Friday, August 26, 2016

New Principal’s Journey Continues at Memorial Middle

Standing near the entrance to Memorial Middle School, Daniel Bauer’s attention is twice diverted from a conversation with a reporter.

Bauer, the school’s new principal, pauses to open the door for first one, then another parent entering the building with their MMS students. Bauer introduces himself to the parents and students and wishes them a great school year.

A great deal of that new school year experience is up to Bauer, who’s not only learning his way around Spring Branch, Houston and Texas but also his building. In fact, his first activity in his new office was a media interview. And that came on the heels of his first meeting with MMS staff.

But it’s those students who entered the building – and the hundreds of others who joined them on Aug. 22 when the new school year began – that brought the Chicago native to Memorial Middle School.

Bauer worked with newly named Community Superintendent D’Andre Weaver at Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory School in Chicago, and Weaver had him read Spring Branch ISD’s strategic plan – The Learner’s Journey – that led to the District of Innovation designation.

“Texas wasn’t even on my radar,” Bauer said. “There were probably 50 leadership positions open in Chicago and I was looking at those.”

But after reading the plan, he was sold.

“(The strategic plan) is so engaging, so different … and does so many great things for kids,” he said.

He said he’s eager to learn all about Memorial Middle School – it’s staff, it’s students, it’s culture.

“I’m not here to be a change agent,” said Bauer. “I want to stress that. Memorial Middle School is a high-performing school.” He said he takes a team approach to management – he’ll use the first 90 days to listen, learn and figure out how to maximize resources.

Bauer is a serious student of leadership, starting with his website, where he frequently writes about the topic.

“I have the opportunity to speak with and learn from some of the best leaders in our field, and then share that out for free,” he said. He coaches 14 principals and belongs to a coaching group that provides support and advice for one another.

“I knew that I was meeting staff today and I couldn’t sleep last night,” he said. But several of his leadership group reached out and offered, well, support and advice.

And while Texas might not have been on his radar, he’s thrilled to be in Houston.

“I’ve already bought a Texans decal and a Texans flag,” he said. “I’m glad to be here in Texas.”

BA – English, University of Illinois
EdM – Curriculum and Instruction, University of Illinois
MA – School Leadership, Concordia University


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