As Principals Month comes to an end, we wanted to highlight just a few of our outstanding campus leaders with a quick Q&A. Enjoy learning more about these principals and what they do every day for our students.
Carla Carter with Arlon Seay Elementary School, Dustin Davisson with Mountain Valley Middle School, Amy Malone with Rahe Bulverde Elementary School, Ernie Reynolds with Canyon Middle School and Jennifer Smith with Mountain Valley Elementary School.
Were you a classroom teacher prior to becoming a principal? If so, what did you teach, where and for how long?
Carter: I taught in the classroom for 16 years in Houston, Ft. Bend, Plano and Comal ISD. I have taught first, third, fourth and fifth grades. I taught first and fourth grade at Freiheit Elementary and fourth grade at Indian Springs Elementary and was an instructional coach at Startzville Elementary for Comal ISD.
Davisson: Algebra 1, Midway High School, five years
Malone: I started my teaching career in Northside ISD and taught first grade for five years, second grade for two years and was a reading specialist for two years. I took a three-year hiatus from teaching to stay home to care for my two sweet babies who are now both in high school! Then we moved to New Braunfels, and I worked for Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD at Schertz Elementary as a reading specialist for four years.
Reynolds: I taught high school English and coached football, power lifting and track for 10 years before becoming an administrator. I was a principal at Eldorado High School and Veribest Elementary before coming to Comal ISD. I was an assistant principal and then the academic dean at Canyon High the three previous years before becoming principal at CMS.
Smith: I taught elementary school for eight years and was a gifted and talented teacher for three years. I spend four years with the Schertz-Cibolo ISD and the last seven with Comal ISD including Specht, Johnson Ranch, Rahe Bulverde and Indian Springs elementary campuses.
Why did you become a principal and how long have you been in administration?
Carter: With encouragement from mentors, I became an administrator. I believe that every child deserves a great teacher and at the elementary level, our job is to ensure every child is prepared for life beyond their time here so they can pursue their goals and dreams. In my role, I support teachers and students so that they can become their best. This is my fourth year as an administrator in Comal ISD.
Davisson: To influence a greater number of students, five years
Malone: While working as a reading specialist at Schertz Elementary, my principal at the time continued to entrust me with leading and developing campus trainings over a variety of subjects. I very much enjoyed engaging in collaborative conversations with my peers regarding best practices in education. This is when it occurred to me that in an administrative role, I would get to continue doing all of the things I love and hopefully inspire others to do the same … which I have! I came to Comal ISD as an assistant principal at Indian Springs Elementary for two years (“Shout out Coyotes!”), then I was blessed with the principal position that I have at Rahe Bulverde for the past five years (“Go Broncos!”).
Reynolds: I had great teachers, coaches and administrators growing up that had a huge impact in my life. I wanted to work in education for as long as I can remember. Going into administration was really the natural next step in my career. I have spent six years in administration and four years with Comal ISD.
Smith: I decided to become a school leader because I wanted to be able to positively impact more than just the students in my classroom. Being a principal of a campus is an awesome responsibility. You have the chance to positively impact the quality of education for so many students. I have worked with Comal ISD for 15 years. This is my fourth year serving as the principal of MVES.
What are your greatest challenges as a principal?
Carter: My greatest challenge is balancing work and home life. When it comes to the success of our students, there is always something to do and learn.
Davisson: Time management of events, email, telephone calls and conferences.
Malone: My greatest challenge is the responsibility I place on myself and my team to deliver an exceptional educational experience to our students in which they grow academically, become responsible and empathetic leaders, and also build fond and unique memories of elementary school that they will always remember.
Reyonlds: I find it can be difficult to manage time at school while still spending quality time with my family.
Smith: There are so many challenges that come with being a principal! There are only so many hours in the day that students and teachers are together at school. Making sure that I find ways to prioritize my schedule in order to spend time with people can sometimes be a challenge, but it's worth it. The joy of this work is spending as much time as possible collaborating with others.
What are your greatest triumphs as a principal?
Carter: Earning an 'A' rating. For me, it is not about the accountability system but about how we tirelessly, the entire staff, works to ensure all our students have the opportunity to be successful and grow as learners.
Davisson: Seeing students that truly enjoy being at school!
Malone: My greatest triumph as a principal is having the opportunity EVERY DAY to build up students and colleagues to become the best version of themselves. I love greeting the students and staff in the morning, walking into the classrooms to see the magic of learning happening, and celebrating with our RBES staff and parents when our students reach their goals. This is the best feeling and the greatest sense of accomplishment.
Reynolds: I find joy in helping students and teachers reach their full potential. I love giving back what was so graciously given to me - an opportunity to get an education and write my own story.
Smith: Seeing students do something that they couldn't do before! Whether it is learning how to read a word, divide numbers, calm themselves down, make a new friend; this is what education is all about. Student growth is a game changer for every child!
How do you see your role on campus? leader, mentor, teacher, negotiator, etc.
Carter: I am all of them at any point during the day. It is what I love about my job.
Davisson: Mentor, friend, citizen
Malone: all of the above! I would add counselor, presenter, actor (I love dressing up at a good Rahe Rahe Rally!), motivator and collaborator.
Reyonlds: Comal ISD allows its administrators the opportunity to be who they need to be, when they need to be, to meet the needs of their students and teachers.
Smith: My role at MVES is to serve alongside the "MVES Tribe." Sometimes that means stepping out in front and leading, sometimes that means watching and listening. I do see my role as a principal as multi-dimensional; there is a time that I do need to be a teacher or a cheerleader, mentor or a negotiator, protector or an advocate. There are truly so many roles that come with being a principal. I stay focused on simply serving the "MVES Tribe" based on the need.
What do you wish parents, teachers and students knew about you and your role as a principal?
Carter: I wish they knew how much I value their feedback and that I am learning too. Together, we can make our school community even better for out students and their families.
Davisson: I am rewarded most by the success and smiles of other people.
Malone: I don’t think I need to wish for it, because they know this, and I love them all for it …. As important as my role is in being the best principal I can be, it is important for me to be the best mom I can be to my own children as well. Yes, the role of principal, just like teaching, is indeed time consuming and I may be multi-tasking a great many items at the same time, but having a staff and school community that understands and respects this means everything! I feel that we all take care of each other as one team. Our PTA and staff have an underlying saying that Rahe Bulverde ES is "a hidden gem" in the Hill Country. How lucky for us!
Reynolds: I do this job because I want to help student be successful in school, but even more importantly successful in life.
Smith: There are several things I want the community to know about my role. It's challenging, but I can't imagine doing anything else. I loved being a teacher, and I love being a school leader. It's more than a job. My decisions are always based on what's best for kids. Kids make the hard work worth it.
Fun bonus question – share a hobby, hidden talent, favorite book, etc.
Carter: My favorite movies is Beauty and the Beast, both the animated and the 'live' version.
Davisson: Cooking on my barbecue pit.
Malone: One of my favorite movies of all time is Footloose … the music and the dancing by Kevin Bacon is just fun and catchy!
Reynolds: I love America's Team the Dallas Cowboys!
Smith: When I have free time, I love cooking and baking delicious food for others. I can bake and decorate both pretty and delicious cakes. I have even catered a wedding.
-Canyon Middle School Principal Ernie Reynolds pictured with students during a campus "pink out" day.
-Rahe Bulverde Elementary School Principal Amy Malone showing off her school spirit.
-Mountain Valley Elementary School Principal Jennifer Smith and Assistant Principal Andrea Patrick dress up for a 100th day celebration.