WAXAHACHIE

Two teachers with Faith Family MASTER Academy received full scholarships for a master's degrees in hopes of advancing their careers.

Faith Family MASTER Academy is one out of 26 districts in Texas awarded the Principal Preparation grant by the Texas Education Agency.

Because of the achievement, a teacher from the Waxahachie and Oak Cliff campuses will continue their education with the Principal Preparation Program and train under their respective principals to prepare for an administrative role.

Jason Oliver, Faith Family MASTER Academy assistant superintendent of leadership, said, “The purpose is to grow your own, per say. When you find strong candidates, who have leadership ability and teaching them how to be administrators while doing an internship while on the job.”

The school district partnered the University of Texas at Tyler for two teachers to enroll in its one-year, online master's program.

THE CANDIDATES

The Waxahachie candidate is Cheri Bryant, the campus music teacher. She has worked with the district and been an educator for two years.

Even though Bryant has always aspired to be a music teacher, she said, “[…] after working closely with our principal Ms. Kramer, I've come to realize a new goal of being in educational leadership. I'd love to be able to lead an awesome team like the one we have at Faith Family MASTER Academy.”

When the administration shared the news with Bryant, she was completely taken back and "overwhelmed."

“I was, and continue to be, so very grateful to my administration for placing their trust in me by giving me such an amazing opportunity,” Bryant elaborated. “It's hard not to get excited about a free master degree.”

“The Principal Preparation Program at UT Tyler will give me the opportunity to have an even greater impact in the lives of students at Faith Family MASTER Academy,” Bryant added. “I'll be able to build stronger, more meaningful relationships not only with our students but with their families as well.”

Kinsleigh Vranish will represent the Oak Cliff campus for the scholarship. She as well has been with the district and an educator for two years. She is the assistant volleyball coach and teaches English to fourth-grade dual-language students.

When Oliver relayed the information to Vranish, she was in disbelief.

“Honestly, I probably didn’t look too excited at the time because I was so shocked,” Vranish expressed. “When they told me, I was surprised. And then they told us we were starting May 31 and I was even more surprised.”

She feels that her strengths would suit a more leadership, administration role. Growing up, her father was a superintendent, and her mother was a high school counselor.

“It’s nice not necessarily what to expect, but I’ve seen it done by two of the smartest people I know in my life and kind of want to follow in their footsteps too," she added.

“It’s honestly an honor to be selected,” Vranish expressed. “I think of Mollie and Jason in such high regard. So for them to choose me to be able to represent the school is just really an honor and makes me feel special and that I’m doing a good job with only two years under my belt.”

Shirley Heitzman, Faith Family Academy Executive Director of Development, relayed the district used a systematic and informed targeted recruitment and selection process to pinpoint the teachers. The system utilized demonstrated criteria such as a track record of measurable student achievement, positive evaluations, interpersonal leadership, and growth mindset.

Oliver explained that the contenders had shown great potential, progress with students, outstanding leadership, and gone above and beyond. The two teachers will receive a principal certification and will eventually serve in an admin role.

The program is beneficial since the teachers are already familiar with the students and school. In addition, the community is familiar with the teachers as well.

“Part of them being in the program is that they have a principal mentoring them on campus and they will be doing projects to help support the school as part of the principal program and will be mentored by an existing principal,” Heitzman elaborated.

The grants totaled to $26,000, covering the cost of tuition, books and other start-up material for both teachers.

BENEFITING THE DEMOGRAPHICS

During the application process, the district had to write about the opportunities the district has to make a difference at their campuses. Heitzman mentioned a significant amount of their students are economically disadvantaged, minorities, and are dual-language students.

According to Heitzman, 92 percent of students at the Waxahachie campus are from low-income households. Demographically, 67 percent of students are Hispanic, 28 percent are Black, four percent are Caucasian, and one percent are Asian/American Indian/two or more races.

Only 49 percent of students are English-first learners.

The Principal Preparation Program would instruct personnel benefiting these areas directly. Heitzman also noted during the application process the quality partnership Faith Family MASTER Academy has with the University of Texas at Tyler stood out.

“Culture and climate is number one," Oliver assured. "These teachers, these students will do anything for the principal because she spends a lot of her time on the culture with the staff, not just giving them what they want but support them, reinforcing them."

Monica Kramer, principal at the Waxahachie campus, elaborated on how the TEA grant is an opportunity for these outstanding teachers to be recognized for their current work and leadership potential.

“This grant from TEA provides the additional education and mentoring that will allow these outstanding teachers to become even better leaders in the future to support our students and families," Kramer said.

Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450