Indian Spring welcomes G.W. Carver students, staff displaced by fire

G.W. Carver principal says that campus will “heal and thrive together.”

By Josh Wucher

After an early morning fire, students and staff from G.W. Carver Middle School are learning that they will move to Indian Spring Middle School until a new G.W. Carver campus is built. In the days ahead, Waco ISD and Transformation Waco will work through the details of the move to make sure that both schools have everything they need for the start of a new school year next month.

The Indian Spring campus has space for more than 900 students but is projected to enroll just over 500 students for the 2021-2022 school year. Meanwhile, G.W. Carver is projected to enroll about 460 students for 2021-2022. Both campuses are operated by Transformation Waco as part of an in-district charter partnership with Waco ISD.

“I want to reassure everyone that while we’re coping with the loss of our historic campus, we’ll press forward,” said Dr. Isaac Carrier, principal at Carver. “Panthers take care of each other, and Panthers take care of our business day in and day out. G.W. Carver Middle School is more than a building. It’s the people, and it’s the legacy that they carry with them each day. We will heal and thrive together. This coming school year will be different than we expected, but it can and will still be a great year.”

Indian Spring Principal Joseph Alexander said: “Our campus has plenty of space for both Bulldogs and Panthers. While we share the sadness that comes with the loss of a historic school building, we want our neighbors to know that they are welcome here. The team at Indian Spring Middle School will work every day to make sure that everyone has a great school year.”

Staff from the two campuses, Transformation Waco, and Waco ISD will continue working through the logistics of the move. Additional information will be shared with families and employees as it becomes available.

In the meantime, Transformation Waco and Waco ISD are working to arrange counseling services for Carver students and employees, as well as community members, who would like to talk with someone about the fire. Counseling services will be available on Wednesday, July 28, and Thursday, July 29, 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Estella Maxey Place Apartments (1809 J J Flewellen Road, Waco).

G.W. Carver families can visit Indian Spring, as well as any Waco ISD campus this week for assistance registering their children for the 2021-2022 school year. Registration help will also be available at Carver Baptist Park on Thursday, July 29 and Friday, July 30 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Online registration is also available at wacoisd.org/register.    

“Please know that our minds and hearts are with our Carver family and the East Waco community, as we process the loss from this morning’s fire,” said Dr. Robin McDurham, Transformation Waco’s chief executive officer. “While we haven’t worked out all of the details yet, we know that G.W. Carver students will have a welcoming place to learn at Indian Spring. They’ll have safe transportation to and from the school, and nutritious and delicious school meals will be waiting for them.”

Anyone interested in helping can donate gift cards to Transformation Waco to assist teachers and staff with replacing classroom supplies and other materials that were lost in the fire. Physical gift cards from Walmart, Target or H-E-B, can be mailed to or dropped off at Transformation Waco’s office (3005 Edna Ave., Waco, TX, 76708). Electronic gift cards can also be emailed to [email protected].

“We are especially grateful for the incredible work of the Waco Fire Department as well as the other first responders who were on the scene this morning,” said Dr. Susan Kincannon, Waco ISD’s superintendent. “During the pandemic, I’ve seen our district come together and support one another in extraordinary ways. I have no doubt that we can overcome any challenges created by this fire and keep doing what it takes to take care of our students and employees.”

The first day of the 2021-2022 school year in Waco ISD is Aug. 23. All students will be learning in-person this year.

Joshua Wucher is Waco ISD’s executive director for communications.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Waco ISD names Gutierrez deputy superintendent

She brings more than two decades of experience in educational leadership to the role.

By Josh Wucher

Waco ISD Superintendent Dr. Susan Kincannon has selected Dr. Josie Gutierrez as deputy superintendent starting in August. Gutierrez is now Waco ISD’s assistant superintendent for human resources. Prior to that, she was a consultant on educational leadership and held senior leadership positions in some of the largest school districts in Texas.

Josie Gutierrez

“We were fortunate to recruit someone with Josie’s experience to lead our human resources department,” Kincannon said. “In that role, she has worked closely with principals for the past two years supporting them as they recruit, develop and retain great teams to serve our kids. In her new role, Josie will work even more closely with our campus leaders to give them the support they need to make a difference for our students.”

As deputy superintendent, Gutierrez will provide leadership and direction for all Waco ISD schools, working closely with principals to ensure that their priorities are aligned with the district’s strategic plan. In addition to serving as the district’s senior administrator in the superintendent’s absence, she will oversee major projects that involve multiple departments.

Gutierrez is also one of three Waco ISD leaders who have been tapped to participate in the inaugural cohort of The Holdsworth Center’s school leadership pipeline program. The center’s materials describe the 18-month program as an effort to “build internal leadership capacity, with the end goal of having a strong bench of leaders ready to step into school leader positions when they arise.”

Gutierrez previously served as the chief of schools officer in Spring ISD, an assistant superintendent for school leadership in Dallas ISD, and as district steward and director of school leadership in Fort Worth ISD. Her consulting work has taken her across the country in support of the University of Virginia Partnership for Leadership in Education Program and the Woodrow Wilson MBA Fellowship in Education Leadership among other projects.

“I’ve worked in school districts across the state and around the country, but this community’s willingness to invest in making sure that every student has access to a great education stands out,” Gutierrez said. “That commitment became evident to me this past spring during the long-range facilities planning process. More than 60 parents, educators and community members spent five months studying our facilities needs. Their recommendations focused on addressing the all too dramatic differences in the condition of our school buildings in order to provide more equitable and modern facilities for our students – especially our middle school and high school students.”

Gutierrez has a doctorate and a master’s degree in education administration from the University of North Texas. Her undergraduate degree from Texas Christian University is in education. She holds current principal and superintendent certifications.

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The community advisory committee recommended that the district replace Waco High, G.W. Carver Middle, Tennyson Middle and Kendrick Elementary with new schools built in the same locations as those existing campuses. The committee also recommended renovating South Waco Elementary. Waco ISD’s school board is currently reviewing the committee’s recommendations and could decide as early as next month whether to seek voter approval to issue bonds to fund the projects.

Joshua Wucher is Waco ISD’s executive director for communications.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].