Ponderosa Elementary School, Spring ISD
Ponderosa Elementary was the third elementary that Spring I.S.D. built. It was dedicated in 1971 and was designed from the ground up as an open area, open concept (OAOC) school. The entire faculty was either trained in OAOC at district in-services or came from colleges and universities that stressed this type of instruction and school arrangement. It was the first and is one of the few Spring Schools that is named for a subdivision; the others are Oak Creek (recently renamed Reynold Elementary) and Heritage Elementary Schools.

The Ponderosa Subdivision itself got its name from the TV show Bonanza; it was the name of the Cartwright’s ranch. The school’s first Principal was Mrs. Virginia Simmons; the Superintendent was John Winship and Assistant Superintendent was Dr. Joseph Beneke. Mr. Winship was terminally ill and it was known that Dr. Beneke was brought in to lead the district in the near future. We were a demonstration OAOC School and had visitors from across the United States. It was not uncommon for these visitors to sit down and join the students for the classes. The students became very adept at helping all these adults with the assignments.

In the early 70’s FM 1960 was a two-lane road. There were only a few stores in the area and many families had to travel to the Champions area to shop. Gerlands was one of the first grocery stores in the subdivision’s area. Kuykendahl Road was also a two-lane road that did not access the Ponderosa Subdivision. Many of the early families worked for Shell Oil. Butte Creek was pretty much the western-most road in the subdivision. It would take quite a number of years for the Ponderosa West Subdivision to be developed and streets cut to Kuykendahl Road.

The size of the school district was such that we several times hosted meetings for all the teachers—K-12. They fit nicely in our cafetorium. The auditorium part became the present downstairs conference room and two adjoining classrooms as we have grown. At the opening of our school only the second floor was finished. During rainy days the students would use the downstairs as a playground. By the end of the first semester the downstairs was complete. We were and are the only two-story elementary school.

After a number of years Mrs. Simmons became the principal of Spring Elementary, which was later, renamed Salyers Elementary in honor of the Salyers Family. Mrs. Sue Synnott became the new Principal and our first Assistant Principal was Mrs. Joan Harding; Dr. Gordon Anderson replaced Dr. Beneke as Superintendent. As an aside, his daughter Heidi was a student at Ponderosa who continued her education and became a teacher in Spring. It was not uncommon to go to school board meetings and see three of four former Ponderosa parents sitting at the front table.

The Ponderosa Subdivision, from the beginning and continuing today remains a very active community in the public school arena. During this time, the 80’s, the district began to explore the idea of adding walls to the existing schools and designing the new school with walls. We had a number of meetings with parents and teachers to explain these changes. We built our gym, though it was not air conditioned but had numerous glass-block windows along the tops of the walls. These were later replaced with solid blocks because of the damage done to them by vandals and air conditioner was piped into the gym.

Mrs. Synnott moved to the Central Office in the early 90’s and was replaced by Mrs. Lee Christian. Mr. Marsh became our Assistant Principal. This was a time of rapid growth in the 1960/I-45 area. Spring I.S.D. was building and planning for a large number of schools. Ponderosa received its first portable buildings; they came and went as attendance zones were adjusted. Towards the end of this decade, Dr. John Folks was hired to replace the retiring Dr. Anderson.

Ponderosa’s attendance boundaries were altered several times since the beginning. As the smallest elementary school, the boundaries are primarily the Ponderosa and Ponderosa West subdivisions with some single dwelling homes added to fill out our over 600-student enrollment.

In 2007, Mrs. Deborah Graham was named Ponderosa's school principal. She selected Dr. Brendell Reece to be Assistant Principal in 2008. Dr. Ralph Draper is the Superintendent of the District. In the summer of 2008, Ponderosa underwent major reconstruction to update and improve our school environment. Several renovations were made to create a new cafeteria, new classrooms, administrative offices and library. We currently have nine portables on the exterior of the building.

From 2013 through 2015, Mrs. Brooke Neal served as Ponderosa Elementary School Principal with Dr. Brendell Reece serving as Assistant Principal.

Mrs. Shanna Swearingen is the current principal.
Updated 5/16/2016.
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