7 questions with...Beaumont schools' newest administrator

The 2022-23 school year starts Wednesday, but students won't be the only new faces in Beaumont ISD.

Like every year, the district has welcomed new faculty, staff and administrators to its team, which this year includes Lance Campbell, who is taking over the position of Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools.

Campbell, who comes to the district from Irving ISD near Dallas, was introduced to the community at Beaumont ISD's June board meeting.

An educator for more than 25 years, Campbell has a bachelor of science in kinesiology from the University of North Texas, a master's degree in educational leadership from Texas Women's University and a doctorate in educational leadership from Lamar University.

We spoke with Campbell before he officially began his role in mid-July:

Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself and your career so far.

A: My goal initially was to be a head football coach, and that's what I wanted to do. So, I spent my first six years coaching and teaching and then I went up and moved up to the city in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch district and was exposed to the needs of a diverse group of kids, and it opened my eyes in terms of I knew I wanted to be a major player in the decision making of a larger group of kids. So, I went into administration.

I spent 11 years in Carrollton-Farmers Branch were I was a teacher, coach, assistant principal and principal. After my time there, I moved to Burleson ISD, and in Burleson I had the opportunity to open a brand new comprehensive high school -- I spent a year helping on the building aspect of the facility, and then we opened it the following year and I stayed there for five years. Then I moved on to central office and my first central office position was in Weatherford ISD. I was an executive director there over secondary education -- what I'm going to do in Beaumont.

Then the last five years I've been in Irving ISD, and I've had many positions that range from division director to assistant chief that encompassed working with a lot of different departments, working with principals. So, I've had a lot of experiences.

But when I started my career, I went to Granger ISD, which is a Class A school. It had 126 kids in the high school, which was really an experience -- a farming community. And I spent three years there before I made the jump to a district of 25,000 kids. That was a huge discrepancy. But I wouldn't trade those first three years for anything because I think what I learned is doing the little things matter. Our superintendent mowed the grass out front -- it taught me that strong work ethic and doing the little things.

Q: What brought you to Beaumont ISD?

A: I did my homework on Beaumont, in terms of the superintendent. I think she has a vision in terms of what she wants the district to look like and it really resonated with me. I enjoy working with a diverse group of kids -- Beaumont fits that criteria as well. Being able to move to a district with a size of 16,000 or 17,000 kids to me is more manageable and I feel like I can make a greater impact than what I have now -- we've got a district of 34,000 kids. It's pretty vast. So, to cut that in half to be able to really hone in on secondary education, I think I can make a greater impact there. From a personal standpoint, my wife's always wanted to live by the ocean, so we're going to be pretty close.

Q: Have you explored the area?

A: My first trip, Waze brought me through Kountze, it brought me through Lumberton and that whole stretch. I think it was (U.S.) 287 if I recall correctly, but just beautiful, the trees it's just different. Interstate 45 is not the prettiest view when you're driving down, but if you get off the highway and you go the back way, it was really beautiful. Beaumont still has a small-town feel to it.

It doesn't look like traffic is so bad. We lived in Dallas, so it's insane up here. That's going to be really nice. I looked at the data, and I believe that Beaumont ISD is on the trajectory going up which is really great. I just want to be a part of that team. I've had a chance to meet the team members and have conversations and I'm really looking forward to joining and being a part of the team.

Q: Can you explain what an assistant superintendent of secondary schools does?

A: Our first priority is to work with campus administration. When you look at the data, in terms of what a principal can do to impact the school, they can improve the performance space up to almost 25%. And so our role is to be their support system, always. The teacher is the single most important factor in student success. Our job is to make sure life is easier for them, support professional development and doing everything that we can so that things are readily available for them. It's hands-on, it's coaching. You're coaching administration, you're there to help solve problems. You're there to be a part of their team. So, it's really just that additional support for principals.

I've been a principal, and it's a tough gig. Just to be there and be their support system is very important. That's it in a nutshell. You're interacting with kids, but a lot of your work is dealing with adults, professional learning for teachers, professional learning for administrators and just supporting them in any way you can so that it can impact the kids and then we can have growth and achievement for kids.

Q: Are there any specific plans or initiatives that you're excited to work on leading into or during the upcoming school year?

A: My plan initially is just to sit there and listen. I've already scheduled meetings with individuals to sit and listen and learn about Beaumont. There's a lot of institutional knowledge in Beaumont -- the leadership team, they've been here for years, they've lived here. There's just lots of information that they know that I can learn and so the first 90 days is really (about) being visible, it's really sitting and listening and trying to figure out how you're going to support and really learning about, are there gaps? What are the gaps that you can help support with and then can you capitalize on the strengths that they have as well?

Because once you sit and listen, and you learn about those strengths, then you're able to get in there and support that. Right now, there's no initiative that I am familiar with or have plans to do because I don't know enough yet in terms about Beaumont to be frank, so my first 90 days is really about learning about the culture, getting to be a part of that and providing support when needed.

Q: What is your personal philosophy for education?

A: Education is the great equalizer. I grew up in a poor neighborhood and we struggled, but I knew my only way out was education and I had to continue that path. My parents dropped out of high school, and I was fortunate enough to go on and get one of the highest degrees in education. Education gives kids opportunities that they may not have otherwise. I believe there's hope in every kid, you have to invest in every kid and you do everything you can to get every kid across the finish line to make sure they have opportunities when they leave high school.

Q: What is your ultimate hope for all of the school districts that you've been a part of?

A: My hope is that every kid that's gone through education has been able to build a relationship with someone in that building because that's the most important piece, is that relationship with the kids. But I hope every kid is able to go out and strive to reach their goals and their achievements and if we can be a part of that and that foundation so that when they leave, they're confident and they're able to make decisions, problem solve and be an integral part of the society that they decide to live in, that's important to me.

olivia.malick@hearst.com

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