Douse Principal Earns Torchbearer Honor

Douse principal earns surprise honor
By: Todd Martin
Visibly shocked and deeply touched, the principal of Douse Elementary School received a special award that identifies her as a torchbearer.
Led on by her Killeen ISD colleagues and leaders in the local NAACP chapter, Stephanie Ford stepped into the school library Thursday to honor Chief Elementary Learning Officer Jo-Lynette Crayton.
But, as it turned out, it was Ford’s name on the NAACP Torchbearers Award.
“I don’t think about recognition,” the surprised principal said later, “because I love what I do.”
Last school year, a member of the public lashed out at Ford using derogatory, racially charged language.
“It broke my heart,” she said, explaining that she didn’t do anything in response, just continued to attempt to help the person.
“My leadership team was here,” she said. “We don’t react. We respond.”
The framed certificate reads, “Thank you for lighting the way for civil rights, justice and equality for all.”
Those who know Ford know she comes out of a challenging upbringing and that she has pushed forward to further her education, to be a leader for children and her peers and to move into a principal position.

“I was a very under-resourced learner,” she said, explaining that she and her siblings grew up without their mother around much of the time. “I wanted better for myself and for my siblings.”
Following high school, she joined the military. When she and her soldier husband moved with the Army from Germany to Fort Hood, she started substitute teaching.
She was 29 when she finished college, the first in her family to do so and eventually completed the Region 12 alternative teacher certification program.
Ford was a student teacher at Montague Village Elementary, then moved into a full-time teacher position.
An administrator at the school, Karen Hutchison, urged her to continue her education and Ford earned a master’s degree from Concordia University.
She went on to be a reading interventionist, a campus instructional specialist and an assistant principal and principal at Alice Douse Elementary School, where she is in her fourth year.
“It’s an honor to be here,” Ford said, referencing Douse’s distinction as KISD’s first female African-American principal.
“Her legacy is important. We all want to take care of children. We teach them to always conduct themselves in an upstanding manner.”
“I rely a lot on my faith. God leads my path,” she said. “I want to be a role model for my kids and keep striving forward.”