Born To Lead

    Born Leader Shifts From Medical Doctor Dreams To Educating Young Dreamers

    Dr. Cheryl T. Henry, Principal
    Campbell Elementary School
    Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, Houston, Texas
    Raise Your Hand Texas Alumna, ’12 & ’13 (Harvard – Improving Schools: The Art of Leadership)

    Most leaders are developed over time through experience, coaching, and consistent investments in growing their talent. Others seem like they were born to lead.

    Dr. Cheryl T. Henry, principal at Campbell Middle School in Houston, exudes the natural persona of a leader.

    After graduating from high school, the California native pursued a rigorous academic path, earning her undergraduate degree at UCLA, her Masters degree in education from Stanford University, and her doctorate in education from Texas A&M.

    A career in education wasn’t always the dream, though.

    “I wanted to be a doctor,” Henry says, smiling. “After I started tutoring and mentoring and working with kids in the community, I was like, Oh my God! I think I want to be a teacher.”

    Fortunately, for so many of her would-be students, Henry passionately crafted her life around education. She first taught Social Studies for eight years in Los Angeles before taking on a high school leadership role as dean of students — a position similar to that of assistant principal. Henry then worked as an assistant principal for four years before moving to Texas where she took on the role of a Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) specialist for six months.

    “It was the best thing I could have done,” she says. “I didn’t know it at first, but I was able to learn so much about the curriculum and instruction system in Texas in that position. It helped me to be a better administrator.” Today, Henry is reveling in her fifth year as principal at Campbell Middle School. She loves being accessible and hands-on with her students. She pushes her staff to appreciate professional development (faculty members have undertaken the recognized Quantum Learning Education model and other brain-based teaching courses.)

    “I am a public school champion,” Henry says. “I’m a product of public schools. My children went to public schools. I believe that the public school is the means of education for most of our kids. It’s important for people who are the best trained — who care the most — to be with the kids who need us the most.”

    Henry, herself, is never content to rest on what anyone would consider exceptional professional laurels. She applied and was among an exclusive group of principals selected by Raise Your Hand Texas for sponsorship to attend its leadership program at the Principals’ Center at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She then was selected twice more to return to Harvard as a Raise Your Hand Texas regional director and facilitator. Henry says her mission is to always be actively enhancing her leadership skills with the ultimate goal of supporting students and improving public education in Texas.

    Principal Henry was among an exclusive group of principals selected by Raise Your Hand Texas for sponsorship to attend its leadership program at the Principals’ Center at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She then was selected twice more to return to Harvard as a Raise Your Hand Texas regional director and facilitator.

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