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Walker’s Melanie Raleeh and Cockrill’s Amber Epperson Chosen for Key Assistant Superintendent Roles

Press Release|
Shane Mauldin|
Monday, April 17, 2023

McKinney, Texas – On Monday, April 17, McKinney ISD announced the names of two new assistant superintendents who will serve on the leadership team of Superintendent Shawn Pratt, additions that will fill vital district administration roles.

Melanie Raleeh, a longtime MISD campus administrator who has served as principal of Walker Elementary for the past four years, will now serve as the district’s Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Student Support, following the retirement of Assistant Superintendent Suzy Woodard.

Dr. Amber Epperson, who has served as principal of Cockrill Middle School since 2014, has been named Assistant Superintendent of Teaching, Learning and Accountability.

Together they bring more than 30 years of administrative experience in education to their new roles.

Melanie Raleeh, Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Student Support

head shot of Melanie RaleehMelanie Raleeh brings a wealth of leadership experience to her new role as assistant superintendent, with 18 years as an MISD campus principal and 30 years in education as she moves from Walker Elementary to Central Office. In a career marked by a consistently upward trajectory, Raleeh is a proven leader.

In her new position, Raleeh will oversee the district’s elementary campuses and programs. The job became available when longtime Assistant Superintendent Suzy Woodard announced her upcoming retirement.

“Melanie has been a successful principal in MISD for 18 years,” said MISD Superintendent Shawn Pratt. “Her campuses have always had outstanding culture accompanied by high academic achievement. Melanie’s experience and wisdom will benefit our entire district as she oversees our elementary leadership.”

Raleeh began her career in 1993 as a fourth grade teacher in Bonham, Texas, but by 1997 she had made her way to MISD where she served as a fourth grade teacher at Glen Oaks Elementary until 2001. She then moved from the classroom into administration and spent the next four years as, first, the assistant principal at Eddins Elementary and then as assistant principal at Bennett Elementary.

In 2005, she returned to Eddins, this time as principal. Five years later, when McClure Elementary opened its doors, she moved to the new campus to serve as that school’s first principal.

Eddins and McClure each flourished under Raleeh’s leadership. During the days of TAKS testing, Eddins earned National Blue Ribbon School status and a TEA Exemplary rating every year during Raleeh’s tenure there, and McClure earned it in 2011—the first year that it was eligible and the last year that schools could earn that designation from TEA.

Eddins earned TBEC Honor Roll recognition in 2006, 2007 and 2009, and both Eddins and McClure consistently earned TEA Gold Performance acknowledgements on state assessments in a variety of categories.

In 2019, Raleeh became the principal of Walker Elementary, and her time there did not deviate from her previous successes. Walker has been designated a TEA A-Rated campus and a Marzano High Reliability Schools Level I and II school under her leadership.

“Walker Elementary will always be special to me because of the relationships I have with the students, staff and parents,” she said. “The Walker community has embraced and supported our campus mission, and I am forever grateful for their trust and involvement through the years. I am truly honored to have served as the campus principal and worked alongside so many outstanding teachers and staff. I am confident that the Walker Stars will continue to excel.”

Raleeh has served on numerous district-level work groups and committees, and she is an MISD principal mentor and MISD Leadership Academy facilitator, working to prepare the next generation of school leadership.

“McKinney ISD represents all the components of a first class organization with a ‘kids come first’ mentality,” said Raleeh. “I am deeply honored to serve in the role of Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Student Support. My intention is to build upon the MISD tradition of excellence through an unrelenting commitment to continuous improvement. My genuine passion, care and concern for McKinney ISD and our community is the hallmark of who I am. I look forward to working with Mr. Pratt and district leaders to ensure high levels of academic achievement and collaboration among stakeholders.”

Raleeh earned her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Texas Tech University and her master’s degree from Texas A&M University–Commerce.

Dr. Amber Epperson, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching, Learning and Accountability

Head shot of Amber Epperson

Now in her ninth year as principal of Cockrill Middle School, Epperson is making the move to district-level administration as the Assistant Superintendent of Teaching, Learning and Accountability.

“Amber has been an outstanding principal in MISD for many years and was recently named the 2023 Texas Middle School Principal of the Year,” said Pratt. “She has many strengths, including expertise in effective instructional practices. Her ability to evaluate curriculum and lead MISD with data driven strategies will benefit all of our students.”

Like Raleeh, Epperson is no stranger to MISD, having served as a classroom teacher and highly successful campus administrator in the district for some 20 years. With that experience, she brings expertise in serving students with a wide range of educational needs.

During Epperson’s time at Cockrill, the campus has been named a Texas School to Watch three times by TASSP (in 2015, 2018 and 2021) and in 2021 was one of only 50 middle schools in Texas to achieve that designation.

Last fall, TASSP named Epperson a Region 10 Outstanding Principal of the Year and then in December announced that Epperson had been chosen as the 2023 Middle School Principal of the Year for the state of Texas.

In addition to recognition from TASSP, the counseling department at Cockrill earned the prestigious CREST Award from the Texas School Counselor Association in 2022 and 2023 for their outstanding comprehensive counseling program.

“Having the opportunity to lead Cockrill has been an incredible experience,” said Epperson. “I have loved working with the students, teachers, and community, and I cherish the relationships we have built. Leaving such a wonderful school is difficult, but I am very excited to transition to this new role and make a positive difference in our district and community.”

Epperson launched her career 24 years ago as a 6th grade teacher in Mesquite ISD. She went on to serve as an educational consultant for the Region 10 Educational Service Center before joining the staff at Webb Elementary as a 4th grade teacher in 2003.

At Webb, her ability to lead became quickly apparent, and two years later, Epperson was the school’s assistant principal. Two years after that, she was named principal. In that role, she led a Title I campus with a broad array of student needs that included early learners, ESL and MISD’s Alpha program, serving gifted and talented students from 19 MISD schools.

In 2010, Epperson became the principal of Valley Creek Elementary, a Blue Ribbon school that posted exemplary results on state assessments under her leadership. In 2012, she was chosen to lead Malvern Elementary, where the school’s TEA designation rose from “Needs Improvement” to “Recognized” under her leadership.

For Epperson, everything ultimately comes back to her heart for students. It begins with academics and then goes far beyond that.

“Obviously, academics are a priority,” Epperson said in an interview last year at Cockrill, “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 earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Oklahoma State University and both her master’s degree and doctorate in educational administration from Texas A&M University–Commerce.

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