Many parents and staff members at Rowlett High School found out over the summer that Carmen Blakey would take over for Coleman Bruman as the new principal. She is a longtime resident of Rowlett and has spent her entire educational career in Garland ISD starting out as a math teacher and taking up various roles across multiple campuses in GISD. Now she’s leading the eagles into the new school year.
What about Rowlett drew you back?
The community being very close to the DFW area, so we have access to anything but still feel like we're still outside the hustle and bustle. Rowlett is like a big family, even though we have a large population, and you're always running into people you know and associate with.
What were you doing before coming to RHS?
I was the principal at Hudson Middle School in Sachse.
Where did you get your start in education?
When I started teaching I started at Coyle Middle School and then went to high school and taught at Sachse High School and became the assistant principal there.
What drew you to education?
No one in family was an educator, so when I said I wanted to be a teacher everybody kind of said, 'Are you kidding me? Why would you want to do that?' 'It's so hard, you don't make a lot of money,' because they didn't have any background/knowledge of education. Being a first child and a people-pleaser I wanted to do what I was supposed to do so I decided I would go a different route. I got my associate's in business, my bachelor's in accounting and did that for 10 years.
My dad passed away when I was 24, and at that point I started thinking although I was doing very well, I was working with people I didn't have relationships with. Is this what I wanted to do? I realized this is not really what I wanted to do, and shortly after that I started my family, and once my kids started school I decided to do what I wanted to do and got my teaching certification and started teaching.
One of my son's second-grade teachers changed my idea of what teaching is. I watched her one day in class. This little boy was acting goofy and distracting the whole class, so she very calmly asked if he wanted to be the silent 'e.’ She involved him in the activity, and being the silent 'e' he'd go to sleep and after that he sat down and was perfect the rest of the class.
I asked her about the little boy and she said his dad passed away a week ago, and he hasn't been sleeping at all so he's tired when he comes to school and gets real wound up. She made him the silent 'e' so he can get his attention and act like he was asleep. She's changing the trajectory of these kids because she has a relationship with them, she knows what they need. And that solidified that this was what I wanted to do.
What did you find the most rewarding as a teacher?
I taught math, and I always wanted the kids who had a hard time learning. The reward was watching them grow from second- and third-grade level to seventh-grade level in one year. And when they were successful there would be this bright light in their eyes and they were so happy and confident.
Why'd you decide to switch to administration?
Coming from the corporate world I thought I wanted to go into administration at some point. When I was a teacher I had a principal tell me that I could run the school and he started giving me projects to do, like bringing the National Junior Honor Society to Coyle and other little projects, taking them and growing them. I'm also kind of just wired to be an administrator and I love it. The only part I miss is having my own kids, but our impact is big because our decisions impact the lives of so many students, and I get to help my staff grow the way teachers help their students grow.
What are you looking forward to about the new school year?
Just taking what Coleman Bruman has been building the last couple of years and growing it. We have a lot of potential at Rowlett in our kids that I feel we aren't tapping into as much as we could, so as a team we're going to find some of that talent, grow them and put some things in place that helps them perform at higher levels than they've been performing, because they can.
Did you have a favorite teacher growing up?
Yes, my high school English teacher, even though English was probably my most challenging subject. He was very eccentric and engaging. He would stand on the desk and quote poetry and really get into it, and it was very entertaining. He was just very passionate about his content, and I think that's why he was my favorite. Talking to kids now, that's exactly what they recognize. It could be their worst subject and their best class if they know the teacher loves coming to work, loves seeing them every day and loves what they're teaching.
Is there a philosophy that you live your life by?
There's a quote used by Pat Riley: "Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better." That's kind of my motto in that no matter how good you are, what you've accomplished, there's still something better and bigger. Every day you try to do a little better than you did the day before, and over time that's what produces excellence.
In our business, we're getting better so that our kids can have more opportunities and get better.