The school year starts this upcoming week for many school in East Texas, including Longview's Judson Middle School. William Houff is the new principal, as he has made one of his main goals to improve communication with students, parents and staff.
Houff attended Marshall High School before attending East Texas Baptist University. As the new principal, he created the first "Back to School Bash" for the middle school, wanting to establish a culture from the start of open communication.
"We want to create any and every opportunity to come to this campus and be a part of what we're trying to create as we move towards the road of being a very, very successful campus," Houff said.
Thursday's nights bash included registration and scheduling along with a free dinner as well. Many things were going on around the school to get his staff connecting with parents and students before the school year has even begun. Rico Johnson was born and raised in Longview and has a son about to enter 6th grade. As a parent, Johnson said this is the type of environment he remembers.
"Forty years ago, me and my identical twin and my older brother went here and it was great," Johnson said. "Great people, good students, it's a wonderful place. You couldn't ask for a better place to go to school. I just want him to have fun. The main thing is to learn the values of life. This is where it starts. Sixth, seventh, eighth grade. Once he leaves here, he'll go to another level."
For 7th grade math teacher Leah Rosson, Thursday night was more than just a get-together; the bash allowed her better understand who she is about to teach.
"We get to meet parents and their kids in a more relaxed environment before school starts and start building those relationships with our parents and our community," Rosson said. "We didn't become teachers just so we could regurgitate facts and information. We became teachers because we liked the kids and wanted to help them grow."
"That school-parent communication is extremely important," Houff said. "We can't educate their children without them being involved."
Houff said he doesn't want any excuses for being the new kid on the block in his first school year and wants to make an impact right away.
"Tonight, I just wanted what you see," Houff said, pointing to the hundreds of people in the cafeteria. "I wanted to see as many community members as possible. All the parents and students. I wanted to see those smiles on their faces and let these people know that I'm here to serve their students and make this the best place possible."
Houff said in the near future, he wants Judson Middle School to become a blue ribbon campus and eventually become the premiere middle school in the area.