Ellington takes over at middle schoolEducator replaces longtime principal

Although he planned to pursue a law degree in college, newly installed Bowie Middle School Principal Brian Ellington found his niche in coaching and teaching.
A native of Hilliard, Ohio, Ellington moved with his family as his father’s postings as a Nazarene minister changed. Ellington mostly grew up in New Mexico, but made his way to West Texas about 19 years ago.
His parents moved to Hobbs, N.M., when he was a seventh grader. They lived in Farmington for a few years. But he has been in the West Texas area since 2000.
Ellington attended University of New Mexico and then transferred his junior year to Eastern New Mexico University in Portales.
He earned a bachelor’s degree with an emphasis in social studies and is certified in kindergarten through 12th grade social studies. Ellington later earned a master’s in educational administration from University of Texas Permian Basin in 2015.
He began coaching basketball for his brother’s teams and found he enjoyed it. Ellington had some of the best teachers in the late legendary Hobbs basketball coach Ralph Tasker, Jack Stephenson at Midland High School and Russ Gilmore in Hobbs.
Ellington stands 6-foot-8 inches tall.
“About the time I was finished with my bachelor’s, I decided I was going to coach and I was going to teach history. I just loved history and social studies. When I was just about to graduate in spring of ‘95, I was at one of my brother’s basketball games. He was a senior,” Ellington recalled.
He talked to Tasker, who had coached Ellington as a sophomore in Hobbs. Ellington updated the coach on what he was up to and Tasker said he should put in an application for a coaching position.
Tasker hired him as a freshman basketball coach.
“That’s how I got my start — coaching freshman basketball and teaching history at Highland Junior High in Hobbs. I was intending to go the elementary route, but basketball led me another way,” Ellington said.
He said Tasker had great relationships with students and taught him how to go the extra mile for students, care for students and how they develop. Tasker racked up 11 state championships and more than 1,100 wins in his 50-year career.
“I had the opportunity to also coach for Jack Stephenson at Midland High School. He won a state championship in Texas. Very similar to Coach Tasker, in fact. Very kid oriented and would do anything within his power to help kids be successful. I was the JV coach and varsity assistant there. I also coached as an assistant for Russ Gilmore at Hobbs, who won five state championships … I think he’s pushing 1,000 wins now,” Ellington said.
Ellington was head basketball coach in Big Spring for two years from 2000 to 2002.
This will be Ellington’s 25th year in education. After a long stint of teaching and coaching, he decided he wanted to give back not only to help teachers become successful but to help students reach their goals.
The last four years, he has been at the middle or junior high school level. He was an assistant principal at Nimitz Middle School from 2015-2016 and most recently at Abell Junior High in Midland.
He replaces Shelia Stevenson, who is retiring as principal of Bowie. She served nearly 35 years with the district.
“ECISD was the first district that gave me the opportunity to be an administrator and assistant principal. Robin Fawcett (director of human resources for secondary personnel) hired me there. I heard of this opportunity. I loved the time that I spent in ECISD. (There are) very, very hard working teachers. … I knew of Bowie. I knew of Ms. Stevenson. I thought this would be a great opportunity to come back to Odessa,” Ellington said.
His wife, Rhonda, also was in Odessa previously as a campus curriculum facilitator, now termed an instructional coach. She will be stationed at Burnet Elementary School. Together, they have four children.
Ellington said he likes middle school because the students are in their formative years.
“They’re definitely in transition. They’re making that transition from elementary school to middle school, so they’re in a maturation process. I believe my experiences as an educator, as a coach and my life experiences enable me to not only help these students be successful academically, but also successful emotionally and socially and hopefully prepare them for the real world,” he said.
His goal for Bowie is constant improvement. Ellington expects the campus to have a little more than 1,200 students next year and more than 100 employees.
Ellington said some advice Coach Tasker gave him helped him develop as a player and individual.
“… People improve at different rates. The guy that works harder is going to progress. He’s going to get better and maybe pass up that guy that was better than him. In junior high, I was able to do that and ended up playing varsity basketball at Farmington, N.M., my senior year …,” Ellington said.
“It’s kind of stuck with me ever since that if I work hard I’m going to eventually progress and be successful. It doesn’t matter where you start … it’s where you end up each day and where you end up in the end is the important thing,” he added.
Roberto Cedillo, an executive director of secondary education, said he’s thrilled to have Ellington as the new Bowie principal.
“He brings a wealth of teaching, coaching and administrative experience. He has worked and learned from very successful principals and coaches. I believe he can use this knowledge and experience to take Bowie to the next level,” Cedillo said in an email.