Though a native of nearby Robert Lee and the daughter of an Angelo State (San Angelo College) alum, Dr. Stephanie Howard originally had no interest in attending ASU.
“Growing up so close to Angelo State, I was determined not to go there because that was where everyone else was going,” Howard said. “I went to Tarleton to play golf.”
But after the first year, the golf program was dropped. Howard spent one more year in Stephenville before moving to San Angelo.
“I transferred to Angelo State for the last two-and-a-half years of my undergraduate work,” she said. “I was married and working when I transferred to ASU, so it was not the traditional college experience. I went to class, went to work and studied in the evenings. The professors I had truly got to know me as a student, cared about my plans for the future and were accessible.”
“The professors I had truly got to know me as a student, cared about my plans for the future and were accessible.”
Coming from a family of educators, Howard was determined to do something completely different. Then one professor changed everything.
“I started in business marketing,” Howard said, “and I actually loved the classes. But my sophomore year, I had an English professor that I really liked, and I thought, ‘You know, maybe I should switch to education. I can live anywhere I want and find a job.’ That’s when I switched over to education.”
Upon graduating from ASU, Howard became a teacher and taught for five years before again beginning to re-think her future path.
“I didn’t set out to be a principal or superintendent,” she explained. “I mean, I wasn’t even going to be in education. When I was at Stanton, I really liked my principal, and she inspired me to go work on my master’s degree. When I moved to Midland, I taught at Midland High my first year, then had the opportunity to be an assistant principal at Midland Freshman.”
After 14 years in Midland, Howard spent the next 10 years working for school districts in Ector County, Plains and Crane. She served in various positions, including principal, executive director for curriculum and instruction, deputy superintendent and superintendent.
Earlier this year, she had the opportunity to return to Midland ISD as the superintendent.
“I really thought I would retire from Crane because I had moved around quite a bit,” Howard said. “Then this job opened back up. It felt like the right time to come back, and I had the opportunity to do so.”
Also very involved in the community, Howard serves on several boards, including the Midland Chamber of Commerce and the University of Texas Permian Basin’s College of Education Advisory Board.
“Being involved is critical,” she explained. “In our work, we are always asking people to support us and get involved; to be involved at the local level, as well at the state level. I really look at where I can make an impact in those organizations that help us connect with the community, but then also to keep our community aware of the work that we are doing.”
No matter where she is involved, Howard has always incorporated her West Texas roots into her leadership style.
“Having that small-town upbringing and having served a small town, even though a majority of my career has been in 20,000+ districts, I still try to bring that personal feel to the classroom,” she said. “When you are a teacher, you are working directly with students. When you are a principal, you have an opportunity to help and support teachers who ultimately then impact students. And now at the superintendent level, I have the opportunity to support our campuses and impact leaders while still supporting teachers.”
Much like Howard supports her school district, her father, who recently passed away, provided that same type of support for her.
“The lessons [my dad] taught me and how I was raised is what has allowed me to be where I am today.”
“My dad graduated from San Angelo College in the 1960s, and was an All-American on the SAC baseball team,” she said. “Our roots with SAC/ASU date back to then. The lessons he taught me and how I was raised is what has allowed me to be where I am today. He was a great dad, coach and papaw.”
Howard also credits Angelo State for laying the groundwork for her exceptional career.
“I still consider myself a teacher,” she said, “and the foundation that was established in the College of Education at Angelo State is what has provided me the opportunities I have had over the past 28 years in the profession. My time there was great even though it wasn’t a traditional experience. I absolutely love Angelo State.”