Today he is the district’s chief officer of school leadership, which entails coaching and supervising all CFISD principals along with providing leadership to the guidance and counseling, health services, professional learning and school leadership departments.
Garcia serves on Cy-Hope’s board of directors and the Cy-Fair Educational Foundation’s board of trustees. In 2016-17, he was named to CFISD’s Wall of Fame.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in education?
My father was an educator for 43 years, so I observed daily how he made such a difference in the lives of others. He focused first on building relationships by caring for and serving every student. It was obvious that teaching and coaching was his purpose, and I knew I wanted to follow in his footsteps.
I also learned from both my mother and father the importance of being a servant leader. Growing up, I recall my parents were always there for others who experienced challenges in their life. They always provided whatever resources were needed to assist others as much as they possibly could. This still resonates with me today as I know every life has a story. As educators, we have the opportunity to learn the story of our students and staff members so we can better serve them.
What support systems are in place to ensure Cy-Fair ISD school leaders are successful?
When you are hired as a principal in CFISD, you are provided a mentor who is a current principal. This mentor assists you in the day-to-day role of the principalship throughout your first year. We visit routinely with all of our new principals and their mentors to provide guidance and support from not only our department but from all the departments in the district.
In addition, the new principal is assigned a leadership coach. This coach is a retired CFISD principal who is focused on growing the principal as a leader. The new principal works with this coach for the first three years of their principalship.
How does Cy-Fair ISD train leaders differently than other districts?
Our focus is to provide our leaders the opportunity to receive learning experiences and growth in each of the four leadership phases: preservice—before you are in the new leadership position; induction—”just in time” support as you enter the new leadership position; emerging—additional learning and support as you become more knowledgeable of your new leadership position; and leadership—when you are teaching and coaching other leaders. This is accomplished through our Leadership Institute Series and the multitude of professional learning opportunities we provide our leaders. We invite, develop and support our leaders for their next job role, whatever that may be.
What might the district do for teachers looking to work their way up to become assistant principals, principals and beyond?
This is really what our Leadership Institute Series is all about. We have a Teacher Leader Institute for teachers who desire to move into leading adults such as a department chair, an instructional specialist or grade-level team leader. We also have the Aspiring Administrator Institute for teachers who have the desire to be an administrator and the Aspiring Principal Institute for administrators who want to be a principal.
What makes a good school leader?
A good school leader is a student, teacher, custodian, assistant principal, principal and any other leadership position in CFISD—which is everyone—who is focused on serving others. [He or she is] living his or her purpose by making a positive difference in the lives of all they encounter, [and are] caring, compassionate, courageous and truly understands that every life has a story. The more we know about their story, the better we can support and serve them. [They are] someone who can say “this is my calling.”
As someone who works to inspire others, how do you personally stay inspired and motivated in your position?
First and foremost, I rely on my faith. I believe that all of us are here for a reason and a purpose. It took me three semesters as a business major to finally realize my calling was to make a difference in the lives of others by being a teacher and coach. My purpose is to inspire, motivate and encourage others as much as I can every day and to make a positive difference in the lives of those I am blessed to serve. Although I am not employed by Chick-fil-A, I eat there a lot and love how they refer to their CEO as chief encouragement officer. Let’s all be chief encouragement officers. As I shared earlier, every life has a story. Let’s embrace the diversity of our stories by being kind, compassionate and focus on serving all we are blessed to encounter every day.