Husband and wife Chris and Christine Simpson both serve as high school principals in Leander ISD. Chris is the new principal of Leander High School, and Christine leads Rouse High School.
What got you interested in pursuing education?
Christine: I started out wanting to go to law school, and I worked as a paralegal in the [defense attorney’s]office in San Antonio while I was going to college. I’d always had this sense that I wanted to do something to help others, to impact others’ lives. … I found—through some different situations—that I started [working]with more and more of the juvenile side of the office and was drawn to students who were going through hard times, and it drew me into education.
Chris: It was the opportunity to serve. My original path was that I wanted to do pediatrics. … [But] I kind of got the vibe for teaching. You have a list of teachers in your head that stand out to you. I took the [Medical College Admission Tests] and realized, ‘This isn’t me. …’ I was able to talk to the head coach at Leander at the time and told him I was interested in teaching and coaching.
What are your thoughts about working at LISD?
Christine: I think that it’s interesting when you have the other perspective [from someone who did not attend LISD]that you really know what a special place it is. That we’re about people, and our decision-making, that’s our foundation. I think that’s really been the biggest reason that I stay so invigorated in my work.
Chris: I was here when there were three elementaries, one junior high and one high school, and to be able to come full circle with that, you can’t describe that. You just can’t. I’ve been here so long there’s an elementary named after my grandfather [Winkley Elementary School]. There really is nothing to describe it because I can walk up and down those hallways and tell you where algebra was, where geometry was. … I can tell you all those pieces. There really is nothing to describe how cool it is to not just come back and teach, but now I’m running the school that ultimately graduated me.
Which school is better?
Chris: We’re the original. Nothing tops that. You can say whatever you want to.
Christine: Our community is on fire right now.
Chris: In all seriousness, I think for different reasons, there’s not a high school in this district that’s not top-notch in the state for a variety of reasons.
What about your kids?
Chris: That’s where the rivalry will start. You want to know where the rivalry is, it’s …
Christine: It’s with the 9-year old.
Chris: The tug of war is had with the 9-year-old.
Christine: Three of the four [children]have been with me at Rouse. Our daughter just graduated, and two of our boys are here.
Does it affect where you go watch football games Friday night?
Chris: For me personally, that’s going to be tricky this year when my son may be on varsity as a sophomore this year [at Rouse]. It will become tricky for me. But he’s understanding. Our first four games at Leander [High School] are on Thursday nights, so he knows I’m going to come to at least half of his [games]but he also respects that I need to be at Leander.
Christine: As far as us on Friday nights, we both have our set pacing strip on our sideline.
How do you separate professional life from personal life and the temptation to talk about work?
Christine: It’s not a hard, fast rule, but you do have to deliberately say, ‘OK, we’re at home; this is family time,’ and then when work-related things come up, we support each other through it. You’re never not a principal 24 hours a day. The phone call could come at any time. You’re never truly off the clock.
Chris: Our kids understand that. They’ve grown up with it.
Christine: Other parents, other jobs, [people]experience the same kind of thing, we just happen to have the same title.
Chris: In the same district. Within 5 miles from one another. And your high school was named after my high school principal.
What’s your mission as principal for this year?
Christine: We actually embodied it in a hashtag that we started last year, #1RoUSe. You’ll see variations all over the school now. What we really live day to day is that we’re all here to support each other and to serve each other, and that’s all with the focus on students and what’s best for them in the long run.
Chris: [Leander High School] is definitely pointed in the right direction. … We say at Leander High School that we’re empowering all to a limitless future. We say this is what we’re doing, but do our actions right now align with that? I think my biggest thing right now is aligning our actions to ensuring that all have access to a limitless future. …We’re going to spend a lot of time on developing a passion for our students, our parents, our community through building trust and building relationships.