GALVESTON — Colin Thomas, 9, is not ready for summer to be over or for school to start, at least not yet.

“Summer is so awesome,” he said, articulating every word.

He’s fresh from Texas A&M University sea camp and is gleeful about an upcoming trip to Disneyworld with his extended family.

The season, alas, is drawing to an end.

Galveston public schools will open Aug. 25, and Colin will be among the 575 students returning to Coastal Village Primary at Rosenberg Elementary, 721 10th St.

For the past four years, Coastal Village has been a part of a national educational network called Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) in partnership with the Galveston Independent School District.

The organization decided to close its Galveston program at the end of the school year.

“The KIPP leadership felt they needed a greater investment to succeed, and the school district was not in a position to fund them at a higher rate,” said Johnston Farrow, district spokesman.

New principal Cherie Spencer is leading the school’s transition with abundant reassurance for students and parents that the school will continue with the same teaching approach and culture.

“This year we will not have the KIPP initials and we won’t stay until 5 p.m. on Friday, but our school will still have all its important parts — the teachers, the curriculum, the way we teach and the values,” she said.

Spencer is a veteran KIPP teacher and previously served as the assistant principal.

Returning students will probably not detect a difference.

Most of the teachers and staff members will return for the new school year, she said. Only 11 of three dozen positions were vacated.

“Our teachers focus on a love of learning,” Spencer said. “When you walk into a classroom you can hear and see the collaboration of the students and teachers.”

“We do a lot of hands-on learning and not many work sheets. That will continue.”

Students will still wear bright yellow T-shirts and khaki pants four days a week with college T-shirts and jeans on Fridays.

Graduation, college and practicing a set of core values for successful people will continue to be part of the shared culture.

“Our school has seven values and we have heroes, too, like Helen Keller,” Kayla Martinez, 9, said.

She ticked off the values: wisdom, honor, internal controls, spirit, persistence, excellence and relationships, explaining that the first letters spell “whisper.”

“This is like thinking before you act and helping and being a good friend,” she said.

“It’s not just for when you are at school — it’s for everywhere.”

Martinez is confident that she will attend college, although she hasn’t picked a particular university.

“Maybe Alabama or Yale or Stanford,” she said.

She has a University of Texas at Austin T-shirt.

“I might be a designer or a teacher. I change my mind a lot.”

Her sister Klarisa, 7, has been a student at Coastal Village since she was in kindergarten. She is ready for school to start right now.

“I like learning,” she said. She is missing her two front teeth.

The younger Martinez is reading “Charlotte’s Web” this summer but says she’s looking forward to picking up her pencil.

“I like writing stories in my journal,” she said. “My teacher says for me to use my imagination.”

For future paleontologist Colin Thomas, there are a few bonuses associated with returning to school.

“I’ll be happy to see my friends and teachers,” he said.

“I’m going to be my teacher’s right-hand man.”

No matter what school your children attend, Spencer recommends that parents get in the swing of back-to-school now.



Coastal Village Primary at Rosenberg Elementary, 721 10th St., in Galveston, is no longer associated with the Knowledge is Power Program.

What stays the same?

  • Most of the teachers
  • Teaching fellow (not as many but still on staff)
  • Teaching style
  • Curriculum
  • Focus on reading
  • Core values — WHISPER
  • Emphasis on college and graduation
  • Paintings
  • Uniforms
  • Art

What will change?

  • No extended hours 
  • Breakfast is at 7 a.m.; academics begin at 7:45 a.m. and school is out at 3:15 p.m.
  • Same holidays as GISD
  • No initials KIPP in front of Coastal Village

At a glance

Coastal Village Primary Principal Cherie Spencer’s top three back-to-school tips:

  • Talk with your children about how exciting the year is going to be;
  • Start students on a routine including going to bed and getting up early; and
  • Have fun reading.

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