When Carol Nelson was named superintendent of Alvin ISD, it started a series of events that highlighted an internal program in the district few knew about.
When Nelson was promoted, one of the first decisions she had to make was how to fill two vacant positions at the administrative level. Nelson made the decision quickly, looking internally and hiring Bobby Martinez, who was principal at Manvel High School, and Johnny Briseño, principal at Alvin High School.
To find new principals for the high schools, Nelson again looked internally, tapping Karen Taylor to move up at Alvin High School and Aeniqua Flowers to move up and take over Manvel High School.
The interesting aspect of all the moves is the district easily found qualified candidates in house to fill the vacancies. And that is actually by design.
About five years ago, Alvin ISD began a program to train and prepare leaders internally. The district runs two leadership academies — one for teachers to grow into leadership positions and a second for assistant principals to grow into principal positions.
Renee Rives, the new director of communications for the district, also made a move up this summer. She moved from being principal at Pomona Elementary to her job in the district office.
Rives said she has seen the leadership academies work wonders for employees hoping to improve themselves.
“There’s nothing like on-the-job training, but believe it or not, that is a different position,” she said, referring to becoming a principal. “They prepare them for it. They work on interview skills, on preparing a budget. It also focuses them on their own professional development.”
At Pomona, Rives oversaw a team of 86 employees. As principal, she saw how internal training and the ability to promote within the district paid off.
Rives said she has seen teachers benefit from the leadership academy.
“It’s actually for teachers who want to do anything in leadership,” Rives said. “It teaches skills you need to do those positions. It may even be for teachers who want to coach other teachers.”
Rives said the leadership academies have paid big benefits in Alvin ISD.
“We really work on growing our own because then you have a shared belief and a shared vision,” she said.
Rives said when positions open, the district posts them internally and externally. She said the goal is to find the best person for the job regardless of where they are. More often than not, the best person just happens to already be working in Alvin ISD.
Along with the high school principals, Alvin ISD filled two more open principal jobs this summer. Victoria Kwan was promoted at Pomona and Tonya Patterson was promoted at Rodeo Palms.
“In Alvin ISD, they value their people,” Rives said. “It doesn’t matter who you are. I think there’s something to be said for hard work and great people.”
Rives said when a new principal is named from within the district it is noticed by existing employees.
She said one needs only to look at the superintendent — who started as an elementary teacher in Alvin ISD and now leads the district — to see that anything is achievable.
“It definitely gives you that sense that I have a lot of options,” Rives said.