Alief teacher makes a splash with fish tank project

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- In high school, it's not easy being the small fish in a big pond, unless you are in Mr. Jubran's Aquatic Science class.

"I've been very in-tune with aquatics," said James Jubran, a teacher at Alief Elsik High School.

For years, he's been building a small colony of fish. But space, resources and money have always been in the way of student getting a closer look.

"Due to safety concerns some of the field trips that I would like to take my kids on there just not feasible," said Jubran.

Last year, Mr. Jubran got an idea that was really outside of the box: bring the water to the school instead.

So he applied for a State Farm Neighborhood Assist Program grant worth $25,000. Months ago, Elsik High School beat out nearly 2,000 applicants.

"I was ecstatic. My students were ecstatic, the staff was ecstatic," Jubran said.

In May, Mr. Jubran debuted his new teaching tool, an ecosystem in the heart of the school, inside a 1,100 gallon fish tank paid for by the grant. It's arguably the largest fish tank inside any high school in the United States.

"It was kind of like a career dream come true, to be honest," said Jubran.

The tank holds about nine species of fish from across the globe. It's something that students like Parriss Hollins would have never been able to see.

"These fish are way beautiful than the fish I've seen ever," said Hollins.

Beauty aside, the real lesson comes when Mr. Jubran says a spark ignited in his students take more care of the environment. Mr. Jubran said he also wants to invite students from other schools to come and view the ecosystem as a part of their lesson plan.

"How affecting the ecosystem can either benefit or deteriorate our well-being as humans," Jubran said.

Mr. Jubran, going above and beyond to bring the water's beauty in. And for that, he gets this week's Foti High Five.

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