“Once a Hawk, always a Hawk,” explained the new Red Oak Middle School Principal Howard Gatewood shortly after it was announced he had been chosen to lead Red Oak Middle School.

Gatewood returns to the district after he served as the assistant principal of Lamar High School since June 2016. He previously worked for three years as the assistant principal at Red Oak Middle School.

"It feels tremendous to be back,” Gatewood expressed.

Red Oak ISD Superintendent Dr. Michael Goddard said, "He knows Red Oak and its students. He has a passionate heart for excellence, and it is evident in his 22 years as a master sergeant in the Marines as well as his role as an administrator.

"He brings a strong presence for discipline and high expectations in the classroom. He will be a difference maker in the lives of our students and teachers.”

The level of achievement, coupled with a community focused on student success is what makes Red Oak ISD the ideal learning environment, Gatewood expressed.

“It will be very hard to fill the shoes that the prior principal, Cristi Watts, has left. I will do my best and give 100 percent effort every second of the day,” he assured.

Gatewood added that an essential aspect of serving as principal is to ensure the curriculum and standards the middle school focuses on are aligned with the ROISD philosophy of the four talons and student success.

The retired US Marine emphasized how his background of making informed decisions based on data and willingness to collaborate with all stakeholders are unique characteristics he brings to the table.

“I truly value everyone’s input, as we are smarter as a group vice individually,” Gateway relayed.

The district's four talons philosophy was installed last school year to drive student success and promote positive attitudes. The four talons focus on being academically ready, developing grit, making sure a student is a man or woman of character, and giving back with service through a "we before me" philosophy.

If Gateway focused on one perspective of the four talons, it would be “We before me,” because, “no one is successful without the help of others.”

“I have been a servant leader my entire life, and I know that the secret to America’s success is an educated citizen," Gatewood elaborated. "The public education system is the backbone of our society."

The goals Gateway is focused on are geared toward instruction, specifically the PLC process and campus culture. He then referenced the book, “Leveraged Leadership” as a helpful guide.

“I am looking forward to seeing the entire school communities faces and building relationships with them,” Gateway shared.

He believes the way to create an impact on campus is by building relationships, and ensuring everything staff does is focused on student success. Again, top-tier instruction and campus culture are the two primary focal points.

“I am passionate about all student organizations; all students should be encouraged to participate in some form or fashion," Gatewood emphasized. "This not only creates 'buy-in' but teaches transferable skills such as teamwork, goal setting, and discipline which translate to real-world application.”


Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450