New school, new principal at WJHS

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Originally from Arizona, William Ripley calls Tyler his “home base” due to the fact that some family members live in Tyler and others, who serve as overseas missionaries, often visited Tyler as he did when he was younger.

“I just knew that it was a place that someday I would want to raise a family here,” Ripley stated.

He and his wife Maria, a stay-at-home mom, now have three children Peter, 4, Gwen, 3, and Lucas, 1.

“It’s a blessing that she’s able to do that,” Ripley noted. “Her job is a lot tougher than mine.”

Ripley has seven years experience in education, with three of those in administration. Last year he served as assistant principal at Whitehouse Junior High School before being hired this year to take the reins as principal.

His choice to become part of Whitehouse ISD was based on the district’s reputation.

“Everything I’ve heard about Whitehouse is that it is strong community, family, relationships,” Ripley stated. “People love to be here. Staff loves to be here. Kids love going to school here.”

Ripley believes his time as assistant principal, which allowed him to be involved with the planning of the new campus, will help as he shifts into the role of principal.

“I know a lot about what is going into the new school. I know the staff and the preparation that we’ve all made to get to this point,” Ripley said. “I have a sense of what the community wants because I’ve had a year to get to know administration here and community members. I just think all that experience has prepped me for being able to make that transition.”

Not only will Ripley be moving into a new position, but into a new facility and dealing with all the logistics such a move entails.

“Figuring out traffic patterns, for students, for cars, for parents, just figuring out how we’re going to move around” will be the greatest challenge of the new building Ripley stated.

Moving forward, Ripley intends to continue building on what the district has already accomplished.

“We have a great foundation that’s been laid already. We’ve got a lot of initiatives including the strategic plan that’s been put in place. This first year I hope to continue building relationships with the community, showing the community that the investments they’ve made in all of the new programs and the new building are not going to waste, that we are actually going to take that and help kids more.”

When it comes to his leadership, Ripley describes his style as “collaborative,” specifying, “I think it is important to involve all stake-holders.”

He also declared his desire to be student-centered.

“It’s kind of cliché, but it’s our vision. I want to put students first.”

The ability to educate any child requires having an environment in which a student feels safe, making school security a priority, an issue of which Ripley is aware.

“Getting into a new building is going to help a lot with security because we’re not going to have kids outside,” Ripley declared. “I think the main point is this summer we are looking at putting staff in key locations to where we know that doors are locked when they are supposed to be locked, that kids are not moving in and out of the building when they’re not supposed to be.”

Ripley also noted having office staff trained on who comes in, why they come in, and what the protocol is if something should happen would be pivotal.

“I’m just blessed to be here,” Ripley concluded. “I think it’s a great community, great support system in place, and a great direction. We’re moving forward.”

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