A new era

Meet Patti O’Bannon, Texas High’s new principal

Patti+O%27Bannon+takes+over+Texas+High+School+principal+position+after+departure+of+Carla+Dupree+last+May.+O%27Bannon+previously+served+as+Nash+Elementary+principal+within+Texarkana+ISD.

Photo by Brooke Knight

Patti O’Bannon takes over Texas High School principal position after departure of Carla Dupree last May. O’Bannon previously served as Nash Elementary principal within Texarkana ISD.

Story by Doug Kyles, Editor-In-Chief

With the absence of Carla Dupree after the 2020-2021 school year, Texas’ top position needed a new face for the role. TISD has chosen Patti O’Bannon, previously principal of Nash Elementary. O’Bannon is eager to feel out her new position this fall at Texas High, and is especially excited for the normalcy Texas High’s staff and students will get back this year. In an interview with O’Bannon, Tiger Times asked the big questions, in order for us all to get to know our new principal a little better.

To start off, why did you want to be principal of Texas High?

Texas High is near and dear to my heart, as I am a graduate of Texas High School. When I got the tour, walking the halls just had that historic feeling of just being back here in a place that afforded me so many opportunities. Texas High is the flagship school of our community and surrounding area. To have an opportunity to be able to come back here and serve is what really attracted me to the position, so I’m really looking forward to it.

Can you describe your years as principal of Nash Elementary? What are some of the lessons you learned?

I would say that my seven years at Nash elementary were probably the most rewarding years of my entire career, and I’ve had a variety of positions, as my background is varied. I’ve had positions where I was in the central office, and positions where I’m on campus. The most rewarding positions are on campus with students. I really love being principal there. I’m very proud of the staff at Nash and all they’ve been able to accomplish. One of my favorite things was guiding them to reach their Leader In Me “Lighthouse” status. To be able to experience the celebration that we had with the kids, the community, and the teachers who had worked so hard, that was probably the most rewarding day that I spent there.

Can you describe your leadership style?

I describe my leadership style as very collaborative. I’m very team minded and very team oriented. There’s hardly ever any big decisions that I ever make without it being a collaborative effort. I definitely think that two heads are better than one, and I do enjoy working with a strong network of leaders. A lot of the people that I’ve had experience working with in the past have had talents in a variety of areas, but I love working with a team that has that diversity, but can work together for the common good. 

Do you already have any ideas on things you might want to change about Texas High?

I don’t really believe in making changes without good reason. I’m examining some staff surveys and things that were done at this time and there could possibly be some things where staff has indicated we’d like to see a change, but for the most part, right now, I feel like I need an opportunity to observe those things before I make a decision about changing anything

What kind of challenges are you expecting transitioning students back to a more normal school environment?

I don’t really foresee a lot of challenges, but a lot of opportunities. I think what you can expect is a sense of normalcy, and a return to the rich traditions of Texas High School. Students should expect regular breakfasts and lunches, regular start and end times, club participation and pep rallies. Currently right now we do want to be respectful, and keep people safe. We will be following the CDC guidelines of three feet social distance and no masks are required. We will not be offering virtual learning this year. You can just expect a return to normalcy as much as possible, with it still being mindful of keeping everyone safe.

What did you learn during COVID?

The unknown is always very scary. I think it was a very scary time for teachers in particular. It was a scary time for parents and students as well. But I think that what we learn the most is when we all come together to accomplish a task, then we can get it done. It was a difficult year to maneuver around. A lot of protocols changed and a lot of things were taken away. We still managed to find ways of maintaining and sustaining programs and the excellence of the campus in spite of having to follow COVID protocols so I think that what we learned from that is it doesn’t matter what kind of challenges that we’re going to be faced with, when we come together, we can make it work. And I think that we approached it from the mentality of, we did not want to let a global pandemic take the place of the experiences and education that our students needed so we had to find a way to meet those challenges.

What’s one thing all students should know about you?

I’m passionate about learning. I consider myself a lifelong learner, I’m always learning new things every single day. I think that we can learn a lot from each other. And none of us are the same, I think we can value people’s differences, and learn from everyone. We always have room for growth and improvement. I value learning about your students’ education and about you.

How are you feeling about the upcoming school year?

I’m anxious to get started, I think that that teachers and students are anxious to return to that sense of normalcy and be able to teach without those barriers that the pandemic presented to us so I’m just excited about the opportunity I think that kids will be excited about coming back and having a normal graduation, normal clubs, and things that you guys enjoy that you haven’t had been able to do in a while.

What do you admire most about the Texas High culture?

From what I’ve seen so far, there’s a great focus on academics. There’s also a growth mindset here and there has been a lot of team collaboration in the people that I’ve worked with so far. I think all of those are key to being able to sustain a successful organization. So I know Texas has a culture of rich traditions and I can’t wait to be a part of that.