Terri Osborne is replacing Donna Ulrich as the new principal of Humble High School for the 2019-2020 school year.
Though not a Houston native, Osborne was born and raised in Texas. “I grew up in Mesquite, Texas; it is so much like Humble, it is almost deja vu,” said Osborne. She described the eerily parallel similarities between the towns, noting, “There is a Home Depot, a Cheddar’s and a mall along a highway in the exact same format.”
Osborne was not always destined to be an educational leader. She said, “I studied architecture at Texas Tech and I always believed that I would be an architect. I went on to obtain a degree in architecture and practiced commercial architecture in Dallas for a while. I then transitioned to start my masters in architecture at Berkeley and decided to get a part-time job at a children’s learning center in Oakland, Calif. During this time I decided that I may not want to be in a cubicle. I liked talking to people, I liked the impact I was having on the children that I taught.”
Osborne made a quick, life-changing decision upon this realization. “I called my mom and said, ‘Hey I am coming home and just be a teacher,’” she said.
She moved back to her home town to launch a new career in teaching. “I went back to Mesquite and taught at one of the neighborhood schools where I grew up. I taught math at the middle-school and high-school level. It was interesting to be back in the community that I grew up in,” said Osborne.
Osborne decided to further her career which would happen after a trip abroad. She said, “After five years, I wanted to take the opportunity to teach abroad. I got a placement in Germany at an international baccalaureate school. It is a coincidence to be at an IB world school at this point. There are very few.”
“It was a British curriculum, so I taught math and English to German and Turkish students that were also learning Chinese,” added Osborne.
Upon returning to the United States, Osborne sought out academic leadership positions. “I had an opportunity to see what education could be like. When I came back to the United States, I moved into leadership. I have been a dean of students, an assistant principal, a director and a principal,” she said.
These positions came with more certifications. She noted, “I finished my first master’s in college education while I was overseas. I have a master’s in K-12 education as well. I am working on my doctorate … I have finished my coursework and passed my exams. I am now writing my dissertation.”
“My topic explores the leadership practices that influence academic resilience for at-risk students. It leads one to ask themselves ‘What can I do as a leader to influence the belief that a student has to be successful academically?,’” said Osborne.
Osborne cannot be more excited to be the new principal of Humble High School. “I am tremendously blessed to to be the principal at Humble High School. My time in Humble ISD has proven it to be the most amazing school district that I have ever been in,” she said.
Osborne addressed some of the goals that underline her vision to improve the integrity and the structural system of Humble High School. She said, “My goal for this campus is to restore the positive brand of Humble High School. There are people in this community that bleed purple and this pride is something that resonates with them deeply. Fulfilling this goal will require positive school culture and positive student culture. We want to address and educate our students to enter society as great, well-rounded global citizens. We must have the right systems and structures in place to ensure that this happens.”
Perhaps the most crucial step towards achieving a positive culture in any school is by hiring and retaining skilled, passionate teachers. Osborne discussed her desires when hiring candidates. She said, “I am looking for the right fit. My conversations with candidates that we bring in for an interview are always about culture. We are looking to continue the trajectory of the culture that exists here and illuminate it to make this campus a beacon on a hill. Candidates must have this mindset; they must have a passion for kids that could potentially be at-risk students or students of color. They have to love this clientele of academics.”
Osborne also highlighted some of the operational steps that will have to be taken in order to ensure the rebranding of Humble High School. “Structural improvements will focus on the operational side. Clubs and organizations already exist here. Restoring the brand of this campus will require getting word of those organizations out into the community. For example, the orchestra got a sweepstakes, theater and band are growing; we went to the basketball playoffs for the 26th season in a row. Those are the things that have to be heard in the community,” said Osborne.
Osborne addressed some of the community concerns about the disciplinary state of Humble High School. “The first priority of this campus is safety. If we do not have a safe environment, it is going to be second to instruction and safety cannot be second to anything … we will always try to bring down any discipline infractions because they impact instruction,” she said.
Osborne has a very hands-on approach to leadership with regards to the faculty of the high school. “My leadership approach is being a resource captain. At the end of the day, I am the person in the helicopter hovering over my teachers who are in classrooms delivering instruction to students. My role is to provide resources, support and empowerment to my teachers. My job is to support the people in the classroom,” she said.
Osborne has the same interactive approach with students. “My leadership approach towards students is to involved, to be connected, to build relationships, to notice when students are different than the day before and making sure that I am having conversations that support them. I want to understand what their needs are and whether those needs are social, emotional or academic. An important part of my responsibility as a leader includes sharing my testimony and making sure that students understand that no matter where they are in life, anything is possible in the future for them,” said Osborne.
“I think that my responsibility is to grow where I am planted. I am going to be here as long as there is a need and I am a right fit for this position. Wherever I am, I am going to be supporting my staff, supporting my teachers, pouring into the community and uplifting kids,” she said.