Campus Spotlight: Austin Elementary Empowers Students through Strong Campus Vision

A shared vision weaves its way throughout the campus at Austin Elementary touching every student and educator on a daily basis. Walk the halls or chat with Principal Brooke Kalnbach or one of her team members, and it will reverberate in just about everything they do and is visually incorporated into the school- painted on walls and even on the new campus book vending machine in large bold letters: “Empower to learn. Empower to lead.” In this week’s San Angelo ISD Campus Spotlight, we introduce you to Austin Elementary.

With a history stretching back 92 years, Austin Elementary is more than a staple in its neighborhood but in many ways a legacy. While the staff, students, and community are proud of their legacy, Mrs. Kalnbach and her staff are determined to look to the future to ensure her students leave Austin with the skills and mindset to drive them towards success. To do that, Mrs. Kalnbach has implemented that campus vision to “Empower to learn. Empower to lead.” It was created through a process of collaboration and input from students, parents and staff members. The goal of this shared vision is to prepare each Austin student for their future, whatever that future may look like, and to use this vision as a framework for all the lessons a student participates in in their time at the school. 

Austin Elementary provides many opportunities to their students to live this vision, and to celebrate their successes. Students have the option to sign up for and be selected to participate in leadership positions in the campus community. These roles include greeting students as they arrive on campus, helping teachers set up breakfast in the classroom, collaborating on the creation of the campus morning show, assisting the librarian shelving books  in the library, and setting up the courtyard to be inviting for classes or lunch. Our fifth grade students also have the special opportunity during recess to partner with students from our Early Childhood Special Education classes to assist them while walking to the playground. This opportunity for our fifth grade students to interact with our SPED students is special to see, the fifth graders are excited to help a young bulldog and jump in to be their role model and friend. These roles on our campus built strong life skills for our students in alignment with our learner profile such as collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity. 

“At Austin, we want to empower students to be the type of people that can see a need in their community and have the skills required to problem solve and make a positive contribution” said Austin Elementary principal Mrs. Brooke Kalnbach. 

The staff at Austin Elementary also use the vision statement as a guideline for lesson planning, design work, and class structure. The third, fourth and fifth grade ELAR teachers are using new methods to push students deeper into the content of each lesson through the use of learning checks. Learning checks are an opportunity for students to demonstrate their mastery of the topic through creative, written responses which are graded through rubrics which measure the depth of the students' understanding. The students have been taught to use these rubrics as guidelines to self-assess and set goals which push them to achieve. 

Students are often celebrated for their achievements and individual smartness through a variety of recognitions from the staff and students. The P.A.W.S., Positively Awesome Wonderful Students, shoutouts recognize them for character and acts of kindness, Top Dog awards students with outstanding leadership each 9 weeks, and students who reach academic goals are entered into a drawing for a golden token which can be used to grab a book to keep as their very own from the book vending machine located on campus. 

To be an Austin Elementary Bulldog means to follow the vision and guidelines for success including “be safe, be kind, be ready to learn.” We hope you enjoyed this SAISD Campus Spotlight on Austin Elementary. We wish our Austin Bulldogs, Principal Kalnbach and staff a wonderful 2021-2022 school year, and the fulfillment of, and progress toward, empowering students to learn and lead! To stay up-to-date on San Angelo ISD, please visit the SAISD website at and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.