Superintendent Millard House II joined Lamar High School staff, cheerleaders, and educators from other campuses to surprise Rita Graves with the Secondary Principal of the Year award on Monday.
“I have no idea how my team pulled this off without me knowing,” said Graves.
Graves has been at Lamar High School since 2018, but she has served HISD for more than two decades. Her impact on the district and her colleagues was made evident by how many principals from other schools attended the award presentation.
“She is someone that I continue to call,” said Bellaire High School Principal Michael McDonough. “Not only is she a great principal, seeing her from Roberts to Pin Oak and out here at Lamar, she’s an excellent principal and a very good friend.”
Graves credits the people around her for her success as a principal.
“I get to come here every day and do something I love doing and see kids really just take charge on that journey to adulthood,” said Graves. “It means so much to me to get to do that, and I get to do it with some of the very best people in this district. I want to thank my team here at Lamar because you make his job just so much easier and an absolute dream for me.”
In a separate ceremony, Trealla Epps of Roberts Elementary School was named Elementary Principal of the Year.
Superintendent House, staff, students, and members of the Roberts PTO greeted a teary-eyed Epps in the school’s library.
“You are the epitome of what youngsters and community look for in terms of their hope, their aspirations, and the things that they need to really move on and be college and career ready,” said House.
Epps has been at Roberts since 2015, but she has been with HISD for 29 years. Since the beginning, she has always put her students first, getting to know who they are as individuals.
Some students were given the opportunity to share more about their personal connections with Epps in an impressive “ode to Ms. Epps” speech presentation.
One by one, the students greeted her in different languages and told stories about their favorite moments over the years.
“I want them to know that they matter and that even when things are not perfect, we all work together for one common goal, and that’s to make them the very best that they can be,” said Epps.
Epps and Graves will be honored in a Principal Recognition Ceremony at the Region 4 Education Service Center on Thursday, April 7.