Brownwood ISD School Spotlight: East Elementary
East Elementary is among the schools in Brownwood which will see a host of changes for the upcoming school year. With the implementation of Project Neighborhood the school located at 2700 Vincent will now house PK-5th grade classes, which will add the energy and smiling faces of fourth and fifth-grade students to the campus. East Elementary was also recently recognized for its journey to an Exemplary High-Performing Blue Ribbon School, with administration and staff successfully closing achievement gaps, raising academic results and student engagement. Christi Burks, the new school principal, played a part in the success of that administration, previously serving there as an administrative intern.
This will be Burks’ 26th year in education. She graduated from Howard Payne University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and Mathematics in 1996. She then followed up in 2021 with a Master of Education in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies with Principal Certification from the University of Texas at Arlington. “The Lord led me to become a member of the BISD staff 5 years ago,” said Burks. “I have served the BISD community and East as a 2nd-grade teacher, RTI Specialist, and Administrative Intern. I am blessed to have a wonderful husband, Todd Burks, of 26 years. We have a daughter, Abigail Burks, a Brownwood High School graduate, and a precious little Yorkie, Scout, that rules the household!”
Burks will also have a new, but familiar assistant principal to provide additional administrative support. “East is blessed beyond measure to have Ms. Jennifer Gwathmey as Assistant Principal of East Elementary,” said Burks. “Ms. Gwathmey previously served our families as the East music teacher.”
“I am so excited to join with Mrs. Burks as the Assistant Principal at East,” stated Gwathmey. “I’m looking forward to serving our East students, families, and staff in new ways as we move forward into a new chapter. We are East Strong!”
With the new school year, East Elementary is embracing the changes and staff are looking forward to new opportunities for students. “There are some really exciting changes and events that are in store for East this coming school year,” noted Burks. “The administrative team is excited to have 4th and 5th to join the family! Being from a small school, I am used to having Pre-K through [grade] 5 on one campus. This gives a wonderful opportunity for our older students to become leaders of the campus. Students love to have roles and responsibilities; it gives a sense of belonging and worth.”
There is plenty to look forward to for East Elementary students and families in the coming school year. “We are planning to have a Student Leadership/Student Council group,” noted Burks. “Mr. Adams, the 5th grade Reading & Language Arts teacher, will lead these students through elections and learn the roles and responsibilities of being a member. These students will serve as a student advisory group, leaders for events, safety patrol, etc. We are eager to plan events for parent involvement and engagement such as Family Math Night and Literacy Night. Parent-school relationships are vital to a student’s educational success. We want our parents and families to feel welcome and to be involved as much as possible throughout the school year.”
East Elementary is planning to host a Popsicles with the Principals event in August for students and families to meet and visit with the administration. Details for that event will be released later this summer. Students and families will also have an opportunity to view the campus and their classrooms at East’s Meet the Teacher event on August 15.
“I am excited and blessed to be a part of the administrative team at East Elementary,” said Burks. “East has the most amazing teachers, staff and students. We are family and by loving and building relationships with our students and their families, students will excel in all that they do.”
Above: (left) East Elementary Principal Christi Burks and (right) East Elementary Assistant Principal Jennifer Gwathmey