Mckinney Courier-gazette > News
New MHS principal ready for challenge
Photo Courtesy of MISD - Logan Faris, now the principal at Dowell Middle School, this fall will take over as McKinney High School principal.
Unlike for the hundreds of incoming freshmen he'll be leading, high school won't be anything new for Logan Faris come this fall.
With several years of high school experience, both in and out of the classroom, it will be more a return for McKinney High School's new principal.
"Transitions are never seamless," said Faris, who will take over the position after serving the past four years as principal at Dowell Middle School. "But I feel very familiar, very confident with the high school setting. All of my teaching and career outside of Dowell has been at the high school level, so it's a great chance to go back."
The McKinney ISD Board of Trustees on April 24 hired Faris to replace Stewart Herrington, who announced in March he would resign from his position as McKinney High's principal.
Before his time at Dowell, Faris served two years as assistant principal at McKinney Boyd High School, where he helped establish the school's climate during its 2006 opening. He functioned as Bronco Camp Coordinator for incoming freshmen, introduced the McKinney Boyd High School Discipline Matrix to assist in disciplinary consistency and was an administrative representative to the Early Intervention Team.
"I recommended Dr. Logan Faris for this position because of his proven leadership in this district," said J.D. Kennedy, McKinney ISD superintendent. "He possesses the leadership, knowledge and skills to move McKinney High School forward."
His new role will be just another step in the learning process that marks every educator's career, Faris said. Before coming to McKinney, he served as assistant principal in Center ISD and in Nacogdoches ISD, and assistant principal for curriculum at Center High School.
He earned his Bachelor of Science, Master of Education and Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership degrees from Stephen F. Austin University. His doctoral dissertation "The Teacher's Voice: Narratives of an Empowering School Culture" focused on teacher empowerment, a career mantra.
"The neat thing about being a principal is I have the ability to be a pervasive influence on the campus," Faris said. "I get to assist teachers in doing what they do best, which is build relationships with kids and help them to learn."
Faris began his education career as a science teacher in Leggett ISD and then Broaddus ISD, teaching physics, chemistry and biology. Though his positions of influence have since varied, his approach hasn't changed much.
"When you really get down to it, as teachers and as principals and instructional leaders, we're in the learning business," he said. "You're always learning something, and you always have to be improving."
And his approach has worked thus far in McKinney ISD. Dowell was recently named a 2012 Intel Schools of Distinction Finalist for its innovation in math instruction. Success stems from "teaching to mastery," he said, when teachers ensure their students have complete confidence in a subject before they move forward.
Even as principal, Faris spends time each week in the classroom "to stay connected to what it's like to be a teacher" and to understand any new stresses, demands and opportunities. He even joins students in science lab, goggles and all.
"If I lose that connection, I think it diminishes my ability to lead teachers," he said. "It's good for students to see me excited for what's going on in class."
High school may be well familiar, but challenges still await Faris at McKinney High. The district has begun renovations to add the equivalent of a middle school campus to the high school, which over the next few years will grow from about 2,100 students -- the school's projected 2012-13 enrollment -- to 3,000 students, the capacity of McKinney Boyd.
"All of the construction will be a challenge, but I am confident that his staff will be able to handle the distraction of ongoing construction," Kennedy said. "He has a strong instructional focus, and he has demonstrated that he can create a good learning environment for all students."
Expansion is necessary, even amidst the budget shortfall that continues to undercut school districts across Texas. Faris's time in lesser-privileged districts has helped ease the anxiety that often accompanies such a loss in funding.
"I think we have to be careful in McKinney because while we do have budget constraints, we still are in a very blessed, well-taken care of school district," he said. "We are still very equipped to achieve our goals. We can't allow a dip in funding to slow us down."
Facing more students but less money, Faris says he plans to stick to what he knows. While some may cringe at supervising high schoolers' independence, he sees it as a leadership opportunity, and not just for him and his teachers.
"Every student is expected to lead in some way," he said. "Imagine the potential of having an entire high school campus that is characterized as being a community of leaders."
Tapping into "that sometimes hidden potential" of students and teachers is Faris's goal this time around. He aims for a triumphant return to high school.
"For me it's not good enough to be the best high school in McKinney or Collin County or Texas," he said. "I want us to be the best high school in the nation, if not the world."