McKinney, Texas – Gordon Butler has been named the new principal of McKinney High School and Kelly Flowers has been chosen as the new principal of Caldwell Elementary. The McKinney ISD Board of Trustees approved the decision at their monthly meeting held Tuesday night at McKinney High School.
The personnel moves come in the wake of the recent announcement by current MHS Principal Dr. Logan Faris of his intent to pursue a high-ranking position with another district and the impending departure of long time Caldwell Principal Chris Clark who will take over the principal job at Press Elementary. Earlier this spring, current Press Principal Paige Hanks announced her plan to leave that position to pursue her interest in Christian ministry.
Principal Gordon Butler, McKinney High School
It was fitting that the Board of Trustees held their May meeting at McKinney High School, as their official approval of Butler as principal of that school represented something of a homecoming for the former MHS administrator.
“On a personal level, this is significant because I started at MHS as an assistant principal three years ago,” said Butler. “To come full circle and come back and finish something I started is exciting.”
Butler arrived at MHS in 2012 along with Dr. Logan Faris during a time of significant transition for McKinney’s original high school as the facility underwent a dramatic renovation and expansion accompanied by a renewed sense of legacy and purpose among its students and faculty.
“The physical transformation is complete,” said Butler of the school. “I think there is a sense of pride now that already existed, but with the upgrades to the building, it’s manifested itself more overtly. I think kids and parents and community members are really proud of the legacy of McKinney High School.”
Butler left the campus in 2013 when he became the district’s director of program evaluation, a job that, over the next two years, would help prepare him for the role he takes on now.
“I learned so much at Central Office where you see much more of a global view and see how the campuses fit together to make up MISD,” said Butler. “At the end of the day, this has always been about the kids, so being removed from them for the last couple of years was difficult. I have a connection to the campus, and my heart is to make sure that we provide quality educational experiences for all students.”
Two areas already on Butler’s radar: student achievement and AP (Advanced Placement) participation. To Butler, achievement means more than just standardized test scores. “We want to ensure that when students leave, they are prepared for the next level whether it’s to go on to college or the career field and that they have the academic skills necessary to be successful,” he said.
One piece of that puzzle is AP participation. “We have a fantastic AP program, and we want to increase the amount of kids who are exposed to it. I think some of our students at McKinney High School self-select out of choosing those classes because they feel intimidated, and I want to break down some of those unintended barriers that our students may have about taking those classes.”
MISD Superintendent Dr. Rick McDaniel expressed confidence in Butler’s ability to lead McKinney High School to new levels of success. “Mr. Butler’s in-depth knowledge of McKinney High School set him apart from other candidates,” McDaniel said. “One of his unique skill sets is his ability to create and maintain a culture built upon strong relationships with teachers and students. He also brings with him a comprehensive understanding and knowledge of the Texas accountability system and its impact on secondary students.
“He has a true passion for McKinney High School, and a desire to see students and staff achieve at the highest levels possible,” said McDaniel.
Butler came to McKinney in 2012 from Midlothian ISD where he served as assistant principal at Walnut Grove Middle School for three years. Prior to that, Butler taught World Geography and U.S. History at the Excel Academy Charter School in East Boston, Massachusetts and ESL Language Arts and Social Studies at Bowie Elementary and Cochran Elementary in Dallas ISD.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Texas at Arlington and a master’s degree in Educational Administration from Texas A&M–Commerce. Butler is currently a doctoral student at the University of North Texas.
Principal Kelly Flowers, Caldwell Elementary
Serving as principal of Caldwell Elementary is the next logical step for Kelly Flowers. Her resume is a compendium of expertise and leadership in bilingual education at that campus. It’s been home to Flowers throughout her 16 years as a bilingual educator.
As the home of the district’s Dual-Language program, Caldwell is unique among MISD schools. The program began in 2010–2011 and is currently in its fifth year of implementation. Two way immersion is a form of dual-language that combines students from two language groups while providing instruction in both languages. Kindergarten – 4th grade classes are comprised of approximately one-half native English speakers and one-half native Spanish speakers, and students learn both languages simultaneously. In this 50-50 model, students serve as language models for each other, while accelerating their learning.
Flowers played a key role in developing the program. She proposed piloting the program at Caldwell in 2010 and worked with Principal Chris Clark and campus personnel to implement it. That meant investing a great deal of time and energy developing curriculum and training staff not only during the school year but also during the summer. Five years later, the hard work has paid off.
“Being named principal at Caldwell is a culmination of my last 16 years at this campus, 10 as a bilingual teacher and the past six as assistant principal,” said Flowers. “Caldwell and McKinney ISD have nurtured and developed me in preparation for this next step. I feel honored to be chosen for this role and know that with the collective efforts of staff, parents and community, Caldwell will reach the next level of excellence and student achievement.”
With the exception of a semester of student teaching at Burks Elementary in the spring of 2000, Flowers’ journey as an educator began in earnest as a 3rd grade bilingual teacher at Caldwell in the fall of the same year. By 2004–2005, she had been chosen as the Caldwell Campus Teacher of the Year. Around the same time, she served as the campus bilingual team leader and continued to serve in that role until she became assistant principal of Caldwell in 2009. Along the way, she taught 3rd, 4th and 5th grade bilingual classes and served as the district point person for bilingual language arts and as a curriculum writer for 4th and 5th grade bilingual language arts.
“I look forward to watching Kelly Flowers continue her fabulous work for the students of McKinney ISD,” said McDaniel. “Her proven track record of leadership will serve Caldwell Elementary School well as they move forward to even greater levels of success. Her prior knowledge and understanding of the dual-language program is invaluable and we know she will continue to make a positive impact.”
Flowers earned her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Master of Arts in Teaching from Austin College and her Master of Arts in Educational Administration from Texas A&M University–Commerce. She is currently a doctoral candidate in the area of educational leadership at the University of North Texas and is on course to complete the program in 2016.
“Caldwell is poised to be a model school, not only in MISD but in the state and nationwide, due to our focus on high academic achievement and the realization of bilingualism among our students,” said Flowers. “Our dual language showcase this past March, showcased every grade level with performances in both languages, including a play adaptation of the children’s novel “The Tale of Despereaux,” by Kate DiCamilllo, performed entirely in Spanish and over 270 digital projects uploaded to our learning commons website in both English and Spanish. This is just a small example of what is possible and what can be expected of Caldwell in the future.”
McKinney ISD Press Release