Howard lone finalist for Crane superintendent

Ector County ISD Deputy Superintendent Stephanie Howard has been selected as the lone finalist for the superintendent position at Crane ISD.

Howard will officially start July 22 and she will replace Janet Hunt, who is retiring.

Starting her 27th year in education, she was with ECISD for about three years and was superintendent for Plains ISD. She had been executive director for curriculum and instruction for ECISD before Plains and has also been principal of Lee High School (now Legacy) and San Jacinto Junior High, both in Midland.

She also has taught and coached through the years.

Howard earned a bachelor’s degree in English and communications from Angelo State University, a master’s in educational leadership from the University of Texas Permian Basin and a doctorate from UT San Antonio. She has a principal and superintendent certification in the State of Texas, her website said.

She was district chief in Plains for three and a half years.

“… I loved that, but my husband works in Midland and when we had the opportunity to come back, of course, being close to his work was certainly appealing but I missed the superintendency,” Howard said. “Crane ISD has a rich tradition of success, a lot of tradition and success in the classroom and in athletics …,” Howard said.

When the job opened up, that was an area that worked well for Howard and her family.

Crane ISD is about twice as large as Plains, which she said had 480 students.

As a superintendent in a small district, you have the opportunity to be involved and engaged “in so many different areas of the district and really feel like you can make a difference …,” Howard said.

She added that she has learned something at every career stop.

“It just gives (you) a lot of tools in the toolbox, if you will, that allow you to address some needs and problems that all districts face. Crane is not going to be that much different than Ector County ISD from the standpoint of the challenge of hiring quality people. You know there are always shortages of teachers and so a lot of the work that we’ve done with our strategic plan and innovative staffing models, those are some things that may be able to be successful in Crane as well,” Howard said.

Getting situated in Crane will enable her to listen, see what’s going on and talk to team members.

“… It’s really difficult to say what any one thing might work, but I do think there are a lot of things I’ve learned over the years that will allow us to address those areas for improvement,” she added.

Howard grew up in small districts, attending kindergarten in Blackwell before moving to Robert Lee for first through 12th grade. She graduated in a class of 22 students.

But for whatever reason, Howard said, most of her career has been spent in larger districts.

“Definitely in a smaller district, it’s more personal. You get to know students and the community is just much more engaged from the standpoint of knowing the kids and being at events and things like that,” Howard said.

She and her husband, James, the fire marshal in Midland, have two daughters.

Howard said she will miss the people at ECISD and feels that they are doing some really good work and good things are ahead.

“That work will continue, so I’ll absolutely miss that. A lot of these people (there) are what I consider my friends. That’s what’s hard about leaving a place is the people … ,” Howard said.

But she is very excited about the opportunity to work with the school board in Crane.

“In visiting with the board through the process, it was evident that every single member is committed to doing whatever it takes to provide the students in Crane ISD with the best opportunities in academics, athletics, band and other extracurricular areas — opportunities that ensure their success after high school,” Howard said.

Since the news of her selection came out, Howard said her phone had been “going crazy” the last 24 hours with well wishes.

Crane ISD Board President Alan Swinford said the district got lucky with a good group of applicants and four extremely good finalists.

Swinford said Crane used the Region 15 Education Service Center for the search and it took about three months.

“But Ms. Howard’s skill set and her experience are what ultimately led us to select her,” Swinford said.