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Texas Tech selects 5 GISD teachers for prestigious Principal Fellows Program



Five Greenville ISD teachers have been accepted into the nationally recognized and highly rigorous Texas Tech Principal Fellows Program.


"This is a tremendous honor for our teachers and our district," GISD Superintendent Dr. Demetrus Liggins said. "We are looking forward to our partnership with Texas Tech and our shared vision of growing the next generation of leaders. The grant pays for everything - the teachers' salaries, tuition and books. And it's a win-win for our district because the teachers will be working on our campuses, learning under our principals. In the end, it will be a tremendous benefit to our students and their academic success."


The principal fellows will undergo an intensive, 15-month administrator residency, learning from mentor principals and Texas Tech faculty coaches. The residency involves state-of-the-art video capture technology to review performances on-site, and participants will collaborate with one another through virtual classroom instruction for three hour sessions every Thursday.


During the residency, candidates complete a tuition-free master's degree in educational leadership online through Texas Tech and earn a principal certification – all while continuing to earn their teaching salary.


Here are the teachers who were selected for the program and their reactions:

  • Drew Austin, Greenville High School Algebra I teacher: "I'm so excited to be a part of this. I've taught in GISD for three years - two at Greenville Middle School and one at Greenville High School, and I love it here. Greenville feels like home, and I am honored to be able to have this opportunity to develop as an educational leader."  Austin will be the principal intern at Greenville Middle School.
  • Robert Cruthird, Travis/SGC sixth-grade robotics teacher:“Becoming a campus leader is a lifetime goal for me, so this is an answered prayer for me. In a short time, I will be completing my fourteenth year in education. This is definitely a blessing for me and my fellow educators who are participating in this opportunity. As teachers, continuing our education is just a part of who we are.” Cruthird will be the principal intern at Carver Elementary.
  • Matthew Hanson, Greenville High School U.S. History / wide receiver coach: "I've been here my entire career. I started at the middle school, then I moved up with the same group of kids. so this year's seniors were my first eighth-grade group. I almost feel like I'm graduating with them, and now I get this great opportunity to learn more about education on a broader scale. I feel privileged to be a part of a district that invests so much time and grant funding in their own employees.” Hanson will be the principal intern at Travis/Sixth Grade Center.
  • Jody Jones, Carver Elementary fifth-grade math teacher:  "I'm a GHS and Texas Tech graduate, so for me, it's like going home again. I gave this a lot of thought before I applied, and I think it's a risk I had to take. I had to push myself to put myself out there. I wanted to reach more kids and more lives and touch more people, and this is giving me the chance to do that." Jones will be the principal intern at Crockett/KGJ STEM.
  • Amanda Lowe, Carver Elementary second-grade and English as a Second Language teacher: "As a lifelong learner, I enjoy gaining and sharing knowledge. I have a passion for presenting new initiatives and providing others with tools to help fine tune their craft. None of us would be where we are in life without mentors. Sometimes we don't even realize our own potential until someone guides us or points out our strengths. I'm really excited to be able to touch the lives of both students and teachers by being a mentor and educational leader." Lowe will be the principal intern at Travis/Sixth Grade Center. Texas Tech officials say the rigorous selection process ensures that great teachers will have the opportunity to develop into great campus leaders.

"School principals are second only to teachers in terms of the direct impact they have on our children's education," said Dr. Fernando Valle, associate professor of educational leadership at Texas Tech. "The on-the-job training experience offered through the Texas Tech Principal Fellows Program has already proven to be transformative for high-need districts that struggle to recruit and retain high-quality principals. We're pleased to continue helping partner school districts grow and develop effective leaders who understand the unique needs of – and reflect the diversity of – their communities."


The Texas Education Agency (TEA) awarded more than $2.1 million in grant funds to a group of school districts to partner with the Texas Tech University College of Education on the innovative principal preparation program. 


“We are pleased that the TEA is recognizing the great things that are happening in Greenville ISD and has chosen us as only one of seven districts throughout the state as a place to prepare new principals,” Liggins said.


Of the seven districts, three are in the Dallas area: Duncanville, Greenville and Grand Prairie. The remaining four partners are in the South Plains region: Lubbock, Brownfield, Plainview and Springlake-Earth. In all, the grant funding will help produce 30 principals or assistant principals. To date, the Principal Fellows Program has produced 48 principals, and graduates have a 100 percent job placement rate.