First, Dr. Gray

Back to Article
Back to Article

First, Dr. Gray

- Cris Sibley and Kaycee Miller

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






 

Questions by  Cris Sibley

Interviewer Kaycee Miller 

 

On September 10th, I met with Dr. Gray in her office to discuss her new position as the first female principal at North and to hear her thoughts about coming into her new role with new policies.  Dr. Gray has changed some practices and brought back the original format of Howl at the Moon. Her dedication to the students, faculty, and overall safety of Norman North shows in her devotion to the responsibility of being head principal.

 

Kaycee

Dr.Gray

 

Could you please state your name and your position at the school?

I’m Kristi Gray and I’m the principal of Norman North High school.

What do you do in your down time outside of being a principal?

There’s not honestly a lot of downtime when you’re in this job but, when I do have down time I love to spend time with my family. We love to travel so if I can squeeze in a trip to go somewhere we love to do that. I also love to do cross fit so that’s kind of one of my big stress relievers to try and get to a cross fit gym, multiple times a week. Then sleep after all of that.

What has been your previous experience in education?

So I’ve been in education for almost two decades now. I started off as a math teacher at Alcott Middle School, and then I have taught everything from seventh grade math to AP calculus at a variety of different schools. I’ve taught in Texas, I’ve also been a curriculum director for the AP programs and the district test coordinator at Little Axe. Then I was the Assistant principal at U. S Grant High School, and then became assistant principal here at North, and from there I was the director of Gifted and AP programs for Norman, then I came back here to be principal.

How long have you been teaching or being superintendent ?

For about 20 years! So I’ve been in this business for a long time!

How long have you been principal?

This is my first year.

Why did you decide to become the principal?

Being in the building is very different then being at the district level and quite honestly I miss being around kids on a daily basis, I missed being around the teachers and just being in the excitement that really is just the school on a day to day basis. I have a huge investment being in Norman North because I have kids that will be going through Norman North and I really just kinda love this place!

What do want to gain as principal of Norman North?

Do you mean personally or hoping to accomplish?

Both!

Hoping to accomplish, I want to make North a better place than when I got here. I want to make it a place that helps all students feel included and valued and safe, and allows them the springboard to be able to do whatever it is they want to do when they leave high school. I know that’s a lot but I want to keep being able to make decisions and being able to work with the people and students in the building and moving towards that ultimate goal!

What is the leading cause of the changes you’ve made to the school?

When you come into a new job, you don’t want to jump in and start making a bunch of changes, and the reality is in a job like this, it doesn’t matter if you’re minute two of the job or day 365, there are always concerns and problems that you’re always going to have to work through. A lot of the changes that I’ve made and done are wrapped around concerns brought to me by parents and students, and two of the big ones that have come to my attention is how to make all students feel included and welcome here and also helping students feel safe while they’re in this building.

What other changes are you waiting to implicate in the future?

You know, not any huge significant ones. A lot of those evolve over time and pass as you see the needs of the students and staff. I think we are moving on a great path, and so we’ll just continue to make little decisions here and there that ultimately make this kind of ripple effect that keep impacting our main goals.

What are you hoping to do different than the previous principal?

This is the kind of job you just really have to make your own, and you really have to no matter what decision you make; you’re probably going to upset someone. So you really have to decide what are your core values and go that direction. And make those decisions that you can sleep with at night and that you know are in the best interests of students and staff.

Other than being around kids all day, what is the reason behind becoming principal?

One of the biggest things was being back in the building. There’s a lot of excitement that goes on in the building, and I enjoy being apart of that, and we sometimes joke that when you’re in the profession that were in, and we kind of feed off that excitement and adrenaline a lot of times. Also personally it’s been a great experience for me. It’s helped me grow as an educator and as a human being. It’s a very different component when you go from district to inside level so you get to have a lot of direct impact when you’re out of sight and I enjoy being a part of that.

When did you decide this was the goal for you?

I’m truly not a person that tries to get her sights set on one particular goal because I can sometimes be too focused, so I try to be aware of that personality trait in myself because other opportunities may come up, and they may be a great opportunity that I hadn’t really thought about. So, when this job became available and I started to think about the impact I thought I could have, and the professional benefits, and all the things that were here at North that I loved. It just kind of felt like a no brainer. It was the right choice for me! 

What are you waiting to specifically focus on as the new principal?

I think going back to the same things we talked about earlier. Continuing the academic excellence we have here at North is very important. We have a lot of  amazing things that go on, on this campus. Continuing those for students and parents, but then also finding those ways to help those kids feel we are all North. We’re not just fine arts, we’re not just athletics, we’re not just debate, we’re not just newspaper. we are all apart of Norman North and it’s all of us that makes this a great place. So how do we help all students feel that way and all students be accepting of all of those groups? When you put us all together we’re very powerful! So finding ways to help support that.

 

Do you plan on addressing past issues with new methods, if so how?

Yes, I think some. I know we’ve always had issues with ID’s and that’s something I feel very strongly about, because we do have a lot of students and staff in this building, and we need to make sure the right students and the right adults are in this building at all times; and that is one way we do that, is by ID. The other thing that sometimes happens is, if we have an emergency with a student, and maybe they need some medication that is minutes before we need to have that medication, if a student doesn’t have an ID on we don’t necessarily know who they are. So there’s a lot of layers with having an ID. [It] is very important for all of us. So I’m addressing it differently because we do have some different consequences. We have lunch detention this year for students who don’t have their ID on. So I do think that is an old problem. We are working at a little differently, but it comes from a really good place, because it’s all about trying to help everyone be here that should be here and keeping people safe.

How do you plan on approaching the new school year and the school year to come?

Well, as far as this year is concerned, were gonna stay the course for a lot of things we’ve set in place, and the expectations we’ve set in place with the student body; and this is a business you have to continually evaluate how things are going and looking, and how you need to adjust.

Do you plan on new programs or electives or just focusing on the old ones, bettering them?

Probably a combination of both. We have had some additional clubs that have been requested, and we’re always willing to support those and bring different things. Then you also don’t want to sacrifice one program for another, so continuing to work on the ones that we do have, and making sure they are of good quality. So really just both.

Do you plan on making changes to the buildings?

We have a bond issue that’s been passed so there will start to be some renovations that will start this summer. We’ll have some significant renovations to the building and there will be some things outside, and some new additions that will be added onto the building as well.

[ Cris Sibley] is there anything specific that we can know about now, or is it just wait till we see this kind of thing?

 We are gonna have some additional parking added and some additional outside buildings added but then some of the parts of our building are older need some renovations. Our south end needs some love down in that part of the building. So thats some of the things we’ll be focusing on.

Is being principal at North a big goal for you, or is it just a stepping stone to something else?

I’m very proud of it. I think its a huge compliment to make it to this role. I’m also very proud of the fact that I’m the first female principle. This has a huge impact on me and has a huge impact on my family, and so, as we talked about this job as a family because it’s not one [decision] I’m going to make by myself. As I look at my daughter I think about the fact that women have only had the right to vote for only about a hundred years now, and knowing that it’s the first time North has had a female principle, I just think is amazing. For me that just feels like a huge personal accomplishment, and it’s an accomplishment that has been built on the hard work and dedication and smarts of many women before me. So from that perspective it’s something I’m very proud of. I honestly don’t know where my professional path is going to take me, but this is where I’m at now and this is where i’m giving all my effort and all my energy. I’ve never been one to shy away from hard work, and I don’t plan to any time soon. 

How do you think you’re going to utilize your role as the first female principal?

I think it’s more of a leading-by-example. I think that being the first female, you come in with a little bit different expectations. I have received some of those being the first female. Really, it’s just a matter of coming in and doing a good job for North, whether I’m male or female, it doesn’t matter, as long as I’m being the best principal I can be here for North.

Did anything inspire you to be the first female principal?

Nothing specific I would say more that having a daughter and wanting her to know that you can do anything you set your mind to, but you have to be willing to work hard and be dedicated.  And I think it’s really important that she sees that there’s strong female leadership in her life and that women can accomplish anything they set their minds to.

What was the reason behind the six minute passing period?

That was a little bit before my time, but my understanding behind the six minute passing period is that after surveying the staff,  overall as the staff, they thought that six minutes was enough time for students to get from one class to another. It extended our time in the classes. Teachers are always wanting more time with their students. From a behavior standpoint, if we have time for students to be standing around, then really they could be in class. That often creates time for something to happen, so it’s a balance with all of those.

{Cris Sibley} do you feel you have a greater role than being principal?

I think anytime you’re in leadership, you always do, because you never know who’s watching. I think you always need to conduct yourself in a way you’re setting a good example; not just being a woman, but just for being a human being, and how you should treat people. 

How do your kids feel about you being principal?

I think they’re very excited. I think it definitely comes with some challenges because again this is the kind of job where you don’t make everyone happy, and so I appreciate that they are willing to set aside their feelings sometimes about things in order to accomplish the things that I want to accomplish, but overall, they have been amazing about the entire thing.

Have you experienced any bumps in the road since you’ve been in position?

Definitely , that’s just kind of part of the job, and I also think it’s just life. There’s going to be bumps, so you just have to work through them and try not to take things too personal and move forward.

Is there anything else you would like to say to the student body of Norman North?

I appreciate how welcoming everyones been. I know change can be hard, and I have just really been amazed at how many wonderful students we have here, and students that have great hearts, and I’m looking forward to meeting more of them!