Although she officially starts July 1, Kristin Albaugh is already transitioning to her new post as principal of Ector College Prep Middle School.
The campus is an in-district charter school in Ector County ISD run by the charter network Third Future.
Albaugh said she has always been drawn to service professions and working with children.
“I spent a lot of time coaching — 20 years coaching soccer, and basketball and also futsal,” she said.
Futsal is similar to soccer, but played with a much smaller ball on a basketball court. It is faster-paced and involves fewer players, as well.
“I always wanted to in a profession where I was doing something much bigger than myself, and really ultimately making the world a better place,” Albaugh said.
She was principal at the Midland Alternative Program and served as assistant principal at Goddard Junior High School for two years. She was awarded the Unsung Hero award for her dedication to trauma informed strategies, tactical awareness practices and special education program enhancements, her biography says.
Albaugh replaces Welton Blaylock who had served as principal. Sandi Massey, who was with Third Future, and spent time at Ector, is now with Houston ISD.
Originally from Hazleton, Pa., Albaugh moved around a lot as a youngster, living in State College, Pa., and Williamsport, Pa., home of Little League baseball.
She went to Mansfield University for a year then transferred to Lycoming College, earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology and elementary education.
Albaugh then earned a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Scranton.
She has been in education for 13 years, including three years in Texas, but most of her career was in her home state of Pennsylvania. She has a passion for school safety from a past career in law enforcement.
She added that there were some breaks. Albaugh stayed home to raise her children, did pharmaceutical sales and worked for the Penn State University Police for about a year.
Albaugh was also appointed to both the Maryland and the Pennsylvania State Police Academy, but did not choose those career paths, mainly because of her two sons, Connor and Caleb.
Her husband, Curtis, is a retired state trooper. Now retired from the state police, Curtis is an officer for a medical center.
Her move to Texas came about because her youngest son was considering college in Texas.
Albaugh decided to look at schools in the western part of the country so someone would be nearby for her son. But both are in the last year of school in Pennsylvania.
“I am a big proponent of working for underdog districts. I was researching the areas around the Lubbock area, and Midland caught my eye. I knew that it was close …,” she said.
She participated in a virtual job fair that first COVID summer “and that’s how I got my position.”
“I decided to move 1,700 miles away from my family,” Albaugh said.
She said it’s important when you come into a system to spend time observing, seeing how things are running and make some changes if need be. Every school has the potential to thrive.
“That doesn’t happen by accident. It takes a lot of clear vision, hard work and a shared commitment. Culture is a really big deal to me and so I believe that the culture here is good, but that is definitely something that I would continue to nurture as well as just making sure that we have all of our sustainable systems in place,” Albaugh said.
She was drawn to Ector College Prep because the Third Future system is fundamentally about partnerships with families, local school districts and the community.
“… That is a lot of the same work that I did at Midland ISD but probably the one of the biggest things that has really excited me coming here is their Third Future system, instructionally and how they can implement a system that is really very successful for kids to grow, regardless of where they are on the learning continuum,” Albaugh said.
The Third Future system, she said, approaches every task with great urgency.
“They recognize that every single day of a kid’s education is profoundly important. That is really a big part of my excitement coming here, plus, the other thing is they have a proven model of success,” Albaugh said.
Her background as an alternative program principal will make things easier from a behavior perspective. Albaugh has extensive experience in trauma informed work, which was a key driver in implementing new discipline a behavioral management system at Midland Alternative Program.
“But a lot of the things that I worked with our teachers and students in Midland ISD really was about engagement in the classroom. A lot of those behaviors kind of subside when kids are engaged, and they’re not frustrated with their own academic success. When we differentiate, much like the Third Future model does, kids are able to get the help that they need, should they need that, but they also have the ability to be enriched if they need that as well,” Albaugh said.
Ector has a lot of enrichment opportunities from martial arts and tennis to yoga and comic illustration and more.
“I know having worked with at-risk student population(s) and their families, that education for a lot of our students and families is the reason that they immigrated to this country. That’s when they want for their kids and so we have an obligation in education to provide the best service that we can to not only help them, but also help families who may not understand how critical having a great educational background will be for their own success,” she added.
Albaugh said Third Future’s systems are sustainable and that’s another thing that appealed to her about them.
“I am very big on systems, making sure that systems are in place from how they walk in the hallway, to how they address cell phone policies and behavior in the classroom. All of those systems help to create a safe and positive environment for them to learn,” she said.
Nicole Gabriel, director of schools at Third Future, said Albaugh will make a valuable addition to Ector College Prep.
“Ms. Albaugh’s enthusiasm and focus on high-quality education for all students will make her a valuable addition to our Ector College Prep team. Her background in educational leadership combined with law enforcement makes her the perfect fit for creating a safe learning environment. We are confident that she will lead Ector College Prep to another successful year in 2023/24,” Gabriel said.