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SJMS Principal Mitch Curry Named TASSP Region 10 Outstanding Principal of the Year

Press Release|
Shane Mauldin|
Thursday, September 8, 2016

McKinney, Texas – Principal Mitch Curry strides along the yellow center line of the drop-off lane at Scott Johnson Middle School, guiding the dual lines of traffic slowly forward. He raises a hand, and the crawl of vehicles eases to a stop as Curry waves a group of students through the crosswalk. He greets them by name as they pass, shaking hands, offering high fives and engaging them in conversation.

“Good morning! Did you enjoy the game last night?”

Once they’ve crossed, an SUV pulls forward, and Curry moves toward it, a dog biscuit suddenly materializing in his hand. He chats briefly with the parent in the driver seat as he offers the treat to the small dog waiting eagerly at the back window.

“Last year, I kept seeing the same dogs come through the drop off line every morning, so I started putting some dog treats in my pocket,” explains Curry. “The kids think it’s funny that I walk around with a pocketful of dog biscuits,” he adds with a laugh. “But, the dogs like it.”

Shot of Mitch Curry shaking hands with students as they arrive at school.

Scott Johnson Middle School Principal Mitch Curry greets students as they arrive. Curry has been chosen as the 2016 Region 10 Outstanding Principal of the Year by the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals.

The whole drop off process is very upbeat, orderly and efficient. There’s no crowd of kids hanging around the front of the building waiting for the doors to open. They are waiting in the car with their parents or moving into the building. Once inside, they’ll head to separate areas for each grade level.

Everything has its place. Everything is purposeful.

As drop off winds down and the last of the students head into the building, Curry moves along with them and wades into the main hallway attempting to greet as many students as possible as they flow past in a lively torrent toward their respective classes.

It’s a diverse group that passes by, one of the most diverse groups of students in the entire district—equally distributed among white, African-American and hispanic. Curry has a knack for pulling it all together, for instilling a common purpose among these kids and uniting them under the banner of Scott Johnson Middle School.

Mitch Curry shakes hands with a student in the hallway at SJMS.

Curry greets students as they head to class, shaking as many hands as possible along the way.

It’s part of his mission and one of the reasons Curry has been chosen as the 2016 Region 10 Outstanding Principal of the Year by the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals. TASSP recognizes outstanding principals and assistant principals each year from among the twenty regional Education Service Centers across the state.

“I am extremely proud that Region 10 has selected Mitch Curry as the recipient of the Outstanding Principal of the Year Award,” says McKinney ISD Superintendent Dr. Rick McDaniel. Mr. Curry exhibits all of the qualities that MISD looks for in our leaders. His commitment to the students, faculty and staff of MISD is, without question, exemplary in every manner. I am proud to call him one of our own.”

Recipients are nominated and chosen by their peers within their regions for exemplary performance and outstanding leadership. With this recognition, Curry will now be eligible to compete for the state title of Texas Principal of the Year.

Honors and recognition aside, Curry keeps his eyes fixed on the goals of success and belonging for his students. All the high fives and hand shakes are small, but important, efforts to help them get there. “I hope that all students who come through SJMS feel that they are part of our family and that we tap into their hopes and dreams,” he says. “Our mission is to set their dreams in motion and enable them to reach their full potential.

“I am so proud of our accomplishments, but more importantly, I am proud of the relationships that we have made with our students and our community,” Curry says. “I see so many of our students out in our community each week, and I know that we made an indelible impact on their future and their lives.”

Photo of Mitch Curry with his arm around two students smiling at the camera in the SJMS hallway.

Curry with two of his students at Scott Johnson Middle School

Before he became an assistant principal at SJMS four years ago, David Warren spent the previous four years under Curry as a teacher and instructional specialist. He’s seen Curry’s aspirations in action on a daily basis, and it was Warren who nominated Curry for consideration by Region 10.

“Mitch Curry has proven to be an effective campus leader for SJMS for nearly a decade,” says Warren. “During that time he has not only overcome unique challenges, but has also led the charge for numerous campus honors: National Breakthrough Campus, School to Watch, National
AVID Demonstration School, AVID School of Distinction Nominee, and we are consistently a top performing secondary campus with regard to state ratings and distinctions related to student performance on state exams.

“Most of all, Mr. Curry has infused a sense of family in the culture of our campus. SJMS is a place where the faculty and staff support one another both professionally and personally, and where any student can find success. As someone who was formerly selected by the TASSP organization as an Outstanding Administrator myself, I had the opportunity to nominate a deserving candidate for this year’s honor, and I could think of no one more deserving than Mr. Curry. Once the committee reviewed my recommendation and his accomplishments, Mr. Curry was selected for this honor unanimously.”

Tomorrow will find Curry in the drop off lane again greeting kids—and the occasional dog—and he doesn’t take any of it for granted.

“Scott Johnson Middle School has been such an incredible place for me to serve for the past eight years,” he says. “The staff, students and parents have made this job so rewarding and special. I couldn’t imagine not being part of this school and community.”

And, they’re probably all thinking the same thing.

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