The Rockwall ISD Board of Trustees met early Monday morning to fill the vacancy at Rockwall High School, created just two weeks ago with the departure of former Principal Courtney Gober, who started this week as Assistant Superintendent of San Antonio ISD.
Newly-hired RHS Principal Kevin Samples is no stranger to RISD, however. Besides living here with his family for 16 years, his wife teaches at Grace Hartman Elementary School and his daughter is an RISD fifth-grader. Beyond that, even, Samples taught and coached at RHS for six years early in his career as an educator.
RISD Director of Communication Renae Murphy said that Samples’ ties to RISD make his hiring as much of a “homecoming” as anything else, a sentiment that Samples echoed.
Samples, an alumnus of Texas A&M University – Commerce and Ouachita Baptist University, was most recently the principal of Mesquite High School for four years, with the 2017-8 year garnering him a “Principal of the Year” award, out of 50 possible candidates. Samples has also served as an administrator in Mabank ISD and at Poteet High School.
Chief Academic Officer Amy Anderson said the principal selection process, which included two rounds of interviews - first with a committee of district staff and then with Superintendent John Villarreal and Anderson herself – was “rigorous.”
“He has a passion for excellence and he really cares about people and his staff,” Anderson said. “that’s what really drew the committee to Mr. Samples.”
“It’s because of the time our teachers put in that excellence will occur at Rockwall High,” Samples said after the vote confirming his hiring. “Hopefully I’ll increase our expectations to where it’s really almost a college-bound culture.”
In comments to the Herald-Banner, Samples expressed his excitement for re-joining the RISD family, saying “I believe I was called to do this, and we’ll open our doors every day with purpose.”
Samples went on to describe his administrative style as “distributive.”
“I believe it’s important to collaborate with the teachers every step of the way, and to maintain a collaborative environment,” he said. “I’m not the kind of guy to run a top-down administration. Our teachers are professionals who change lives every day, and deserve to be treated that way.”
Samples also said he plans to place a particular focus on producing well-rounded, well-equipped students.
“There’s more to education than just learning history, math and science,” he said. “Not only is personal character very important to me, but we want to equip our students to go out and excel in a changing world.”
Samples cited the oft-repeated opinion that the top ten jobs of the next several years are jobs that don’t yet exist, a byproduct of the rapid development of new technologies.
“School can be a kind of perfect world scenario,” Samples added. “I hope to expose our kids to new opportunities they might not have even heard about or considered.”
Samples began work at RHS immediately this week, saying he already plans to order a standing desk for his office.
“I love being here,” he said. “I love this community already and the people in it. If I didn’t, my family could’ve moved away many times.”