Though he’s been a leader within Waxahachie Independent School District since 2008, the new school year is a dream come true he’s still adjusting to, said Ken Lynch, Global High School’s new principal. Being in the role has been his wish since he started working in WISD, he said.
“It’s like having to pinch yourself. It’s like the guys who win the Super Bowl,” he said. “It’s hard to really settle in that I’m the principal. I come in here, and I sit down at the desk and I think, ‘Am I really the principal?’ Because this is a dream job. It is, and right now it’s pretty amazing.”
His goal, he said, is to refocus Global and take Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) as well as Early College learning to the next level. Lynch took over the position after the previous principal resigned earlier this summer, and his first day of school was Monday.
To accomplish that, the campus has already started a steering committee made up of Navarro College officials, teachers from other schools, a school board member, city councils members and more, he said.
“I want to pull everybody in so we can look at what Global needs to look like three or four years from now when we move over to the other building,” he said, referencing the campus move to the current high school facility to accommodate growth and bring more visibility. “It’s not just there, it’s what will Global need to look like 10 years from now, and project that out. My personal feeling is, because there are no limits to how large we can let the schools grow now, there’s not even a limit on your connection with your colleges.”
Originally, when Global became an Early College high school, the campus had to work with Navarro because the community college was the college in the area, he said. But there were no location restrictions for four-year colleges, which allowed the University of Texas – Tyler to come in and partner with the college, he said.
“Thanks to the last legislature, it’s wide open. You can partner with anybody in the state. So, if for whatever reason, Navarro couldn’t meet our needs, we could go to south Texas and do a junior college down there,” he said. “It’s just wide open. Now, I went to convocation at Navarro, and I told Dr. (Kenneth) Martin that my intentions were to do everything we can to stay with Navarro. Dr. Martin has always worked well with Global. He’s bent over backwards to help me out personally, when I was here before. That’s really my goal. What I’d like to do is move toward having more of our kids on that campus more often.”
He’d like to see seniors at the college campus at least twice a week, taking college classes, he said, adding while it’s great to have college teachers teach at Global, college is still a different atmosphere than high school.
“We need to get those kids over there, and I’ve had other kids say college is still so different when we go over there,” he said. “I want to change that. I want them to feel like they are college students and they’re comfortable going over there. I’d like to expand our programs, and I really think that when we move over there to the new high school, being more visible and the publicity of just the move, I think we’ll double overnight.”
Lynch has been an administrator at WISD since he started, first as the assistant principal of Waxahachie Global High School the year after it opened and then as the assistant principal of Clift Elementary School, according to a press release from WISD. Even today, when he talks to residents about Global, he said they don’t know either what the campus is about or where the campus sits.
That’s going to change though, he said, adding he wants to build STEM bridges at the middle school level to reach economically disadvantaged students by spending more time in the two WISD junior high buildings that feed directly into tGlobal. And while he starts his first year as principal, he said he realizes the freshmen students starting with him this year are expected to be the first class to graduate at the new Global High campus.
“I haven’t really talked to them about moving to the other campus yet. I did talk to them about focusing on their goals at the end because we tend to lose 15-20 kids within the first week or two of school,” he said. “We don’t offer band. We don’t have sports. It is harder. Ninth graders, especially, probably do more projects than anybody.”
The sky is the limit at Global whether the students realize that or not, he said, adding a flexible day schedule for students will help them reach their full potential. WISD board members approved the flexible schedule earlier this summer, which allows the school to run a schedule from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. with the ability to build in tutoring time between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. and in the afternoon from 3 to 4 p.m. In June, Global High graduated a record number of 83 students with associate degrees. On Aug. 19, the campus was also recognized as one of the top 500 American high schools by Newsweek for a consecutive year.
“The teachers are very dedicated and that’s the kind of attitude I’m looking for when I hire teachers, somebody who loves kids, who wants to do the right thing for kids and will spend the time and dedicate themselves to doing so,” he said, adding one teacher has even volunteered to help make sure a homebound student stays on track this year. “We try to council them and get them in the right direction, and make sure the amount of hours they have are the amount of hours they need.”
Lynch is also excited about working with an assistant principal who can help keep him balanced and focused, he said. WISD trustees named James Mills as the assistant principal the same day Lynch was announced as principal on July 27. Almost two years ago, the assistant principal position was eliminated at Global and Lynch was moved to Clift Elementary. The position was officially recreated at the district’s board meeting July 6, and Lynch said Mills was his prime pick for the role.
“I’ve known Mr. Mills for about seven years, maybe longer than that actually,” Lynch said. “Of course, working with him as an art teacher, he’s just a great guy. He’s fun to be around. He’s witty and he really doesn’t take things too seriously, where I sometimes do take things too seriously. So I think it’s a good match. He knows everybody in Waxahachie. So when I said, ‘Mills, we need to have a steering committee,’ he was calling people and we had a full load right away. He’s just a fun guy to work with and I’ve always enjoyed working with him.”
As far as how he’ll interact with students on a daily basis, he’ll not be one to stay in his office, he said.
“They get to know you when they see you in the hallways, when they see you at the doors, when you learn their names and they see you in the cafeteria and when you go out to the robotics events,” he said. “That’s when they really get to know you, when you’re working with them in their clubs and you’re at their dances. I think they’ll be comfortable with me. My concern is still their education, their best interest and that’s what we’re going to work for and that’s what I’ll tell them.”