Campus Spotlight: Alta Loma Elementary, the Heartbeat of a Community

Stroll around Alta Loma Elementary School and you’ll be greeted by warm smiles and welcoming touches like decorative stones painted as books in bright colors, complete with children’s storybook titles such as “Pete, the Cat” and “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.” In this week’s San Angelo ISD Campus Spotlight, we introduce you to this campus that is the heartbeat of the community it is nestled within.

Principal Lauri Herndon leads this campus of approximately 300 students together with Assistant Principal Marcy Leaf. The two impress upon you a feeling of dedication to their students, pride in their work, a commitment to their mission and a love for the community. Principal Herndon and her team note that one outstanding aspect of Alta Loma is the tight-knit feel of the campus’s interconnectedness with the community, where it's not unusual to have generations of families who have attended the school, tightening the bond between families and Alta Loma.  In fact, one current first grade student is now in the same school being taught by the same teacher, Ms. Kristie Richardson, who once taught her mother. 

“Our kids are good, dedicated kids and are resilient and hardworking. They always make me proud,” said Principal Herndon. “Even at a young age, they understand the importance of community, of helping others, and look for ways to be leaders in and out of school.”

The school works to provide opportunities for community involvement with the school from creative and collaborative events like a turkey-artwork decorating contest to their first field day launched in 2021. This past summer, Principal Herndon and her team took it a step further, with their first summer Books2Go Mobile Library Program. An idea born from the creativity and commitment of Alta Loma Instructional Coach Jenny Goodwin and the Kindergarten educator team, the mobile library is a passion project from Alta Loma staff to its students to both inspire a love of reading during the summer, while also fostering that important connection between school and community.

“Developing a love for reading, and reading each day for 20 minutes are indicators for success in school.  We want to instill a love for reading to help prepare our students to continue to be life-long learners,” said Mrs. Goodwin. 

As part of the mobile library program, Alta Loma staff ventured out into the surrounding neighborhoods during the summer evenings bringing excitement in much the way an ice cream truck calls to the hearts of children, but with books and the caring commitment of teachers. Teachers partnered in teams of decorated vehicles loaded with books to cover the Alta Loma-area community, often seeing between twenty to thirty families a night and delivering a book to each child. 

Principal Herndon, Mrs. Goodwin and team express gratitude to community partners who consistently support the school from the mobile library program to other ways. One standout being Sierra Vista Methodist Church. Sierra Vista consistently partners with the school in various ways from a December book giveaway, to clothes for students in need, to assistance with set up for events and more. 

“Sierra Vista Angels have been an integral part of the Alta Loma Community for several years.  They consistently look for ways to support and care for the students and the staff.  For that I am extremely grateful because it allows us (staff) to concentrate on building relationships with students and leading instruction in our classrooms,” said Principal Herndon.

Other features of the Alta Loma campus include a new STEM Lab started last year for creative, hands-on activities, a school garden with a new garden club in the works, and an overriding campus commitment to embracing Capturing Kids’ Hearts processes to build safe and welcoming environments, a relationship-driven campus culture, student connectedness, and a focus on social-emotional well-being.

We hope you enjoyed this SAISD Campus Spotlight on Alta Loma Elementary. We wish our Alta Loma Apaches, Principal Herndon and staff a wonderful 2021-2022 school year, and the fulfillment of, and progress toward, growing hopes and dreams! To stay up-to-date on San Angelo ISD, please visit the SAISD website at www.saisd.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.