Alumni News

A Matter of Principals – Part 1

Photo: Thomas B. Shea

UHD produces many teachers and administrators serving school districts throughout Greater Houston and the state of Texas. Two alumnae whose passion for teaching led them to their positions as principals for Houston Independent School District (HISD). Principals Leigha Curry and Michelle Turek are prime examples of “Gator Grit” in action.

Leigha Curry’s favorite aspect of her UHD education?

According to Curry, the best part of her time at the University was that the professors “kept it real” in the classroom.

“There was pedagogy, but our Urban Education professors offered us insight on what it’s like to be in a classroom and what to expect,” said Curry, principal of Elrod Elementary School. “It prepared me for things that I actually experienced as a teacher and now as a principal.”

Curry graduated from UHD’s College of Public Service with a bachelor’s degree in 2006. Before graduating, she told her favorite professor, Dr. Leigh Van Horn, that she would make her proud.
As a principal for HISD, she’s done just that.

“Leigha’s success is a tribute to her devotion to becoming a strong educator, and now, an instructional leader to others,” said Van Horn, interim dean of the College of Public Service. “All of us at UHD are so very proud of her.”

Curry was raised in Galena Park and graduated from North Shore Senior High School. She found her way to UHD for her undergraduate degree, then earned a master’s degree at Texas Southern University, where she’s now, completing her doctorate. She’s passionate about education and is committed to sharing this love of learning with the students at Elrod.

“I want to be an agent of change,” Curry said. “I want our students to have lifelong classroom experiences that they’ll never forget.”

At Elrod, through an emerging medical scholars Magnet program, she works with students from a variety of backgrounds, including English Language Learners who are new to the United States. Although many of these students are learning a new language and adapting to a new culture, Curry is there to encourage them.

“They need to know that they can do anything,” she said. “They have unlimited potential. I want them to realize that. One of our student mottos is: ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’”

Such encouragement also extends to Elrod’s faculty as she has committed teachers to the motto: “Let love lead.”

Leading a school is no easy feat, and she is quick to credit her supportive family for her success.

“My whole family has been influential throughout my career,” Curry said. “Finishing school was a challenge, but they were there for me. And it’s been tough with my work schedule … but without them, I couldn’t do it.”

With her family behind her, Curry taught at different schools in the area, including Gray Elementary School (Aldine Independent School District), Codwell Elementary School, Garcia Elementary School, and Mading Elementary School (where she also served as interim principal). Her journey has been nothing short of enlightening, and she is grateful that UHD helped her along the way. Three years ago, she took the reins at Elrod.

“I thank UHD for my education,” Curry said. “I had some amazing professors of UHD. I felt like they really cared about my success.”

Read “A Matter of Principals” part 2 here.

(The article was published in the latest edition of UHD Magazine.)