Courtney Carpenter lists a few people who were special inspirations in her education career. Among them were her mother as well as a teacher and the current Carroll ISD superintendent.

Carpenter said her mother inspired her, and she became a role model, as did CISD Superintendent Lane Ledbetter. Carpenter was named as the new superintendent of Argyle ISD this summer, after Telena Wright retired in late June. Wright had been superintendent since 2009.

“[Ledbetter] just kept seeing things in me that I wouldn’t have discovered myself,” Carpenter said. “What was amazing about him as a mentor was he would put me in positions he knew that I might not be comfortable [with], because he knew that that was the experience I needed. He did that with me in Southlake.”

Carpenter said she received a variety of experience while working as the deputy superintendent in CISD, including strategic planning, where she got to facilitate a 55-member community group.

“That really probably fine-tuned my ability to facilitate large groups and challenging times and things like that,” she said.

Carpenter, who comes to AISD with 25 years of experience, said she sees similarities between Carroll and Argyle ISDs, including how both communities want strong-performing schools and accountability from educators.

“I feel like it’s a community of high expectations, high accountability—and that’s where I want to be,” she said about Argyle. “I want to be somewhere where people are expecting us to be on our ‘A’ game all the time and delivering ‘A’ game results.”

A native of Northwest Oklahoma, Carpenter moved to Teague, east of Waco, when she entered the sixth grade and then finished high school, where she played basketball and was on the track team before moving onto college. She holds a bachelor's degree from Sam Houston State University, a master's degree from the University of North Texas and a doctorate from Dallas Baptist University.

She and her husband, Craig, who works in Teague ISD, have a daughter, Kelsey, and a son, Kasen. Both children are in college and play sports. Kelsey is a rising senior and an outside hitter for West Texas A&M’s volleyball team, and Kasen, a freshman, will attend the University of Tulsa where he will play on the offensive line for the football team.

Away from work, Carpenter likes spending time with her family and being in the outdoors, including hunting, grilling and spending time at the lake.

Her journey as an educator has taken her from the classroom—she began as a high school math teacher in Alvarado—to the principal’s office to central administration.

“I knew I wanted to eventually get into administration because I liked working with students, but i loved the impact of working with teachers,” she said.

Building relationships will be important for Carpenter in Argyle ISD.

“Right off the bat, I want to build relationships and get to know people,” she said. “I’m a relationship-oriented person. I believe the only way to move forward is trust, to build trust and to build transparency. I know transparency is often a buzzword, but it truly is important to the process. I want the community to see the board and myself as a true team of eight and that we are a team with the same vested interest of moving Argyle forward. I want to make sure that message is, we honor the past while we create the vision for the future, because in a fast-growth district you cannot be behind the eight ball the whole time. You've got to be proactive enough to say [you] know this is coming, and so let’s get ahead of it now before we’re there, and then we’re trying to figure out what to do.”

Carpenter said Wright did a “phenomenal job” with AISD and built a strong foundation of excellence, pride and branding.

“She established a culture that you know what you stand for and that you know who you are, and I think that’s very admirable,” she said. “She poured her heart and soul into the kids and staff and I hope I can only begin to do the same because I know that I have huge shoes to fill. I’ll walk in my own shoes, but I have huge shoes to fill. We’ll be very different, but I still do hope to be able to fulfill the legacy that she’s left.”

Carpenter also described her approach as the new superintendent.

“Visibility is huge,” she said. “I think just having a listening ear. I do believe strongly in when families or students or staff and anybody are facing struggles, that they always start at the closest point of impact because that’s the first line of resolution but I always want to be able to help resolve if it can’t be resolved. I heard a mentor, a dear mentor, several years ago say the best advice she could give was to listen to understand not listen to respond. That has bode well for me to really listen to what somebody’s trying to say and not listening to be able to get a response right away. ... They need to feel like they’re heard and understood, not just heard.”