Midway ISD Educator Named Texas 2015 National Distinguished Principal

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Principal Diane Gough of Hewitt Elementary was awarded the honor of Texas 2015 National Distinguished Principal at a surprise assembly on Monday morning in front of 600 of her students and teachers. The prize was awarded by Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA) and Mentoring Minds.

Principal Diane Gough, Hewitt Elementary

Principal Diane Gough, Hewitt Elementary

A quality education begins with a quality principal.

In a surprise announcement, Principal Diane Gough was named the Texas 2015 National Distinguished Principal (NDP) by the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA) at 9:30 am on Monday, May 11, at Hewitt Elementary School. Gough was awarded a check for $10,000 thanks to a generous donation from long-time TEPSA business partner Mentoring Minds. She will represent Texas at the National Distinguished Principals program held in Washington, D.C. in October.

When Gough arrived at Hewitt Elementary, discipline problems and special education referrals were rising and demographics changing quickly. Gough collaborated with local agencies to locate resources for families, and she provided professional development opportunities for teachers and staff to increase active, engaged learning in classrooms. Teachers embraced the learning and Hewitt Elementary became a leader in best practices in Midway ISD.

“Diane has demonstrated a passion for campus leadership that has earned her the respect of students, parents, teachers and peers,” TEPSA Executive Director Harley Eckhart said. “She’s an innovative leader whose creative thinking inspires others to achieve excellence.”

With a desire to return to the elementary campus, Gough accepted the Hewitt Elementary principalship in 2009 after working as the Midway ISD Director of Special Education for three years. Although Hewitt has the highest number of under-resourced students in Midway ISD and was once referred to as the school on “the other side of Waco,” Hewitt is now known throughout the area as a school where kindness and compassion reign. Gough’s steady leadership, enthusiasm, and encouraging spirit garnered the support of community partners, and she established a culture based on high expectations for students and staff coupled with a climate of mutual respect, trust, and love. Teachers not only changed instructional practices, but they have become leaders in the district and champions for students under Gough’s leadership.

“I often tease Ms. Gough by calling her the ‘Dean of Elementary Principals’ in Midway ISD,” wrote Superintendent George Kazanas in his recommendation letter. “She possesses the maturity, problem solving skills and tenacity required of a school leader charged with improving educational outcomes for economically disadvantaged youth.”

Partnering with parents, Gough found creative ways to involve them in their children’s education. Knowing that many of her parents work multiple jobs, she replaced the traditional PTA meeting with special curriculum nights, small group meetings, and informational videos for each grade level. Community participation has increased as well and several programs implemented by Gough are now replicated throughout the district.

NDP sponsor Mentoring Minds, the K–12 educational resource company founded by a Texas educator, is proud to highlight the groundbreaking administrators who are rethinking education across the state. Recognizing that Gough’s innovation and leadership have a far-reaching impact in the region’s schools, Mentoring Minds sees the award as an investment in the community.

“A quality education begins with a quality principal. Mentoring Minds is honored to continue our tradition of partnering with TEPSA to recognize outstanding principals like Diane Gough as the 2015 National Distinguished Principal,” said Robert L. Bush, Mentoring Minds Chief Executive Officer.

TEPSA received fifty-six nominations for the 2015 NDP award. After a rigorous reading process, in which applicants shared their educational philosophies and accomplishments both in and out of the classroom, a peer-review committee selected six finalists. These outstanding leaders then showcased their achievements during a school visit by a team of educators. Gough will officially receive her award on Wednesday, June 10, during the TEPSA Summer Conference in Austin.

TEPSA, whose hallmark is educational leaders learning with and from each other, has served Texas school leaders since 1917. Member owned and member governed, TEPSA has more than 5,800 members who direct the activities of more than 3 million PreK–8 school children. Learn more at tepsa.org.

Mentoring Minds, the Critical Thinking for Life Company, delivers affordable, effective instructional resources that help students develop the skills to succeed both in the classroom and in life. Experienced educators create award-winning K–12 print and digital resources that integrate best practices for supplementary instruction, learning, and assessment across a range of subject areas. Mentoring Minds is committed to empowering teachers and students, providing customized school-wide and district-wide solutions across the nation. For more information about Mentoring Minds and its educational resources, call 800-585-5258 or visit mentoringminds.com.

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