Building relationships is key, says new principal

By Erika Pedroza | Published Wednesday, June 27, 2012

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For Jason Childress, the new principal taking the reigns at Northwest ISD’s Northwest High School, one key element will drive the direction of the campus.

Jason Childress

Jason Childress

“It’s relationships that drive culture, and culture drives your institution,” Childress said. “I think it’s important to start that with the staff who will in turn encourage the students. It’s important to get my face out there, shake your hand and take the initiative to build those relationships – take the time to be visible to build trust and let the relationship-building take its course.”

The 11th-year educator was named principal of the 2,300-student school – which serves seven municipalities, including Rhome, Newark, Aurora and New Fairview – June 5.

He replaces Rose Brenner, who was named the district’s director of research, assessment and accountability in May.

With more than 170 qualified applicants, Superintendent Karen Rue said school officials were able to select the top candidates from a strong pool of experienced leaders.

“It was a privilege and a pleasure to bring (him) to the board of trustees,” she said. “(Childress) understands the importance of being an instructional leader on campus and the important role (he) plays in shaping the future.”

The West Texas native graduated from Texas Tech University in Lubbock in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in exercise and sports science with minors in education and biology.

Since then, he has coached numerous sports including basketball, football and track at both the middle school and varsity level and taught several science courses including oceanography, earth science, environmental science and biology.

After completing his undergraduate degree, he worked in Lubbock as an eighth-grade science teacher and coach for a year before going to Southlake Carroll, where he was a middle school athletics coordinator, coach and teacher.

He then had the opportunity to coach at the varsity level in Saginaw.

“Then I realized I had to make a choice,” Childress said. “Did I want to pursue coaching? Or did I want to go into educational leadership?”

Opting with the latter, he enrolled in online courses at Lamar University, from which he earned a master’s degree in educational leadership in 2010.

“I started thinking in terms of how I could have more of an impact,” he said. “I realized administration was the way to go.

“Not that a coach can only have an impact on the kids he coaches, but it takes a lot of time. As an administrator you have the opportunity to reach out to all students and faculty, and that’s important to me.”

While pursuing his graduate studies, Childress taught science at Northwest’s Chisholm Trail Middle School in Rhome, where he was an eighth-grade science team leader.

He then was named an assistant principal of Northwest’s Byron Nelson High School.

“Most of my background is with middle school students, and I think that’s what really sold me for the position at Byron Nelson,” Childress said. “At the time, it was just ninth, 10th and 11th graders, and my focus was on freshmen.

“But a kid is a kid,” he continued. “They need some care, some love, some discipline, some respect. That is the key.”

Childress and his wife, Katrina, have two daughters: Emily, 9; and Tessa, 7.

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