Meet the new principals who will be leading several campuses for the upcoming school year
Brandi Lira, Eastwood Academy
Brandi Lira has been selected as the new principal of Eastwood Academy, where she has been the dean of students for the past three years. Growing up, she attended HISD schools and graduated from the High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice (now the High School for Law and Justice). Mrs. Lira has a bachelor of arts in philosophy from the University of Houston. After teaching English at Austin High School, she returned to school and earned a masters degree in educational administration. Three years later, she became the ninth-grade assistant principal at Austin.
Brian Vannest, Valley West Elementary
We are pleased to announce Brian Vannest as the new principal of Valley West Elementary. Vannest began his career in HISD as a second- and third-grade teacher at Gallegos Elementary. After a successful teaching career in HISD, he was recruited to YES Prep to be a seventh-grade math teacher, math course team lead, and project manager where he developed teacher training, curriculum, and assessments for the YES Prep network of schools. Vannest continued that work when he returned to HISD to assume the role of dean of instruction at Westside High School. Brian received his bachelor of science in Business at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and his Master of Business Administration at Rice University.
Terese Pollard, Milne Elementary
Terese Pollard has been selected as the new principal of Milne Elementary School. Ms. Pollard is currently serving as the dean of instruction at Frank Black Middle School. She began her educational career in HISD as a teacher in 2005. In 2008, Ms. Pollard made the transition to campus leadership as assistant principal of Durkee Elementary School and subsequently served in administrative roles at Hamilton Middle School, Patrick Henry Middle School, and East Early College High School. Ms. Pollard, who is a graduate of HISD schools, holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Houston and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Lamar University.
Dr. Queinnise Miller, Smith Elementary
We are pleased to announce that Dr. Miller has been selected as the new principal of Smith Elementary School. After 15 years as an educator, she continues to have a passion for teaching and leading. Her motivation for this work is ensuring that all scholars receive a world-class educational experience despite their cultural or economic backgrounds. Dr. Miller has served as an elementary and secondary teacher, department chair, district trainer, and assistant principal in various districts. Her background is in English as a Second Language, Bilingual Education, and Foreign Language Instruction. Dr. Miller joined the HISD team three years ago and served as a senior manager for Leadership Development and director in the Office of School Leadership.
Dr. Miller completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Houston and her graduate studies at Prairie View A&M. She received her bachelor of arts in Spanish, her masters in Educational Administration, and her doctor of philosophy in Educational Leadership. Dr. Miller is married with two children.
Lisa Hernandez, Mark White Elementary School
Lisa Hernandez has been named the principal of the new Mark White Elementary School, which is scheduled to open in August 2016. She previously served as the assistant principal at the School at St. George Place, a position she held since 2012.
In her 18 years as an educator, Hernandez has also served as a teacher, instructional specialist, and International Baccalaureate (IB) coordinator. She began her career as a fifth-grade teacher in Austin ISD, where she taught for 10 years before becoming a math instructional specialist. In 2008, Hernandez moved to HISD and worked as a fifth-grade teacher at Twain Elementary School.
Hernandez received a bachelor’s degree in applied learning and development from the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree in educational administration from Texas State.
Adelina Valdez-Alcala, R. P. Harris Elementary School
Adelina Valdez-Alcala has been named the new principal of R. P. Harris Elementary School. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a specialization in Special Education from the University of Texas in San Antonio, Valdez-Alcala started her career in education in the Alief Independent School District. Over the course of six years, she was an early childhood bilingual teacher serving students with disabilities, a Special Education resource teacher, and a department chair. After completing her master’s degree in education at the University of Houston in Clear Lake and establishing herself as an instructional leader, Valdez-Alcala was promoted to the role of assistant principal in Alief ISD.
Richard Peña, Tijerina Elementary
Richard Peña has been named the Principal of Felix Tijerina Elementary School. Peña has been in education for 18 years and has been serving as the assistant principal at Dunn Elementary in Aldine ISD since 2013. He began his career as a bilingual teacher in Houston ISD, where he taught for six years before becoming the instructional specialist at Allen Elementary. He served four years as the instructional specialist before moving to Spring ISD as a fifth-grade bilingual teacher. He earned his master’s degree in Educational Administration from Lamar University in 2009 and soon after, was promoted to the role of assistant principal.
Victoria Orozco-Martinez, De Zavala Elementary
Victoria Orozco-Martinez has been selected as principal of De Zavala Elementary School. She has served with distinction in multiple capacities with Team HISD for more than 20 years. Ms. Orozco-Martinez began her career in education in 1994 as a bilingual teacher at Brookline Elementary, where she was subsequently promoted to manage the school’s Title 1 program. She served next as a bilingual teacher and curriculum coordinator at Golfcrest Elementary, as well as campus literacy coach at Brookline.
In 2008, Ms. Orozco-Martinez made the transition to the district level as a curriculum and content specialist, working extensively in the development of curricula and assessments for five years and supporting campus implementation across HISD. In 2013, she returned to campus leadership as assistant principal of De Zavala. During this time, the school was twice identified as a high-performing and high-progress school by the Texas Education Agency. Ms. Orozco-Martinez is a graduate of HISD. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in educational management from the University of Houston at Clear Lake. She has two daughters.
Erika Kimble, N.Q. Henderson Elementary
We are pleased to announce that Erika Kimble has been selected as the new principal of N.Q. Henderson Elementary School. Ms. Kimble began her educational career as a teacher and teacher specialist at Bonham Elementary School. In 2013, she joined the team at Shadydale Elementary School as a teacher specialist supporting efforts to improve student achievement and then as assistant principal. Ms. Kimble earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of St. Thomas and completed graduate studies in special education at Prairie View A&M University and educational administration and supervision at the University of Houston.
Phuong Uyen Tieu, Reagan PK-8
Phuong Uyen Tieu has been named principal of Billy Reagan K8 Educational Center. Tieu graduated from Hastings High School and received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from University of Houston and a master’s degree in education administration from Concordia University in Austin. Following her undergraduate education, she worked in corporate America for eight years before becoming a teacher. Tieu began her career in education at Stafford Municipal School District, where she served as an elementary school teacher, dual language coordinator, and dean of instruction. Currently, she is an assistant principal at Scarborough High School. Tieu has two children, Olivia, 12, and Ethan, 10.
Dimitrie Rainey, Alcott Elementary
Dimitrie Rainey has been selected as the new principal of Alcott ElementarySchool. She began her career as a fifth–grade math teacher in Virginia’s Prince William County School District, and also worked in the District of Columbia School District and Maryland’s Prince George County School District. Rainey began her HISD career as a fifth-grade math teacher and department chair at Blackshear Elementary School. Over the next 10 years, she served HISD as a middle–school math teacher, dean of students, and assistant principal. Most recently she wasassistant principal at RP Harris Elementary School. Dimitrie received her bachelors of arts in elementary education at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, and her master’s degree in administration and supervision from American College of Education.
Everett Hare, Bastian Elementary
Everett Hare has been selected as the next principal of Bastian Elementary School. He has served HISD in various capacities for 10 years, first as a teacher at Dodson Elementary School and next as vanguard coordinator at Pleasantville Elementary School. Since then, he has served in multiple leadership roles, most recently as assistant principal at Bastian since August 2015. Mr. Hare has a bachelor’s degree from Dillard University and a master’s degree in Educational Administration from Texas Southern University, where he is currently completing his doctoral studies. Mr. Hare has two children who attend HISD schools.
Vanessa Flores, Horn Elementary
Vanessa Flores has been selected as the new principal of Horn Elementary School. Flores currently is serving as the assistant principal at Horn Elementary. Prior to this, she served as a teacher development specialist, literacy instructional specialist, and literacy coach. Flores began her educational career in HISD 14 years ago as a second grade teacher at Cage Elementary. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Houston. She earned her master’s degree in early childhood education from the University of Houston Clear Lake.
Bertha Espinosa-Garza, Golfcrest Elementary
It is with great pleasure that we announce Bertha Espinosa-Garza as new principal of Golfcrest Elementary School. She has been a part of Team HISD for 16 years, serving the elementary level as instructional specialist, literacy coach, and bilingual teacher. Most recently, she served for two years as assistant principal of Briscoe Elementary School. Mrs. Espinosa-Garza completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Houston-Downtown and her graduate studies at Concordia University in Austin. She received her bachelor of science in Bilingual Education and her masters in Educational Leadership.
Julie Dickinson, Kolter Elementary
Julie Dickinson has been selected as the principal of Kolter Elementary. Before her new appointment, Ms. Dickinson was an assistant principal and the magnet coordinator at Kolter, where she has been working for four years. Prior to that, she served as Title 1 coordinator and chairman of the special education department at Daily Elementary School. Before coming to HISD, Ms. Dickinson taught at the middle-school level in Mississippi and the high-school level in California. She holds a bachelor’s degree in child psychology from Hollins University, a master’s degree in special education from William Carey College, and administrative certification from Region IV.
Elizabeth Garcia, DeChaumes Elementary
Elizabeth Garcia has been selected as the new principal of DeChaumes Elementary School. Garcia began her career in education as an elementary–school teacher and has taught reading and English in both middle and high schools. She taught for five years in Colombia, South America, before joining HISD and building a successful newcomers’ program at Sam Houston Math, Science, and Technology Center. While at Sam Houston,Garcia was recognized as a Tiger Teacher and ELA Teacher of the Year. She continued her career at Hamilton Middle School as dean of students working with the ELA, ESL, and Spanish departments, as well as the sixth- and eighth-grade teams.
Garcia earned her bachelor’s degree in education from University of Auburn and her master’s degree in education from University of Alabama. She holds a certificate of instructional leadership from University of St. Thomas and is certified to teach English, reading, ESL, and Spanish.
Zabeth Parra-Malek, Benavidez Elementary
Zabeth Parra-Malek has been named the new principal of Benavidez Elementary School. She has served as an instructional specialist at Cunningham Elementary, a position she has held since 2013. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University of Houston, she began her career with HISD as a first-grade bilingual teacher at Scott Elementary. For eight years, Parra-Malek served students as a bilingual and dual-language teacher. In 2008, Parra-Malek transitioned from the classroom into administration, serving as instructional coordinator at Jaime Davila and Port Houston elementary schools. Parra-Malek holds a master’s degree in administration and supervision from the University of Phoenix.
Paula Pierre, Fonville Middle School
Paula Pierre has been selected as the new principal of Fonville Middle School. Pierre has served HISD in various capacities for more than 10 years, including principal of Alcott Elementary School most recently, assistant principal of Burbank Middle School, and as a district middle-school literacy specialist.
She holds a bachelor’s degree from University of Houston and a master’s degree in educational administration from Lamar University.
Maria Barrientos, J.P. Henderson
Maria E. Barrientos has 35 years of experience in public education. She began her career with HISD at J.P. Henderson Elementary School. After teaching kindergarten and fourth grade, and completing her administrative internship, Barrientos took on various leadership roles at JPHES, as well as at other public and charter schools. She has also taught undergraduate and graduate courses at the university level.
Barrientos holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Houston Central Campus and a master’s degree in educational mid-management and supervision from Texas Southern University. In addition, she completed her doctoral coursework at Texas Southern University in school administration and educational policy. Barrientos has certifications in Elementary Education, ESL / Bilingual, Psychology, and Mid-Management.
Barrientos is the recipient of numerous awards for her dedication and commitment to serving children and families. Most recently she was presented the Humanitarian Award/Public Education Advocate of the Year award by the National Hispanic Professional Organization Houston and the Future National Leader Award by Bank of America.
Alan Summers, Sam Houston MSTC
Alan Summers is joining Team HISD as the principal of the Sam Houston Math, Science & Technology Center. He comes to the district from Katy ISD, where he served as the Executive Director for Human Resources. Summers is a familiar face to HISD because he previously served the district as a teacher, grant writer, assistant principal, principal at Wainwright Elementary and Scarborough High School, and Assistant Superintendent of College and Career Readiness. He left the district in 2013, moving to Central Texas to enroll in the doctoral program at the University of Texas and to work in Round Rock ISD as the Director of School Support.
Summers has 23 years of experience in education, with nine of those years as a campus principal.