KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
May 15, 2020
By Natalie Cook Clark
As the academic year comes to a close, Katy ISD plans to continue serving the community. Meet two District employees who provide valuable services to thousands of Katy families, while adjusting to caring for their own families during the pandemic.
Maria Corrales DiPetta overseas KISD communication while working from home with her daughter Daniella.
The coronavirus forced Katy ISD to make many adjustments as buildings were closed to in-person classes and activities. Teachers became a new kind of hero as they turned learning into a virtual experience, but the District has many employees who provide other valuable services to the community. As we continue to celebrate moms throughout the month of May, Katy Magazine spotlights two incredible moms who work for Katy ISD.
Maria Corrales DiPetta
Katy ISD Manager Media Relations and Multimedia
Communication continues to be an essential and important role during this pandemic. Not only in Maria Corrales DiPetta keeping local families informed, but she still makes time to share great stories about the District that are not coronavirus related.
Education has been one of the biggest areas impacted as concerns over the coronavirus continue to change everyday lives. Communication from Katy ISD, the town's largest local educating system is vital to staff, students, and families.
Keeping the Community Informed
As the Manager for Media Relations and Multimedia with Katy ISD, Maria has been keeping the community informed while still adjusting to a new life as a parent to seven-month-old Daniella Grace.
Maria started working for Katy ISD in June, 2016. She knew that as the Manager of Media Relations and Multimedia, her job would require her to be available 24/7. She was used to the media industry, and was ready.
“I am a necessary conduit to ensure our media partners have the needed information for their newscasts, which means availability after-hours and on weekends is a necessity,” explains Maria. “However, never did I imagine that a global health crisis would upend my norms, when it came to managing my professional life and home responsibilities.”
A Great Support System
Maria is lucky to have a great support system during this time, but still remains cautious on making the best decisions for their family.
“During this pandemic and the stay-at-home orders, my family has been my best support when it comes to finding that balance,” says Maria. “Our friends and church family have volunteered to help, but my husband and I have had to think twice, out of fear that the virus could creep into our home.”
Like many in the community, Maria has learned that there is no true routine during a pandemic.
“Every day is a new adventure that we solve as it comes,” says Maria. “Between coordinating my media interviews, Zoom calls, other work responsibilities, along with my husband’s work schedule and his real estate responsibilities, we have been able to manage.”
Prepared For A Crisis
As a reporter, Maria had to cover stressful events like hurricanes, fires, shootings and more. So she was experienced adapting to difficult situations.
“With the Coronavirus, it has been a little different because I now have a baby that depends on mommy and daddy to protect her,” says Maria.
Not only was Maria trained and ready for a crisis, but she works for a school district that was also ready to work during this crisis.
“I think the fact that the Katy ISD Communications Department began preparing ahead of the situation has helped to calm any of my forthcoming anxiety,” says Maria.
“Prior to students heading off to Spring Break, and the pandemic overtaking our airwaves, the Katy ISD Communications team was already sending out communications to parents, staff and the community and I was already interacting with the media as the District closely monitored the situation. When it came time to get in full gear, I was mentally prepared.”
Even during this unimaginable crisis, Maria finds joy.
“The fact that my family is safe and healthy during this pandemic is a great blessing,” says Maria. “Even though we are not able to hug each other, hold each other or have a big gathering for Mother’s Day, we know how much we love each other.”
Maria’s work centers around virtual meetings and phone calls.
“I truly miss interacting face-to-face with our Katy ISD students, staff and community,” says Maria.
Celebrating the Good
“Watching the news was my biggest distraction at first,” says Maria “I just could not unglue myself from the breaking news and the social media alerts.”
However, Maria doesn’t want to just focus on the virus.
"Not everything on the news has to be about the bad things of this pandemic. Every morning I make it a priority to find positive stories taking place at Katy ISD to pitch to our media outlets.”
Maria is making the most of this situation.
“Being close to my husband and baby during this global crisis is a momentous occasion I truly cherish,” says Maria. “It’s been tough, but we are handling it fairly well…and of course the baby is loving it!!”
The Bassinger family.
Nutrition & Food Service Coordinator
The Coronavirus forced Katy ISD to close its doors to in-person classes but the District is still serving local students. Lisa Bassinger, the Nutrition and Food Service Coordinator at Katy ISD, has been coordinating and serving Katy students through drive-through meal pickups. She’s been making sure local students eat.
Single Mom to 5 Katy Tigers
Lisa is a single mom to five children - Natalie (22), Nathan (20), Nicholas (18), Noah (17), and Nora (15). The Bassingers are a proud Katy Tiger family with all kids either graduating from or currently attending the school.
“I go to work every day, as does my oldest son who is in college,” says Lisa. “Nic is a senior, so that has been hard. I am really proud of him for keeping things in perspective!”
Since March, Katy ISD Nutrition and Food Services has provided a very essential service to the community. Since March 16, they have given out 766,453 meals.
Once the district closed, Lisa and others met to find a way to make sure kids who needed food could still get fed. A lot of logistics went into consideration when planning to offer curbside meals during a pandemic.
“Based on past experience with community feeding, we decided to prepare 100 breakfasts and lunches at each site,” explains Lisa. “We were absolutely in awe at how quickly participation grew!”
Due to popularity, the District had to add more sites and more food.
“Remember how difficult it was to find groceries at the stores in those early weeks? It was no different for school nutrition programs,” says Lisa. “Our menu planners had to work very closely with our vendors.”
Family Trained for Change
The Bassingers started off as a military family which trained them to change and adapt well. Lisa has been a single mom for ten years, so the kids learned a long-time ago to be self-sufficient.
“One thing I have always strived to instill in my kids is a love of learning. I suppose all of these things have helped them adjust to the changes during the pandemic—including virtual school,” says Lisa.
Katy ISD Prepared Students
“Katy ISD students are taught to use technology very early, so that has helped too,” says Lisa. “When I get home from work, I ask them, 'What did you do in school today?' They tell me about their Zoom meetings and Canvas assignments,” says Lisa.
While Lisa’s children continue to demonstrate self-discipline, she’s happy to be part of a team striving to serve and give Katy families a sense of routine and normalcy during this time.
“This has been a very stressful time for our community,” says Lisa. “It is very gratifying to know that we are helping to feed kids when so many families are in need.”
Through these meals, virtual classes, and more, Katy ISD continues to serve their families.
“I think our teachers have done a great job keeping the kids engaged in learning,” says Lisa, who is just one of so many working Katy moms that provide an essential role to serving our community.
The Work Goes On
As the 2019-2020 academic year comes to a close we celebrate the students and teachers who made this year successful despite the surreal circumstances. As students graduate and move on, or whether they're moving to the next grade level, many Katy ISD employees will work through the summer to serve the District and the community.
Both the essential District communications and meals-to-go will continue to serve Katy.