New Directors, Executive Leadership Announced
Director of Purchasing and Warehouse – Christi Courson
Ms. Courson comes to us from Somerset Independent School District, where she was the Executive Director of Finance and Business Service. She has nearly 20 years of experience working in schools, including periods of time in LaMarque ISD and Dickinson ISD. Ms. Courson earned a Bachelor of Business Administration - Accounting from Stephen F. Austin University. Ms. Courson’s philosophy is about giving our students the tools they need to have the best education and achieve every opportunity for success.
Principal Byrd Middle School – Kendria Davis-Martin
Ms. Davis-Martin joins the Duncanville Independent School District family from Mansfield ISD, where she was an Associate Principal at Summit High School. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Arlington and her Master of Science in Educational Administration from Texas A&M University at Commerce. Ms. Davis-Martin believes in servant leadership.
Director of Assessment and Accountability – Nneka Bernard
Ms. Bernard is moving from Duncanville High School to take a new role as Duncanville ISD’s Director of Assessment and Accountability. Ms. Bernard joined the district in October 2015 as the DHS 9th grade principal. She served as a principal, assistant principal and high school teacher in Grand Prairie ISD before coming to the district. Ms. Bernard earned a Bachelor of Arts from Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Mississippi and a Masters of Business Administration from Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi. She is currently working on her doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Texas A&M University. In her new role, Ms. Bernard hopes to help Duncanville ISD become more data literate and intentional in its systems of continuous improvement.
Principal, Merrifield Elementary School – Tanji Towels
Ms. Towels joins us from Irving ISD where she was an elementary school principal. She was also a principal in Manor ISD and assistant principal in Richardson ISD. Ms. Towels earned a Bachelors of Science Elementary Education from Langston University in Langston, Oklahoma, and a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Texas at Arlington. She values student success and a growth mindset in her staff.
Ms. Brown comes to Duncanville Independent School District from Lancaster ISD, where she was the principal at Lancaster Middle School. Previously, she also served as a middle school dean of teaching and learning in Grand Prairie ISD, a district mathematics coordinator in DeSoto ISD, and a teacher in Dallas ISD. Ms. Brown received a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture at Prairie View A&M University and a Masters of Public Administration at the University of Texas at Arlington. She has 14 years of experience in education and has a passion for kids.
Director of Staff Development – Crystal CrossA familiar face is moving within the district. Ms. Cross is leaving Hardin Intermediate School after five years as their principal to join the Duncanville ISD Central Administration team at the Plaza. Ms. Cross has also worked in Rockwall ISD as a Title One Instructional Facilitator and in Alief ISD as an assistant principal for the intermediate, middle and elementary school levels. Prior to that she was a teacher in Alief ISD.
Director of Human Resources – Alexis McClendon
Ms. McClendon comes to Duncanville Independent School District from Rockwall ISD, where she was the Director of Human Resources. Previously, she held the position of Coordinator for Human Resource Services in Mansfield ISD for approximately eight years. Ms. McClendon earned her Bachelor of Business Administration-Management from Southwest Texas State University, and her Master of Arts in Human Services from Liberty University. Ms. McClendon said that she chose a career in Human Resources because she loves helping and connecting people.
Director of Special Education – Mackenzie Casall
Ms. Casall joins Duncanville Independent School District from Irving ISD. During the past year, she has been the principal at Wheeler Transitional Center, an Admissions, Review and Dismissal (ARD) placement option for special education students who show an inability to function of their home campus. The program’s goal was to improve student social skill level to a point where the student is able to return to the home campus. Ms. Casall has also been a Special Education Coordinator in Irving ISD, Lead Diagnostician in DeSoto ISD and Special Education Teacher in Garland ISD. She has a bachelor’s degree in General Studies from Texas Tech University and earned two master’s degrees - Special Education and Educational Administration - from the University of North Texas.
Director of Safety and Security – Chad Wilhelm
Mr. Wilhelm comes to Duncanville ISD from Marshall ISD, where he was the Chief of Police overseeing the Marshall ISD Police Department. This move is actually a return home, because his parents lived in Duncanville when he was born and his first home purchase was in Duncanville. Mr. Wilhem is a former United States Marine with established experience in school policing leadership. He has served as Police Chief for Kerens ISD and was once a K-9 Officer and School Resource Officer in the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office. Mr. Wilhelm has also earned his Master Peace Officer License. He is a recent graduate of the Leadership Command College at Sam Houston State University.
Duncanville High School Executive Principal – Tia Locke-Simmons
Ms. Locke-Simmons will soon take the helm at Duncanville High School and become the first woman to hold the position in school history. She was most recently the Principal at Spring High School, which is located about 20 miles north of Houston. She previously served as a Director of Accountability in Spring ISD and an Associate Principal in Klein ISD. Ms. Locke-Simmons has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Our Lady of the Lake University and a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership from Stephen F. Austin University. She is currently enrolled in the doctoral program in Educational Leadership at Sam Houston State University.
Special Assistant to the Superintendent – Melissa Kates
Ms. Kates has an extensive history as an attorney representing school districts as general counsel and as board counsel. Prior to joining Duncanville ISD, she helped Underwood Law Firm establish its Dallas-Fort Worth presence in 2013. Ms. Kates is well-versed in school law matters, district policies and open records. She received her Bachelor of Business Administration in Management from Texas A&M University and her Juris Doctor from Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University. Ms. Kates is presently working toward her master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at University of Texas at Arlington.
Chief of Schools – Ed Hernandez
Dr. Hernandez joins Duncanville Independent School District from Crowley ISD, where he was most recently a Chief Academic Officer and oversaw the district’s oversight for college and career readiness, federal programs, state assessment and school improvement. Prior to Crowley, he was a principal in Terrell ISD and spent 13 years in Dallas ISD, where he was a teacher, principal and executive director. Dr. Hernandez received his undergraduate degree in Finance and Political Science from Texas Christian University and earned his master’s degree and doctorate in Education from Texas A&M – Commerce.
Chief of Schools – Thurston B. Lamb
Dr. Lamb arrives in the district from DeSoto ISD, where he was the Executive Principal at DeSoto High School. Prior to that, he was an administrator in Crowley ISD and Plano ISD. Dr. Lamb is no stranger to Duncanville. He was an assistant principal at the high school more than a decade ago. In addition to being a former United States Marine, Dr. Lamb earned his bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Central Arkansas, a master’s degree in Education from Texas A&M – Commerce and a PhD in Educational Leadership from Capella University.
Assistant Superintendent of Operations – Andrea Hill Fields
Ms. Fields brings 37 years of experience in public education to Duncanville Independent School District. Previously, she was the Deputy Superintendent for District Services in Longview ISD. Her journey included service as a teacher, assistant principal, supervisor and director. Ms. Fields earned her bachelor’s degree in Education at Louisiana Tech University and a master’s degree in Secondary Educational Administration from Stephen F. Austin University.