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Building a Legacy: Cockrill Middle School’s Dr. Amber Epperson Named Region 10 Outstanding Principal of the Year

Press Release|
Shane Mauldin|
Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Dr. Amber Epperson, Cockrill Middle School Principal and TASSP 2022 Region 10 Outstanding Principal of the Year

McKinney, Texas – Many of today’s educators grew up knowing that they were destined for the classroom. They spent their early years teaching grammar and math lessons to their dolls or their siblings or their pets and dreamt of the day that they would guide real students in a real classroom.

But, that wasn’t Cockrill Middle School Principal Dr. Amber Epperson. Her path toward education didn’t emerge until she was a college student. But, once she set her course, she never looked back. And 24 years into her career, she shows no signs of slowing down.

In fact, the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP) has announced that Epperson has been named the 2022 Region 10 Outstanding Principal of the Year.

TASSP recognizes outstanding principals and assistant principals from the state’s 20 regional Education Service Centers. They are nominated and chosen by their peers within their regions. Nominations are based upon exemplary performance and outstanding leadership, and with this honor, Epperson is eligible to compete for the state title of Texas Principal of the Year.

“I’m humbled to have the opportunity to represent so many school leaders in Region 10 that are doing outstanding work everyday,” Epperson said. “I’m kind of surprised [to be chosen] because we’re all just working hard to take care of our schools. Nobody comes to work looking for recognition or awards. So, I’m just humbled to have the opportunity to lead our school and represent all of Region 10.”

Former Cockrill principal and current McKinney ISD Deputy Superintendent Dr. Melinda DeFelice knew that when she left Cockrill eight years ago to serve in district-level leadership, she was leaving the school in capable hands.

“Dr. Epperson has a deep understanding of curriculum and instruction and ensures that her teachers receive the best professional development in order to effectively teach the students,” DeFelice said. “Dr. Epperson is amazing and very much deserves this award, and I could not be more proud of her.”

The quality of Epperson’s work has been no secret to the TASSP organization. As the principal of Cockrill Middle School for the past eight years, she has led a campus that has been named a Texas School to Watch three times by TASSP (in 2015, 2018 and 2021) and last year was one of only 50 middle schools in Texas to achieve that recognition.

In addition to the award from TASSP, the counseling department at Cockrill earned the prestigious CREST Award last year from the Texas School Counselor Association for their outstanding comprehensive counseling program.

As principal, Epperson is focused on making the three years students spend at Cockrill a great experience, to help them excel both in and out of the classroom and to help them develop a vision that carries them forward.

“Obviously, academics are a priority,” Epperson said, “but, I want kids to be involved in things here and to have a positive peer group and make memories,” she said. “I want them to feel like people cared about them and that people had faith in them and that people here poured into them. I hope kids leave here feeling like they can be successful in high school and that there is a path even beyond high school for them.”

Epperson herself knows the positive influence that one person can have on the course of another’s life. Reflecting on her career, she describes herself as an “accidental educator,” a college student who changed her major multiple times—until her sampling of academic disciplines finally landed her in an education course.

“At the time we called them methods courses, to become a teacher,” she said, “and I just fell in love with it. I was like, ‘This is my thing.’ And, it sort of went from there.”

But, as Epperson entered her first years of teaching, it was a principal who may have had the strongest influence on what her career would become. “I had a really amazing principal, Bill Porter, in Mesquite. He invested in me and gave me that opportunity as a first year teacher, and then in my first few years of teaching there just poured into me and told me that I had a future as an educator and had faith in me and encouraged me.”

Two decades later, Epperson is still at it, doing her part to pave the way for the next generation.

“We’re really proud of our programs and our intentional work to make sure that we’re developing the whole child, that kids are safe and happy and healthy here,” Epperson said. “And, that just perpetuates learning—which makes them successful students. Our kids love going to school here, and I’ve stayed here because I love this group of kids and love this community. Everyday, it’s a new day. Let’s see what we can tackle and accomplish today.”

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Dr. Amber Epperson, Cockrill Middle School Principal and TASSP 2022 Region 10 Outstanding Principal of the Year

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