Powell Finishes First School Year as Superintendent

Students Alexandria Rodriguez (Trojan News Update), Aaron Hinojosa (Trojan TV) and Vivian Reyes (Torch) visit with Superintendent DeeAnn Powell to see her typical day at work.

Vivian Reyes and Valerie Lara, Co-Editors-in-Chief

Dr. DeeAnn Powell became the first-ever female superintendent of the Pasadena Independent School District on Feb. 1 and the first-ever superintendent to graduate from a PISD high school. She replaced Kirk Lewis, who retired as superintendent late lat year. Powell, age 46, has been working for the district for 24 years, most recently as deputy superintendent for campus development, and is highly honored to have been chosen by the school board to become superintendent. “It was their interview, their choice to [have me] put in this position” Powell said.

 

Powell is the chief executive of Pasadena ISD. While she is hired and evaluated by the school board, the rest of the district essentially works for her. She undertakes several responsibilities in order to make sure that the district is well-managed and meets the school board’s, and her, goals. She’s in charge of everything from selecting and managing senior staff like school principals to making sure that the district’s finances are balanced and meet the district’s needs.

 

A superintendent does not do everything on her own. Powell manages a staff who helps her manage the district. “There are a lot of different departments that you may not see day-to-day, but they’re a very important part of our district,” Powell said.

 

Since the superintendent is all about making decisions, a good portion of Powell’s day and week is spent communicating with her department heads and other staff at the administration building and at schools so she can get the information she needs to guide the district. In one day during a visit with Torch staff, Powell met with numerous department heads, including: Keith Palmer, associate superintendent in charge of the human resources department; the associate superintendent of business and finance, John Piscacek, with whom she discussed the budget for next school year and how to properly distribute the money and manage it; Kevin Fornof, associate superintendent of facilities and construction to discuss ongoing construction and other projects; and others. Renea Ivy, associate superintendent of communications and community relations did what public affairs does – facilitate a visit from the press.

 

The work being done to run a great district is never ending. Powell believes if she worked a full 24 hours a day, there would still be things left unfinished. On an average day, Powell works at least 10 hours in the office and visiting school campuses and events. “[There are] a lot of good things going on so I try to participate and spread my time among these [school] activities”

 

Growing up, becoming a superintendent was not something that crossed Powell’s mind. She attended primary and secondary schools in Pasadena ISD, from LF Smith and Williams Elementary Schools to Queens Intermediate and Pasadena High. Afterward, Powell did not know what she wanted to do as a career. She became interested in education during her college years, where she got a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and minor in History, and her interest soon grew into a passion that led her to first become a teacher where she taught history at Jackson Intermediate School – back in Pasadena ISD where she had all of her schooling.

 

Powell later stepped away from teaching to work as a peer facilitator. After she got her master’s degree in educational leadership, she became an assistant principal and later a principal. Eventually she achieved her higher goal of getting a doctorate in the same field. Before she got promoted to superintendent, Powell worked as associate superintendent (and, later, deputy superintendent) of campus development.

 

Powell does confess that it took a while to earn her master’s and doctorate degrees due to her having to take care of her family and also work, but nevertheless she did make it possible.

 

Powell is the only staff member in the district building who is required to live in the Pasadena ISD area. This has led her and her family to move in an area close to Dobie High School, which her son will start to attend in the fall and also participate in their sports programs. Powell also has two children who are currently attending college and a daughter who is a freshman in high school.

 

People may find it odd to imagine such a high-level person doing ordinary things. But the truth is that Powell works hard at her job and as a mother, just like many other people. She goes grocery shopping, attends church, keeps her house in neat shape and spends time with her family, all while holding the reins for Pasadena ISD. “I want to be able to continue to increase student achievement in all areas a�� make [PISD] probably the best place to work, the best place to learn, and the best place to send your kid,” Powell said.

Students Alexandria Rodriguez (Trojan News Update), Aaron Hinojosa (Trojan TV) and Vivian Reyes (Torch) visit with Superintendent DeeAnn Powell to see her typical day at work.
Mark Halvorsen
Students Alexandria Rodriguez (Trojan News Update), Aaron Hinojosa (Trojan TV) and Vivian Reyes (Torch) visit with Superintendent DeeAnn Powell to see her typical day at work.
Superintendent DeeAnn Powell checks in with Kevin Fornof, associate superintendent of facilities and construction, during a morning meeting.
Mark Halvorsen
Superintendent DeeAnn Powell checks in with Kevin Fornof, associate superintendent of facilities and construction, during a morning meeting.
Superintendent discusses benefits and other matters with Keith Palmer, associate superintendent in charge of the human resources department.
Mark Halvorsen
Superintendent discusses benefits and other matters with Keith Palmer, associate superintendent in charge of the human resources department.
John Piscacek, the associate superintendent of business and finance, discussed budgets with Superintendent DeeAnn Powell (not pictured).
Mark Halvorsen
John Piscacek, the associate superintendent of business and finance, discussed budgets with Superintendent DeeAnn Powell (not pictured).
Alexandria Rodriguez (Trojan News Update) and Vivian Reyes (Torch) watch Superintendent DeeAnn Powell meets with Keith Palmer, associate superintendent in charge of the human resources department. Aaron Hinojosa (Trojan TV) stars at the edge of the frame recording the meeting.
Mark Halvorsen
Alexandria Rodriguez (Trojan News Update) and Vivian Reyes (Torch) watch Superintendent DeeAnn Powell meets with Keith Palmer, associate superintendent in charge of the human resources department. Aaron Hinojosa (Trojan TV) stars at the edge of the frame recording the meeting.
Aaron Hinojosa (Trojan TV), Vivian reyes (Torch) and Alexandrea Rodriguez (Trojan News Update) interview Superintendent DeeAnn Powell about her work as the head of Pasadena ISD.
Mark Halvorsen
Aaron Hinojosa (Trojan TV), Vivian reyes (Torch) and Alexandrea Rodriguez (Trojan News Update) interview Superintendent DeeAnn Powell about her work as the head of Pasadena ISD.