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Superintendent Reflects on Value of TCU

Eagle Mountain Saginaw ISD Superintendent Jim Chadwell ’91 ’96 ’10

Eagle Mountain Saginaw ISD Superintendent Jim Chadwell never planned on a career in education when he started classes at TCU the first of three times. He planned to go to law school and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in 1991, but after taking an education class he started on a new path.

The Value of TCU

Chadwell began teaching in 1993 and earned a Master of School Administration in 1996. He waited until the doctorate in educational leadership program was approved at TCU and earned his Doctor of Education in 2010, the same year he joined EMS ISD as Superintendent. Over his 23-year career he has received a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Altötting, Germany; High School Principal of the Year by the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals; Texas Educational Theatre Association Administrator of the Year; and Career and Technology Association of Texas – Area 2 Administrator of the Year.

Chadwell always had a drive for leadership, realizing early on that he wanted to become a superintendent. He credits TCU for developing him into the leader he always wanted to be.

“There is not a week that goes by that I don’t think about how fortunate I was to be in the School of Education at TCU,” Chadwell said. “I couldn’t do what I am doing now without what I learned and experienced in my programs.”

Learning to Lead

Chadwell is a big believer in preparing students to be leaders. He said TCU helped him find his voice, and facilitated his desire to study abroad in Germany instead of making him fit into a predetermined plan.

He said his experiences at TCU and in local schools prepared him for the challenges of leading a district and facilitating organizational change. His current focus is EMS ISD’s Strategic Plan, Aspire 2022, and bringing the school community together. Despite earning many accolades, he said working on the plan is a career high because it’s not about him. After serving as a teacher, coach, principal, executive director for instruction and deputy superintendent, he still identifies as a teacher with administrative responsibilities.

“I believe that teachers that are developed like I was are able to apply learning to everything they do and be leaders in their organizations,” he said.

The Art of Teaching

He looks for four “R” qualities in teachers: rigor, relationships, relevance and relentless resolve. He said those who know their craft, can build relationships, make connections to what’s relevant for students, and never quit make the best teachers. He hopes there is an increased focus on quality teacher preparation.

“The job is very hard. Education students need to struggle with concepts and ideas and learn to teach their personality, not replicate others,” he said. “The art and science of being a teacher is not done quickly.”


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