Having been acting principal at Pease Elementary School for about four months, Micah Arrott is well prepared to take on the top job officially.
She was approved for the upward move at the June 8 Ector County ISD Board of Trustees meeting. Arrott had been acting principal at Pease since the last weekend in February when Kamye Smith was moved to Blanton as principal.
Although the selection process has been said to be daunting, Arrott was already in the midst of principal duties.
“Our MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) scores weren’t really what they needed to be in January, and so we knew we had some work to do before Ms. Smith was moved. …,” Arrott recalled.
She added that there was a lot of pressure, but she put a lot of it on herself.
“… Knowing the importance of needing to take advantage of all the instructional time that we had before the next round of MAP, … we just dug in and took the data from January and started grouping students that really needed that extra intervention, and started utilizing the flex paraprofessionals that we had. … We just had 25 days of intense intervention, which really proved to be very beneficial. We had a lot of growth points with those 100 students that we did extra intervention with. … I felt really good with how well the staff did. They worked very, very hard for those 25 days. So I just kind of felt like … we couldn’t have done anything else. So the pressure was there, knowing that I needed that, that we needed to do well, in order to prove myself, and so after that it was just kind of like peace. Even before the scores are in, I was like we did everything we could. And so that was the most daunting part of it,” Arrott said.
She added that being familiar with the campus was very helpful.
“I knew where our strengths were, and I knew where we needed work. That’s ultimately why I decided to apply because Pease is an underestimated campus. I think … a lot of times we’re looked at as just being a pre-k through two. But those are the most foundational academic years. And knowing the campus, knowing the faculty, it was tough on all of us to lose our leader. That was something we kind of had to bounce back from and we had to bounce back quickly because we had a job to do. I think that we as a campus kind of came together. I think that ultimately is what contributed to the academic growth of the students,” Arrott said.
Being a principal is how she said she can make the most impact on students.
She always enjoys going to work and feels like she’s found her niche, but it wasn’t always that way.
“… I wasn’t expecting it to be at a pre-k through 2 campus. But I absolutely look forward to getting up and coming to work every single day now,” Arrott said.
Pease had 525 students last year and the campus is projected to be very close to that again this next year.
Parents were more willing to bring their children to school since COVID. By the end of the year, very few children were learning remotely.
Arrott said that is partly because of conversations with parents and realizing that when they took the last MAP test educators weren’t seeing as much growth in the virtual students as with those coming to school.
Originally from Bronte, Arrott earned a bachelor’s degree in special education from Angelo State. She moved to teach at Mesquite ISD. She said they are supportive of teachers securing their master’s degree within a certain amount of time with them.
“I started working on my counseling degree and then eventually moved out to Odessa. I’ve been with ECISD for 14 years. I was an assistant principal at Wilson & Young and I looped with my kids. I was the sixth grade AP (assistant principal) and went up with them to seventh and put them to eighth. And when they moved on to Permian, I came back down to elementary, which is really where my roots are,” she said.
A first-generation college graduate, Arrott said both her sisters are educators. She added that she is naturally bossy.
“I’ve been teaching since I was 6 to my siblings. … My granddad when I was small had a bunch of old teacher edition books that he had gotten from somewhere … so I used to torture my siblings, making them sit in my classroom way before they probably ever wanted to go to school,” Arrott said.
Having been an assistant principal, Arrott had some idea of what preparing a school was like as a principal, but it is different being the leader.
When she was assistant principal under Smith, Arrott said it was amazing how much they had the same vision of what we wanted Pease to be. Now it’s up to her, although she is still going to build on what she and Smith accomplished.
“I’m determined that Pease is going to be the best elementary campus …,” Arrott said.
Arrott has already hired an assistant principal, Tyra Williams.
“I’m very excited for her to come on. She’s excited, too,” she said.
Executive Director of Leadership Corey Seymour said Arrott was the best candidate for the Pease principal post.
“I believe she will do an outstanding job,” Seymour said.
“Ms. Arrott has experience with early childhood, elementary and secondary education. She understands the importance of vertical alignment. She worked as the interim principal at Pease this year and did a phenomenal job. The campus showed tremendous academic growth under her leadership. She also worked with Mrs. Smith, the 2020 Elementary Principal of the Year, that mentored her for several years,” Seymour said in an email.