STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
Spend a few minutes talking to new Falls Career High School Principal Allie Hampton, and you’ll quickly understand why Marble Falls Independent School District Superintendent Chris Allen recommended her for the job.
“I think I have a heart and a passion for the kids who need more support,” she said. “They might feel like they’re different, they’re not a traditional student. They need support and a champion to help them find their way.”
Hampton was named the principal during the MFISD Board of Trustees regular meeting June 17.
“We’re really thrilled,” Allen told the board and audience after the vote. “We like to take folks who bleed for the program.”
An Austin Westlake High School graduate, Hampton was previously a transition administrator, finishing her seventh year at MFISD and 24th overall in education. She began her stint in the district as a teacher and soccer coach at Marble Falls High School.
Allen said district officials appointed Hampton to transition administrator to help students transition from the high school to Falls Career High School or EPIC.
She replaces Yarda Leflet, who becomes the executive director of Instructional Services for the school district.
While at a different school district years earlier, others noted Hampton’s heart for “this type of student” that has only grown over time.
Falls Career High School is for students who have life circumstances that require a “high level of flexibility than what a typical high school can provide,” Allen said.
Some students who apply to Falls Career High School are those who might be homeless or whose life struggles are so severe that even getting to school is a challenge, he said.
It averages 40-45 students, and several more are on the waiting list. Students must apply for entry to the school, and they and their parents must attend a meeting with the interview committee. If the committee recommends a student be accepted, that student is placed on a waiting list if there isn’t a current opening available.
EPIC is the school district’s disciplinary alternative education program for students who have committed “very serious violations of the school district’s code of conduct,” Allen said. It can have up to 30 students and might require students stay up to 30 days. Many of the students at EPIC have violated the district’s drug or alcohol policy.
Hampton noted that while both schools serve a different need, the students on each campus have someone who believes in them, encourages them, and tells them they can accomplish their dreams.
That gives them hope for a future when they can be contributing members of society and able to care for their families.
She noted that the school district has had success in helping students obtain employment or continuing education at Central Texas College and Texas Tech at Highland Lakes.
“The social and emotional aspect is super important,” Hampton said. “We want to help with helping students understand that money is obtainable and money shouldn’t be a problem.”
She also understands that not every student learns the same way. She noted that, for some, sitting in a chair for 45 minutes might make them anxious. So they may stand at a desk to take notes, complete their work, or other tasks.
“We want to teach them the skills to help them be in class,” she said. “They may need to stand up and work at a different table. They may need a stress ball. (Staying in one place for a long period of time), it makes them nervous.”
Hampton has conversations with students to discover what they enjoy doing and, in essence, to find out if they can turn an activity they love into a full-time job. Some students enjoy mowing lawns, so it’s not unusual for them to obtain employment at golf courses doing just that. Some enjoy cooking, while others have a love of working on computers. She noted the school district has a great relationship with Horseshoe Bay Resort and has more than 50 students working there.
As she reflected on the students with whom she has worked closely and who are doing well, she smiled broadly, showing confidence in her students to be able to realize their dreams.
That certainty, Allen said, is the reason he wanted Hampton to take over at Falls Career.
“Ms. Hampton is able to look past life circumstances that allow her to have a genuine belief in the students’ abilities to rise above and achieve their potential,” he said.