Looking out my office window I see green. Green grass, lush gardens, healthy trees, and yes, even a few weeds creeping up through the sidewalk cracks. For most of the months of June and July, Houston has collected a healthy dose of daily rain. At times I thought the Western United States would love some of our rains to quell the wildfires and drought conditions. Wouldn't it be desirable if every part of our nation enjoyed just the right balance of nature's riches? Over the last few years, the forces of nature have presented all of us with dramatic floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, freezes and tropical storms. The elements of water, earth, fire and air remind us we can't program our world like our careers or daily routine plans. Living in a hurricane zone over the last seven years, I have never grown accustomed to the anxiety-producing thoughts and feelings that churn in my head as water swirls in the Gulf. I have come to realize that the power of God's presence in our world through nature stirs up stories and the nascent potency of community.
We have all experienced the unexpected gathering of neighbors in an emergency as we lose power. Last February's freeze and the enduring pandemic thankfully introduced me to neighbors I previously waved to or smiled at while driving by. The author and editor David Brooks noted in his book, Second Mountain, that these moments of expanding community could be labeled, "Combustion Stories." As he writes, "Gathering people together is the start of community, but it is not yet community. There has to be combustion—that moment when the substrate of one life touches the substrate of another, when, as people say afterward, you go deeper."
Approaching this coming school year as a Regis Sacred Heart community, we have an opportunity to create our own "combustion stories" as a new 2021-22 Regis community. We will celebrate 30 years as an independent Catholic school for boys. That's a lot of combustion where stories follow stories and God's grace is unearthed through the wonderful blooming of boys as they develop into future leaders and kind, generous, polite, scholars and gentleman.
Joining a Sacred Heart school as one community, we immediately belong and are gifted to a story of courage and confidence. Through the example of our founders, St. Madeleine Sophie, St. Philippine Duchesne, St. John Francis Regis, and all past members of Regis' 30 years, we belong to a combustion story of perseverance and hope.
Please join me in welcoming this group of talented new members of our faculty and staff to our community. Through their passion for educating boys, you and your sons will have access to the substrate of their distinctive love of teaching and caring for Regis boys.
Lisa Fikes, Second Grade Teacher
Lisa Fikes holds a Bachelor of Humanities and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Trinity University, San Antonio. She comes to us with experience as a lower school classroom teacher, Reading Interventionist and mentor for gifted students. Her extensive knowledge of small group instruction, differentiation and technology integration will be a great addition to our learning community. Lisa will serve on the second grade team, with a focus on Math and Science.
Sharon Held, Fifth & Sixth Grade English Language Arts
Sharon Held holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Creighton Universty and a Masters of Education from the University of St. Thomas. A graduate of the University of St. Thomas’s GRACE program, Sharon has long held a passion for Catholic Education. With twelve years of experience in Catholic Schools and a TEA certification in middle school English Language Arts, Science, Social Studies and Math, we are grateful to have such an experienced, well rounded and student-centered teacher to our ranks.
Noel Jett, Ph.D., Counselor
Dr. Noel Jett joins us after serving as a K-8 school counselor at the Hilldale School in the Bay Area. She is well versed in all three paradigms of gifted education and various counseling techniques, including motivational interviewing and DBT. She holds a Bachelor of Psychology from Texas A&M University, a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology from Texas Tech, and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology specializing in Gifted and Talented Education. Her extensive knowledge as a school counselor, instructor, research assistant, and published author will be a great support to our faculty and students.
Kaya Jones, MakerSpace Teacher
Kaya Jones joins us after serving as a 6th-grade teacher in Cypress Fairbanks ISD. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and is currently completing a Master of Education in Learning, Design, and Technology from Texas A&M University. Kaya has completed Level 2 of the Google teacher certification process and is EdPuzzle coach certified. Her passion and excitement for STEM education will guide our knights in developing and extending their understanding of technology and critical thinking skills.
Nicholas Lepera, First-Fourth Grade P.E. Coach & Lower School Athletics Commissioner
Nicholas Lepera joins us after serving over ten years in independent schools. Most recently, he taught K-5 Physical Education at Ravenscroft School in Raleigh, NC. Nicholas holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Ohio State University and a Master of Education focusing on Physical Education from The University of Toledo. His extensive experience with boy-centered learning and focus on developing athletic skills while encouraging healthy competition will be an exciting addition to our Athletic Department. Additionally, Nicholas has held various coaching positions that include basketball, football, baseball, and tennis.
Kirby Morgan, 4 Pre-K Teacher
Kirby Morgan joins us after teaching Pre-K for six years at Kipling Street Academy in Houston. Her approach to teaching is motivated by creating unique and innovative methods to help students retain information and build confidence in and out of the classroom. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Houston and plans to begin working on a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education in the near future.
Kimberley Nguyen, Kindergarten Teacher
Kimberley Nguyen joins us after serving as a Pre-K and Kindergarten teacher in both Fort Bend ISD and Garland ISD. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Applied Learning Development from the University of Texas-Austin and a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from Univerisity of Texas-Arlington. Additionally, she has held positions as campus lead for grant fundraising and committee chair for Diversity. Her experience as an instructional leader versed in technology integration and differentiation strategies will guide our young scholars in navigating this exciting first year in Lower School.
Melanie Rhode, First Grade Teacher
Melanie Rhode is a beloved teacher with over 24 years of classroom experience in early childhood and lower school, this includes 20 years as a Sacred Heart educator. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from St. Edward's University and a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction from The University of St. Thomas. Her student-centered approach to teaching includes lessons that speak to students' academic ability and social and emotional learning. Melanie is committed to enhancing overall student success by maintaining productive relationships with both students and parents.
Mara Scarbrough, Third Grade Teacher
Mara Scarbrough holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, a minor in Conflict Studies and Human Rights, and a Master of Education with dual certifications in Special Education and Elementary Education from Johns Hopkins University. She has previous experience teaching in grades Kindergarten-3rd. Additionally, Mara completed a fellowship with the Sisters of Bon Secours, living and working in West Baltimore. Mara prides herself in crafting learning engagements that inspire students to be experimental in the classroom and take ownership over their learning. Mara will serve on the third grade team, with a focus on Math and Science.
Together we stand at the starting line of writing our version of the next Regis story that will be added to the previous 30 years. What an honor to write the next chapter in Regis' history with our own lives. The story is bigger than any one of us and that is the beauty of community. Our common story is always centered on our Regis boys. Every boy will be loved, challenged, encouraged, included and gifted with a spirit of belonging. If you are new to Regis as a parent, or if this is your last year as a parent, and you have experienced the full Regis Experience from 3 Pre-K to eighth grade, I want to thank you for entrusting us with your son. Each one of you holds a unique place in the combustion stories of Regis now and into the future. I look forward to sharing in this year's narrative with you.
As we begin this year, we embrace the Sacred Heart mission of making the love of God come alive in the midst of our gathered community. We have faith and hope that God will reveal to each of us in the day-to-day routines of drop-offs, pick-ups, homework and projects the faith and love we need to walk the journey. Our path and purpose is clear—to help every Regis boy walk with a confident and loving heart!