Grit, Fortitude and, Confidence

    My Story: Principal Finds Gifts of Grit, Fortitude, and Confidence in REEP Experience

    Crystal Romero-Mueller, Principal
    Tomball Intermediate School
    Tomball ISD, Tomball, Texas
    Raise Your Hand Texas Alumna ’13 (REEP)

    The opportunity to take the leap to apply to for the REEP Rice University Education Entrepreneurship Program (REEP) came quickly near the application deadline period in the fall of 2011. I was impressed with the high expectations of the application and interview process, and I was humbled to be selected and have the opportunity to learn and accelerate my leadership skills in the quality environment of the Jones School of Business.

    The journey of our class involved three days a week – from Thursday evenings and lasting through the completion of a full day the following Saturday. The time spent in those seats among my fellow educators transformed me both personally and professionally. I looked forward to each set of classes because I quickly realized that the new learning was easily applicable to my role as a principal. I actively and purposefully used the business strategies and molded my current education training into a cohesive thought process.

    As I began that process, I was forever changed as a leader, not only for the school community that I served daily, but also among my peers as we walked our leadership journeys together.

    I have shared many times when I have been asked “What did REEP do for you that made such a huge impact?” As an active participant who was willing to open up to the transformative process that was put in place, I gained access to my internal grit and fortitude to take risks that quickly and directly impact the growth of the teams on my campus and the leadership of my administrative team which ultimately impact students daily.


    I also gained a personal confidence to be open to all opportunities in the field of education – opportunities that are positive for me both personally and professionally.

    Although I didn’t quite understand it fully when (Rice University adjunct professor) Mike Grojean made us think about our future potential from a business perspective, I realized it when offers and opportunities presented themselves to me. With my openness to seeing the skills that I had acquired and how I had gained necessary tools to support positive transformation for successful student outcomes over time, I realized I was willing to take additional leaps of faith to reach my dreams on new paths.

    “I gained access to my internal grit and fortitude to take risks that quickly and directly impact the growth of the teams on my campus and the leadership of my administrative team.”

    At the end of my season in the learning forums at REEP, I was honored with the Founders Award from my peers. The evening of the graduation was very humbling to me. The honor represented to me the relationships that had been built that I knew would last lifetimes, and it was in my mind a testament to us all that the program was much more than a “program”— it was a true life journey we all accomplished together. Since that time, it has continued to be a privilege to participate in learning opportunities at Rice as a REEP Alumna. As I plan my continued learning opportunities, I look forward to participating in the Harvard Leadership Institutes that have already made dramatic impacts on individual leaders. A clear fact that I learned at REEP is that we gained equally as much from those sitting beside us, and that is exactly the high-quality environment I continue to strive to be part of.

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