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When Leslie Talamantes stepped into the meeting chamber of the Marble Falls Independent School District Board of Trustees on June 3, she immediately felt right at home.

That’s not surprising considering she spent several years as an educator with the school district. But on that particular night, Talamantes waited to hear whether board members would approve her hire as the new principal at Highland Lakes Elementary in Granite Shoals. All it took was about 10 seconds.

After the vote, Talamantes, who just finished her 16th year as an educator and fifth year in education administration, addressed the board and the crowd, calling her hire “a homecoming” and Highland Lakes Elementary School and the city Granite Shoals “a special community.”

She will lead the elementary campus with the largest enrollment in the district that has unique needs based on the population and the demographics of the student body.

Talamantes said she believes she “taught some of their big brothers and big sisters” when she was a Spanish teacher at Marble Falls High School from 2003-08.

She credits that administration, led by former Superintendent Ryder Warren, for its commitment in recognizing potential talent among its teachers to train them up to go into education administration.

“We do such a good job of growing leadership in-house,” she said of MFISD. “I was part of that growth from strong mentors.”

In 2008, she switched to teaching kindergarten at MFISD. Between 2011 and 2016, she served as the district’s intervention coordinator for at-risk students and MFISD’s district coordinator for English language learners in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Talamantes spent two years as an assistant principal with Dripping Springs ISD before taking the principal role at Hanna Springs Elementary in June 2017.

From 1997-2003, she served in the U.S. Air Force.

Talamantes spent May 30 at Highland Lakes Elementary School meeting teachers and staff. She also learned about campus and district programs and other data.

The new principal sees her role as finding ways to improve programs and encourage more community participation.

“There are so many positive things going on already,” she said. “I want to immerse myself in those things.”

Though Talamantes recently worked in Lampasas, she never left the Highland Lakes community. Her husband, Robert, is a Marble Falls police officer, and the family, which includes daughters Kross and Bliss, attend church in the Highland Lakes.

“This is a family for us,” she said. “You’d like to be part of a strong supportive community. That’s what we have in Marble Falls.”