NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The status "Improvement required" designated by the state for Nacogdoches ISD and several of its campuses doesn't discourage the new assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.
Sami Kensey told East Texas she actually thrives on the opportunity to turn districts around.
Kinsey comes from Bastrop, where she earned Region 13 Secondary Principal of the Year for 2014. She's coined a phrase for a passion she brings to East Texas.
"What I called a 'transformation principal," Kinsey said. I've gone into two really at risk schools and turned them around and we've had great success."
Kinsey has confidence the success can be duplicated in NISD's improvement required campuses.
"Literacy is our focus in the district right now," Kinsey said. "We are next year going to be implementing a very strong, explicit phonics program."
Students are winding down the year with field days in anticipation of a summer off.
Devoted teachers and curriculum coaches are actually beginning months of planning for the next school year.
"We're investing a lot to get our teachers trained this summer to give them those tools to build the foundation at the primary grades," Kinsey said.
But will it be enough to prevent the Texas Education Agency taking over the district?
"Uhmm. I think we have our work cut out," Kinsey said. "I think we're on a positive spiral."
With or without TEA monitoring or intervention, Kinsey and other administrators are clear on their assignment.
"We just know putting systems in place and structure and high expectations that all kids can succeed," Kinsey said.
The first round of test scores for Nacogdoches ISD showed improvements in fifth and eighth grade math.
Right now, principals are busy recruiting teachers to fill quite a few openings.