Hays CISD names Uhland principal

Reassigning campus leadership allowed Hays CISD Monday to name its first principal to lead Uhland Elementary.

Cynthia Vasquez, who is the current principal at Hemphill Elementary, was approved to helm the district’s new elementary campus by a 7-0 Board of Trustees vote.

According to a district press release, Vasquez’ move was to ensure continuity among students who will be transitioning to Uhland Elementary. The majority of students who will attend Uhland currently attend Hemphill. The district estimates the new elementary school, which was approved by voters in the May 2017 bond,  will open in August.

“Assigning Principal Vasquez to lead the team at Uhland Elementary will allow a majority of the students she is currently working with at Hemphill to have continuity,” said Superintendent Dr. Eric Wright in as statement. “The students moving to Uhland Elementary will benefit from this stability in campus leadership as we work to help them succeed.”

Vasquez was selected in 2017 to lead Hemphill in an effort to improve academic performance. Hemphill is one of two Hays CISD campuses that were designated as “Improvement Required” by the Texas Education Agency.

Prior to working as the Hemphill principal, Vasquez served as the principal at Tom Green Elementary.

Vasquez is a career educator with more than 20 years of experience. Vasquez began her career in 1996 as a bilingual teacher at Kyle Elementary. She has also served as a bilingual teacher at Tom Green, Hemphill, and Camino Real Elementary Schools before becoming assistant principal at Tom Green in 2009. She was principal of that campus from 2013 to 2017.

“I am convinced that effective leadership can change the lives of children for the better. My wide range of experiences at Hays CISD uniquely qualifies me to step right in and lead from the start,” Vasquez said. “It is my plan to build an organization with high expectations and create a positive culture among our students, staff, parents, and community members.”

Hays CISD leaders also approved the hire of Monica Salas, who will take over as principal at Hemphill.

Salas is currently the assistant principal of the Provan Opportunity Center in Pflugerville Independent School District (PISD), which serves students in first through 12th grades.

Prior to the POC, Salas was the assistant principal at Northwest Elementary School and an assistant principal intern at Spring Hill Elementary School, both in PISD. Salas rose to the ranks of school leadership after serving as a dual language kindergarten teacher and a dual language interventionist.

Salas said in her cover letter to the district that she was labeled “an at-risk student from the moment I began my path in education,” which was in a Head Start program.

“I know firsthand the difficult circumstances our students and parents face every day from cultural, economic, and social conditions. The public education system has given me the opportunities to better my life, as well as the lives of my family,” Salas said. “I can proudly say that I am a first generation college graduate and I hope I can help shape the lives of my students in the same way.”

Salas holds two associate degrees and a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies in Early Childhood – 4th Grade Bilingual Education from the University of Texas at Brownsville.

She also holds a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Bilingual and Bicultural Education from Texas State University. Salas is working on her Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Planning and hopes to complete that degree next year. 

No start date has been set for Salas or Vasquez at this time.

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