A collage of pictures showing things that happened around the school; The Branch School

 

Annual Report for the 2018-2019 School Year

Our theme for the 2018-19 school year was “Gratitude is our Attitude.”   Thanks to our loving friends and families, we have had much cause for gratitude!  After the purchase of land the previous year, we were ready to begin making changes and improvements to our much expanded campus.  The new Hightower Middle School building opened in the spring, and our 5th through 8th grade students made a seamless and joyous move to their new facility.  Other improvements and updates were made, including the purchase of updated technology, drainage improvements and maintenance “musts” which have set the stage for the next round of construction, renovation and growth. 

Our students’ talents and hard work brought forth many remarkable achievements in academics, writing, sports and the arts.  Our project-based learning model of teaching continued to engage and inform our students, while fostering curiosity and leadership.  And they also had fun!   We continued our rock solid commitment to a nurturing school atmosphere where inclusion is “in” and bullying is “out.”  Impressive test scores were achieved, which is of course wonderful, but the most gratifying measure of success we saw daily was students who love to come to school and learn.

We are exceptionally grateful for our supportive donors who continue to support us year after year, and remain a vital part of The Branch School community.  Their generous donations and grants have enabled us to be poised to improve and grow in the coming years.  

A beloved hymn from the Christian Science hymnal reads,

“A grateful heart a garden is, where there is always room

For every lovely, God-like grace to come to perfect bloom.”

We are so grateful to see this blooming at The Branch School every day, in a myriad of ways, and anticipate many more blessings, and opportunities to bless, in the coming years. 

                                   Emily Smith, Head of School                                                   Ann Hightower, Chairman of Board of Trustees

 

Campus Improvements

Picture of HMS sign; The Branch School; Private School in Houston

This year brought many improvements to The Branch School campus. The 2017-18 land purchase included a building that housed the former Rainard High School.  This building was extensively remodeled to become the new Hightower Middle School, which includes a science lab, library, math room, and language arts room, as well as a small kitchen, administration office and a student lounge area.  Bathrooms were refitted to become ADA compliant.  This light and bright building meets the students’ and teachers’ current needs, and has been a great temporary home for our older group. A spacious backyard includes a large covered pavilion where the students can gather for various activities, including soccer and volleyball. 

Middle School students playing ping pong; The Branch School; Private School in Houston

The students and teachers moved into their new facility in April, settling in just in time for a major storm to blow through with large hail.  Insurance and donations provided funds for roof replacement to the main building and the middle school building, repair on the West Wing roof and replacement of skylights.  Several old air conditioning units were also replaced, providing cooler classrooms and comfortable programs in Melcher Hall.

Students participating in music; The Branch School; Private School in Houston

The middle school move made room for new, more functional rooms for the art, theater, and music programs, and allowed the Business office to again be housed on campus in the portable buildings. 

With the purchase of new land, new fencing was required and installed to ensure the safety and security of the campus.  This included a lower profile fence dividing the lower and middle school properties. 

Students using laptops; The Branch School; Private School in Houston

In keeping with our STEAM-based curriculum with an emphasis on technology, new “Thinkpad” computers were purchased for the students to use. 

Several maintenance projects were completed. A major project to improve drainage along the north side of the property allows for better use of that area for our students.  Other maintenance projects around the campus improved the playground area and campus landscape.

 

Academics

Student participating with technology; The Branch School; Private School in Houston

At The Branch School, critical thinking and problem solving are integral parts of our everyday teaching.  Our program implements a comprehensive, researched-based curriculum where students make connections to 21st century skills.  This is done through a cross-curricular program emphasizing science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math (STEAM).  We also incorporate a well-designed language arts program that inspires observation and original thought.  We employ a project-based learning model (PBL) where students have a “hands on” connection to the material.   

Preschooler experimenting with light tray; The Branch School; Private School in Houston

The success of our teaching model is readily apparent in the successes of our students.  Here are some tangible results of our students’ achievements during the 2018-19 year:

91% of our 8th graders are enrolled in Algebra I, a high school equivalent class.

91% of our 8th graders have been inducted into the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS)

 

Standardized Testing in 2018-19 

  • Our third through eighth grade students were administered ERB CTP standardized tests in the spring semester.  For Verbal Achievement scores, 87% of our students scored at or above the average scores for independent schools (private schools). For Quantitative Achievement scores, 86% of our students scored at or above the average scores for independent schools.  A substantial number of our student scores, especially in middle school, were in the above average range in comparison with the independent school norms.  The ERB CTP test requires a thinking level in line with an independent school curriculum, comparing our students with other top students in the country, and we are proud of them for this significant achievement.
     
  • The Branch School participates in the Private School Interscholastic Association (PSIA).  This organization offers academic contests for first through eighth grades in math, science, language arts, speech, social studies, research and fine art. Twenty one students from The Branch School participated in the Fall PSIA District meet, and 18 were recognized for their placement in math, writing, science and art.  One student placed in two categories in the State meet.
     
  • 78% of our seventh graders achieved scores of 95% or higher on standardized testing, and therefore qualified for the Duke TIP Talent Identification Program.  One of our students qualified for State level recognition in this program. 
     
  • 60% of our 5th graders and 55% of our 4th graders were inducted into Duke TIP.
     
  • A Branch School third grade student won first place in the Houston Public Media’s 2020 PBS KIDS Writers Contest.  Her story was chosen out of hundreds submitted.  Since Branch students have been successful for so many years in the writing contest, the student’s family and our Head of School, Ms. Smith, were interviewed for a PBS promo, and the Houston Chronicle interviewed Kate Piña, third grade teacher.

Student receiving an award; The Branch School; Private School in Houston
  • One of our students won a spot on the NASA Sounding Rocket in the “Cubes in Space” competition.  He designed an experiment that would fit into a 4 cm by 4 cm cube that would travel into space.  This student also was the 2019 Texas winner for the 3M Young Scientist Challenge.

 

Track girls; The Branch School; Private School in Houston

 

  • We also continue our robust physical education program.  Our Middle School Track team competed in several meets finishing their season at the Houston Christian High School Middle School Invitational where two of our students placed 1st and 2nd in the 1200 meter race for 6th and 7th grade girls, respectively.

     
  • Four of our students were inducted into the 100 Mile club by running over 100 miles during the school year.

     

Student Life

The Branch School fosters an atmosphere of inclusion and respect, where students are encouraged to explore concepts and ask questions.   During the 2018-19 school year, our students participated in many fun, hands-on learning projects including:

Students participating in Outdoor Classroom; The Branch School; Private School in Houston

 

Picture of caterpillar; The Branch School; Private School in Houston

 

Picture of the mouse class pet; The Branch School; Private School in Houston

 

Student drawing chalk art; The Branch School; Private School in Houston

 

  • Learned to ride bicycles
  • Visited a working farm
  • Cared for class pets
  • Hand raised caterpillars to butterflies as part of learning about insect life cycles
  • Grew and harvested organic plants and vegetables, including cotton
  • Took a team-building trip to the Outdoor School which included archery, kayaking, fishing, ornithology, orienteering and high ropes (Middle School)
  • Studied native Texas plants and insects, with an emphasis on pollinators
  • Studied other cultures
  • Participated in the “Hour of Code” National event through all grades as an introduction to coding
  • Visited the Texas Renaissance Festival and competed in their art competition
  • Created beautiful chalk masterpieces in the Via Colori event in Downtown Houston
  • Students swimming with dolphins; The Branch School; Private School in Houston
    Took a trip to Florida and learned about marine conservation (7TH and 8th grades)  
  • Learned video editing skill using green screen technology

To name a few!




 

School Community

We are also grateful for our many volunteers.  Our active Parents Association (PA) encourages participation in both their fundraising and fun activities.  The PA hosted a “Fall N2 Fitness” 5K/1K event in the fall of 2018 as their main fundraiser.  They also planned and executed a Fall Carnival event which was well attended and very much enjoyed by all.  Holidays at The Branch School would simply not be the same without our tremendous volunteers.  One parent donated dozens of pumpkins for a Halloween pumpkin patch, and other parents provided spooky treats for our Halloween parties.  The PA hosted the annual Gingerbread House Night event in December, which was enhanced by the festive decorations they put up throughout the campus.  Parents volunteered as chaperones for field trips and lock-ins, hosted class parties and coordinated class auction projects. 

Preschoolers planting in OC; The Branch School; Private School in Houston
Picture of The Branch School soccer team; The Branch School; Private School in Houston

They also volunteered to coach TBS sports teams, and gave presentations on areas of expertise in math, science and social studies.  “Go Texan Day” in the spring found volunteers coordinating a Chili Cookoff, Texas games and petting zoo for the students.  Later in the spring, the highly anticipated Field Day event was made possible with their hard work.  Other volunteers assisted with mailings and helped in the school library.  Other talented and skilled volunteers coordinated, administered   and served as teachers in our beloved Outdoor Classroom and garden. 

We are extremely grateful for our dedicated volunteers!


 

Donor Impact

Middle School students playing with a yoyo; The Branch School; Private School in Houston

The Branch School is continually grateful for our many donors.  Their gifts make possible the nurturing and challenging environment we provide, allowing our students to “love, learn and lead.”  Our main fundraiser is our TBS Annual Fund drive, followed by the annual Auction event in the spring.   The spring Auction raises money for school development as well as scholarships, and is a fun community event.  These impactful events are the result of the hard work of our many parent donors and volunteers.  The Annual Fund helps bridge the gap between tuition and the actual costs of educating our students.   We are grateful for our staff and Board of Trustees who are consistently generous, and we congratulate them for achieving 100% participation as Annual Fund donors this year. We have also gratefully received generous donations from our Christian Science friends. 

Middle Schoolers playing with a parachute; The Branch School; Private School in Houston

We are proud to be grant recipients from several foundations, local and national, as well as matching donations from our  families' companies, such as BP, Conoco Phillips, Exxon, Motiva, Occidental Petroleum, Shell, and Phillips 66 among others. 
 

2018-19 Donors and Funds 

Annual Fund

       
         

$1-$500

   

$5,001-$10,000

 

Family

35

 

Friend

2

Friend

61

 

Trustee

1

Staff

30

 

Foundation/Company

1

Trustee

2

     

Foundation/Company

5

 

$10,000-$25,000

 
     

Friend

1

$501-$1,000

   

Foundation/Company

1

Family

15

     

Friend

8

 

$25,001-$50,000

 

Staff

1

 

Trustee

1

Trustee

2

     

Foundation/Company

2

     
         

$1,001-$2,500

   

Scholarships

 

Family

2

     

Friend

4

 

$10,000-$25,000

 

Trustee

2

 

Foundation/Company

1

Foundation/Company

1

     
         

$2,501-$5,000

   

Expansion Fund

 

Friend

2

     

Trustee

2

 

Above $1,000,000

 

Foundation/Company

1

 

Foundation/Company

1

 

 

The charts below reflect our 2018-2019 fiscal year (July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019) audited financials, finalized September 2019.

 

TBS Annual Report Income/Expense

Revenue

 

     Net tuition and fees

$1,887,983

     Annual Fund contributions

$234,987

     *Restricted contributions

$2,913,103

     Other realized income

$11,529

*Note: $1.8 Million is pledge for 2019-20

 
   
   

Expenses

 

     Educational expenses

$1,989,924

     Management/general

$480,464

     Fundraising

$112,361

     Real estate

$663,208

     Campus improvement

$551,000

     Educational development

$503,900

 

Picture of Graduating Class; The Branch School; Private School in Houston


The Branch School 2019 Graduates