Hays CISD Superintendent Dr. Eric Wright announced Friday that Dr. Michael Watson, current Dahlstrom Middle School principal, will serve as the new principal for Simon Middle School beginning with the 2020-2021 school year. Watson joined the Hays CISD team in 2014, as principal of Live Oak Academy and led that campus to stellar success, doubling the number of graduates at the campus in prior years to nearly 200. In 2017, he became principal of Dahlstrom Middle School and helped that campus move from a “B” grade to an “A,” with distinctions.
“Dr. Watson has a proven track record of success,” Wright said. “When he approached me about the principal opening we have at Simon Middle School, I was interested. He is the type of person who seeks out challenges and who wants to be in a place where he can make the most difference. He has a great relationship with the Dahlstrom community and wants to expand the impact he has on students across our entire district. That’s leadership and it demonstrates his passion for student achievement.”
Simon Middle School earned a “D” rating in 2019, under the latest state accountability system. The campus has been making improvement, but with the state’s campus grading system suspended for COVID-19, staff and students weren’t able to demonstrate the work they have been doing to earn an improved grade this school year. Watson will replace outgoing principal, Charli Lennon, who has accepted a job working in higher education.
“I know the campus has been making strides and staff and students have been working hard,” Watson said. “I was in a principal meeting with my colleagues who were worried the campus might lose momentum with a change in leadership and that the district needed to find another good principal for the school. That’s when I chose to step up. I know the district and our systems, and I know I have it within me to help make this transition smooth for Simon. I’m excited about the opportunity to challenge myself, the students, and our staff to reach a level of success beyond expectation. We have an opportunity to bring Simon up to an ‘A’ campus.”
Before joining Hays CISD in 2014, Watson was the director of alternative education for Gregory-Portland ISD in Corpus Christi. In that role, he successfully designed and implemented effective academic alternative education programs for secondary students. He began his education career while also serving as a squad leader in the United States Army Reserves. His first teaching job was in the Alice Independent School District, where he was also a coach.
“I firmly believe that student achievement is directly proportional to a committed and talented staff, dynamic school leadership, strong parental involvement, and a supportive community. I look forward to organizing our team and beginning the process of hearing the voices of all of our stakeholders to best meet the needs of the Simon Middle School students,” Watson said.
Watson earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D., all from Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi. Among his military honors, Watson has earned two Army commendation medals – one for exceptionally meritorious service in support of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom, and the second for exceptional achievement while supporting missions to secure Camp Arifjan from possible terrorist actions during wartime operations. He is married to Amy and has two daughters, Mayan and Avery.
Hays CISD will post the opening for principal at Dahlstrom Middle School and will have a candidate hired before school resumes in August.