Mike Waldrip’s passion for education developed during his more than 16 years as a biology teacher and basketball coach in Victoria, Goliad and Seminole ISDs, he said. He also received his master’s and doctorate in educational administration before becoming superintendent of Frisco ISD in July 2017. Community Impact Newspaper sat down with Waldrip to learn his history with the district and see what is next for FISD.
Let’s start from the beginning: What were you doing before you became superintendent of Frisco ISD?
I was the superintendent of Coppell ISD. Prior to that, I spent 12 years in Frisco. I came up through the ranks: started off as a middle school principal, worked in the curriculum department, and then I opened Liberty High School. Then, I moved into the central office as an assistant superintendent/deputy superintendent. Then, about five years ago, I moved to Coppell to be their superintendent; I was there for three years before I moved back.
What made you want to come back to Frisco ISD?
I loved my time here in Frisco. We were here for 12 years. I have two sons, and they both graduated from Frisco schools, and it was just home. We love Frisco and being given the opportunity to come back. I couldn’t imagine not taking advantage of that.
What are your top three long-term goals for Frisco ISD?
One thing is future-ready learning. Preparing our kids for their future, for what’s next— whatever that is for them. Making sure they’re equipped if they want to go to college, or if they want to go into the military or if they want to enter the job force: It’s our job and our duty to prepare kids for that.
Another is continuing to transform the way we teach and transforming our learning spaces. For example, one of our oldest schools is Rogers Elementary, and we’ve come in and done a significant amount of remodeling. We went in and opened up some of the learning spaces, and just created more of an open flow to the building, opened up the library and created some maker spaces. A focus for us is to try and look at the existing facilities we have and see what we can do to transform those learning spaces.
I think another goal is continuing to deal with the growth in Frisco that we’re going to continue to encounter. Now, it’s slowed significantly, but we still have quite a bit of growth, and the growth patterns are different than they have been in the past. A goal for us is to manage that and to make that work for us to make sure we provide a quality education for the students.
What makes Frisco ISD a unique school district?
We have dealt with incredible growth. At one point, it was between 3,000 and 4,000 students a year for a long time. It slowed some; it’s around 2,000 students a year. There is no other school district that I know of that has dealt with that type of explosive growth over the last 30 years.
In all of that, we have still been able to maintain quality programs and provide opportunities for kids. Frisco has been and continues to be a destination district for a lot of families, and I think that speaks highly of the leadership that preceded me and the school boards that preceded the one we have now. It’s almost like we’re stewards of all the things they started.
And a lot of that has gone back to the partnership with the city. I talked to a lot of my colleagues, and they don’t have the kind of partnerships with their city that we have with ours. It has been a tremendous asset for the school district, and it’s been good for the city as well. And so the two working together is unique and produced the quality school district we have today.
Starting in fall 2020, FISD will publish a report in fall of each school year in conjunction with the state’s release of A-F accountability ratings. The district will gather its first set of results from this school year.