New principal makes individuals and their needs a priority


Victoria Newell, Managing Editor

During the first week of the 2017-2018 school year, hundreds of high-schoolers reported to their first period, drowsy and ready to start the year. Preparing for their first class, they heard something they had never heard before, “Bulldawg Nation.” It was the voice of the new principal, Mark Robinson, and the beginning lingo is just a small part of his plans for the school.

Robinson has been working with staff, students, and teachers to create long term plans for Bowie High School, some of which are already being implemented, including better communication, student social, emotional, and educational readiness, a $1 billion  bond being proposed to benefit AISD, new technical platforms being present in the classroom, and much more.

“A big thing for me is knowing all learners by name and need, and I include myself in that as a learner, because in just taking this job I’ve got a lot to learn about Bowie,” Robinson said.  “But it’s not just the principal who are learners, and the students who are learners, it’s the teachers who are learners too, we learn from the students that we work with, how they learn; that’s what I want the classroom to be, is that collaboration of learning.”

As this is a learning environment, advancing education is a major goal for Robinson and his staff, but not just in the academic strain.

“The conversation that I’ve had with teachers has been about incorporating a kind of academic goal and social emotional learning goal, because as I see it, those are the two aspects that we deal with,” Robinson said. “We want people to have the knowledge and information to achieve their goals but we also want them to be good people and have the social skills to be effective.”

On the academic side, as technology continues to rapidly advance, it’s becoming clear that modern technology can be utilized as educational tools, something AISD has not failed to take note of. AISD plans to issue chrome books to several schools. Bowie is scheduled to be receive them in January

“A lot of kids already come with, you know, you use your phone as a learning tool, or we have laptops, or tablets, or whatever it is we use, so it’s just being able to equalize that for everybody,” Robinson said. “To make sure that everybody can engage in learning, in 21st century learning, and digital learning; that’s the frontier.”

Robinson is working with the Bowie faculty and AISD to ensure that this happens later this year.

“We’re trying to follow the district’s initiative, and I think that’s what his goal is, to take us to the new generation of more technology and revamping the classrooms,” assistant principal Carla De La Rosa said.

Along the emotional track, Robinson hopes to improve the mental health of Bowie students.

“The idea with a growth mindset is that your intelligence, and your abilities, your attitudes, your personality isn’t fixed, it can be developed, and so even though we may not be good at something now that doesn’t mean that we can’t develop that,” Robinson said. “So it’s that kind of thinking that I want everybody to kind of understand and appreciate. So if we think that ‘I’m not good at that, and I’m never gonna be good at that and I’m done,’  then thats a limiting factor and that can cause a lot of anxiety.”

Along with student growth, effective communication between students, teachers, and faculty is also a large goal for Robinson this year. A new parent newsletter, “The Bowie Star” has already been sent out a few times this year, as well as more detailed morning announcements.

“When you’ve got miscommunication going on when students are thinking one thing, and teachers are thinking something else, and the principals are thinking something completely different, I think there’s a lot of confusion,” teacher Kelly Flickinger said. “And when there’s this constant flow of communication, I think there’s less of that feeling, so that’s definitely very important.”

Robinson’s morning announcements of students’ accomplishments are new this year. So far, they have been a big a success in the eyes of the students.

“I think they get us pumped up for the day, which is awesome,” senior Emily Robinette said. “I love hearing Bulldawg Nation everyday, it gets us pretty hype, I also like the way in the morning announcements he goes through the accomplishments of different student groups every day, and you can kind of be more informed in what it is your friends are doing.”

A huge initiative for not only the Bowie staff, but all of AISD as well, is informing voters of the new bond.

“There’s definitely something in it for us as a community, as a Southwest Austin community, in being able to support the bond, but at the end of the day it’s up to the voters, so it’s my job to inform the community about what’s in it for us,” Robinson said.

But at the heart of everything, it is a desire to make sure students enjoy coming to class every day.

“I think my biggest overall goal is just that everyone feels like their connected, like they have a place, that they have a group that they identify with,” Robinson said.

However, Robinson does have a few a challenges facing him, especially in regards to the size of the school.

“[Robinson’s] Biggest obstacle is definitely size, and the diversity,” student council co-president Jimmy Counihan said. “Bowie is huge. It’s the biggest school in AISD, so when actually looking at how you’re going to bring all those people together, it’s gonna be hard, and I wish him the best.”

Robinson is already working to understand Bowie better each day.

“I don’t know what I don’t know, it is hard being the leader of an organization when you’re new to the organization,” Robinson said. “That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, that doesn’t mean it’s not doable,’”

But members of the Bowie community already think he’s making a positive impact.

“I think that Robinson seems like a genuinely nice person who really cares about the school,” Flickinger said. “I like the focus that he has on all the positive that’s going on here. Some of the things that I think we were concerned about a few years ago is already kind of getting focused on.”

Robinson has given himself about three to five years to make these long-terms changes, and has hopes to establish these goals in a solid, sustainable, way.

“My goal here in Bowie, in being a principal, is making those long term systemic changes,” Robinson said. “Make sure that we’ve changed the culture, that we’ve changed the community, that we’ve changed the systems, and as long as the things that were doing make sense, and that their goal oriented, and were all moving in the same direction, then we can make those changes.”

PART OF THE TEAM: Principal Robinson cheers on students during the Bowie/Vista Ridge football game. Robinson hopes to be active in school activities and on campus. PHOTO BY Violet Glenewinkel