HISD appoints 3 new area superintendents for 2018-2019 school year

The Houston Independent School District is announcing new area superintendents for the 2018-2019 school year to lead three areas of the district.

In HISD, area superintendents lead key areas covering all schools in the district, which are being modified from seven to six areas for 2018-2019: Achieve 180 Schools, and the North, Northwest, South, East, and West areas of the district.

“These area superintendents bring with them a wealth of experience and numerous recognitions for their leadership in HISD at the campus and district levels,” said HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan. “I am confident that under their leadership, we will keep pushing to ensure every child is supported in their journey to a quality education.”

The following individuals have been appointed to lead the Achieve 180 Schools, and West and East areas of the district:

Felicia Adams (Achieve 180 Schools)


Felicia Adams has 23 years of experience in urban education and a proven track record in school improvement. She has served as a teacher, reading-teacher trainer, instructional supervisor, reading manager, and elementary and secondary principal before serving in her current role as school support officer/Achieve 180 program manager. In 2017, Adams led the work in launching the Achieve 180 program, which showed significant gains after one year of implementation.

Adams landed her first principal position at Lockhart Elementary School, which earned distinctions in both reading and math, and in the top 25 percent of students closing the achievement gap. Adams was a recipient of the HEB Excellence in Education Award in 2014. She became principal of Lanier Middle School in August 2014, and in one year, the percentage of students at Lanier Middle School performing at the master’s level showed tremendous gains in reading, math, science, and social studies. Additionally, Lanier made double-digit gains in student growth while earning all seven TEA state distinction designations. Adams also was honored with the HISD 2016 Secondary Principal of the Year award.

Adams earned a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University and a master’s degree from Texas Southern University. In the Fall of 2017, she earned a doctorate in educational leadership and policy from the University of Texas at Austin. She has received multiple awards and honors for her work, including the University of Texas Nolan Estes Excellence in Leadership Award, HISD Secondary Principal of the Year, finalist for TASSP Region IV Principal of the Year, HEB Excellence Award Regional Winner, Central Region New Principal of the Year, Texas Honor Roll School, Top 5 Children at Risk Ranking, Title I Part A Distinguished Performance Award, and Just for the Kids Campaign for Higher Performing Schools in Texas.

James McSwain (West Area)


James McSwain most recently served as principal of Lamar High School and has served as a lead principal in HISD. Lamar is an International Baccalaureate World School with an enrollment of over 3,300 students. McSwain has worked for 31 years as a high school principal and 36 years in education. His experience includes rural, suburban, and urban settings with a wide range of youths, including severely at-risk and impoverished students.

McSwain is a past president of the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals, one of the nation’s largest principal organizations. He has been honored as the Principal of the Year on separate occasions for TASSP Region VIII and the Texas Region IV Education Service Center. Additionally, he was named a Texas State Principal of the Year and was the Texas nominee for National Principal of the Year.

McSwain holds a bachelor of arts in history from the University of Texas at Arlington, a master of arts in education administration from Tarleton State University, and a doctorate of education in educational leadership from Texas Tech University. His doctoral research focused on at-risk minority youth in an alternative setting. He has been recognized by Tarleton State University as an Outstanding Alumni and has worked as a principal mentor for the Texas Education Agency. He currently serves as an International Baccalaureate Site Visit Team Leader and Workshop Leader. McSwain has worked as an adjunct professor at Texas A&M University–Texarkana, University of Houston, and Tarleton State University. He currently teaches at the University of St. Thomas.

Geovanny Ponce (East Area)


Geovanny Ponce has proven to be an innovative and knowledgeable educator for nearly two decades. His childhood experiences fueled his passion for supporting the growth of the urban child. Ponce, an immigrant from Honduras, instills collaborative leadership to ensure students from all social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds have equal access to high-quality learning opportunities.

Ponce’s broad range of experience includes mechanical engineer, classroom teacher, campus network specialist, dean of instruction, assistant principal, principal of Hartman Middle School, and most recently principal of Jones Futures Academy. Through his work, he has received recognition from Rice University’s REEP Program and the George W. Bush Presidential Center. He was recognized as HISD’s Secondary Principal of the Year and the Region IV Secondary Principal of the Year for the 2017-18 school year. Previously, he was selected as Bilingual Teacher of the Year, HISD Assistant Principal of the Year, and HISD’s Rookie Secondary Principal of the Year.

Ponce earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at the National Autonomous University of Honduras in Tegucigalpa, a master’s degree in educational administration and supervision at the University of Houston, a bilingual education certification from St. Thomas University, and a REEP Business Fellowship for School Leaders from Rice University. His accomplishments as a secondary school leader led him to serve as a lead principal working to support other secondary school leaders in HISD. Currently, he is working on his doctoral degree in public education at Texas A&M University and expecting to graduate in Fall 2018.

Continuing in their leadership roles as area superintendents over their respective regions are Nicole Moore (South Area), Yolanda Rodriguez (North Area), and Jorge Arredondo (Northwest Area).