Dr. Brian Morris was named the lone finalist for the Center ISD superintendent's job after being approved by the Center ISD Board of Trustees during a board meeting on Thursday, April 9.
He was introduced by Center ISD Board President Matthew Mettauer at the conclusion of the meeting. Mettauer said there is a state mandated 21-day waiting period after the school board names their finalist until a contract can be executed with the candidate.
Morris is currently serving as superintendent of Columbus ISD,and he has had had prior administrative stints in Hallsville and Huntington. Morris said he is glad to be returning to Center, where he served as a science teacher and coach in the late-1990s.
“I'm excited to be coming back home and be part of a great community that tries to do everything the right way,” he said in an interview after the board meeting.
Jim Largent, with Largent Consulting, which was retained by the district to head the search process, said Morris comes highly recommended.
“Dr. Morris had prior administrative stints in Hallsville and Huntington,” Largent said. “Widely praised in Columbus for quickly improving the academics, attendance, and other school district metrics, Dr. Morris has a reputation for setting high expectations and being very visible on campus and in the community.”
He brings with him his wife, Meredith, who is a math interventionist. The couple has two children, Morgan, a student at Texas A&M, and Jake, who will be a high school sophomore next year.
The Center ISD Board is expected to vote on his contract on April 30, after the 21-day waiting period,
“I'm a native East Texan. I grew up just outside of Lufkin,” he said. “I got my bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from Stephen F. Austin State University.”
He has been a professional in the educational field for 27 years.
“I started in East Texas and moved around teaching and coaching for about seven years,” Morris said. “I took my first administrative position as an assistant principal at Huntington High School.”
He was promoted to the principal's job the following year.
“From there I went to be a principal at Hallsville High School and served there for four years and move up the central office to executive director of operations and ultimately to assistant superintendent for student services.”
Morris said he initially entered the education field to help kids who might need guidance, helping them learn. As his career developed he saw moving up into educational administration as a way to have an even more of a positive impact.
“Ultimately, being a superintendent has been the greatest job I've had so far,” he said. “I'm super excited about being in Center at this time.”
He sees dealing with the impact COVID-19 and the coronavirus as being the biggest challenge his administration will face initially when he officially starts on June 1.
“Whether we're through with COVID-19 and we're past it and everything's back to normal, we're still going to be dealing with the implications of the coronavirus,” Morris said. “We've got to plan next year for how we're going to spiral in all the learning that would have happened or should have happened in the classroom into next year's curriculum — that's going to be a big challenge for us.”
Regarding Center ISD's bond project construction and expansion, he said he was a part of a $96 million bond project while at Hallsville ISD.
“I've been in a lot of meetings with architects and GC's (general contractors) and those type of things,” he said. “I know a lot of the decisions have been made as to what's going to happen here. It'll just be my responsibility to make sure it goes smoothly and according to plan and within budget.”
Due to stipulations of limits on public gatherings due to the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic, Thursday's meeting was conducted by video conference and is available for public viewing at: https://youtu.be/pyCvvRMuW9E