District hires new middle school principal

By Austin Jackson | Published Wednesday, May 15, 2019
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Bridgeport ISD trustees approved the hire of a new middle school principal Monday.

Steven Valkenaar, who worked as principal at Bowie Elementary since 2016, replaces Principal Travis Whisenant, who is leaving for a position in the Region 11 service center in White Settlement.

Valkenaar worked as an assistant principal at Decatur High School under Jason Cochran before accepting a position at Eastland ISD and eventually Bowie ISD. He said he was excited to take the opportunity to work for Bridgeport ISD.

“I really love the things Superintendent [Brandon] Peavey, the school board and administrators have done here in Bridgeport,” Valkenaar said. “It’s an attractive position. Mr. Whisenant has done a wonderful job at the middle school, and I’m looking forward to taking the reigns for a great campus.”

Valkenaar will be joining his wife, Britini Valkenaar, a second grade reading teacher at Bridgeport Elementary School and three children, who also attend school in Bridgeport ISD.

“I wanted to come to Bridgeport because my family is here,” he said. “My wife started teaching here this past school year, and my three kids go to school here. I really wanted to be involved in the same school district they are attending. Family was a huge component.”

Whisenant has worked as a teacher and an administrator in Bridgeport since 2002.

When he accepted the position of middle school principal in 2010, the school had received an academically unacceptable rating by the Texas Education Agency. Within eight years, under Whisenant’s leadership, the school emerged from academically unacceptable to exceptional – earning distinctions in six categories and an 84 in the Texas Education 2018 Accountability Ratings.

“This has been a very special district to me and a special place,” Whisenant said. “I’ve been very blessed with a supportive administration and school board. Not a lot of folks get to say that. They’ve been supportive of me in times when I’ve made that difficult for them. I’m very grateful and blessed for the time I’ve been here.”

Whisenant, who knows Valkenaar personally, said the middle school is in good hands going forward.

“I’ve known him and his family for a long time; my daughter babysits his kids,” Whisenant said. “Bridgeport Middle School couldn’t be getting a better man to run their school and love on their kids. He’ll do a great job.”

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