Delesa Styles is happy to be getting back to her favorite educational role — high school principal — when she takes the helm of Permian High School starting July 1.
The Ector County ISD Board of Trustees approved hiring Styles at its May 19 meeting. She was introduced to the community Wednesday during a meet-and-greet at the PHS library. Ten people at a time were let in and everyone wore masks. There was also hand sanitizer and distance markers — a sign of the COVID-19 times.
The occasion attracted people from ECISD, University of Texas Permian Basin and Odessa College. Styles replacea Danny Gex, who is finishing his third year as PHS principal. Gex is moving back to the Houston area.
According to information obtained through an open records request, Styles’ proposed base salary is $131,206. Her travel allowance is $4,325 a year; her doctorate stipend is $3,650 a year; and her relocation allowance is $3,000.
She earned a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from Texas Tech University; a master’s degree in educational administration from Midwestern State University; and a doctoral degree in educational administration from the University of North Texas.
Styles holds certifications in superintendent, mid-management, special education, English as a Second Language (ESL), physical education and has a kindergarten endorsement.
Most recently, she served as assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction at Fredericksburg ISD, according to that district’s website.
Styles said Wednesday she is approaching 30 years in education.
“I’m just so excited to be back in the role of principal. I was a high school principal in Graham. It was by far my favorite job, but based on the ages of my kids and an elementary position opened up in Fredericksburg, my husband and I relocated there. We’ve been there 11 years, but I also pride myself on the 13 years of teaching in the classroom because I’m thinking you need to have just a good, solid foundation of what instruction can look like ..,” Styles said.
She added that it’s important to be able to help coach teachers, build capacity in the classroom and empower teachers.
Styles’ husband, Jeff, is a technology specialist at Fredericksburg. They have been married almost 35 years and have four children ranging from 32 down to 10.
“I thrive off the daily energy that you have at a campus level, especially a high school level where you can pour into the kids one last time before they leave for college. That was my favorite job honestly in administration was being a high school principal so to have an opportunity to come back and be able to interact daily with teachers and kids … It’s fast-paced. There’s a lot of uncertainty sometimes that can unfold at a high school, but that’s the part of it that energizes me. I love the excitement and just being able to tap into kids’ potentials and also just to be able to be in their corner and form relationships and help them see their potential. Nowhere is that more available than at a high school,” Styles said.
From the time she was about 10, she became the babysitter in her neighborhood and developed a love of taking care of children. She also loved school herself and admired her teachers.
“I really felt like for me early on it was a calling,”
Initially, Styles’ goals for Permian are to listen, learn, look, respect the culture and honor the traditions. Where changes need to be made, especially in light of COVID-19, she said they will continue to provide learning opportunities for students and will solicit staff feedback where revisions are needed.
“Just working with the team and getting input from parents and students, and again, respecting the rich traditions here, helping us move forward academically, athletically, everything with the fine arts programs here that are already strong, the dual credit. There’s just so many angles that we can help just take to the next level,” Styles said.
At the same meeting Styles was hired, Deborah Ottmers also was approved by the board as chief financial officer. They were both from Fredericksburg ISD.
She said they were unaware that they were going for jobs at ECISD.
“She’s a wonderful coworker. She’s actually someone that I work with at central office, but we can take an oath that neither one of us knew,” Styles said.
She said she also didn’t know Superintendent Scott Muri, but has heard wonderful things about him.
“I’m excited to be working with him in district administration, as well as the entire faculty here,” Styles said.
Fredericksburg ISD has around 3,000 students and PHS has close to 4,000 students.
Styles said she has not worked at a school the size of Permian, but she said her 29 years of experience of building relationships and trust should help.
“You have to have all the foundational blocks before we really can move forward with any progress, so my goal is to keep the communication at the level it is or enhance it if it needs to be improved and just jump in there, roll up my sleeves and get to work,” Styles said.
Asked what she thought of the Permian Basin, she said she and her husband noticed the hospitality is second to none.
“Just being out in the community and working with Realtors and at the restaurants, there’s so much love for Permian High School, as well as Odessa (High). You guys are proud of your schools,” Styles said.
Executive Director of Secondary Education Robert Cedillo said in an email that Styles has the ability and skill to set and create strong lines of communication with and among teachers, students and parents.
“She has proven to be able to accept input, involve staff with important decisions, and plan in order to execute effectively. Her experience and involvement in the design and implementation of curriculum, instruction, and assessment practices will definitely support student learning,” Cedillo said.
Ruth Campbell covers education for the Odessa American. Reach her at 432-333-7765 or firstname.lastname@example.org