Assistant principal reflects on educational heritage, purpose

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Brian Bock

Junior Phoenix Wilson, assistant principal Kari Roan and junior Stacy Fechner take a moment to talk in the cafeteria. Roan said she loves getting to meet students and making deeper connections with them. "You don't know what journey anyone else is fighting," Roan said. "So, I hope that when people interact with me what they get is kindness.”

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Whether it’s working as college professors, principals or teachers, Kari Roan’s family has worked in education for generations. She said she always steered toward a job inside that world.

Roan was brought on as an assistant principal at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year. She worked for the school district as a middle school teacher, dean of instruction and the English curriculum designer.

“My family, for like five generations, has been working in education,” Roan said. “Everyone on my mom’s side of the family is either a college professor or they’ve been a superintendent, principal or a teacher, so it’s just kind of in my blood. I think that’s pretty significant because not a lot of African Americans in the South, in particular, have gone to universities for as many generations as my family has. I’m fifth generation, and I think that’s remarkable.”

Roan did not just train as an educator, though.

“I trained as a classical dancer for a while,” Roan said. “I was going to do the whole starving-artist thing, but then when I was in college I was like ‘I think I also love literature and humanity.’ So I majored in English education and then studied dance.”

I hope that I am helping kids figure out their future and asking questions about what is it that you want to do. What can you do to help bring you closer to that goal? What are some things you can be doing right now to get ready for that?”

— Kari Roan

After six months of undergoing the “starving-artist lifestyle,” Roan decided it was not the path for her.

“I just wanted to be able to pay for my car and be able to go out and eat if I wanted,” Roan said. “I couldn’t do that working for a modern dance company.”

While studying for her doctorate degree at Dallas Baptist University, Roan got to meet and get to know her peers. Among them was Burdett, who she recalls invited her to check out Prosper High School to see if she would like the environment.

She’s not only intelligent, but understanding, energetic and supportive. She’s always there for her teachers to make sure they have what they need.”

— Ty Morton

“My primary goal is to build relationships with students, build relationships with teachers and to be available to both,” Roan said. “So, talking to kids when they’ve had a rough day, or even giving consequences. It’s important to me that people understand the whys behind a consequence rather than just ‘this is just the thing you get.’ I hope that I am helping kids figure out their future and asking questions about what is it that you want to do. What can you do to help bring you closer to that goal? What are some things you can be doing right now to get ready for that?”

Roan oversees the English department and students with last names LIM-ML this year.

“I prioritize three things,” Roan said. “I asked [the teachers] what they needed at the beginning of the year. Communication, collaboration and connection. Everything that I do with them has to fall underneath one of those three umbrellas or i need to maybe say that it’s not important for us to focus on right now.”

In addition to her “three C’s,” Roan said she focuses on the school’s motto, “Do Your Job,” constantly.

“I love that every day is so different,” Roan said. “ You can plan out your day from the beginning. It’s not going to go the way you want to. Either a teacher needs you, or a student needs you. A student may not know they need you there, or they might not want you there. There’s lots of different things every day and I love that. To be a principal or a teacher you have to love it, it has to be a calling.”

She is always very compassionate, very helpful, and is just a really great leader.”

— Melody Dungan, teacher

Roan said she feels comfort in the quote from Plato that says, “Be kind because everyone you meet is fighting a hard journey.” As she encountered several struggles in her life, such as her husband passing away from cancer before she graduated with her doctorate, Roan said she wants to help students ease any hardship they encounter.

“I want people to feel heard when they’re around me and want people to feel seen and recognize that you and your story should show up as they are,” Roan said. “And without trying to pretty it up and make it up. We all are dealing with our own mess. You don’t know what journey anyone else is fighting, so I hope that when people interact with me what they get is kindness.”