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Jonathan Perlman, founder of Tradition Senior Living in Houston & Dallas, TX.

“For days, the senior staff worked 15 to 16 hours a day and went home only to sleep.”

Jennifer Blaine, Ed.D.

Dr. Jennifer Blaine’s impressive array of degrees and honors are even more amazing when one learns that she is of the first generation in her family to graduate from college. Although neither of her parents were college graduates, she had it drilled into her as a child, “No one can take your education away from you.”

She began teaching right after college and eventually moved to work as an educator in the Spring Branch community, where she resides with her husband, Will, and their son, who is a freshman in high school. “I love it here. It’s extremely diverse, including low-income along with affluent areas, and it’s like a small town in the middle of a big city.”

After 20 years working in various roles as an educator at Spring Branch, she was asked to be Superintendent in 2019. “It was,” she says, “the dream of a lifetime.” Then, not one year into her new leadership role, COVID-19 hit.

“We were fortunate with timing,” said Dr. Blaine in her enthusiastic, upbeat manner, “because we were on Spring Break the week of March 16 when the COVID closure hit. We had some planning time.” And plan they did.

“For days, the senior staff worked 15 to 16 hours a day and went home only to sleep,” she said.
They worked on a two-level response to the school shut-down. The first level was academics.

“We created a Digital Backpack of instructional resources at all grade levels for parents, kids, and teachers. No one was accustomed to online learning, and the teachers certainly weren’t used to teaching this way,” said Dr. Blaine.

An earlier Bond program that Dr. Blaine had helped bring about when she was Associate Superintendent provided a Chromebook to every student grades six through 12. That said, they still had to face the fact that not all the students had access to the Internet.

“First, we provided hot spots the size of a disc that allowed some students access to Wi-Fi, but we didn’t have enough for everyone,” said Dr. Blaine. “So, we also provided Wi-Fi on buses. If parents could park in strategic locations near a designated bus, they could access Wi-Fi that way. A staff member was always on the bus. It was exhausting, but the staff has been wonderful!”

Dr. Jennifer Blaine’s impressive array of degrees and honors are even more amazing when one learns that she is of the first generation in her family to graduate from college. Although neither of her parents were college graduates, she had it drilled into her as a child, “No one can take your education away from you.”

She began teaching right after college and eventually moved to work as an educator in the Spring Branch community, where she resides with her husband, Will, and their son, who is a freshman in high school. “I love it here. It’s extremely diverse, including low-income along with affluent areas, and it’s like a small town in the middle of a big city.”

After 20 years working in various roles as an educator at Spring Branch, she was asked to be Superintendent in 2019. “It was,” she says, “the dream of a lifetime.” Then, not one year into her new leadership role, COVID-19 hit.

“We were fortunate with timing,” said Dr. Blaine in her enthusiastic, upbeat manner, “because we were on Spring Break the week of March 16 when the COVID closure hit. We had some planning time.” And plan they did.

“For days, the senior staff worked 15 to 16 hours a day and went home only to sleep,” she said.
They worked on a two-level response to the school shut-down. The first level was academics.

“For days, the senior staff worked 15 to 16 hours a day and went home only to sleep.”

Jennifer Blaine, Ed.D.

“We created a Digital Backpack of instructional resources at all grade levels for parents, kids, and teachers. No one was accustomed to online learning, and the teachers certainly weren’t used to teaching this way,” said Dr. Blaine.

An earlier Bond program that Dr. Blaine had helped bring about when she was Associate Superintendent provided a Chromebook to every student grades six through 12. That said, they still had to face the fact that not all the students had access to the Internet.

“First, we provided hot spots the size of a disc that allowed some students access to Wi-Fi, but we didn’t have enough for everyone,” said Dr. Blaine. “So, we also provided Wi-Fi on buses. If parents could park in strategic locations near a designated bus, they could access Wi-Fi that way. A staff member was always on the bus. It was exhausting, but the staff has been wonderful!”

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“I believe that literacy is the key to opening any possible door.” 

Jennifer Blaine, Ed.D.

 

 

 

 

For the elementary students, Comp-U-Dopt in partnership with Communities in Schools donated 1,000 refurbished computers. Although everything was offered online to elementary students, the District leadership also provided a paper packet pick-up for parents who had no access to Wi-Fi or had no device.

The second level of their strategic plan was even a bigger piece of the strategy. “People don’t have food,” she said, explaining that at least 57 percent of the students in this extremely diverse district qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. And a lot of the parents had lost their jobs.

Today, SBISD provides “grab-and-go” meals—6,300 meals a day and 171,671 meals per month. The Houston Food Bank, she says has been an enormous provider. And it’s a critical need. “If kids don’t eat, they can’t learn,” she says, adding that the wonderful volunteers and partnerships, such as Communities in Schools and the Spring Branch Education Foundation, make it possible to do what they do.

And what do they do? What is this district known for? T-2-4. Catchy. It stands for the District’s goal for every student to graduate and go on to obtain a technical certificate, military training, or a two-year or four-year degree. “Spring Branch ISD was the first to establish T-2-4 as a goal years ago, and now, it is pretty much state-wide,” said Dr. Blaine.

And then, there is this Superintendent’s personal goal—literacy. “I believe that literacy is the key to opening any possible door,” said Dr. Blaine. Which is why she is eager to get students back to school. “Online,” she says, “is not the same as being in the classrooms.”

For this determined Superintendent, no one can take her students’ education away from them—not even COVID-19.

Linda Faulkner Johnston—Tradition Senior Living

For more information, see www.springbranchisd.com

For the elementary students, Comp-U-Dopt in partnership with Communities in Schools donated 1,000 refurbished computers. Although everything was offered online to elementary students, the District leadership also provided a paper packet pick-up for parents who had no access to Wi-Fi or had no device.

The second level of their strategic plan was even a bigger piece of the strategy. “People don’t have food,” she said, explaining that at least 57 percent of the students in this extremely diverse district qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. And a lot of the parents had lost their jobs.

Today, SBISD provides “grab-and-go” meals—6,300 meals a day and 171,671 meals per month. The Houston Food Bank, she says has been an enormous provider. And it’s a critical need. “If kids don’t eat, they can’t learn,” she says, adding that the wonderful volunteers and partnerships, such as Communities in Schools and the Spring Branch Education Foundation, make it possible to do what they do.

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And what do they do? What is this district known for? T-2-4. Catchy. It stands for the District’s goal for every student to graduate and go on to obtain a technical certificate, military training, or a two-year or four-year degree. “Spring Branch ISD was the first to establish T-2-4 as a goal years ago, and now, it is pretty much state-wide,” said Dr. Blaine.

And then, there is this Superintendent’s personal goal—literacy. “I believe that literacy is the key to opening any possible door,” said Dr. Blaine. Which is why she is eager to get students back to school. “Online,” she says, “is not the same as being in the classrooms.”

For this determined Superintendent, no one can take her students’ education away from them—not even COVID-19.

Linda Faulkner Johnston—Tradition Senior Living

For more information, see www.springbranchisd.com

“I believe that literacy is the key to opening any possible door.” 

Jennifer Blaine, Ed.D.

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