Clear Creek ISD says goodbye to Superintendent Greg Smith, prepares for Eric Williams

Clear Creek ISD will welcome a new superintendent Jan. 18. (Jake Magee/Community Impact Newspaper)
Clear Creek ISD will welcome a new superintendent Jan. 18. (Jake Magee/Community Impact Newspaper)

Clear Creek ISD will welcome a new superintendent Jan. 18. (Jake Magee/Community Impact Newspaper)

While district officials have expressed disappointment at the pending departure of Clear Creek ISD Superintendent Greg Smith, they have shown equally as much excitement over the upcoming arrival of his replacement, Eric Williams, in January.

Still, in the days between Williams' Nov. 9 nomination and Dec. 1 selection by the board of trustees, parents and community members expressed various concerns and debated whether Williams was the right fit for the district.

Williams said in an interview with Community Impact Newspaper he is focused on listening to, learning from and connecting with various stakeholders as he enters the district.

“The district has many strengths, so it's not about charting a new course,” he said of CCISD’s future direction under his leadership. “It’s about ... what's the best way to continue that course.”

Williams comes to CCISD from Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia, roughly an hour west of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. He will start Jan. 18; Greg Smith’s last day is Dec. 31.

At a Dec. 14 board of trustees meeting, board members and district leaders shared parting insights about Smith’s impact. As she addressed the outgoing superintendent, President Laura DuPont said Smith’s 40-plus-year career as a teacher, principal and superintendent around Houston and Galveston has been marked by a constant desire to bring out the best in young learners.

“The themes of innovation, exploration and supporting and encouraging children keep coming up as we reflect on your time in our community,” she said. “It all comes down to your exceptional leadership in recognizing and fueling the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the many thousands of students whose education journeys you shepherded.”

A group of CCISD students spent several months learning an original piece inspired by Smith’s legacy, titled “Onward to New Horizons,” and a video of the students performing the piece for the first time was played at the Dec. 14 meeting. Smith was also given a copy of the score, and the video will be kept in CCISD’s music libraries.

Gail Love, who has served in various administrative positions throughout CCISD, will be acting superintendent Jan. 4-18. Her appointment to this role was unanimously approved by the board of trustees Dec. 14.

During his first 90 days, Williams plans to meet with special education parents, parent-teacher associations, community service organizations and other district parent groups. He has spent time in the community already by participating in meet-and-greet sessions Nov. 18 and 19 and visiting various campuses.

Per Texas law, the board was required to wait a minimum of 21 days before voting to appoint Williams, its lone finalist. Parents from LCPS and CCISD took to social media in the days following his appointment to express dissatisfaction with Williams' hiring, citing his use of critical race theory in schools as well as his back-to-school plans amid COVID-19. Local politicians and activists organized protests before the Nov. 16 and Dec. 1 board meetings.

“I am so appreciative of the fact that people are willing to meet me and listen to me,” Williams said in reference to the town hall sessions, adding that they gave him a chance to address concerns raised by community members based on his tenure at LCPS. “Clear Creek ISD, and Texas generally, is not Virginia. It’s all about CCISD, not about any of my experience in another district.”

After approving Williams at the Dec. 1 meeting, board members spoke about why they are confident that he is the right choice for the district. Trustee Scott Bowen said he was impressed with the level of knowledge and passion Williams has for the work of educating students.

Another reason Williams is the best choice, Bowen added, is that he was the only candidate interviewed who was a sitting superintendent during the 2008 economic crisis. Williams said his priorities then were protecting the expenditures that had the most direct impact on classroom instruction and that he would operate with the same mentality in the face of any pandemic-related budgetary issues.

“Ultimately, [Williams’] job is to execute a vision, and our job is to develop it as board members,” Bowen said during the Dec. 1 meeting. “Policy and politics are our job, and execution is his job.”

By Colleen Ferguson
A native central New Yorker, Colleen Ferguson worked as an editorial intern with the Cy-Fair and Lake Houston | Humble | Kingwood editions of Community Impact before joining the Bay Area team in 2020. Colleen graduated from Syracuse University in 2019, where she worked for the campus's independent student newspaper The Daily Orange, with a degree in Newspaper and Online Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a degree in Spanish language and culture. Colleen previously interned with The Journal News/lohud, where she covered the commute in the greater New York City area.



Harris County Flood Control District is planning to submit preliminary flood plain maps to the Federal Emergency Management Agency in late 2021. (Kelly Schafler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Harris County's preliminary flood plain maps to be released in late 2021

The new flood insurance rates in Harris County could take effect in 2023 or 2024.

vaccine drive-thru
Houston opens first drive-thru vaccination site

The site aims to distribute 1,000 doses per day for the first week and can scale up if more doses become available.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced the opening of a COVID-19 vaccine waitlist at a Jan. 25 press conference. (Screenshot courtesy Facebook)
Harris County to open waitlist for COVID-19 vaccines Jan. 26

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo warned that vaccine supply remains "extremely limited," and it will still take time for those waitlisted to get an appointment.

Eric Williams started as superintendent Jan. 18. (Courtesy of Clear Creek ISD)
Eric Williams concludes first week as Clear Creek ISD superintendent

Williams plans to spend his first months on the job discovering how the district can sustain and build on its quality of education.

“Hope is on the horizon,” Fort Bend County Judge KP George said at a press conference Jan. 4. “The vaccine is here.”
Vaccine distribution starts in Fort Bend County and more top Houston-area news

Read the most popular news from the past week from the Houston area.

One local health system leader said he expects everyone, including those under age 65, will have access to the vaccine within the next 90 days. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Houston-area health system leaders talk progress, hurdles during COVID-19

Officials from CHI St. Luke’s Health and UTMB Health said community members must remain vigilant as case counts climb but that they expect the current surge to peak by early February.

During a North Houston Association meeting Jan. 20, Jazz Hamilton—first vice president with the Retail Brokerage Services Group for CBRE—discussed how the future of retail will likely be shaped by the conveniences to which consumers have become accustomed amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
Pandemic-induced retail conveniences are here to stay, official says

According to Jazz Hamilton, first vice president with the Retail Brokerage Services group for CBRE, between January and November of 2020, consumers spent almost $550 billion online—a 33% increase from 2019.

The estimated number of active COVID-19 cases in Harris County has surpassed 50,000, reaching 51,362 as of the most recent data Jan. 20, according to the Harris County Public Health Department. (Community Impact staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: Active cases top 50,000

See the latest trends on COVID-19 in Harris County.

More than 3,200 new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Galveston County since Jan. 6. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Galveston County adds 38 COVID-19 deaths in 2 weeks

Nearly 30% of the total county coronavirus cases are considered active as of Jan. 20.

Community snapshot: See how demographics have changed in Bay Area communities from 2014-19

Here is a breakdown of demographic and related data from Bay Area communities.