CRANE After retiring from Ector County ISD about four years ago, former assistant superintendent Roy Garcia didn’t really leave education.

He tried things that were different from what he was used to, but after a short stint as assistant principal at Crane Middle School, he’s going to take another stab at leisure.

“When I left ECISD and retired, I went straight to helping the Ector Success Academy charter for two years. Then I did some work with the Region 13 observing career and tech teachers,” Garcia said.

At first he thought he wouldn’t be interested, but career and technical education is so different.

“I got to observe welding teachers and nursing teachers and more hands on practical application kind of stuff, so I really enjoyed that. I did that with Region 13 for a couple of years kind of mixed in with the charter,” Garcia said.

When the charter changed from Ector College Prep Success Academy to Ector College Prep Middle School, run by Third Future, Garcia transitioned to a shelter for unaccompanied minors in Carrizo Springs.

“… It was running the school part of it; the education part. I did that for out of town for 10 months, and again, all of those jobs to me were different than anything … I had done, so I was willing to keep doing those things and try those things,” he said.

With the shelter, Garcia said he didn’t have the challenge of dealing with parents because they were unaccompanied minors and he didn’t have discipline problems “because they pretty much were a captive audience.”

“The education part was their opportunity to do something different and get into other things. It was very enjoyable, but they closed the shelter down …,” Garcia said.

He said the company that ran the shelter was faith based, which made a difference.

“… They took care of kids and some of the negative things you see about immigrants didn’t occur there. They took care of kids. The housing was appropriate, the setting, the clothing, the shelter, the feeding — all of those things. Kids were like a true priority. They came first, no matter whether you were in education or any other area in the mission. They put the emphasis on the right things and like I told folks, I wouldn’t have done it if it hadn’t been that way,” Garcia said.

On his way home, Crane ISD Superintendent Stephanie Howard called him. Garcia said he was heading home to rest and try “this retirement thing.”

When Howard was principal at Lee High School, now Legacy, Garcia was principal at Permian.

Howard called on a Friday and told him he didn’t have to be at work until Monday. He has been at Crane Middle School since the end of April.

“So I told her okay. They had a need here because the principal didn’t have an assistant and he had been trying to kind of do things on his own. She really wanted him to have some help. I said, well, how long and what are we talking about? And so we worked all that out and so I’m here until June 23. They’re already searching for a permanent assistant principal,” he said.

“Now my plan is to actually try to do retirement this time,” Garcia said.

He added that it’s been enjoyable, even coming to Crane Middle School.

“… I did the assistant principal’s job quite a while back. But it’s like riding a bike, all the processes and stuff, so they (didn’t) have to train me or teach me. I’m kind of familiar with a lot of the processes already, so that helped. …,” Garcia said.

He added that he’s always enjoyed working with students.

“I enjoyed the principalship because of that. You get to build relationships with students, and even though it’s been a short time, you get to start getting to know the kids and which kids are which ones you’re going to see and which ones you don’t ever see, even at this time of the year … Actually, the truth is I do very little discipline. The kids are very good; very good,” Garcia said.

Having served at larger campuses in Odessa, Garcia said the smaller school has been relatively easy. He understands setting the tone, walking the building, students wondering who he is, testing him and trying to figure out how it’s going to be.

“… Kids will test you. If you let them test you. But … I come across this kind of hard and firm (guy) and maybe some a little intimidating maybe. But really my focus is always taking care of kids and then making sure I get the message to the kids. You don’t want to be in here. This is the last place you want to come and I deliver that message relatively easily …,” Garcia said.

He noted that with fewer discipline issues and meetings, there’s more time to be in the classrooms making sure there is quality instruction.

A native of Rio Grande City, Garcia was 3 months old when he moved to Odessa. He plans to stay there.

Garcia went to Odessa College and University of Texas Permian Basin. He earned a bachelor’s in business administration in accounting and information systems. He got his math certification after that, his master’s in educational leadership from UTPB and his superintendent’s certification through Region 18 Education Service Center.

Crane Middle School Principal Arick Heredia said having Garcia on board has been great.

Anytime you can work with someone that has Garcia’s credentials and experience, it’s a plus, Heredia said.

“I wish I could have spent more time just picking his brain. But from the time that I’ve worked with them, I’ve learned a lot. So it’s been very, very pleasant for me,” Heredia said.