New principals find support, guidance at New Leaders’ Institute   

A school principal’s job is never done. It’s like being the CEO of a corporation—they are ultimately responsible for everything, from envisioning the school’s strategic direction to making sure there are paper towels in the bathrooms.

New HISD principals are spending the next two weeks immersed in learning what their leadership roles entail at the New Leaders’ Institute being held at Texas Southern University. Nineteen administrators showed up bright and early Monday morning to get to know one another, their mentors, and members of the HISD Leadership Development team.

Chief Academic Officer Grenita Lathan welcomed them with words of advice based on her experience as a principal. “All of you have very challenging jobs, and the first thing you need to do is to build relationships with members of your staff,” she said. “Everyone in this room is here to support you and make sure you have a successful year.” 

Chief School Officer Matilda Orozco reminded the principals that with great power comes great responsibility, and Dr. Dawn Randle, officer of Leadership Development, and Dr. Shannon Verrett, assistant superintendent of Leadership Development, also offered words of encouragement.

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“Every first-time principal goes through a year of induction, and you will have a mentor to help you,” Dr. Verrett told the group. He introduced their mentors, most of whom are retired principals, and encouraged the new principals to reach out to them frequently.

Before the morning’s session on strength-based leadership began, the principals introduced themselves. Isaac Daniels, new principal at Hobby Elementary School, was assistant principal at Gregory Lincoln Education Center last year.

“I am really excited to be at Hobby because the first house I bought after college was in that neighborhood, and I know it well.” Daniels was a star pitcher at TSU as an undergraduate and now has a wife and two young daughters.

Danitra Arredondo, principal at Petersen Elementary, said that this role has been a long time coming for her. “I am excited just thinking about the impact and influence I will have on my students,” she said.

Sutton Elementary Principal Luis Landa taught at McReynolds Middle School, was a teacher specialist at Patrick Henry Middle, and an AP at Austin High School. “I come from a background similar to our students, and I want them to know that anything can be accomplished when you have people who support you,” he said.

The training sessions will provide the principals with information on everything from budgets to analyzing data to building relationships with parents. And when the buses pull up and start unloading students on August 28, they will be ready.