New Ector College Prep principal building on success

Ector College Prep Middle School sixth-grade math teacher September Garrett gives her students a math problem during a recent class. Ector started the year with 1,400 students and that will likely increase after Labor Day. (Ruth Campbell/Odessa American)

Kristin Albaugh is taking on her first year as principal of Ector College Prep Middle School prepared to move forward.

School started Aug. 2 and Ector, which is a charter school within Ector County ISD, has about 1,400 students. Albaugh said they will probably get more students after Labor Day.

She added that they are pretty close to being fully staffed at 85 teachers, learning coaches and teaching assistants. TAs are paired with an expert teacher and they learn by watching the expert teacher so they can be moved up into their own classroom. TAs also fill in if a teacher is out, Albaugh said.

She also has seven assistant principals.

“I call them principals. They’re really two per grade level,” and one is over the Dyad program and electives and special populations, Albaugh said.

More information on the Dyad Program can be found at

The district partnered with Third Future Schools in 2021 to make it an in-district charter school after years of low performance in state accountability standards.

Asked how she is feeling about the upcoming state accountability ratings, Albaugh said the most important thing at the end of the day is student growth.

“Ector College Prep has demonstrated that year after year, that we continue to grow kids at a much higher rate,” she said.

Albaugh said the have a very strong administrative staff and have hired a lot of quality teachers who can continue to demonstrate success within the Third Future model.

“The majority of the teachers returned from last year are Third Future teachers. … Quickly, people see the benefit of the model and how it can easily translate to academic success based on very clear expectations, strong instructional processes, good leadership and culture. That’s really the three tenets at Third Future is our culture, our instruction and our leadership. But it’s not just for the campus, it’s within each classroom,” Albaugh said.

When they hire someone, she said, they look for someone who is academically competent.

“But it’s also important for somebody to be able to adapt quickly and be able to move through the Third Future system in the classroom quickly, but also purposefully. Everything we do in the classroom is with purpose. It’s good to have a strong classroom manager. But it is also important for somebody who is able to adapt, like if we need a teacher in a different content area that they’re able (and) willing to move. And the other thing is somebody that is really committed to being at school. Attendance is huge here,” Albaugh said.

Third Future Schools are open even during snow days.

“A lot of the philosophy behind why Third Future keeps schools open during snow days (is) every single second that we have with kids is critical. So that is why our day is packed with the most important instructional systems that we can put in place for them. It’s vital for them to be able to grow each and every day that we have them here,” Albaugh said.

Ector recently finished MAP, Measure of Academic Progress, testing. Like the rest of the district, it will be held at mid year and at the end of the year.

“There’s no reason to wait to do those type of tests. It’s really our beginning baseline for our kids. Our kids demonstrated a great deal of success last week on those tests based on their scores … Our next step will be to set goals for their middle of the year. Our focus is that we have 55 days to do that, basically, by the time January comes around with the Thanksgiving and Christmas break. So that’s very intentional and that’s why it’s critical for people to be here, but also to be teaching with purpose,” Albaugh said.

Third Future has a lot of multi-response strategies that are used in every class every single period.

“Getting student engagement is important as long as it aligns to purpose. For example, if I were doing an activity with kids, you want that data that you get from that whether it’s a quick response or a whiteboard or a whip around, which is where kids stand up and and they give feedback as a group. You want that data to align to what your learning objective is. That’s very critical for all of those strategies to be purposeful. If you’re just doing them to do them, then we’re not getting data. When you go into a non-Third Future school, the engagement piece of it is important, but we ensure that because of those multi-response strategies that we use every day. We’re collecting data, every single class every four minutes …,” Albaugh said.

Albaugh said the staff is trained in this method.

“On their slides, they have timers and they have those embedded in their slides. … Students will think, read and write every class. And so those MRS (multi-response strategies) ensure that we have that student participation, but also that purposeful engagement. If I did a math problem, and I said, Okay, everybody do the answer on their whiteboard and I say, okay, hold up your whiteboards and the entire class doesn’t have the problem right. That’s really important data for us to take back and say, Okay, we need to go back through that problem again. But if 80%, remember Third Future teaches on grade level, every class so we know that our kids can get to that because of our level of engagement and purpose in the classroom,” Albaugh said.

She added that she thinks parents see the difference in Third Future instruction.

“I know for new students, it can be sometimes a bit of a shock because of the structure. But it’s really, particularly at the middle school level, what kids need. The clear and concise boundaries; hallway behavior, team center behavior, classroom behavior … Probably the thing that I noticed the most when I was looking to potentially take the campus over was the level of engagement in every single classroom,” Albaugh said.

She added that the campus has band, choir, orchestra and athletics. Ector also has Mariachi.

“All the systems that I’ve put in place, with the help of my administrative team, have really helped Ector College (have) … a strong start this year and our culture is one of the strongest that it’s been,” Albaugh said.