Oftentimes the ladder of success starts in a small town and eventually leads to the bigger cities.
The new principal at Sealy Junior High School, however, is an example of the opposite of that journey.
After 19 years in Spring Branch ISD, Laura Villaflor was announced as the next leader of the junior high school in Sealy and she mentioned that close-knit community is what drew her to this side of Katy following a special meeting of the Sealy ISD Board of Trustees last Thursday night.
“I feel like our district has become a little corporate and we’ve gotten a little away from that family feel,” she said. “Immediately I felt at home (in Sealy), I told (Superintendent Sheryl Moore) that I’m nervous because I'm not nervous yet because I feel so much at home and the people are so nice and just talking to the team right there, it feels like I knew them forever."
Members of her new staff were on hand at the administration building to welcome Villaflor and her family, husband Matt and son Ryan, to town.
“One of the biggest problems at our school was low morale,” she said of Spring Branch. “It’s just a hard time to be a teacher right now and the one thing that you do need is the strong support system from your leadership and that’s part of the reason why I wanted to go somewhere where that’s important.
“I hear a lot of people say, ‘Keep family first,’ but when you actually do it, people get mad and it’s frustrating to me,” Villaflor said. “Already when I was asked, ‘Are you going to bring Ryan and your family?’ I thought, ‘Yeah I am, it’s going to be annoying that he’s running around like crazy but it’s exactly what I was looking for.’ I feel the warmth and I'm just so excited.”
After her time in Spring Branch, she feels as though this transition will be a simple one with both schools in similar territory in the professional learning community.
“I've been an administrator for 14 years at both middle and high schools and that’s really exciting because I know how to bridge those gaps in between,” Villaflor said. “I've been wanting to go back to middle school for a long time, it’s been a dream to go back to junior high and be a principal, I've been wanting to do that for a few years but this guy (Ryan) interrupted the plans a little bit.
“Now we’re back, and Sealy is in the middle of the PLC (professional learning community) process as are other districts, we happened to be in the same place that Sealy Junior is at so that’s where we’ll pick (up from,)” she said. “I’m really excited about bringing experiences from another district here, I've already had some conversations with Sheryl and she’s awesome, the autonomy she’s providing is amazing so it’s just exciting.”