Killeen ISD Announces Six New Elementary Principals

Killeen ISD Announces Six New Elementary Principals
03/31/2021
By: KISD
Killeen ISD is happy to announce six veteran educators as Campus Instructional Leaders for the 2021-2022 school year. 
 
Becky Whitelow will serve as the Principal of Brookhaven Elementary. After serving in the military for 20 years, with 3 tours in a combat zone, she began as a first-grade teacher at Sugar Loaf Elementary. She went on to become an Elementary Summer School Director and currently serves as the assistant principal at Saegert Elementary. Her natural ability to lead is easily recognized by all who come in contact with her. 
 
She graduated with her master’s in Education Curriculum and Instruction from Tarleton State University in 2013. Ms. Whitelow will replace Ms. Iris Felder, who will be leaving at the conclusion of the school year to serve in her new role as Executive Director of Elementary Schools.
 
Jessica Napolez will continue to greet familiar faces from Cedar Valley Elementary School as the new Principal of the campus. Ms. Napolez has served as the assistant principal since 2016. 
 
Before working in campus administration, Ms. Napolez taught at Iduma and Hay Branch Elementary Schools then began her leadership journey as a Summer School Director. Ms. Napolez is passionate about investing in student growth and works to help families connect with the resources available in our digital era. Napolez received her master’s in Educational Administration from the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor in Belton. 
 
The current principal, Ms. Connie Morris, has dedicated 30 years to students in Killeen ISD and is set to retire at the end of the school year. Her warmth and passion have left an impression on many including students and staff from Ira Cross, Bellaire, and Maxdale Elementary schools where she also worked.
 
Paige Gawryszewski will lead the district’s newest Elementary School, Pat Carney Elementary, scheduled to open to students in the fall of 2021. She is currently an assistant principal at Skipcha Elementary School where she has promoted a culture of innovative classroom practices, instructional development, and student success.
 
Ms. Gawryszewski is entering her 20th year in education, all within KISD. Her teaching journey began as a first-grade teacher at Duncan Elementary before transferring to Skipcha where she was named the campus teacher of the year in 2011, promoted to Curriculum Instructional Specialist in 2015, and then assistant principal in 2018. 
 
“It is vitally important for a new school to establish a safe, warm, and inviting campus culture for the generations of students that will walk through its doors and we remain committed to forging this strong foundation beginning with the 2021-2022 school year,” said Superintendent John Craft.
 
Ms. Gawryszewski received her master’s in Educational Leadership from Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches. 
 
LaBecca Thompson has been named Principal of Mountain View Elementary School, she is the current assistant principal at Audie Murphy Middle School. Ms. Thompson began her career as an elementary school teacher in 1985 in Amarillo before moving to Killeen ISD in 1993. Her goals include building a safe environment for children to learn and employees to collaborate so that students can succeed.
 
Ms. Thompson has a master’s in Education Administration from Tarleton State University-Central Texas in Killeen. 
The current principal, Dr. Randy Podhaski, will be retiring after dedicating 42 years to educating children. 
 
Jessica Brading has been appointed to be Principal of Clear Creek Elementary School, the campus she has called home since 2009. Over the years, the staff has watched her grow from a teacher to an Interventionist, before going into leadership. She has dedicated much of her career to serving military-connected students and ensuring their needs are being met throughout difficult transitions. 
 
Ms. Brading has her master’s in Educational Leadership from Sul Ross State University in Alpine.
 
Richard E. Cavazos Elementary School will be under the direction of Ms. Yanitzie Oquendo. She is currently the assistant principal at Haynes Elementary. Ms. Oquendo has held several positions throughout her 15-year career, including Campus Instructional Specialist at Haynes, and educator at Fowler and Clear Creek Elementary Schools. Her goal is to translate theory into action by providing a supportive and nurturing campus culture that is aligned with the district’s mission to maximize student achievement. 
 
Ms. Oquendo earned her master’s in Educational Administration from Concordia University.
Four of the new principals are members of the district’s ASPIRE program which provides additional leadership training to current employees interested in becoming instructional leaders. 
 
“We are excited about the newest leaders in our district that will be assuming the role of principal at their respective campuses. I look forward to serving alongside them as we focus on student success and growing lifelong learners,” commented Dr. Craft. 
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