Category Archives: Staff updates

HISD Chief Communications Officer Rebecca Suarez named to Houston Business Journal’s top 40 Under 40 list

The Houston Business Journal has named Houston Independent School District Chief Communications Officer Rebecca Suarez as a 40 Under 40 Class of 2019 honoree.

The list, which includes CEOs, founders, and young professionals in Houston who have become inspiring leaders in their respective industries and communities, were selected from over 500 nominations this year. Judges chose the honorees based on three key criteria: leadership, community involvement, and overcoming challenges.

“I grew up in the East End and learned at a young age the value of education, hard work, and gratitude,” Suarez said. “I am extremely humbled to be recognized by the Houston Business Journal and thankful to HISD for giving me the opportunity to share the powerful stories of our students, administrators, parents, and community in the largest school district in Texas.”

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Wilcots named general manager for Transportation Services

Transportation Services Interim General Manager John Wilcots IV has been selected to permanently oversee the district’s transportation department.

A transportation industry veteran, Wilcots has served as interim general manager since September 2018. Since then, he has been credited with leading the department through focused efforts to improve student bus service by increasing route efficiency and addressing critical staffing needs.

His new position is effective Jan. 28.

“The experience and knowledge that John brings to the table has given him a steady hand at the helm of the Transportation Services department,” HISD Chief Operating Officer Brian Busby said. “I’m glad to have his leadership as we continue to improve departmental operations.” Continue reading

Mickey Leland College Prep principal named NABSE’s Principal of the Year

Dameion Crook

Principal Dameion Crook of Mickey Leland College Preparatory Academy has been named Principal of the Year by the National Alliance of Black School Educators in Washington, D.C.

The alliance noted that Crook was selected because he excels in the field of education and provides great contributions to African-American students and educators. Earlier this year, Crook was named Texas’ Principal of the Year by the alliance.

“I am incredibly honored to be recognized by such a prestigious organization,” Crook said. “I have to give credit to the entire Mickey Leland staff and community for the hard work being every day to educate our scholars.” Continue reading

HISD Board of Education to consider reinstatement of Lathan as interim superintendent

The Houston Independent School District Board of Education announced it has mutually agreed to consider the reinstatement of Dr. Grenita Lathan as interim superintendent of HISD, the largest school district in Texas.

During a press conference at the Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center, trustees announced the consideration of the rescinding of Thursday night’s vote to appoint Dr. Abelardo Saavedra to the position. The Board will meet on Thursday, Oct. 18, to consider the reinstatement of Dr. Lathan. The full meeting agenda can be found here.

“We are committed to working together as a board for the benefit of our students, and we are unified in our efforts to build a better governance structure for our children,” HISD Board President Rhonda Skillern-Jones said. “We are confident that Dr. Lathan is the right person to lead the seventh-largest school district in the nation as our interim, and we thank the public for their encouragement and support.” Continue reading

Darcele Lofton named new principal of Bellfort Early Childhood Center

Darcele Lofton has been selected as the new principal of Bellfort Early Childhood Center. Lofton has been in education for over 11 years and has served in HISD as an hourly lecturer, teacher, and in various leadership roles. As a part of the leadership team at Tinsley Elementary School, where she served as a Math and Science specialist, she helped move the school from “Improvement Required” to a “Met Standard” rating. Most recently she served as a Title I school grants administrator, working with 80-plus elementary campuses. Lofton earned her bachelor’s degree from Texas State University and her master’s degree in Education Administration from Houston Baptist University.

Karen Harris named new principal of Cunningham Elementary School

Karen Harris has been selected as the new principal of Cunningham Elementary School. Harris has served HISD for the past 11 years. She began her career as a teacher with Beaumont ISD at Regina-Howell Elementary School for 6 years. She continued her career at Bonham Elementary School in HISD as a first-, third-, and fifth-grade ESL teacher for 6 years. At Bell Elementary School, she served as a teacher specialist, where she spearheaded and established a K-5 campus-wide system for guided reading, prior to the development of Literacy by 3. Harris served in various roles over the past 18 years, including teacher specialist, Baylor Master Teacher, University of Houston/HISD mentor teacher, and curriculum writer for both HISD and Beaumont ISD. At Milne Elementary School, she served as the interim principal and assistant principal. Harris most recently served at the assistant principal at Cunningham. She earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and her Master of Education Degree in Administration from Lamar University.

Santrice Jones named new principal of Neff Early Childhood Center

Santrice Jones has been selected as the new principal for Neff Early Childhood Center. Jones has served HISD for the past eight years, beginning her career as a classroom teacher at Wesley Elementary School and also at Fonwood Early Childhood Center. More recently, she has served as  teacher specialist and assistant principal at Neff Early Childhood Center. Jones earned her Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication from the University of Georgia and her Master of Education in Educational Leadership from Texas A&M University.

Karina Lopez named new principal of Edison Middle School

Karina Lopez has been selected as the new principal of Edison Middle School. Lopez has been with HISD since 2010. She began her career at Revere Middle School as a seventh-grade math teacher, then became math department chairperson and a campus instructional coach. While at Revere, she received the Teacher of the Year award and the 2012 Elizabeth Brand Teacher Excellence Award. She has also served as magnet coordinator and assistant principal at Hartman Middle School. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Houston and her Master of Education in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Michael Niggli named new principal of Waltrip High School

Michael Niggli poses for a photograph, April 4, 2016. (Houston ISD/Dave Einsel)Michael Niggli has been selected as the new principal of Waltrip High School. He most recently served as associate principal for Sam Houston Math, Science and Technology Center. With 21 years in HISD, Niggli’s  experience includes English teacher, debate coach, and basketball coach at HISD’s Austin High School and Heights High School. Niggli earned his Bachelor of Arts from San Francisco State University and his Master of Educational Administration from Grand Canyon University.

Michelle Shoulders named new principal of Pin Oak Middle School

Michelle Shoulders has been selected as the new principal of Pin Oak Middle School. Shoulders has served HISD for 14 years and has 28 years of experience in education in Houston, Fort Worth, and the Denver area. Her teaching experience spans elementary, middle, and high school in math and theatre. Most recently, Michelle served at Bellaire High School as both school improvement facilitator and assistant principal. She has actively supported the professional learning communities (PLC) on campus while supervising the English and ESL departments. For the past three years, Michelle has also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Houston in the Teacher Preparation Program. Michelle has a bachelor’s degree in Education from Abilene Christian University and a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Phoenix.