Waco Independent School District Superintendent A. Marcus Nelson is used to gaping expressions of awe when a student looks up at his 6-foot-5 frame and greets him for the first time, he said.
He’s quick to put them at ease with a friendly handshake, a high-five, a fist bump or a pat on the back.
Most of the students don’t understand the man dressed to the nines in a suit and tie is the district’s new superintendent, who started in June. And some asked if Nelson was Waco’s mayor or even the president of the United States as he toured elementary and middle school classrooms Thursday morning.
He laughed and tried to explain his role to J.H. Hines Elementary School fourth- and fifth-grade students, then shifted their attention back to work by asking them who was the most important person in the room? The teacher, he said.
But to have a strong teaching staff, a school must have a strong principal, he said.
As much as his meet-and-greet moments were part of starting the first day off right, Nelson also observed whether his teachers and principals were on-point and executing expectations laid out during the past month and at Tuesday’s convocation.
“There’s a general energy in our schools that can really only come from something new, something for people to kind of rally around,” Nelson said. “I’m sure there are still critics who are like, ‘We’ll see if he’s here past Valentine’s,’ and they’re wait and see.
It’s about shifting Waco ISD’s culture, he said. His mantra of ‘hard work pays off’ is at the core of his philosophy because student outcomes don’t change until adult behaviors change, he said Tuesday during convocation and again as he toured as many campuses as possible.
His first year has already been dedicated to turning the district’s six improvement-required campuses around, but…