By David Rupkalvis
When school opened last month, students in the fast-growing area of Sterling Lakes in Iowa Colony got a special treat — their own school.
Bel Nafegar Sanchez Elementary opened its doors to pre-K through fifth-grade students, with close to 800 students walking through the doors on opening day.
There to meet was Sanchez, Principal Rosemary Reed and dozens of excited teachers. As the day came to close, Reed said it was nearly perfect. The one problem — it took too long to get all the students picked up from the car line. But even one problem was too much so Reed and her staff stayed late to fix the problem.
“We hammered it out,” she said. Reed said the met for an hour to find solutions to the lengthy pickup lines.
“The parents see that and they know we’re trying,” Reed said. “We’ve already made adjustments and we are working it out.”
Reed said fixing problems quickly is key, especially in a new school. She said her goal is show parents she and Sanchez Elementary can be trusted.
“I’m not going to ask them to trust me,” she said. “I’m going to earn their trust.”
Reed was named principal of Sanchez Elementary near the end of last school year and spent months trying to put together the perfect staff for the incoming students. She proudly admits she poached some of the best teachers, not just from Alvin ISD, but other districts in the area. Being named principal early was beneficial, she said, because she didn’t just have to interview prospective teachers. Instead, she had time to watch them in the classroom.
One of the key decisions she had to make was a mascot and a theme for the school. To find those, she turned to the school’s namesake — Bel Nafegar Sanchez.
Reed learned Nafegar meant navigator, so the school became the navigators and took on a transportation theme.
“How do we navigate,” Reed asked. “That’s why we have a transportation theme. We all come from different places, and we all have different ways to navigate, but we’re all navigating to success.”
While the design on Sanchez Elementary was already approved before Reed was hired, she did have a lot of say in the final product. The murals on the walls are one of her favorites, with each depicting navigation themes and all tying back to Sanchez.
“I love the design of this building,” she said. “It’s beautiful. I can get to any classroom in a few minutes.”
The two-story building is designed with the younger students — pre-K, kindergarten and first grade — downstairs and the older students upstairs. It has a lot of flex spaces big enough for entire classes to use for special lessons. Reed said she flex spaces and key and her goal is to get teachers out of the classroom, using every inch of the building to teach students.
While walking through Sanchez Elementary, there was spirit of enthusiasm tied to the newness.
Fifth-grade science teacher Rachael Klima, who moved to Sanchez from Meridiana Elementary, said she was thrilled to be in the new school with her students.
“It’s beautiful,” she said. “I’m glad I got to come with the kids.”
Fourth-grade teacher Holly Heble was also excited about opening the school.
“Oh, I love it,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Sanchez Elementary School will host a formal dedication at 2 p.m. Oct. 6. The community is welcome to attend and tour the facility.