week. On behalf of everyone at SSE, thank you for your efforts to celebrate us. We were fortunate to be spoiled by parents and students, our PTA treated us to lunch, and even H-E-B surprised us with treats Thursday afternoon. I want to thank the families who donated gift cards for our Lucky Duck game. Staff selected a rubber duck out of our “pond”. Each duck had a number written on it, and if that number was drawn, it became a lucky duck. The staff member holding that duck was able to draw a gift card from those donated to us. We are thankful to have so many winners! On top of all of the celebrating, our students received their yearbooks, and our fourth-graders celebrated Texas. Teachers met with administrators for end-of-the-year conferences, and PTA met with team leaders to begin building the calendar of events for next year.
But wait, there’s more! Next week is Student and Parent Appreciation Week. Students will be treated to surprises throughout the week, as well as a week of optional theme days. They will also have some homework intended to show their appreciation at home as well. Lastly, our fifth-graders have a BIG day Wednesday with Tigers Rise at SSMS, and our third-graders have Journey Day (Thursday).
Happy Mother's Day!
Sycamore Springs Elementary
May 5th, 2023
“They can’t play baseball, they don’t wear sweaters...” - “Fish Heads”, Barnes & Barnes, Dr. Demento
This week we received our final totals from the APEX Fundraiser. Thank you for supporting the program, and my appreciation to all of the grandparents and extended family members for the pledges. The Sycamore Springs PTA will receive just north of 62,000 dollars ($62,306.58 to be exact) thanks to your generosity. Already, we are having discussions surrounding shade structures for our car rider pick-up and drop-off lines. I’ll certainly keep you updated on the developments.
Next week kicks off Staff Appreciation Week. Thank you for all of the support you have shown us. The staff at SSE works incredibly hard for our kids, they lead with their hearts, and we’re thankful you share your kiddos with us. Thank you for the gift card donations. Next week, we’ll put the plan into action, and I look forward to sharing it with you all in next Friday’s letter.
While the staff is vital to our success, we want to celebrate a few other groups and show our appreciation for the hard work on their end as well. I’m talking about our students and you all, our parents! May 15th through May 19th will be SSE Student and Parent Appreciation Week. All week we will have optional theme days, surprises for our students, and homework assignments designed for our students to show some appreciation at home. Please check our Instagram and Facebook pages for details. To prepare for our dress-up days, here is a sneak peek at the themes
May 15: Marvel Monday - Wear that superhero gear.
May 16: Tacky Tuesday - Bring that crazy hair, those bright colors, and some silly socks.
May 17: Winning Wednesday - Wear your team gear.
May 18: Tourist Thursday - Coincides with “Journey Day” for some, but for others can dress like you’re going on vacation.
May 19: Freaky Friday - Kids dress as adults, and adults dress as kids.
Once again, I encourage everyone to complete our Leader In Me survey. We will use this data to reflect on our practices and create our goals for next year. For the results to provide us with usable data, we have set a goal of at least 140 participants. Currently, we’ve had 79 parents respond. Thank you for your willingness to participate.
My family and I enjoyed seeing so many of you out at Founders! My son Knox somehow talked me into riding a ride with him, and once inside, I joined about 15 SSE kids. I’m so glad they witnessed me get stuck to a wall in a spinning UFO while my face was being forced into weird positions! For those who are wondering, the answer is “yes”. The two fish my kids won are doing quite well. We played the game looking for a teachable moment centered around how they will not always win or get what they want. Two sets of ping pong balls later, my two kids hauled off both won. Now we have two new pets, are out the money for the tank, and had to carry all of it around the rest of the day.
Have a great weekend!
Sycamore Springs Elementary
April 28th, 2023"I'll sit and work the gate or I can guess your weight" - "Carney Man", Cross Canadian RagweedI hope the kids enjoyed their day off and the news of the Founders Parade cancellation was received as well as it could have been. My kids were bummed but are both pumped about hitting it tomorrow! I hope to see you all out there.
Even though SSE was without students today, the staff was hard at work learning from each other. Our day began at Cypress Springs Elementary with professional development sessions allowing teachers to learn from one another. Following the lunch break, we returned to SSE for dyslexia training led by SSE's own Mrs. Walters. Grade level teams also worked together to plan for the remaining school year and get a head start on next August.
Today's day of learning capped off a busy week at Sycamore. Monday evening, Mr. Martinez and the SSE second-graders wowed audiences with an amazing performance teaching us all about the importance of conservation and protecting our Earth. Wednesday afternoon, Team Kindergarten welcomed over 40 new Tigers to campus as we hosted Kinder Round-Up.
Of course, we also had our Student Led Conferences on Thursday. Thank you all for the turnout yesterday at our Student Led Celebrations. To say there were hiccups entering the building would be an understatement. When things go less than planned, we always debrief to learn where and why. Such is the case here, and plans are already in development to make the process more smooth and efficient next year. Despite the line, my hope is that once you made it into the building, you saw how special the day was for our students. Your children were so proud to show off their hard work and share their learning with you. Our turnout was massive, and that is exactly what we want for our school; a place where families are proud to be a part of and attend our events. Next year, we will be ready.
Thank you to all of those families who have donated gift cards. I plan to surprise teachers with a fun game for Staff Appreciation Week. We’ll keep accepting gift cards throughout next week should you feel so inclined.
I hope you have a great weekend, the incoming storm treats you well, and I’ll see you at Founders.Cody Spraberry
Proud PrincipalSycamore Springs Elementary
April 21st, 2023
“Someday somebody’s gonna ask you…” - “Question”, The Old 97’s
I don’t always start my day getting covered in slime, but when I do, it is in front of the whole school. We wrapped up our APEX event this morning with the students completing the Principal’s Challenge. As such, Big Time Ben dumped a bucket of blue slime all over my head in our morning assembly. Thank you for your support and participation in our fundraiser. We are thankful for you and those who pledged and appreciate all that we are going to be able to participate in because of your generosity.
A former colleague once told me that “may don’t play.”; no truer words. May is so fast, so important, and so bittersweet. As we head toward the busiest time of the school year, I wanted to provide you with some calendar events. The week of May 8th is Staff Appreciation Week. I’m hoping to surprise our staff with a fun game to help push us through, and I find myself asking for your help in the form of small-dollar gift cards. My wife has a closet full of random gift cards designed as birthday gifts for those classmate parties that pop up. If you are in the same boat and have any five, ten, or fifteen-dollar gift cards collecting dust, I would love to give them a home as prizes for our staff members. We’ll have a box in the front office near Mrs. Thornton to collect donations. The week of May 15th is SSE Student and Parent Appreciation Week. We are so excited to celebrate our students and those who support them to make SSE a special place. More information will follow, but this will be a fun week for everyone.
Aside from gift cards, I am asking for your participation in another way. (I know, I’m getting greedy) This request is a one-time, vitally important one in which we are hoping for 100% participation. As you know, SSE is a Leader In Me Lighthouse School. We are extremely proud to have that distinction, and we strive to create a culture of student empowerment based on the thought that every child can be a leader. An important component of leadership is continually learning and growing. To that end, we are conducting a survey concerning areas of strength and opportunities for needed growth on our campus. I respectfully ask that our parents carve out 12-15 minutes and complete this survey regarding their child and their experience at SSE.
Thank you to DRIP FIT, Erica Knox Photography, and Larissa Paap with the Ben Kinney Team of Keller Williams for providing our staff with coffee and bagels this morning. Following a night of thunder that resulted in my kids spending the night in my bed, I needed the extra caffeine.
I hope you all have a great weekend, and maybe I’ll see you soon in our cafeteria for SING 2. Thanks, PTA for making the event possible!
Sycamore Springs Elementary
April 14th, 2023
“...and the let the good times roll” - “Finally Friday”, George Jones
We made it to Friday! Believe it or not, we only have 4.5 of them remaining in the '22-'23 school year.
Thank you to everyone for your support this week regarding our APEX fundraiser. With one week remaining, I wanted to express our gratitude for your efforts. We have two challenges this weekend. One of them has an epic water balloon battle at stake. The grade level that makes the largest jump over the weekend will be able to participate in a water balloon battle with the APEX team. Classes get to work together on this one!
I hope everyone is working on clearing their calendars for April 27 from 1:00 - 2:00 to attend your child(ren)'s Student Led Celebration. This is a time to give students, families, and teachers the perfect opportunity to have a purposeful conversation about learning. Students are able to report on their progress on academic or personal goals, scores, grades, or assignments, based on data they have collected throughout the year. Behind the scenes, our students are busy practicing organization and communication skills via role-play conferences, anticipating questions, preparing answers as they prepare for the big event. All the while learning the importance of practice in presenting, the value of critical decision-making when selecting work samples, and appreciating how being prepared requires time, effort, and skill. You can RSVP here.
April 27 is still a week away. Between now and then, our third, fourth, and fifth-graders will begin their administration of the STAAR Exams and will continue to do so on the following dates:
April 18 - Reading (3rd, 4th, 5th)
April 25 - Science (5th)
May 3 - Math (3rd, 4th, 5th)
*accelerated math and reading students will take the STAAR test with their grade-level homeroom class*
Students will have all day to complete the test. As such, our lunch periods may mights see some adjustments to accommodate those students still testing. Testing will begin promptly at 8:00 AM, and we thank you for your extra efforts in punctuality and the intentional scheduling of appointments around these dates. Due to testing security, our campus will be closed to visitors. We apprciate your support and understanding.
Have a great weekend!
Sycamore Springs Elementary
April 7th, 2023
“Mario C. likes to keep it clean, gonna shine like a sunbeam” - “Intergalactic”, Beastie Boys
I hope everyone is enjoying their Friday! Having caught a late showing of the Mario Brothers movie last night, my family and I are taking full advantage of the weather and being pretty lazy today. This soggy weather is meant for that sometimes. Thank you to all the volunteers and our PTA for creating, manning, and coordinating our Art Appreciation Day this week. We appreciate you.
This week was National Assistant Principal Week and National School Librarian Day, and we celebrated Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Sprague. These incredible educators have had such an impact at SSE, and we are so thankful for them both. Another group of people we are grateful for is our paraprofessionals. SSE has the absolute best group of paras that serve as our backbone, and without them, we would be in a world of hurt and could not function. Congratulations to Mrs. Aguilar, Mrs. Joubert, and Mrs. Stachewicz for being named finalists among a group of incredible people that give so much to our students. At our assembly, we honored our finalists and presented our winner with a flower arrangement as a token of our appreciation. Join me in congratulating Mrs. Aguillar on being named SSE Paraprofessional of the Year!
Starting Monday, you may see some familiar faces (and colored clothes) around campus. Apex comes to SSE on Monday, and members of the Apex team and things that are blue and orange, and the day will wrap up with a kick-off pep rally.
Please mark your calendars for Thursday, April 27 (1:00 pm - 2:00 pm) and make plans to attend our Student Led Celebration Day! As you know, this is a BIG day for us, and we want to be sure every student has an opportunity to showcase their efforts this year. Your children have been working hard on creating portfolios to present to someone special. It is an important day for each one of our kiddos, and we hope you can make it. Be on the lookout for an RSVP for the event, and thank you for completing the form as this allows us to plan for the number of guests while affording us the ability to staff in those instances where schedules conflict. While we know you’ll make every effort to attend, we also understand life happens. Your response to the RSVP can allow us to be proactive. If we are able to ensure a staff member can celebrate with a student in instances when others can’t, we want to try to make that happen.
At SSE, we believe that each teacher offers a unique set of strengths to his/her students. As students experience a variety of teaching styles during their educational career, it helps develop them into well-rounded adults who are comfortable working in any environment and competent in all academic areas. Sometimes, this process can be challenging for students. However, we believe that there is value in these efforts. Though it is never easy to watch your child struggle, it does allow you to parent (as in the verb) while giving your child an opportunity to develop confidence, perseverance, and resilience. At the same time, there are occasionally circumstances that you, as the parent, believe should be considered before we place your child into a class for the upcoming school year. If this applies to you, feel free to complete this input form. In an effort to allocate our full attention and time to plan the best placement of every student at Sycamore, we have designated April 28th as the deadline for this information. This allows for an appropriate amount of planning time with all the busy activities occurring as the year begins to wind down. Your comments will be viewed by myself, your child’s current teacher, and the school counselors as we finalize class lists. All comments will be read and considered; however specific teacher requests will NOT be granted.
Syacamore Springs Elementary
March 31st, 2023
"Show 'em you're a tiger, show 'em what you can do" - Frosted Flakes Them Song, Tony (the Tiger)
Happy Opening Day/Weekend! I hope all of your baseball dreams come true! (Unless you’re an Astros fan, and if that’s the case, I hope you have the same season we Rangers fans are used to). Whether you have baseball, cheer, flag football, soccer, or any other weekend plans, I hope you have a great one.
This week has been non-stop. Students in second, third, and kinder all had field trips this week, and kindergarteners had a hoedown. You’ve not partied until you’ve been in a gym with kinder cowboys. Yesterday, we were surprised by Dr. Morris-Kuentz as she recognized and celebrated Jen Blackmon (3rd-grade teacher) as our Sycamore Springs Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Blackmon is very worthy of the award, and SSE is thankful for her work and dedication. Mrs. Blackmon may have won the award, but we had three other outstanding educators named finalists this year. Mrs. Douglass (4th-grade), Mrs. Kimbrell (5th-grade), and Mr. Martinez (Music) are all worthy candidates. SSE is fortunate to have a building full of excellent educators. Congratulations to them all! We took the opportunity to recognize all of our finalists this morning during our assembly. Our students also welcomed our newest Tiger (quite literally) as we rolled out Stripes, our SSE mascot. You might remember that our students voted on a version of the mascot and then voted on its name. We have come full circle with several 5th-grade leaders who applied to suit up for special events and make kiddos smile. Be on the lookout, you’ll never know where Stripes may pop up!
Speaking of popping up, it's about that time again; Apex is coming to SSE. As you know, this annual adventure is a major fundraiser for us. With your help, our hope is to fund an awning for our car line for those sunny and rainy days. We would also love to secure the area around our big tree to reduce the chances of students getting injured and invest in classroom manipulatives for students to utilize in their classes. Please click here to learn more, and thank you for your consideration and partnership.
Lastly, I wanted to extend a huge "thank you" to the Brown Insurance Group and Carter Floors & More for providing the staff with breakfast tacos and coffee. It was the perfect boost to start the last day of a busy week.
Whether you have baseball, cheer, flag football, soccer, or any other weekend plans, I hope you have a great one.
Sycamore Springs Elementary
March 24th, 2023
“Aw, don’t worry ‘bout that everything’s gonna be everything ” - “Rainy Day, Dream Away”, Jimi Hendrix
Welcome Back! In speaking with our kids, I believe everyone had a wonderful (excluding all the busted brackets) Spring Break. Since returning, Sycamore students have had field trips, a presentation from a freestyle rapper, and Field Day! We've had a big week and have definitely hit the ground running.
Speaking of Field Day, thank you for the collective well-wishing and finger-crossing. While we couldn't escape the rain completely, we did avoid the severe stuff that would have canceled the day. Morning sessions with the littles started nicely, got soggy quickly, progressed to more-than-soggy, and concluded the day with a Chamber of Commerce afternoon for the bigs. Big or little, wet or dry, I think our kids had a great day. I’m so proud of the sportsmanship and SYNERGY (our habit this month) on display by all (adults included). If you were fortunate enough to be with us, you also saw the grit and resilience shown by all in attendance. Everyone pushed through some level of discomfort to find the fun in a great experience. We are so thankful to our staff for being present and having fun with the kids. To all of our parents who joined us, we very much value your attendance and are happy to have had such a turnout to support your child(ren) and SSE. Thank you, Coach Diez, for the planning and organization of our event. It’s a colossal endeavor, with many moving pieces, that depends on so many people to give their time and talents to pull it off. Hats off to everyone involved for sharing their day, keeping a smile on their faces in the rain, and making today a day our students won't forget.
As you can see from our first week back, this time of year is packed with events as we put a bow on this school year. From a student perspective, It makes sense that our students want to be here and not miss out even when sick or shouldn’t be at school. On the parent side of the coin, it’s never easy or fun to see your kiddo miss out on anything they want to do; school related or otherwise. That said, I respectfully ask that if your student is sick, please keep them home. We want our students here and having fun while learning, however, sending a sick kiddo to school has unintended ripple effects across the building that are troublesome to navigate. My wife and I both work, and I’m very familiar with the “fun” associated with the phone call from school and the pivot/change of plans game that follows that call. I know what I’m requesting when I thank you for partnering with us in keeping your kiddos home should they not be well enough to attend school.
Lastly, please mark your calendars for the following dates. Hopefully, this information can assist with scheduling appointments and the like.
April 18 - 3rd, 4th, 5th grade reading
April 25 - 5th-grade science
May 3 - 3rd, 4th, 5th math
Student Led Celebrations
April 27 from 1:00 - 2:00
Sycamore Springs Elementary
March 10th, 2023“Cause in the center of the spotlight we just might have found our spot” - Take A Look At Us Now, Lyle (the crocodile from Lyle, Lyle Crocodile)We made it to Spring Break! Many of you are already well on your travels or have big plans for the upcoming week. I can’t wait to hear about all the adventures from your families when we return. My family is staying local, and aside from trying to farm the kids to grandparents, we have no plans. I cannot wait to do whatever we want to do when we want to do it. I’m sure many of us will cross paths at the soccer fields or other local spots over the week; be sure to say “hi” if we do!WHAT A NIGHT, and what a way to send us into the break! I’m in awe of our students, and I’m thankful we had the opportunity for them to share their gifts with us. If you were in the audience, you saw this first-hand while enjoying a great show. What you didn’t see was perhaps even more impressive. I'm referring to the way our kids took care of each other. The number of pep talks, support, and “you got this” affirmations each student received from the other performers and emcees were powerful. Nerves visibly melted away when they knew they were fully supported by a group that was specific to them. It was amazing to watch the confidence grow in each performer with every word of encouragement. When the curtain closed, following each act, the same held true. Performers had huge smiles after their accomplishments and were met with high-fives, daps, and hugs. Each impressed the other and then told how the audience reacted to their performance. “Dude, you got the audience to sing!” I was honored to be a witness to it.I wanted to send a very loud and public “Thank You” to all everyone who made our talent show a success! Parent helpers Christopher Schultz, Amanda Kirk, Steffany Duke, Laura Villa, Sara Parr, Cody Gillund, Lauren Flippen, Nicole Knapp, and Evelynn Robinson donated many hours and evenings to make this evening possible. Mr. Martinez shared his equipment with us to ensure a memorable experience for the audience, and we had so many teachers in attendance supporting their students. Thank you all for making SSE the place to be!Lastly, I wanted to share that I’ve asked staff to unpluI for the week. I sincerely want them to enjoy this time with their families, recharge, and be ready to come back 100%. As such, please do not expect a response from any emails until our return on March 20th.Please have a happy, safe, and relaxing Spring Break!Cody Spraberry
Sycamore Springs Elementary
March 3rd, 2023
“Regulators, mount up” - Regulator, Warren G.
Last week, in my letter home, I referred to the staff work day on February 20 and shared that we all had the opportunity to learn from each other. One of our sessions featured our counselors, Mrs. Smart and Ms. Baker, talking to staff about the Zone Of Regulation. Since the conversation two Mondays ago, I’ve recently seen strategies utilized in the classroom across the building. I wanted to take a moment to pass along some of that learning to you to create a shared vocabulary between home and school, or you may find it helpful in daily interactions at home. At the very least, you can talk about the zones in casual conversation and throw your kids for a loop when they realize you’re in on it too.
At the base level, we use the Zones of Regulation, and its four colors, to help students become aware of their feelings, energy, and alertness levels while providing them with tools and strategies for regulations and social awareness. The four colored zones help make the complex skill that is "regulation" more concrete and easier to access for students. The colors in the zones are blue (feeling sad, tired, sick), green (happy, focused, calm), yellow (worried, frustrated, silly, excited), and red (overjoyed, elated, angry, panicked). Should the colors and their meaning get confusing, you can think of a traffic light. Then add blue = sad connection. In isolation, the feelings associated with each zone are not good or bad; they are just that: real feelings that fluctuate during the day. The key is knowing where you are in the zones, how to successfully navigate between them, and the social ripple effects on those around you while doing so. If your child comes home and says: "I was in the red but got to green", you can now speak their language.
Thank you all for your efforts at home and school steered at getting to school on time. I know firsthand that much of the work of getting out of the house begins the night before and is not always easy with late-night practices or games. Our tardy numbers went down as the week progressed. Keep it up!
I do have one more parking lot-related request. Recent news of the parking lot accident at a San Marcos middle school has not left me. Every morning, I watch our lot, our traffic flow, and our walkers, and think of ways to keep our families safe. I am continuing conversations with the district regarding the re-striping of the parking lot for clearly marked traffic patterns and other ways to improve our scene. As you navigate our parking lot, please exercise caution while monitoring speed, and keep an eye out for crossing kiddos.
Please have a great weekend!
Sycamore Springs Elementary
February 24th, 2023
“The tick-tock on the clock is painful…” - “Inside Out”, Eve 6
Even though students were off campus on Monday, the building was full of staff working hard. Our nurses and counselors provided our teachers with several pieces of training, while Mrs. Brown and I were able to meet with teams and have some great conversations. An afternoon speaker test provided the entire building with a soundtrack featuring the Muppets, SchoolHouse Rock, and Pink Floyd. (not sure why it happened, but it happened)
In conversations with teachers, every team mentioned lost instruction time due to our students coming in late. The number of grade-level teaching teams echoing concerns of lost instruction time and the mentions of worries for students not yet in their rooms have led me to ask for help and share a few reminders. Our school day starts at 7:45 AM. Students entering the building after that time are tardy. Many teachers begin the day with a touchpoint called Circle Time, Community Circle, or Morning Meeting. Regardless of the name, this time is vital. Teachers use this time for an essential pulse check of their students and can diagnose needs by how a student enters the room. This time also allows students to become centered even after a hectic morning in the carline. Speaking of carline, currently, we are wrapping up the last few cars around 7:48 AM. I share that with hoping to offer a timestamp and some predictability as you set goals for getting out the door. We are also experiencing an increase in students entering the building through the front door during announcements or later. Announcements occur daily at 7:50 AM and offer our students a routine, a chance to hear their peers, and celebrate their contribution to complete MORE Boards. A student rushing into the building while hearing announcements knowing they are late can make for a stressful start to a day. The first few minutes of a child’s day can have a massive impact on the rest of it. The feeling of being rushed, missing out, and maybe even feeling in trouble can take hours to subside, thus preventing kiddos from learning to their potential. Thank you for partnering with us to set the students up for a great day.
Conversely, similar concerns have cropped up in the afternoon. The number of students we are now seeing checked out of the office between 2:30 PM and 3:00 PM is creating logistical hurdles in the front office and safety concerns for staff. That time of the day is so hectic with wrapping up instruction and transitioning throughout the building, that changes in transportation create opportunities for teachers and students to miss a ride home or go home in unintended ways. Seeing a student worried about how they are going home is not a fun sight, and we want our kids to feel safe about the end of the day. If you are picking your child up early, or changing their method of transportation, please do so by 2:30. This allows us enough time to receive the request and inform the appropriate parties.
Next week, Read Across America comes to SSE. Staff and students will be using this week to combine the love for reading with the importance of a positive impact in your community and your connections to others. The activities planned for next week are community-wide across the district, and each day will feature a read-aloud and an accompanying activity.
Our Sycamore MORE Store returns on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of next week. Our students have been earning Leader Loot and are anxious to spend it. There is only one problem; a MORE Store staffing shortage. If you’re able to volunteer to work a shift, it would be very much appreciated by many. We can’t pay you, but maybe seeing happy kids will be payment enough.
Have a great weekend!
Sycamore Springs Elementary
February 17th, 2023
“...'cause they will understand the words that are pouring from your mouth” - “Heading South”, Zach Bryan
I have heard that only about ten percent of communication is the words we say, another thirty percent is our sounds, and sixty percent is body language. I have heard about the 7-38-55 rule concerning nonverbal communication. I have also read material stating both of those theories are incorrect. To say I understand what percentages make up communication as a whole would be false. However, I am confident in the importance listening plays in the equation. I'm equally secure in my belief that our students are better served by Habit Number 5: seek first to understand, then to be understood. Your children are fostering kindness and empathy by working to be active listeners when listening to others. In visiting classrooms, it is evident that our student collaboration across grade levels and throughout our campus is strengthened by the ability to listen to the ideas of others, practice appreciation of different viewpoints, and intentional efforts made toward not interrupting. The goal of creating students who are confident in their positions while being respectful partners can be achieved through being good listeners. You can be proud of our staff for preparing our students for a future of collaboration and building these skills.
I’ve been to some fancy places and done some fancy things in my time. None, however, can hold a flame to the fancy that happened on Valentine's Day at SSE. Our first-graders were dressed to the nines and celebrating Fancy Nancy with very proper soirees. I was honored to be able to attend such a high-brow event with such an esteemed group of students and teachers. Bravo everyone! Bravo!
Bravo to The Brown Insurance Group, Carter Floors & More, and to the SSE PTA for the coffee and bagel cart this morning. Thank you for spoiling us and making our day better!
Before heading off to the three-day weekend (for kiddos that is) I wanted to share a menu change from our child nutrition department.
Have a great weekend!
Sycamore Springs Elementary
February 10th, 2023
"Shining bright to see..." - "Shining Star", Earth, Wind, and Fire
Congratulations to everyone! Our mornings have been wet, cold, and windy: but no ice. We’re back in the building and have made it five days without interruption. That said, the weekend is here right on time. The students were feeling it today, and I would expect some good sleepers at home. Should the truth be told, I don’t blame them. It’s been a week that featured many elderly students celebrating becoming 100 days smarter on our 100th day of school. You see some cool stuff around an elementary school, but kinder kids dressed as seniors and their teachers matching the energy is right at the top. Next week, our first-graders will try to outdo them and get fancy on Tuesday.
Today marks the conclusion of National Counselors Week. SSE is beyond fortunate to have Abbey Smart and Casey Baker here caring for our students. Our amazing duo supports our students and staff in countless ways. Their work largely goes unseen, but their presence and efforts reach every student in the building. Join me in recognizing the incredible job they do every day while on the clock and the hours spent caring and planning for your children off of it. Thank you, Abbey and Casey, for all you do every day.
I wanted to bring your attention to an important event happening next week. Our SSE Talent Show will occur next month (March 9). However, auditions are happening next week. Currently, the audition roster is low, and I want to make sure everyone has the chance to audition. If interested, you can sign up here. Again, we know this is a rapid last push, but our auditions are on February 15 and 16 from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm in the music room.
Lastly, as a reminder, Monday, February 20 is a Student Holiday. Our staff will be on campus participating in training and professional development opportunities, but our students will have the day to enjoy. I hope you all have a great weekend. I know, at our house, it’s our last “free” Saturday and Sunday until the soccer schedule takes over. I’ve got big plans of doing not much of anything except watching a football game on Sunday. As a Cowboy fan, I hope the game ends in a 0-0 tie, both teams just have fun, and we can move on to March Madness.
Sycamore Springs Elementary
February 3rd, 2023
“Something just ain’t right” - “Cold Cold Cold”, Cage the Elephant
Welp. That happened.I truly hope everyone is in a better situation than you may have been 24 hours ago. I hope your power and water have returned and the digging out following the thaw has been as painless as possible. Cumbersome as this week has been, the intensity of it all was impressive, and the aftermath is humbling.
The loss of trees is both staggering and heartbreaking. My neighborhood, your neighborhood, and Dripping Springs proper took a hit and will look differently tomorrow. After it was all said and done, today was needed by all in order to get our wits about us and work towards the next steps. After speaking to staff members, many of them only regained utilities today. While we were surprised to be out today, today provided an opportunity to assess, regroup, and prepare for Monday. Along those lines, I ventured to SSE on Thursday to check on our building and our beautiful trees. Our building was just fine, with no leaks, and it seemed to recover from the frequent lapses of power. Thankfully, our trees fared better than most around us. While the green space near the outdoor classroom (between SSE and Highpointe) had a rough go, our two big beauties next to our playground fence and the front of the building only lost one or two limbs. I know these trees mean a great deal to everyone, and I wanted to share what I saw on Thursday so you can send your students confidently to us next week.
I realize that when school is canceled, it creates a ripple effect and changes plans in all directions. Without spilling too much of my personal tea, I can share that my wife was beyond thrilled with having three extra coworkers around the house for the week. Not to mention the dogs barking every time the doorbell rang when it was time to play on the ice. I also realize that many of you may have had a meeting, conference, or other volunteer opportunities planned or scheduled with us this week. We regret missing those connections and thank you for your patience and understanding as we work to reschedule.
I’ve seen so many gorgeous photos, but to be honest, the novelty and patience wore off quickly at my house. My kids have concluded snow days and ice days are not the same, and they are no longer impressed with the latter. Regardless, my kids have made new memories and are spending today detoxing from devices, getting outside, and clearing limbs. Between trying to keep up with all things SSE/DSISD, “helping” the kids (and dogs) give Carly some space so she could work, checking in on neighbors, and running outside every time a tree snapped, I was thinking about our staff and students. At this point, I can share that our class pets made it through the week as well. I believe all guinea pigs, rabbits, and chickens are accounted for and doing well.
This week has been a roller coaster, but it’s so comforting to see neighbors helping each other in a time of need. I hope in between helping each other or clearing your own property, that you can find some time to breathe and relax for a minute or three.
Have a great weekend knowing that we take your kids back MONDAY!
Sycamore Springs ElementaryJanuary 27th, 2023
“Campers, bikes, and mobile homes, cars, and pick-up trucks” - Drippin’ Springs, Johnny Cash
Welcome to the weekend!
As the mornings have brought cooler temperatures, we have been having an increased number of parents dropping children, bikes, and scooters off at the front and side of the building in the mornings. You have intelligent kids, and I applaud their problem-solving. The afternoon route home is much more comfortable than the way in lately. I've been asked to remind parents to avoid the fire lanes during peak times (buses usually clear SSE before 7:30 am and 3:15 pm). Next week, we are looking at cold mornings and possible rain; thank you for keeping the curbs clear for our buses and other after-school transports.
Attention all students who are eight years old and over! Special Olympics Track and Field is starting in February. The group is looking for peer partners to volunteer to help at practice and/or possibly compete in a Unified Relay during the competition. If you have a child you might be interested in this opportunity, complete this form. Once completed, you will receive event details, updates, schedules, and reminders.
Fifth-grade parents, please see the following message from Mrs. Miller at SSMS.
We had an amazing Elective Showcase last night. I hope you were able to make it and that your student was able to visit with all the amazing core and elective teachers at SSMS. If you were unable to attend, Mrs. Caroselli, our 6th-grade counselor, created a rising 6th-grade video that discusses the topics presented last night. The video has been posted to our website.
Thank you again for joining us last night!
I hope everyone has a great weekend, and stay healthy!
Sycamore Springs Elementary
January 13th, 2023
“...but it was Friday the 13th” - Good Luck, Bad Luck, Lynyrd Skynyrd
Last week we navigated a full moon, and today we braved Friday the 13th. We also tempted fate with a Friday Assembly and a bad weather/tornado drill...all before 10:00! Your children may come home sharing stories of the time spent out of the classrooms and in the protective position. I wanted to be sure you also heard they did a great job. The drill was quiet, orderly, and lasted less than 25 minutes. They deserve a high-five, as their actions allowed our staff to ensure a swift and safe drill.
As this week went on, it became more difficult for me to get out of bed, start the morning routine, and get out of the house. My kids are still trying to get used to their new old bedtime, homework, and waking up early. Each day compounds on the next, making for a tough Friday morning. To that end, I wanted to wish you all luck and remind everyone that while our academic day begins at 7:45, for your child(ren) to be counted as “present” for the day, they must be in school at 8:45. When possible, please avoid doctor or personal appointments prior to that time.
A few quick reminders before we head into an extended weekend:
Kindly,Cody SpraberryProud PrincipalSycamore Springs ElementaryJanuary 6th, 2023“I’m getting back to it now…” - “Big Brown Bus”, Ruston Kelly
- Monday, Jan. 16 - MLK Day
- Wednesday, Jan. 25 - Spring Picture Day
- Friday, Jan. 27 - SSE Spirit Night at Epic Fun
- Tuesday, Jan. 31 - Last day for 5th-Grade yearbook ad purchases
- Tuesday, Jan. 31 - Last day for “early bird” pricing for yearbook purchases
- Wednesday, Feb. 1 - SSE Subs R Us Training
Welcome Back! I hope everyone had a restful and healthy end of the year. It's time for us to get back to it, but unlike the song, we are without the option to do it slowly.
Despite any travel hiccups you may have had to navigate, your children are reporting a very successful and fun semester break; mission accomplished, and congratulations to you all! My family and I stayed local, so I missed my visit to Allsup’s this time around. Even though I didn't make it to one, I loved seeing how many of you did! I loved seeing the pictures of kiddos holding Tallsups and burritos (there is a marketing opportunity here somewhere, I’m sure). With the long weekend coming up, a road trip may be in the cards. The big guy found us and filled my stocking with tickets to catch Jason Isbell at Red Rocks. One of my favorite acts at a bucket list venue is just about as good as it can get. My dogs had a great time too and wrapped up the holiday by eating our supply of Smores (six chocolate bars, a bag of marshmallows, and a sleeve of graham crackers). Roo and Tilly are fine, but we have not made up yet and are still not friends.
As we enter the second semester, I wanted to share that our Student Lighthouse Events Team is collecting donations for PAWS Animal Shelter. We have collection boxes under the front porch and the back during car rider drop-off and pick-up through February 23rd. Pet products of all types are appreciated, and we will take it all! (ex: dog/cat food, leashes, collars, bowls, bedding, kitty litter, toys, etc)
Speaking of our Lighthouse program, I am proud to share that Sycamore Springs Elementary has been recognized as a Leader in Me Lighthouse Academic Honor Roll school. This means we have met the rigorous requirements necessary to achieve and maintain Lighthouse School Certification while also showing exploratory growth or proficiency as measured by state accountability standards. Congratulations to our students, staff, and families for contributing to this recognition.
Lastly, our teachers used this week to reconnect with their students and revisit classroom expectations, routines, and procedures. In that vein, I would like to remind everyone to extend grace in the carline, watch out for our walkers/bike riders, and avoid using the front as a separate drop-off line. Luckily, we missed the latest cold snap (the elf was VERY appreciative of that), but we know our walkers/bike riders will have cold mornings in the future. Thank you for parking and walking your children across the crosswalk to the building.
Please have a safe weekend!
Sycamore Springs Elementary