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03 May . 2023

Meet Charlotte Gilder, principal of Katy ISD’s Youngblood Elementary at Elyson

Charlotte Gilder has held numerous positions in her 18-year career with the Katy Independent School District, but she’s never been more excited than she is about her new role as principal of David and Terri Youngblood Elementary School, opening in August 2023 next to Elyson.

Youngblood Elementary is immediately adjacent to Elyson, bordering the community’s northwest corner at 25600 Longenbaugh Road, at the intersection of Katy-Hockley Cut-Off Road. It is part of a Katy ISD K-12 tri-campus that is surrounded by Elyson on two sides, with middle and high school campuses now under construction and planned to open in August 2024.

Elyson students living north of FM 529 will attend Youngblood Elementary, and about 500 Elyson students currently attending the community’s first onsite school, McElwain Elementary, will move over to the new school in August.

Ms. Gilder says Youngblood Elementary will have a House System similar to the one that has been so popular at McElwain Elementary. Students familiar with the system will feel right at home, while new students will discover a system that promotes camaraderie, character development and friendly competitions.

“I’m a counselor at heart, and most of what I do is about people,” said Ms. Gilder, whose education includes a Master of Arts in Counseling and Development from Prairie View A&M University. “We want Youngblood Elementary to be very student and family centered, where the social and emotional well-being of students is the foundation of everything we do.”

Ms. Gilder joined Katy ISD in 2002, working as a counselor for seven years before moving to Lamar CISD in 2009. She returned to Katy ISD in 2012 and has served in positions including counselor and assistant principal at Mayde Creek Elementary, curriculum and instruction assistant principal at Beckendorff Junior High, assistant principal at Wilson Elementary and Morton Ranch Junior High, and most recently as principal of Schmalz Elementary. 

In addition to her counseling degree, she also has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Sam Houston State University and a Master of Education in School Administration from Prairie View. 

“I’m a small-town girl who grew up in East Texas, and Katy ISD has always felt like home for me and my family,” said Ms. Gilder, whose daughter has attended Katy ISD since kindergarten, and is now a junior at Tompkins High School.

Youngblood Elementary has the same innovative two-story design that was introduced at McElwain Elementary in 2020.

The school design supports 21st century learning, with all spaces created to stimulate the young learner. There is flexibility throughout the design to allow for a wide range of learning spaces, from the learning stairs to a variety of collaborative spaces. The classroom hallways are configured to allow for individual and small group learning, while each cluster of classrooms is provided with a large group activity learning area.

Connection to the outdoors is evident throughout, including the art rooms and sciences rooms. The learning resource center, previously called the library, is filled with natural light. It has an open and welcoming environment, with flexible space contained within. The materials and colors within the building are both warm and visually exciting, incorporating the official school colors and its mascot, the Youngblood Bulls.

Ms. Gilder is now in the process of hiring approximately 100 staff members for Youngblood Elementary, with about 65 percent of them coming from within Katy ISD, including some who are Elyson residents. The school has a capacity for 1,280 students, and she predicts it will have about 800 in its first year.

In our next blog, we’ll introduce you to the namesakes of the school, David and Terri Youngblood, lifelong educators who have a collective 77 years of service to Katy ISD and the greater community.

Learn more about Katy ISD, ranked as the No. 1 Best School District in the Houston Area by Niche for 2023.