Jacqueline Thompson has been selected as the new principal of Cullen Middle School. Thompson has 20 years of experience with Team HISD. Thompson began her teaching career as an English teacher at Jack Yates High School before moving into administrative roles as dean of instruction at Patrick Henry Middle School, counselor at Gregory-Lincoln K-8, and assistant principal at Dowling Middle School (now Lawson Middle School). She returned to Yates High School two years ago as dean of students. A native Houstonian and a graduate of Furr High School, Thompson has a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in Educational Administration from Prairie View A&M University.
Joseph E. Williams Sr. has been appointed principal at Wheatley High School. Williams currently serves as principal of Key Fine Arts Academy. Previously, he served as principal of Kelso School for Social Sciences and Matthew W. Dogan Elementary, as well as assistant principal at Vera Escamilla Intermediate in Aldine ISD. Williams began his career with HISD 22 years ago as a fifth-grade teacher at Atherton Elementary. He has worked as a fellow at Harvard University and partnered with the National Center for Urban School Transformation and Building Excellent Schools. Williams earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Texas Southern University, a teaching certificate from University of St. Thomas, and a master of education in administration and supervision from University of Houston.
Erika Carter has been appointed principal at Key Middle School. Carter is a product of HISD and a proud graduate of Kashmere High School. She began her career as a sixth-grade reading teacher at Hamilton Middle School. She served as assistant principal at Garcia Elementary before becoming the principal of Betsy Ross Elementary. Betsy Ross met state standards during Carter’s first year there after being identified as “Improvement Required” the previous three years. Academic excellence under Carter continued as the campus earned three state distinctions in 2017. Carter begins her 20th year in HISD by returning to her middle–school roots at Key Middle. She believes that rigorous instruction, demanding work, and a culture of excellence will prepare her scholars for college and beyond.
Treasure West has been selected as principal of Betsy Ross Elementary School. West began her 17-year career in education as an elementary school teacher in North Carolina, where she taught for five years. She spent an additional three years teaching in HISD at Montgomery Elementary before she became a Teacher Development Specialist there and coached teachers for eight years. West was also a TDS for four years at Ross Elementary and was instrumental in the school’s academic success that resulted in Ross exiting “Improvement Required” status with the TEA Accountability System. Most recently, she has been supporting students, families, and teachers as the assistant principal at Wainwright Elementary. West holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from North Carolina A&T State University, a master’s degree in elementary education from the University of North Carolina at Fayetteville, and a master of business administration in educational leadership from the University of St. Thomas.
Olivia Casares has been selected as the new principal for Lyons Elementary School. Casares is a veteran educator with 23 years of experience. Prior to joining HISD, she began her career as a bilingual elementary teacher in the Point Isabel School District. She later took on the same role at Love Elementary School in HISD. She joined the Lyons staff in 1999 and in 2005 was named the North District Bilingual Teacher of the Year. For the last seven years, she has served in the role of Assistant Principal at Lyons. Casares earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Texas-Brownsville and a Masters in Educational Administration from Concordia University.
Dianna Balderas has been named the new principal of Scroggins Elementary School. For the last 4 ½ years, Balderas has served as the assistant principal at Travis Elementary School. Before entering administration, she was a bilingual teacher and reading interventionist at Garcia, Travis, and De Zavala elementary schools. Balderas is a native Houstonian and product of HISD, graduating from DeBakey High School. She earned a Bachelor of Business Administration with a minor in Spanish from the University of Houston and a Master of Educational Administration from Lamar University. Balderas also completed the 2017 cohort of HISD’s Principal Candidate Development Opportunity (PCDO).
Andrew Casler has been named the new principal of Oak Forest Elementary School. Casler joins Oak Forest after serving at Pilgrim Academy for the past eleven years. During his time at Pilgrim Academy, Casler served the community as a technology teacher, physical education teacher, dean of students, and most recently as the elementary assistant principal. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Houston and earned his master’s degree in Educational Leadership at the University of Houston as a member of the University of Houston- HISD Turnaround Leadership Cohort.
Cecilia Gonzales has been named principal of Northside High School. Gonzales is a product of HISD’s Austin High School, and she began her career in HISD as an elementary bilingual teacher at Pugh Elementary School. During her 27-year tenure with the district, she has served as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal. Under her leadership at her most recent campus, Lyons Elementary, the school received two National Blue Ribbon awards. In addition, Gonzales was named last year’s HISD Principal of the Year. She is seeking her doctoral degree at TSU.
Robert Michaels-Johnson has been named principal of Hamilton Middle School. He began his career in public education as a theater and American History teacher at Eli Whitney Middle School in the Tulsa Public Schools district. Following a brief tenure at a small classical school teaching theater and history, he moved to Houston and began teaching social studies at what is now HISD’s Heights High School. After serving in several teacher leader roles, he became an instructional coordinator and then was named the dean of instruction. He served as dean until being named principal at Hamilton. Michaels-Johnson is pursuing his doctorate in Educational Leadership at Sam Houston State University.
April Williams has been named principal of Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy. Most recently, she served as principal of the two-time National Blue Ribbon School Oak Forest Elementary. Dr. Williams began her 15-year career with HISD as a fifth-grade teacher at Law Elementary School and served as a classroom teacher at Peck Elementary and Ryan Middle School. While at Peck and Ryan, she was named Classroom Teacher of the Year and English as a Second Language Teacher of the Year. Dr. Williams has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Houston and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Lamar University. She holds a doctorate of education in professional leadership from the University of Houston.