This month’s spotlight features Jennifer Blaine (The Broad Academy 2010), superintendent of Spring Branch Independent School District (SBISD).
In 2019, Jennifer Blaine was selected by a unanimous vote as the new superintendent of SBISD, a 35,000-student district in the Houston, TX area. She began her career as a teacher and later served in various roles within her district. Jennifer remains focused on outcomes for her students through a commitment to high-impact initiatives.
What initiatives are you currently working on?
In SBISD, we are focusing our efforts on literacy. We know that students must read on or above grade level by the end of second grade in order to be prepared for post-secondary success. Specifically, we are implementing Teacher College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWP) in grades PK-5, district-wide. It is very important that we prepare students for reading and writing across content areas. Ultimately, we want students in SBISD to be lifelong, confident readers and writers who display agency and independence.
What is the most exciting potential outcome of this initiative?
SBISD has a single focused goal that every graduate will attain a technical certificate, military training or a two-year or four-year degree. We refer to this goal as T-2-4. We know that reading and writing on or above grade level is the linchpin to post-secondary preparation. It is single-handedly the most important academic skill because it is foundational to most everything we do. We want all of our students to have access and opportunity to whatever path they choose to take.
What is your vision for your organization over the next five years?
My vision over the next five years is that we prepare 100% of our students to obtain our district’s goal of T-2-4. I believe we do this by providing focus and clarity throughout our system and concentrating on fewer high yield initiatives and strategies. For SBISD, we will have a laser focus on literacy, numeracy and social emotional supports.
What inspires you to do this work?
I believe that education is the true equalizer for our students. No matter your socio-economic background, gender or ethnicity, everyone deserves to have access and opportunity to a great education. This means recruiting, hiring and retaining the very best teaches and leaders for our schools and a laser-like focus on the right initiatives. It also means that we ensure we are allocating resources in a way that meets the unique needs of every child in our district. I am truly inspired when I think about all 35,000 Spring Branch students prepared for post-secondary success. Our students and families deserve no less from us and I wake up every day determined to make that happen.
What is the last education-related book you read?
I recently read the book The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive by Patrick Lencioni. This book is not only focused on education; however, more holistically on great leaders and the importance of creating and maintaining a healthy organization. I like the clarity and focus the author provides around building cohesive leadership teams, creating organizational clarity, over-communicating organizational clarity and reinforcing clarity through human systems. The book is the story of two executives in competing companies. The tenets of great leadership that the author focuses on are applicable to any leader, superintendent or CEO.