Before this school year began, Josh Garred was already building relationships with his students and surprising them in the process.
Garred, who is in his first year as principal at Tyler ISD’s Hogg Middle School, tells a story of how he was talking to different students on campus in August. After a conversation with an eighth-grader, the girl asked him, “Are you a teacher here?”
“I said, ‘Oh no, I’m Mr. Garred. I’m the new principal here.’”
“You’re the principal,” she said.
“I said, ‘Well why is that weird?’”
“Well, the principal never talked to me before,” she said.
“You know and so that’s huge,” he said. “I want to be out there with the kids. I want them to know me. I want to know them. I want to develop relationships with them, not just the good ones, but the ones that, you know, make tough decisions, the ones that have broken homes. Because we have an opportunity every single day, every kid that walks through those doors, we can affect their lives and you don’t want to miss that.”
That is the essence of Garred. Yes, he is an administrator, an educator, a former coach and a leader for his campus. But at the foundation, all he desires is to positively affect the lives of kids.
“That’s something I told my staff,” he said. “I said, ‘If you don’t care about kids, you’re in the wrong place. You won’t be successful here.’”
Born in Denver, Garred was raised in San Antonio where he graduated from Clark High School.
He attended Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene and planned to study for a career in youth ministry, but his first adviser would have none of it.
“He was probably about 78, (and) he says, ‘You don’t want to go to youth ministry. You’ll get sick of those kids. You want to go church ministry.’ And I say, ‘No, I don’t want to go church ministry. I like kids. I have a passion for kids. I want to work with them.’”
Garred had been the president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for three years in high school and saw his life going in the direction of working with junior high or high school students and mentoring them.
“Well, let’s just not declare any major,” Garred said, recalling the adviser’s words.
He complied. What else could he do? But not without adding, “Well, I’m not doing church ministry, not now.”
Garred left the office and prayed about it. Through his first year in college, he worked on his basic courses and tried to keep his grades up, but by the time his sophomore year rolled around, he knew he needed to declare a major.
For several weeks, he prayed consistently asking for guidance in his life. Then, halfway through that school year after a long night spent praying and reading scripture, Garred had a dream.
In it, he was coaching and teaching and when he woke up the next morning, he knew what he wanted to do. So he pursued that.
After college, he started working as a math teacher and a coach. He thought he was going to do that for the rest of his career, but then he had kids. And suddenly, late nights weren’t so fun. So, he did what he felt was best for his family. For the next year, he worked solely as a teacher in Abilene.
Eventually, he decided to move into administration so his wife could stay at home with their children and the family’s income would be enough.
He earned his principal certification at The University of Texas at Tyler and got a job locally after that.
“From there, it’s kind of it’s grown to be a passion ad a love and it’s just I don’t know … it’s awesome to be able to help teachers help kids and teach teachers, not just teach teachers instructional methods and how to use scope and sequence and everything else, but to just really be passionate about the kids,” he said.
For the past seven years, he’s worked at Robert E. Lee High School, first as an assistant principal, then, starting in 2011, as an associate principal.
He said the experiences there prepared him well for his current position because he worked with almost all aspects of the high school campus.
He said being principal is a different kind of stress because he knows “that ultimately the success of the kids is going to fall on me.”
With that being said, he started the year with several goals. He wants Hogg to earn three distinctions this year from the state. Last year, the school earned two, one in English language arts and one in student progress. The school lacked a math distinction.
He also wants every student to be successful and reach their full potential.
“They’re not all going to be MYP (International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program) graduates,” he said. “They’re not all going to come here (and) take pre-AP classes, but I want every student to progress three years or more worth of education by the time they leave.”
Although his job is a dream come true, Garred’s heart belongs to God and his family. He is married to Krystal, and they have four kids.