The Cub Hub Special Edition

Summer Family Update

Happy Summer

I TRULY hope you are resting and enjoying your time off. The more distance I get from the school year the more I realize how challenging and intense the year was. We saw lots of good and experienced lots of lows. However any way it is sliced we did all this together and I could not imagine being in a better environment.

Take some time and read all the news that matters.


AJ & David

Welcome To Our New Cubs

It is an honor and privelege to welcome all of our new families to Bear Creek Elementary. We feel strongly that this truly our and your home.

It is hard to summarize all that is Bear Creek as we are continuously evolving but please know we are always here if you need assistance and we are so excited to have you help shape our dreams and footprints.


Bear Creek Elementary's Purpose Statement

Bear Creek Elementary is an inclusive community who intentionally advocates for a culture of connection through integrity, resiliency, courage, and empathy. We are evolving, curious, and diverse solution seekers, who are deliberately making positive contributions and changes to the local and global community.

The Core Values Of Bear Creek Elementary






Bear Creek Elementary's Guiding Principles

Teaching social and emotional skills is as important as teaching academic content.

Great cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.

How we teach is as important as what we teach.

How we work together as adults to create a safe, joyful, and inclusive environment is as
important as our individual contribution.

What we know and believe about our students – individually, culturally, developmentally
informs our expectations, reactions, and attitudes about those students.

Partnering with families – knowing them and valuing their contributions is as important as knowing the children we teach.

Big picture

Bear Creek Elementary Communication Plan

Our main form of communication is our weekly newsletter The Cub Hub. Barring unforeseen events, it will be published each Monday and will provide important campus and district level information.

Each grade level/department will also have their newsletters linked within, making this an inclusive one stop source for all your Bear Creek news.

Our schoolwide social media accounts will not be used a go-to source for information. However, we do hope to use them as a source of inspiration as we highlight the positive happenings on and around campus.

The newsletter will be sent out via School Messenger and then posted on our website and our social media accounts.

The website will serve as the main point of information. We are always happy to answer questions via phone and email, but we hope that you take some time to familiarize yourself with the website once the school year begins. Our hope is you will find many answers within the contents.

If the school needs to get something out in quick fashion we will use School Messenger to send an email and text to the email and phone number that is listed as the primary contact for your child.

Beyond the required weekly newsletter, each teacher is expected to provide you with timely class updates using either email or SEESAW/BLEND.

We hope this very simple communication plan will be clear and efficient while providing you with the information you need in a timely manner.

Staff Reveal

The greatest predictor of student achievement is the teacher. Understanding that we go into each hiring season with the utmost care.

We are #BearCreekProud to announce our newest Cubs.

Please welcome them with the same spirit that carried us through the craziness that was the 2020 - 2021 school year.

Michelle Nobbe - Kindergarten

My name is Michelle Nobbe and this will be my twentieth year of teaching. The past eighteen years I have taught kindergarten at Kiker Elementary while my first year teaching was in pre-k at Patton Elementary. I have experience teaching a wide variety of students including English language learners, gifted and talented, as well as students with special needs. I enjoy creating a respectful environment and a great foundation for all to learn. In my classroom you will find lifelong learners, problem solvers, critical thinkers, and much more!

I grew up in Richardson, TX as well as Ponte Vedra Beach, FL (outside Jacksonville). I attended The University of Texas at Austin, the third generation of my family to do so. Needless to say, I bleed burnt orange. My husband, Jason and I have a five year old son, Cooper. He is so excited to start kindergarten as a Bear Creek cub! When I am not busy teaching, I love spending time with my husband, son, family, and friends, reading, working out at Orange Theory Fitness, relaxing, and attending or watching Texas sporting events.

I am thrilled to bring my experience, love of teaching, and excitement to Bear Creek while working collaboratively with the staff, community, and students to create a spectacular learning environment as a teacher and a parent.

Brittany Smith - First Grade

My name is Brittany Smith. I am a daughter, sister, and aunt. I graduated with my masters from the University of Arkansas in 2020. I grew up in central Arkansas where my family and I are very close. I am thrilled to be a part of the Bear Creek Community to learn and grow to become a stronger educator. I enjoy running, being outdoors and reading during my spare time. I am an open book and look forward to working amongst such strong and talented leaders in the Austin Independent School District.

Abby Willie - First Grade


My name is Abby Willie. I am so excited to be teaching first grade at Bear Creek. I have been teaching for 15 years. Most of my experience is in early elementary. I have also worked as a reading specialist and special education teacher. When I’m not at school, you will find me on an adventure with my husband, four sons, and our puppy.

Ross Irons - Second Grade

I am an Austin native and graduate of Westlake High School, and I am incredibly happy to be joining the Bear Creek community! I have taught English to different age groups of students in different countries and am looking forward to my first year teaching second grade ESL. I am particularly excited to be at Bear Creek for the school’s dynamic and creative spirit (very excited to use the outdoor classroom!). My husband Gabriel, our dog Meche, and I recently moved to Texas from Peru. When we aren’t taking Meche to the park, I love to garden, cook, go hiking, or read. I am also a certified yoga instructor, and I never pass up an opportunity to travel somewhere new. Can’t wait to meet all of you!

Cassidy Beal - Third Grade


My name is Cassidy Beal 🙂

I’m a born and raised Texan, that moved to Austin about 6 months ago, but I am originally from Houston. I just graduated from Texas A&M (Gig ‘Em) in May and am very thankful to be in Austin now! I’m a dog lover and have a dachshund named Odie, who I spoil more than I should.

Aside from spending time with friends, I love being outside and live a very active lifestyle.I am so happy to be apart of the staff at Bear Creek, and to be apart of a community that values equity and closes gaps by celebrating cultural differences!

I am excited to see what this school year brings, and I can’t wait to meet all the new faces!

Gillian Barbour - Third Grade


My name is Gillian Barbour and I am so excited to teach 3rd grade at Bear Creek Elementary starting this fall. I was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. I am a recent graduate of Texas State University and I currently live in Kyle with my dog named Sister. She is a lifelong best friend - just like my real sisters! She is a pretty awesome hiking partner to explore the Austin area with. I feel so lucky to spend my first year teaching at Bear Creek where the staff and administration are so supportive of their teachers. This is going to be an amazing school year and I can’t wait to be a part of the Bear Creek community!

Brittany Gabriel - Fourth Grade


My name is Mrs. Gabriel. I am new to Austin from California and I absolutely love it here. I am a first year teacher with a Bachelor’s in English Literature and a Master’s in Teaching. I have two Pomeranians that I love. I can’t wait to start learning with my students at Bear Creek and have the best year ever together!

Lauren Miller - Fourth Grade


My name is Lauren Miller, and I am ecstatic to be joining the 4th grade team at Bear Creek Elementary this upcoming school year.

Originally from Des Moines, Iowa, I made my way to Texas in 2011 immediately after graduating from college. I attended the University of Northern Iowa where I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education with minors in literacy and social studies instruction. My husband and I moved here thinking it would be a short-lived adventure, but here we are over a decade later, absolutely loving the life we’ve built in Austin. We have a three-year-old daughter (Brynn) and are about to welcome our baby boy in late July!

My first teaching job was in Eanes ISD; I taught a variety of English Language Arts and Communications-related classes to 7th and 8th graders for eight years before making the move to Kiker Elementary in the fall of 2019. For the past two years, I have taught 4th grade there and have fallen in love with the age group. Their insight, creativity, and willingness to be silly and have fun help make each day in the classroom enjoyable and rewarding.

Although I won’t be physically joining the Bear Creek Family until November due to being out on maternity leave, I greatly anticipate meeting (or reconnecting with) each of you soon!

Veteran Cubs Moving To New Heights

Rachel Cottingham = Moving from Kindergarten/First Grade Immersion to PreK

Amy Erickson = Moving from Second Grade to First Grade

Ashley Martinez = Moving from Second Grade to First/Second Grade Immersion

Bridget Vallefuoco = Moving from SPED TA to First/Second Grade Immersion

Cassidy Grotte = Moving from Third Grade to Fifth Grade

Kate Luft = Moving from Third Grade to Fourth Grade

Miguel Serrano = Moving from SPED TA to SPED Inclusion Teacher

Literaracy Theme For Next Year - Windows & Mirrors

Stories as Windows

A window is something you can see the world through, and the texts we put in front of our students should share this quality. When it comes to reading, we have all heard the narrative that books transport readers to different realms and allow us to escape. Or, books give us a way to experience another culture or live the life of a person who may be different from us or may have come long before us.

We use windows to learn history, authenticate perspectives, and share experiences.

Stories as Mirrors

Mirrors allow us to see ourselves. They show us what we look like, they let us examine ourselves, and they can give us a glimpse of our ancestry and heritage. Sometimes a mirror will show you a part of you that you did not notice before, and there is beauty in that. When choosing stories, they should reflect images of our students’ multiple identities and the world we truly live in.

Seeing ourselves in literature is a gift. It is an empowering experience as a reader to see a protagonist who has a similar name to us and shares a similar background. It is uplifting to meet a character who is like you in some way and relate to them, watch them develop and grow over time in a way that is not cliche. It is inspiring to read an author’s work whose voice feels like that of a family member. It is special to be able to connect with a person you will never get to meet.

These mirrors help us see ourselves in relation to the world and help us build connection and a sense of belonging. They also show readers what is possible.

July & August Tours

If you are interested in touring the school we are having structured tours, please sign up using these links.

July (21st)

August (2nd & 3rd)

Upcoming Dates

Class Placement Information ... Sent Home The Week Of August 2

Grade Level Mixers ... TBA In-Person @ BCE

Parent Orientation ... See Zoom Links Below

Meet The Teacher ... Friday, August 13 (Schedule To Be Announced) In-Person @ BCE

First Day Of School ... Tuesday, August 17

Bear Creek Elementary Parent Orientation

These meetings are designed for ALL PARENTS to review policies and procedures for the 2021 - 2022 school year. We will take a deep dive into the parent handbook and allow plenty of time for questions.

Without sounding like a "real principal" I feel like it is your responsibility to attend one of these so you are aware of your school and how things are handled.

Each night will begin with a presentation and then the meeting will open into a Q & A. To be clear the presentation each night is the same, I am offering three evenings to accommodate schedules.

These will be done via ZOOM to allow for screen sharing and for ease of access.

Bear Creek Elementary Parent Orientation - Session 1

Monday, Aug. 9th, 6-7pm

This is an online event.

Bear Creek Elementary Parent Orientation

Aug 9, 2021 06:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 951 0314 5203

Passcode: 583312

Bear Creek Elementary Parent Orientation - Session 2

Tuesday, Aug. 10th, 6-7pm

This is an online event.

Bear Creek Elementary Parent Orientation

Aug 10, 2021 06:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 940 2037 7608

Passcode: 739124

Bear Creek Elementary Parent Orientation - Session 3

Wednesday, Aug. 11th, 6-7pm

This is an online event.

Bear Creek Elementary Parent Orientation

Aug 11, 2021 06:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 948 4213 3835

Passcode: 964605

STAAR Scores

While the STAAR is simply one frame of reference for student achievement and successful schools it is the one that drives the school accountability system in Texas.

We successfully administered the Reading and Math STARR in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade, the Writing STAAR in 4th grade, and the Science STAAR in 5th grade to approximately 92% of our students.

We have significant room for improvement as we landed 8th in the district. I can point to dozens of other points of pride however data is data and we need to do a little better. This will not change our foundation whatsoever and we will not become a data factory but we will shift focus in some areas to move the needle in the right direction.

A huge shout out to our 5th grade team of teachers, students, and parents as Bear Creek earned the highest science scores in the school district!!!

Survey Data

If you are interested in our staff, student, or parent survey information please visit the AISD Department of Research and Evaluation wesbite at

These are taken very seriously by the school team and we appreciate the strong response rate and thoughtful feedback.

School Supplies

We have set up a one stop shopping opportunity using Yubbler.

This takes you to the main page which is defaulted to Pre-K. You can find the other grade levels off to the side in the form of clickable links labeled by grade level.

Items Left Over From The 2020-2021 School Year

We have a variety of items in the front office left over from the school year. If you need to pick anything up please do so prior to August 1.

On August 2 we will dispose of the items.

COVID-19 Protocals

We will follow all AISD protocols. Once the protocols are firmly established I will communicate those out to you however please be aware of district communication as typically we, at the school level, find out about changes in real time along with parents.

Things are changing rapidly (hard to believe I am typing that again) based on concerns with the Delta variant of Covid-19.

Final Spanish Immersion Meeting (Incoming Kindergarteners)

I will host one final meeting for anyone that is interested in our Spanish immersion program for incoming kindergarteners. Even for those that have attended a meeting I would strongly encourage you to attend as the program model has been dramatically altered so it may (or may not) cause you to rethink your participation. I will not be hosting anymore meetings so if you are interested you must attend. For context we have held six meetings thus far this year that have been well advertised.

Final Spanish Immersion Meeting

Monday, July 26th, 6pm

This is an online event.

Final Spanish Immersion Meeting
Jul 26, 2021 06:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 920 4589 8866
Passcode: 715405

What's Next?

Each week I will release an edition of the Cub Hub and focus on the following topics:

  • Academic Programming
  • Social-Emotional Programming
  • First Day Logistics

Stay tuned as there is a lot more coming!


Please email me at