NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Right at a month ago, Sandra Dowdy accepted the challenging role as interim superintendent for Nacogdoches ISD.
She fills the position of Dr. Fred Hayes, the man who hired her. Hayes was forced to resign following widespread criticism.
Dowdy inherits many problems, but as Donna McCollum tells us the challenges are met head on by a new administration and board support.
Nacogdoches ISD administration listens to legal advice before the new school year begins. Just one of the many responsibilities for interim superintendent Sandra Dowdy.
The pointers are so important, but academics and discipline remain Dowdy's primary focus.
"It's the community outcry that we heard," Dowdy said.
It begins with a consistent discipline policy based on positive reinforcement instead of punitive.
"We're going to start working with discipline and how to treat students respectfully in the classroom as well as how to teach respect from the students to the teachers on an everyday basis, with strict rules in the classroom," Dowdy said.
Academically, a reading program from pre-K to 12th grade will be enacted.
Dowdy faced a shortage in teachers, created significantly by resignations. All but nine positions are filled.
"So many of them are for counselors, librarians and music teachers," Dowdy said. "We're coming up with some creative methods and looking at retirees for those positions."
Maintenance crews cleaned Nacogdoches ISD's schools in prep for the first day. A fresh start applies to facilities and attitudes. The school board even sent out a district wide letter with a specific theme.
"We know there's been some struggle, and it's time to turn things around," said Steve Green, the president of the NISD School Board. "That's why the theme, 'It's Time'. We feel like all the staff needs to know we're here as board members to give them whatever resources they need."
In a month's time administration positions have been consolidated, some even eliminated.
"Hopefully, to find funds that can go back to campuses and places that we need for students," Dowdy said.
Administrators say they're on board. The support of parents and students will complete the equation.
Open houses, meet and greets, high school fish camp are just some activities filling the August calendar.
Starting Monday, activity by staff will pick up on all campuses. Teachers will attend a district convocation on August 18th. The first day of school is August 22nd.