DEFENDER NEWS NETWORK — The Houston Independent School District has selected 22-year veteran educator and administrator Joseph Williams as the new principal for Wheatley High School. Williams’ tenure at Wheatley is effective today.
Williams is known for transforming underperforming schools into thriving campuses. Wheatley is in Year Six Improvement Required status, as designated by the Texas Education Agency, meaning it has not met state standards for six years.
For 90 years, Wheatley has served Houston’s historic Fifth Ward community and is recognized for its award-winning athletics program and notable alumni, which include Barbara Jordan, the first African-American U.S. Congresswoman from the South; her successor, U.S. Congressman Mickey Leland; and musician Archie Bell of Archie Bell & the Drells, among others.
“Joseph has consistently demonstrated a commitment toward improving teaching and learning while serving at HISD,” said Area Superintendent Erick Pruitt. “Every campus Joseph has led has consistently improved outcomes for students. I am excited to see what he will offer to Wheatley students and its community.”
Williams comes to Wheatley from Key Middle School, where he spent the last four years as principal.
During his tenure at Key, Williams led the school out of Improvement Required status by meeting state standards. Under his leadership, Key became the school with the second-highest student population growth in Texas among 40 comparative schools during the 2015-16 school year.
He also piloted and implemented the school’s ProUnitas Wraparound Services Program, designed to provide holistic services and support for students and their families, and implemented a Fine Arts Magnet Program alongside a multidisciplinary sports curriculum.
Prior to his assignment at Key Middle School, he also served as principal of Kelso Elementary School, Dogan Elementary School and assistant principal at Aldine Independent School District’s Vera Escamilla Intermediate School. Williams’ role at Wheatley marks his return to the high school’s feeder pattern. He began his career as a fifth-grade teacher at Atherton Elementary, where he was named Teacher of the Year for two consecutive years.
Throughout his career in education, Williams has worked as a fellow at Harvard University and has also partnered with the National Center for Urban School Transformation, Building Excellent Schools (BES), and Success Academy Charter Schools in New York City.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Texas Southern University, obtained his teacher’s certification from St. Thomas University, and holds a master of education degree in administration and supervision from the University of Houston.