ABILENE ­– Even with the Abilene ISD in an indefinite shutdown because of the Coronavirus pandemic, the work of the school district goes on, including filling new leadership roles at four different campuses in the district.

Monday night at regularly scheduled meeting, the AISD Board of Trustees approved the hire of one new principal from outside the district and the appointment of three other principals from within the district. All of the moves are effective at the end of the 2019-20 school year.

Here’s a brief summary of the personnel moves that were announced to the entire Abilene ISD staff early Tuesday morning:

Debra Stewart, currently the principal at Ortiz Elementary School, will be the new principal at Craig Middle School.
Dr. Christopher Bailey, a veteran of the Katy Independent School District, was approved to be the new principal at Clack Middle School. Bailey is replacing Todd Bramwell, who is resigning his position at the end of the school year.
Lori Ladyman, currently the instructional specialist at Mann Middle School, will be the new principal at the Woodson Center for Excellence. Ladyman is replacing Jaime Tindall, who is leaving the district to take a job with the Region 14 Education Service Center.
Melissa Scott, currently the administrator of instruction at Lee Elementary School, will be the new principal at Lee.

Andy Blessing, who has been the principal at Lee since 2003, is moving into a new role at Thomas Elementary where he will serve three functions: principal of the Elementary DAEP (moving from Bassetti Elementary School), coordinator of the Newcomer Center (moving from Lee), and Thomas assistant principal.

“I’m very excited about each of the four people we have in place at those four campuses, and I’m looking forward to working with them in their new roles,” AISD Superintendent Dr. David Young said. “I believe each of those leaders will take those campuses to even greater heights than they’ve already achieved. In addition, I’m grateful to Andy Blessing for his longtime service to the students and families at Lee Elementary and I know he’ll continue to be a blessing to the families he will serve in a new role at Thomas Elementary.”

Stewart was named the principal at Ortiz Elementary in May 2016 and is completing her fourth year in that role. Prior to joining the Ortiz campus, Stewart served one year (2015-16) as the 9th Grade Academy principal at Abilene High School.

Before joining the Abilene High staff, Stewart was superintendent/principal at the Compass Academy Charter School in Odessa for four years. She began her education career as an elementary teacher in the Midland and Magnolia school districts and first became an administrator in 2007 as an assistant principal at Bowie Fine Arts Academy in Midland ISD.

“I am humbled and blessed at the opportunity to serve as the principal of Craig Middle School,” Stewart said. “I look forward to leading the Craig team to prepare our students to be equipped to handle whatever life may bring.  My priority is to continue the great work that has already been accomplished at Craig Middle School by encouraging and supporting both students and teachers so that we have a fulling and productive year.”

Bailey – whose wife has family who lives in Abilene and considers the Key City like home – has spent his entire educational career in the Katy Independent School District beginning in 200 as the associate director of bands at Katy Taylor High School. He was the director of bands at Katy Taylor from 2009-14 before moving into administration following the 2013-14 school year.

He was the assistant principal at Morton Ranch Junior High from 2014-17 before helping open a new junior high school – Stockdick Junior High School – in 2017 as the assistant principal for student support. He was the principal for Katy ISD Summer Academic Terms in 2016 and 2017 after serving as summer team assistant principal in 2015.

“My family and I are excited to be coming ‘home’ to Abilene,” Bailey said. “I am honored to serve the students, staff, and community of Clack Middle School and Abilene ISD. The Clack Cardinals have a longstanding tradition of preparing students for high school and beyond and I look forward to supporting the great work that is taking place.”

The move from Mann to Woodson is a move back “home” of sorts for Ladyman, who served as Woodson’s assistant principal for two years (2014-15 and 2015-16) before going to Abilene High as the 9th grade Instructional Specialist. After serving the 2016-17 school year at AHS, she moved to Mann Middle School to become the Instructional Specialist and has served the last three years in that role.

She began her career in the AISD as a math teacher / coach at Clack Middle School, serving on that campus for 13 years before transitioning to Woodson.

“Being named the Woodson principal is like going home for me,” Ladyman said. “I am so thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the Woodson community again and its ultimate goal to inspire and empower students to excel both academically and socially. Woodson Center for Excellence is an amazing place and I couldn’t be more excited about this new journey.”

Scott joined the Lee Elementary staff in January of this year after serving as the Clack Middle School Instructional Specialist from 2018-December 2019. During her time at Lee, she has spent time working with teachers on planning and delivering lessons and assisted Blessing with the supervision and operation of the campus.

A native of Abilene, Scott began her career in education in 2011 teaching fifth grade math and science at Miller Heights Elementary School in Belton. After three years at Miller Heights, she returned home and taught fifth grade science and social studies for four years at Reagan Elementary School. She then went to Clack Middle School prior to the start of the 2018-19 school year before moving over to Lee earlier this year.

“I am very excited to serve Lee as its next principal,” Scott said. “I have enjoyed tremendously the opportunity to get to know the teachers and staff at Lee this semester. They work extremely hard to meet the needs of students every day. They care deeply about all children and I am looking forward to continuing to lead and work alongside them.”