For Camacho Elementary Instructional Coach Kristen Phipps, family and community are integral to a well-balanced, immersive education. That’s why after she was awarded nearly $1,000 from the the A+ Education Foundation, she used the funds to develop an accessible center for students, staff and families at the school.
Camacho Elementary is named for longtime Leander ISD employee Christine Alvarado Camacho, who was known for her strong involvement in the community, spent much of her free time volunteering as a coach for several youth soccer teams. Camacho served as registrar at Whitestone and Pleasant Hill elementary schools from Oct. 2002 until Jan. 2013, and passed away later in 2013 after losing a battle with colon cancer.
Those who knew her say she was beloved for her strength, contagious smile, bubbly personality and genuine care for students, she was deeply respected throughout the LISD community.
“The idea of our Family Resource Center is after our namesake for Christine Camacho,” said Phipps. “She was a registrar here in the district and she was known for her kindness and how she welcomed everyone into the building because she was the face of the campuses she worked at and a friend to all.”
The room is cozy and inviting, equipped with a small table for children to write, read and color, a whiteboard for instructors to use during a tutoring session or workshop, a growing library for parents, students and staff, a coffee machine to initiate morning conversation, and two Apple computers situated next to a dedication of photos and letters to Camacho from her daughter and a friend.
“We exemplify Christine and try to keep her legacy alive,” said Camacho Elementary Principal Gená Fleming. “All the stories we’ve heard about her, that was her passion, helping people and making them feel like they were welcome. That’s really where this room came from.”
The room will be available to students and families this school year. The A+ Education Foundation grant is provided by the philanthropic arm of A+ Federal Credit Union, which operates more than 20 Central Texas branches.
“We are unveiling this building with the start of the school year,” Phipps said. “It is a center meant for all, and with the grant money, I would like to purchase resources for everyone to use including parenting books to fill our Resource Center Library, a television screen to keep guests in-the-know about current events going on at our school, book studies, workshops and classes for families to attend to be able to help their children with their work and projects.”
Phipps applied for the grant in the spring and was one of 86 Central Texas educators to receive a portion of the $77,000 awarded by the foundation.
“This room is for all ages and we want it to be an inviting space for guests to make connections and feel at home,” Phipps added. “Over time, we want the room to evolve and grow with our families. We try to live by Christine’s legacy and teachings every day. I love that I get to see all the wonderful things our teachers are doing in the classroom. I get to help them with whatever their professional goals are.”
This is Phipps’ second year as an Instructional Coach after teaching special education for nine years, then moving to fifth grade science and language arts in 2013, until finally moving into her role as an Instructional Coach last year.
“I provide resources and help teachers to support their students,” explained Phipps. “My classroom has expanded from one classroom to all of the classrooms across this campus. I love that.”
Since 2005, the A+ Education Foundation has awarded 902 educators with over $834,000 in grants to fund innovative, inspiring and engaging programs for their schools.
“It is a great time to be a student in Texas Public Schools,” Karla Moyer, A+ Education Foundation Board Member, said. “I am proud to be on the A+ Educational Board to recognize and support our teachers who go above and beyond for our young people.”
“We continue to be impressed by the submissions,” Kerry Parker said, who is A+FCU CEO and A+ Education Foundation President. “We are honored to support educators who encourage student learning with hands-on, interactive programs.”