Julie Ambler’s role as head of school for The Woodlands Christian Academy is more of a calling than a job, she said.
Ambler worked as a commercial real estate mortgage banker for 17 years before entering education, a field in which she was not professionally trained. She started as a volunteer at TWCA, where her children attended school, eventually transitioning to serve four years on the school’s board of directors.
“I felt God calling me out of [real estate] to serve Him,” Ambler said.
In 2006, Ambler assumed the role of head of school in what she believed to be a temporary move, she said, because the school was going through a period of financial distress. It did not take long for her to realize her time in that role was meant to last more than a few months.
She has led the school through a decade of change and growth—doubling enrollment to 600 students—and taking an aggressive stance on embedding current technologies into classrooms. Today, each student has access to an Apple Inc. device, be it a tablet or laptop, which Ambler believes enriches the learning process. But her passion for education goes beyond the smartboard.
“We have an unbelievable opportunity to tell our students who Jesus Christ is and that he has a plan and purpose for their lives,” she said. “The opportunity to accomplish that and give students the opportunity to find their unique talents and gifts is really special.”
Over the years Ambler has encountered her fair share of challenges and obstacles in her role, the biggest of which involved fostering a challenging environment for her students, she said.
“I’m very passionate about academics and I believe God wants us to develop our minds, so I think raising the bar academically is a challenge because not many Christian schools have such high standards,” she said.
Ambler’s executive assistant, Nancy Sievert, whom she has known for 10 years, said Ambler treats the students at TWCA as an extension of her own family.
“She is a woman of impeccable character, intelligence and integrity, and she values and cares for the children here as if they were her own,” Sievert said. “Every decision she makes is through that lens of how it’s going to affect each and every child.”
Ambler said it is faith that motivates her to remain involved and active in the community and in the lives of her students. Although she grew up in a family that attended church services, she said she did not develop a true passion for Christianity until her 20s.
“Ever since then I’ve been passionate about Him and giving my life to God,” she said. “Everything I am and everything I have belongs to Christ, and it is my responsibility to give back however I can. I like to say Jesus Christ is head of school, and I try to get out of the way.”