Madisonville Junior High Principal Chad Moorhead is used to firsts.
He’s the first in his family to graduate college – so he went on to get a master’s degree at the University of Houston and a Ph.D. at Lamar University.
He’s been a teacher, a coach and an assistant athletic director, but this is his first foray into being a principal.
The 32-year-old grew up in Leander and the bulk of his career has been in Round Rock, but he said Madisonville’s small-town atmosphere appealed to him.
“This school district is a good reflection of society and a good place to raise a family,” he said. “It’s exciting. It’s a new role. I have the opportunity to serve more kids.”
Moorhead’s wife Lauren was hired to teach high school math – and while they haven’t yet started a family, they plan to. Superintendent Keith Smith jokingly said in a recent school board meeting that upon consideration for hire, Moorhead may have swayed the female members of the interview committee by saying he is an “aspiring father.”
“My vision for this campus is making it somewhere that I would want my kids to go,” Moorhead said on Monday.
The educator certainly has a passion for helping youth. He’s been reviewing the school’s test scores, and, while students did well in science and math, “there’s always room for growth.”
“Every decision we make on this campus should be student-centered,” Moorhead said. “It’s about what’s best for the kids.”
His three priorities are relationships, relevancy and rigor.
“Once you build relationships and find ways to make it relevant, you’ve got to step it up,” he said. “Character development is huge and has its place in education.”
He considers it an asset that the last MJH principal, Heath Brown, is just 300 yards away, having taken the helm at the high school. Moorhead also draws upon the expertise of Superintendent Smith and other administrators, both locally and from his previous job.
“As assistant athletic director, I worked with 10 principals, so I get to cherry pick from their experience things that I liked about what they were doing,” Moorhead said, adding that he’s less interested in evaluating teacher performance than ensuring that students are engaged. “I’m interested to see what they’re doing with what the teachers are teaching,” he said.