2012-10-18 / Front Page

Group taps McKinney top principal in region

By Alex Scott Reporter

The Texas Association of Secondary School Principals has named Port Aransas High School Principal Sharon McKinney Outstanding Principal of the Year in an 11-county area of the the Coastal Bend. 
Alex Scott The Texas Association of Secondary School Principals has named Port Aransas High School Principal Sharon McKinney Outstanding Principal of the Year in an 11-county area of the the Coastal Bend. Alex Scott Travel through 11 Coastal Bend counties, and you won’t find a better high school principal than Port Aransas’ Sharon McKinney, according to the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP).

TASSP recently recognized McKinney as Outstanding Principal of the Year in the organization’s Region 2, the coastal area of South Texas. The accolade also makes her eligible to win the state’s Outstanding Principal of the Year next summer.

TASSP names one middle school and one high school principal every year from nominations of principals and peers within each region of Texas.

­­District Superintendent Dr. Sharon Doughty said McKinney is highly deserving of the award.

“I can say with certainty that Sharon McKinney is a strong investment for our school district and our community,” said Doughty.

McKinney said she has tried to create some forwardthinking init iat ives in technology studies and college preparation during her three years as principal.

“The school was in great shape when I got here, so it’s been nice that we have all worked together to keep moving forward,” McKinney said.

One initiative McKinney has helped advance is the expansion of dual credit classes. In these classes, high school students can earn both high school and college credit simultaneously. The school added U.S. history as a dual credit class last year, and has since added government and economics as online dual credit classes.

Adding online classes helps expand the curriculum available to the students, and PAHS has also added some classes that were previously unavailable, like psychology, which was added as an online class. The school’s online classes were originally limited to online recovery courses but now offer many classes including advanced placement biology and physics.

“Technology has given us the opportunity to add more diverse classes for our students,” McKinney said.

The advancement of technology is another area McKinney is developing within the school.

“Good teaching is good teaching, and it doesn’t matter what their tools are, but I try to support the folks that are trying innovative ways to use technology,” she said.

McKinney and the rest of the staff encourage students to bring in their own laptops and wireless devices to be used in learning. This type of learning was unavailable before last summer, when the school revamped its wireless infrastructure and capabilities.

The teachers at PAHS also use iPads for lessons and projects and are able to share new applications with other teachers throughout the school. Occasionally, the teachers will meet up at an “App Lunch” and discuss new apps and ideas to be used with the iPads.

PAHS is able to keep some of its technology costs low by using free apps and other apps compatible on various platforms of technology.

McKinney says the school is also teaching students to use programs like Google Docs and Dropbox, which are document sharing programs.

A unique reason PAHS is able to encourage the use of personal devices is because of the student body’s accountability, she said.

“We have high expectations, and they meet them,” said McKinney. “We don’t even have hall passes in the school. The kids have goals and hold each other accountable.”

The students are encouraged to use their devices even for the calendars and reminders that can teach them vital time management skills, she said.

McKinney says one of the biggest reasons for encouraging the students to use personal devices is the size of the school. The relatively small size of the student body allows the faculty to monitor the students more closely, she said.

Part of the success in McKinney’s initiatives is her strong networking and ties locally and across the state, said Doughty.

“As a public school principal, this is very important as it allows the principal more opportunities to share strategies and plans with other principals,” she said.

McKinney, originally from Arlington, received a bachelor of arts from Texas A&M University before attending Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, where she received a master’s degree in education administration.

Before moving to Port Aransas, McKinney taught special education and social studies at Rockport High School, where she later became the assistant principal. After a nine-year stretch in Rockport, she took an assistant principal position at Round Rock High School before moving to PAHS.

McKinney will be formally recognized as Region 2’s Principal of the Year at a TASSP conference in Austin June 11, at the Hilton Austin Hotel. She will be presented with an award and recognized in a commemorative booklet entitled “Texas Principals, Texas Heroes.”

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