Teaching one family at a time
Chad Broussard is a University of Texas at San Antonio alumnus who earned his Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies with a concentration in Educational Leadership in 2003. At the age of 27 he started his career as Assistant Principal in Southwest ISD. He currently serves on the National Urban League and Black Exchange Network, promoting higher education to youth. Chad’s long term goal is to become a superintendent or State Commissioner of Education.
- Q: Where did you complete your undergraduate work?
- A: I’m originally from New Orleans, Louisiana and graduated from Xavier University of Louisiana in 1999, with a Bachelor’s degree in mass communications. I worked as a business reporter in Philadelphia, while graduate school at Penn State. At that time I wanted to be the next Bryant Gumble.
- Q: What lead you to San Antonio and UTSA?
- A: While living in Philadelphia, I also started teaching at a community college in nearby New Jersey. I began spending more time preparing for a class, and enjoying the process. Teachers and superintendents ran in my family and I heard the stories of “No Pay.” I really did not want to do that, however, in teaching the class I discovered a love for education. My job searches lead me to the San Antonio School for Inquiry and Creativity (SASIC) under the leadership of Dr. Mary Frances Agnello, who was the superintendent at the time. I was hired to teach English, public speaking, and journalism at the charter school. Both Dr. Agnello and Dr. Fred Bonner, who also was a SASIC staff member and UTSA professor at the time, encouraged me to pursue my graduate degree at UTSA. And somewhere along the line, someone told me I would make a good principal.
- Q: What was your UTSA experience?
- A: UTSA is very special because I had the chance to work closely with excellent professors. I also got the opportunity as a graduate assistant to present at a national conference in Portland. There I discovered that graduate school was much more than studying about education, but rather the exposure of education and learning from experts from around the world.
My classes with Dr. Merchant, Dr. Shoho, Dr. Smith, Dr. Clifford and especially with Dr. Barnett, provided nothing but support and knowledge. They prepared me. I see that now more than ever, as I pursue my doctoral degree at Seton Hall. Many of my peers come and say, “Chad can I take a look at your paper to see if I’m doing it right? Your papers are so well-written.” These are peers who attended Columbia and other top Tier One universities. As I’m blowing the dust off my old textbooks and research papers, I am confident in knowing that I am prepared. UTSA provided me with the framework, now I just have to pull it in.
- Q: What about UTSA has had a lasting influence on you?
- A: The fact that my professors really wanted to know my opinion, and the connections I made. To this day, Dr. Betty Merchant (now Dean) calls me every so often to see how I’m doing. She offers her assistance and guidance. She’ll say, “I want to read your problem statement Chad, let me give you some feedback.” My reaction is always the same, “But Betty, I’m a student at Seton Hall.” To which she replies, “Yes, but you were a student HERE first.” The connections I made while at UTSA continue to support me long after I’ve been gone. That’s a blessing. The faculty is genuine and they are willing to assist in any facet.
- Q: Where has your career led you?
- A: Upon graduating from UTSA, my first position was as Assistant Principal at Southwest High School. I’ve been very lucky that every year since, I have moved progressively in my career. After Southwest I was asked to be an academic coordinator at McCullough Middle School for two years. Shortly after that I relocated to Bryan, Texas where I became the Principal at Brian Collegiate School for a year before being asked to open up a new middle school as Principal for Bryan ISD. In 2009, I moved back to San Antonio to become Principal at Woodlake Elementary under Judson ISD. This is where I feel I had the most impact, and the community impacted me as well.
- Q: Why was Woodlake different?
- A: It’s where I had the most challenges and rewards. Coming in as the new principal, the hardest thing was to follow a previous principal who had been there 20+ years and staff who had been under this leadership since the school opened its doors. I started with minor changes and worked to build my relationship with the staff. I didn’t care to control the small things of the school, but rather the participation of the parents.
Right away I established an open door policy, making myself readily available and visible to the parents. My goal was to create a climate in which all stakeholders (parents, grandparents, teachers) had say.
My vision was that Woodlake was a “community” school and all were invited. I had to be visible at all times, opening car doors, walking the halls, and building relationships with students and parents alike. On my last day, I received the biggest compliment from the husband of one my staff members. His note read, “Thank you for everything you’ve done. You have gone above and beyond the job description of principal, and have transformed a community.”
- Q: What’s next for you?
- A: I am moving back to New Orleans to be the academic advisor for Future is Now Schools, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. Future Is Now Schools Future Is Now Schools (FIN) was created by Steve Barr, the founder and former Chairman and CEO of Green Dot Public Schools. Its goal is to take low performing schools and transform them into high performing schools. I will be assigned to McDonough #28 City Park Academy School. This school has been opened over a 100 years and is now considered one of the lowest performing schools in New Orleans.
The advantage that I have coming into this new position is that I’ve worked with every type of student from elementary, to middle school to high school. My goal has always helped them to work and get them prepared to towards that high school degree, transition into secondary school, or the military, knowing full well that they might not have the foundation at home to support them. I’m passionate about helping every student succeed at any level. It’s not only about helping the students but helping the entire family.
- Q: What suggestions do you have for new teachers entering the field?
- A: Regardless of where you go, the heart of working with families has to be there. Prepare to work with diverse populations. Be authentic. And wanting to help families has to be the driving force for any school to succeed. Be in for the ride, because there are always highs and lows. Use all the available resources to help you become a more successful educator.