KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
August 19, 2020
By Natalie Cook Clark
Katy ISD’s newest schools, McElwain Elementary and Jordan High School, will welcome their first students today. However, the unusual circumstances resulting from the coronavirus pandemic will delay them from walking through the doors of their campuses for the first time.
Katy's Jordan High School opens for the 2020-21 school year. Photo courtesy: Katy ISD
Katy ISD’s newest schools represent the District’s continued growth - Jordan High School in Cross Creek Ranch and McElwain Elementary in Elyson. Although today marks the first day of school, all Katy ISD students will attend classes virtually for the first three weeks of the 2020-21 school year.
9th Katy High School Opens
The District’s ninth high school is named after the Jordan Family, part of one of Katy’s original farming communities. The Jordans were one of the first pioneering families to settle in the community where the new high school will open.
Henry Elmer "Hank" Jordan and his wife, Olga moved from Kansas in 1913 with the goal to create a better future. They had a farming homestead just north of what is now the City of Katy.
Jordan High School. Photo courtesy: Katy ISD
A Principal with an Unconventional Background
Jordan High School’s Principal, Dr. Ethan Crowell, grew up with an unconventional background, spending the majority of his childhood as a “missionary kid” in Lima, Peru. Those experiences helped set the stage for becoming an educator and opening children’s minds to exploration and adventure.
Before opening Jordan High School, Dr. Crowell was the principal at Beckendorff Junior High. He’s also a certified life coach. Opening a large high school during a pandemic will be a great challenge, but a task that Dr. Crowell is prepared to handle.
“I think experience as a teacher and a coach really teach some serious resilience skills,” says Dr. Crowell. “The pandemic is definitely a unique set of circumstances but the ability to be flexible and change as needed is part of good teaching and good leadership.”
Connecting in Real Time
Dr. Crowell said the school is sharing videos to introduce the campus and the staff to the community, and they are holding Facebook live events to connect in real time.
Opening a new school comes with creating an identity. Jordan High School will eventually be recognized for its black and gold colors, and their Warrior mascot.
“Traditions are rarely things that have been planned,” explains Dr. Crowell. “They are also handed down not handed up. I am looking forward to seeing what our founding students are going to come up with as far as traditions at Jordan High School.”
Katy's Cross Creek Ranch community is ready to welcome Jordan High School.
“We are already part of a great community and are looking forward to building on that for years to come,” says Dr. Crowell.
42nd Katy Elementary Opens
Katy’s 42nd elementary school, Peter McElwain Elementary will also open this year in the Elyson community.
McElwain Elementary school opens. Photo courtesy: Katy ISD
The red and blue Falcon school is named for Peter McElwain's dedication to the District. McElwain joined Katy ISD in 1998, and over the course of his career, he and his team planned, designed and constructed 40 different schools in the district. McElwain has expressed that his design goals included ensuring that students would prepare for their futures in facilities that provided progressive and innovative learning environments.
Principal Led Creech Through Harvey's Waters
Managing a Katy school through adverse conditions is nothing new to McElwain Elementary Principal Euberta Lucas. She led Creech Elementary through the devastation of Hurricane Harvey when the severely flooded campus caused them to quickly relocate to “Creech University” at the University of Houston Cinco Ranch campus.
“The experience of putting together an entire school in just a few days has definitely helped me gain perspective during this current situation,” says Euberta Lucas. “The biggest difference is that we could interact with the community during the ‘Creech University’ times, and now we have to meet over Zoom and stay six feet apart.”
Lucas has held an informational Zoom session for McElwain families so they can meet her and make the best decisions for their childs' academic year.
Making Connections, Building Relationships
“Being a brand-new school, it is important to make connections and build relationships,” explains Lucas.
Staff from the elementary school have shared pictures via social media as a way to help students connect to school leadership and feel connected during this time.
“Our PTA has really thought differently about how to host a few events virtually, like book readings via Zoom with Mr. McElwain, or a family game night via Zoom,” says Lucas. “The entire McElwain student body, face-to-face or KVA, are welcome to join in on the fun.”
Positive Culture and Climate
“Our biggest goal is to build a strong foundation from the very beginning,” says Lucas. “Building a positive school culture and climate are important to the overall success of our school.”
Katy ISD Classes Start Today
Katy ISD starts school virtually as originally scheduled, Wednesday, August 19. In-person learning options will begin September 8.
The District recently released statistics and the breakdown of students, by campus, who have chosen Katy Virtual School vs. In-Person learning.
With 83,957 students enrolled in Katy ISD, 43,395 students have registered for Katy Virtual Academy (KVA), and 40,562 students plan to resume in-person classes on September 8.
Online vs. In-person Enrollment for New Schools
Jordan High School: KVA - 559 and In-person - 588
McElwain Elementary: KVA - 299 and In-person - 343
For more information about Katy ISD and plans for the 2020-21 academic year, visit their website here.