Henry Phipps, principal of Humble Middle School (HMS), was named one of Humble ISD’s 2016-2017 two Principals of the Year at the Region 4 Principal Recognition Ceremony held Wednesday, April 5, at the Hotel Zaza. Phipps shares the honor with Macaire Davies, principal of North Belt Elementary.

“Phipps and Davies attained this honor through a peer nomination process. Each principal in Humble ISD was given an opportunity to nominate one of their peers to represent Humble ISD at the Region 4 ceremony,” said Jonathan Frey, Humble ISD assistant director of public information.

Humble ISD Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Fagen called Phipps to let him know he had won the top honor, which caused Phipps to first be shocked, then humbled and happy to be recognized.

Phipps has been the principal of HMS for six years and said, “There is a lot of work that the HMS team has put in these past several years and I feel that by recognizing me, my team is also being recognized. I do believe my peers selected me for this award in part because of the high-quality teachers we have hired at HMS. I believe in the philosophy that talent knows talent, and we have hired several teachers who have been recommended by our staff.” 

He said the most important quality he looks for in a teacher is the ability to build relationships with students, the faculty and the community, as building strong connections is at the root of student success. Phipps said he has been able to hire and retain great talent, due in part to the professional learning community at HMS and within the district.

“During students’ late arrival and early release times, our teachers have the opportunity to learn from other practitioners about best practices, different ways to solve problems, and innovative ways that are helping students learn. I think it’s the most valuable program we have and I think it’s a big reason for our high level of retention,” said Phipps. “We are very interested in producing students who know how to problem solve in the world, and the district helps us do that.”

Phipps joined Humble ISD in 2005 after spending four years teaching for Houston ISD. As principal of HMS, Phipps spends little time in the conference room he uses as an office.

“I don’t spend my time behind a desk; most of the time I’m out in the school, sitting in classrooms to see what is being taught and interacting with the faculty and students,” he said. 

Phipps said he appreciates the rewards of teaching. “There’s no greater joy than the first time you see a lightbulb come on with a student, or you see that you have helped a student make better decisions. I still remember the first time a student called me ‘Coach.’ I remember the exact spot I was standing, the exact time of day, and the name of the student. It was very impactful for me,” said Phipps.

Phipps is no stranger to the education community, having received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Texas Southern University, an M.B.A. from the University of Phoenix, and a principal’s certification from the University of St. Thomas. He is currently finishing his doctorate in education leadership at the University of Houston, Main Campus.

Phipps grew up in Groveton, Texas, with his parents, who have been married 45 years, and his two brothers. He graduated from Groveton High School, where he lettered in football all four years, and earned a football scholarship to TSU. He gives his parents a lot of credit for raising him to be who he is today.

“My mom is a strong, supportive, hard-working woman who demands that you do your very best. My dad is the same way; he’s strong, supportive, caring and understanding. They are the reason that I do all the things I do. I’ve thanked them for staying together for 45 years, for the discipline of my youth, and for pushing me to be the best person I can be,” said Phipps. Phipps lives with his wife and two children in Kingwood.

HMS was recently recognized as an AVID Site of Schoolwide Distinction and was also named a model school by the International Center for Leadership in Education, an honor bestowed on only 25 schools nationwide.

“This award is a way of acknowledging our campus leadership in a public way. All our principals work hard and deserve to be recognized. We are proud that their peers selected Henry and Macaire to represent Humble ISD,” said Melissa Hayhurst, assistant superintendent of middle schools.



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Susan McFarland
Author: Susan McFarlandEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I am a northerner by birth, but got to Texas as quick as I could more than a dozen years ago. I am very curious by nature and love peppering people with questions for Tribune stories. In my spare time I sell real estate, write my travel blog, and hang out with my family and my adorable Boston Terrier, Charlie. I cover local businesses, special interest topics, and area events.

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