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Sunday Conversation, Ted Landry - principal at The Woodlands High School - chats about his experience a few months into the job

November 10, 2018

In June, the Conroe Independent School District Board of Trustees had a vacancy to fill at The Woodlands High School — they were short a principal.

The person they selected for the job? Ted Landry.

Landry came from Kingwood High School in the Humble Independent School District, the district he’d been in for more than 15 years. Yet, his first job in Texas was with Conroe ISD, so this is a homecoming of sorts for him.

He’s now a few months into his new role and spoke with The Villager about how it’s going.

QUESTION: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

LANDRY: I was born and raised in south Louisiana. My dad was a sugar cane farmer. I grew up on the farm, driving a tractor, working hard. It’s where I got my work ethic, from my father. After high school I joined the Marine Corps and spent some time there. But, I’ve known since I was 16 years old that I wanted to be an educator. I’ve worked toward that goal my adult life.

I started teaching in Louisiana at Breaux Bridge High School. I became a guidance counselor and did that for a year in Louisiana, but my wife is an educator as well. The education system in Texas was very appealing to us, so we moved here in 2000. My first job in Texas was as a guidance counselor at Conroe High School. I was there for two years and then I moved to Kingwood High School, where I became and assistant principal and then the associate principal at Atascocita High School. Then, I went back to Kingwood High School as the principal, and I did that for the last six years. Then I had an opportunity to come here and this was the dream job, and an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

QUESTION: Tell us about the experience of serving in the Marine Corps.

LANDRY: The Marine Corps was an opportunity for growth for me. I did not come from a wealthy family, so some of it was logistics, to help financially with college. The other part was out of a service to the country. We’re very patriotic people, so serving my country was a big deal. The Marine Corps is the ultimate adventure for an 18-year-old young man.

I have one brother, and he’s 11 months older than I am, and we enlisted together. We ended up in the same training platoon in basic training. That was an interesting experience. Once they found out we were brothers, it made things a little fun. He’s a great support, we are very close, and we supported each other through it. He was stationed on the west coast, and I was on the east coast. That was the first time we were ever apart.

But, I always knew at the heart of it that I was probably going to be going back to Louisiana, back to college, because ultimately I still wanted to be an educator.

QUESTION: How did you know you wanted to get involved in education?

LANDRY: As a junior in high school, I had this spectacular AP World History teacher. I always had a love of social studies and history that started in middle school, but this gentleman really brought it to life. From that moment forward, I knew this was what I wanted to do. We talk about it now as adults, those of us who had him as students — it was like Netflix in the ’80s. He would tell stories and had a way of bringing them to life that really made them engaging, and then talk about the significance of why it was important for us to know that, and how that could influence future generations. He really did a nice job of that, and I wanted to do that for others as well.

QUESTION: You’re a few months into your role as principal of The Woodlands High School. How is it going so far?

LANDRY: It’s going great! This place is fantastic. The student body is stellar. They’re an awesome group of kids. You can tell that they have goals, they have support, they have some drive and initiative and they know what they need to do. They know what comes next, or at least have an idea of what comes next in their lives or are working toward it. And the ones who don’t have an idea (of what will come next) know that education is the foundation for whatever it is they want to do. So, they take their education seriously. Their expectations on learning are very high, so they challenge the staff and faculty to make sure that they are teaching them whatever they need to know for the next level or whatever comes next in their lives.

The parental support is second to none. As an educator, to be able to pick up the phone and call a parent and get an immediate response is not something you see everywhere, but it is something that happens here. The district administration is great; they’ve been tremendously supportive. Everyone’s been very welcoming, received me very warmly and are helping me navigate the bureaucracy of a large school district.

QUESTION: You started your career in Conroe ISD, and now you’re back in Conroe ISD. How has it been to come full circle?

LANDRY: I spent 16 years in Humble ISD, which is a great place and treated me and my family great, but there’s always a special place in your heart for your first job. Coming from Louisiana as a young couple, just my wife and I, Conroe welcomed us and took us in, just like they did this time. There was always a soft spot in my heart for Conroe ISD, so to have an opportunity to have a little bit of a homecoming and come back…it’s very nice to be in a place that puts a high value on education.

I couldn’t be happier about being here. A huge thank you to everybody from the district administration that made this possible, for the warm welcome—and not just me, but my whole family. When we go out to school events, the students and sponsors and teachers and parents have embraced my entire family and have made them feel very special through this whole process, which has made it a cool experience. Now, my kids are excited and want to come to the school. They really want to be part of the community, and it’s been fantastic sharing this community with them.

QUESTION: High school education has changed a lot in the past two decades. Where do you see Conroe ISD and The Woodlands High School specifically in the future in terms of technology and innovation?

LANDRY: In the last 10 to 15 years, education has changed a lot. To prepare students for a job, you can’t really do that anymore. Technology is moving so fast that by the time these freshmen graduate from college, the jobs they land in probably don’t even exist yet. As educators, we need to work very hard to make sure we’re covering a broad range of topics, to make sure those students have the ability to think critically, problem solve, be flexible and adapt their knowledge based on whatever situation they’re presented with. They have to be able to be ready to go and have those skills in their pocket and be ready to roll.

QUESTION: What are your goals for the future? Do you see yourself here long-term?

LANDRY: I hope to be here for years and years. I would love to be able to retire from Conroe ISD — that’ll be some time, but this is a great place to raise a family. As a high school principal, you couldn’t ask for a better (school). This school is in the top five in the state, so to be a high school principal in the state of Texas, this is the pinnacle of our position. I’d love to be here.

QUESTION: What do you like to do in your free time?

LANDRY: I have four children, all under the age of 11, so my free time is wholly and completely consumed by being a dad, which I love immensely. We have our first middle schooler, but the rest are all in elementary and one in preschool. Being a dad and engaging them as much as I possibly can, exposing them to things. We like to travel, to go places we haven’t been and expose my children to the diversity that is our world that we live in.

Part of being a teacher is sharing new things with someone, and watching that excitement and that joy in their face. That same thing is true in being a dad. When they see things for the first time, or experience something for the first time, it’s awesome.

jane.stueckemann@chron.com

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