“Forever a Wildcat” Humble High School principal retires after 30 years in education
Donna Ullrich, the principal at Humble High School, has recently announced she will be retiring at the end of the school year to spend more time with her family.
She has a long connection with Humble ISD — Ullrich is a 1983 Kingwood High School graduate. Her children also graduated from Humble ISD schools.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in life earth sciences at Sam Houston State University and later pursued her master’s degree in educational leadership at Stephen F. Austin University.
Ullrich had a 30-year career in education and stints with Spring, Sheldon and Splendora ISDs in addition to her five years with Humble ISD. She has served as principal for four years.
Do you still remember the day you became the principal of Humble High School?
I absolutely remember the first day. The kids, that was my first memory. Just meeting the kids, talking to kids, finding out what their interests were and what things they wanted for Humble High School. Because their voice is very important in how we plan for the next few years.
They wanted things like the Homecoming Parade to come back, so we brought back the Homecoming Parade. They wanted different kinds of pep rallies, so we’ve done different kinds of pep rallies.
Those kinds of things were important to hear from them, and so my first few days here I spent it with the kids.
What kind of changes do you believe you’ve made at HHS?
After talking to kids and talking to (staff) and teachers we had two main goals, and one was to work on the pride of being a Wildcat and the second was to improve our academic standing. I think we’ve made progress on both of our goals.
How would you describe your relationship with the students?
Fun-loving. I try to get to know them. I know I can’t remember 2,000 kids’ individual names, but I can remember faces. I want them to know who I am. I want to them to know that I am here for them to help them on their academic track and that I’m also here to listen to their issues and concerns. I’m here so that they know they have a voice in their school and that, to me, is what’s very important.
What are some fond memories you have being at HHS?
Our boys basketball team is a great basketball team, they’ve gone to playoffs 26 years in a row. The first year that I got to be a part of that, and we did this really big pep rally with spotlights and that was just really fun. When the news came and did a football pep really with us really early in the morning and all the kids got to be on the news that day, that was a lot of fun. I think how our school came together and helped the community during Harvey was another heart-felt memory. Lots of kids showed up at different people’s houses to help them clean out houses, provide food — that was a good memory.
Were there any challenges being principal at Humble HS?
There are always challenges of being a principal of a high school. I think the challenges aren’t just about HHS, they’re about high schools today and they revolve around social media and the way kids interact with social media. They revolve around how do we keep our school safe and secure yet still let kids have freedom to move about your school and go in and out of your school building.
How would you describe your teamwork with your staff?
This is a great staff. They work hard. They’re divided into teams and there’s administrators that work with each team, and then I work with that administrative team. I think the teachers will tell you there’s an open door for them to come in and talk, request, complain or give suggestions any time they want. So I think I’m the kind of leader that is open hearing people and what their suggestions and ideas are.
What would you say is the best thing about Humble High School?
The tradition and the history that’s here. It was the first high school in Humble ISD. It is the only high school that is within City of Humble limits, and it is rich with its history.
How does it feel being Humble High School’s first female principal?
I don’t really see it as an accomplishment. I just see my role as a principal, whether it’s a male or a female, as an advocate for kids, to serve the community and to support teachers so they can do the job that they need to do.
Is there a message that you would like to leave with your staff and the students?
To the staff, my message is to always put kids first then you’ll never make a mistake. To the students, it is kindness always wins and to persevere no matter what obstacles get in your way.