New Stevens Elementary School Principal Erin Trent is spending her first week on campus and looks forward to beginning the academic year.
Most recently the assistant principal at Wainwright Elementary, Trent also worked at KIPP Houston and as a classroom teacher at Kandy Stripe Academy Early Childhood Center. As a student, Trent attended the Rice School, a Houston ISD K-8 campus, and Lamar High School.
Trent said she sees similarities between Wainwright and Stevens, which are two miles apart, with regard to demographics and higher mobility rates of students.
“There were some students that we saw one year and never saw again,” Trent said of her four years at Wainwright. “There were students who were new to the city and new to the country. We wanted to make a positive impact on a student, no matter how long they were there.”
Trent replaces Jennifer Barrientez, who resigned last month after serving as Stevens’ principal since 2014. Trent plans to promote a thriving school culture at Stevens the same way she did at Wainwright.
“I want to make sure that the whole child is taken care of,” said Trent, who credits that approach to her time at KIPP. “Taking care of the whole child means to me making sure they are safe, making sure they have food. (Then) it’s finding out what kids are interested in outside of school.”
Trent cites the ballet classes that Wainwright offered through a partnership with the Houston Ballet and other arts instruction.
“I love to partner,” Trent said. “(At Wainwright) I did traffic duty. I did lunch duty. When parents wanted to partner with us we welcomed it.”
Wainwright and Stevens now have a wraparound specialist, a position HISD has added to support the critical issues of students, including mental and physical health needs as well as anything else that would adversely affect college and career readiness or a student’s ability to learn. Trent was part of earlier efforts at Wainwright to deepen relationships with students and parents through a mentorship program and other collaborative initiatives, including the organization that became Wainwright’s parent-teacher association.
Trent recently moved into the neighborhood after commuting for several years and said part of the reason she wanted to be the principal at Stevens was to finish what she started.
“I’m now a neighbor, and I want to invest where I live,” Trent said. “I already run into (school) families at Kroger. My goal is to keep students and make an even bigger impact on their lives.”
In addition to investing in students, Trent acknowledges the importance of investing in teachers.
“I want to sustain our staff,” she said.
Trent sees the surrounding neighborhood as an asset along with the relationships she has fostered with the administrators of nearby schools.
“When houses are for sale and houses change over, I want the neighbors to know about us and to buy in,” Trent said. “If you can walk to a school, you’ll stay at a school.”