McClendon: I’m Jackie McClendon. I am the Associate Principal here at Sam Houston High School.
Texans Talk: When were you called for this position? By who?
McClendon: I decided I wanted to go back into administration. I wanted an additional challenge so I started looking for positions. Then I talked to Mr. Benavides about this one. Associate Principal is a new position for our district. We only have one. Me. At the time I didn’t know what that was. Well when I was talking to him I thought it sounded pretty interesting. I applied for the position. I was interviewed three different times, I was interviewed by Mr. Benavides and some other district personnel, Mr. Benavides and his boss, then with our Superintendent.
TT: What was your immediate reaction?
McClendon: It was bittersweet because I had been at a campus that I loved. It’s like being in a family when you’re a teacher and everyone in the school is our family. So, I was really excited about the opportunity, but I was so sad to leave. My last week was so super hard. I was almost sad. The teachers become like your kids, but the end goal is for everyone to grow. I was really sad to leave there, but I was really excited about the new opportunity. And that’s really scary too because nobody has ever done it and doing a good job is important. It’s important to our school that we show a lot of progress with this position in order to keep it and in order to grow it to other campuses.
TT: Describe your position here at SHHS as an Associate Principal?
McClendon: You know what, we are still figuring that out. My job really is to help and work side by side with Mr. Benavides to make his vision for Sam come to fruition. He has a lot of passion for our school. My job is to ensure that vision comes a reality. Eventually, once we have a ninth grade center, my job will be to be the principal over that building of ninth grade.
TT: Do you sometimes miss teaching in a classroom?
McClendon: I miss it all the time. Really as an administrator you never ever stop teaching. The people you teach now are different because now I kind of work with teachers a lot in order to impact instruction we have to learn how to do things a little differently and so sometimes teachers are my students and I find that sometimes parents are my students. So the student is different but I still have the opportunity to teach.
TT: What subject did you teach?
McClendon: I was a first grade teacher and I really only wanted to teach kindergarten. I never got to do that. I was a first grade teacher and then I was an elementary counselor in Fort Worth. My first administration job was in Arlington at Shakleford and it was in junior high. So, I really thought that I would teach and then I saw some of the struggles that children and families had and I thought that counseling would be interesting.
Now, it maybe one of my very favorite jobs and I thought that I would do that job all the way through. I thought that I would do elementary then junior high then high school, but it didn’t work out that way. When I got ready to move from elementary counseling to middle school counseling there where barriers every time. That’s when I decided to come to Arlington. I thought well if I can’t become a middle school counselor in Fort Worth I’ll do it in Arlington.
When I came over to Arlington there were lots of administrative positions available at the time. So, I ended up interviewing for Assistant principal. By now I’ve done all levels in administration.
TT: How long were you a teacher before you became a principal?
McClendon: I was actually teaching for five years, which is not nearly long enough. There’s so much to know. So I’m just really learning all the time. I feel like my brain is growing now that I’m at Sam because it’s very different. So, I taught for five years, I was a counselor for four years, and I’ve been an administrator for 16. This is my sixteenth year as an administrator and I’ve been a learner that whole time. There’s so much to learn. I think that’s the best part of it all.
TT: What were your first thoughts on becoming an associate principal?
McClendon: You know what, I can’t really answer that. I’m trying to think about that. I don’t think I can answer that because that has never been my true goal. I’m very people oriented and very results oriented. So, I always want to do what’s best for the kids all the time. I’m kind of like a ‘momma bear,’. I want to do what’s best for the kids at all time. So my question was “Where can I do the most work?” “Where can I make the most of a great impact on the kids in my community?”
So, it wasn’t really about the principal piece for me. That was a really big decision for me, even when I came here, because I was an elementary principal and now I’m an associate principal, which is second in charge. So, going from first in charge to second in charge is a big change except for the fact that there’s still learning to do and work to be done. So it’s a good thing.