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Principals Hired for Buda, Fuentes, Pfluger & Impact Campuses; District Also Fills Special Ed Executive Officer Slot

At the April 27, 2021, board meeting, the Hays Consolidated Independent School District (Hays CISD) Board of Trustees approved hiring four new principals and the special education executive officer to fill upcoming vacancies, including the retirements of two long-time district employees.

Megan Zembik is the new principal for Buda Elementary School. Shea Howard is principal for Fuentes Elementary. Elizabeth Lara will lead Pfluger Elementary as its principal. Cynthia Zapata is the new principal for the district’s Impact Center. And, Michelle Velasquez will lead the district’s special education department. All of the new hires are current Hays CISD employees who are being promoted from within the district.

“I am excited about the talent, passion, and care this group of leaders will bring to the table for our students, “said Hays CISD Superintendent Dr. Eric Wright. “And, I’m particularly proud that we have been able to choose candidates who have honed their leadership skills right here in our own district. We have a large, diverse family of staff members in Hays and it’s great to see our own people able to fill these opportunities.”  

Megan Zembik – Buda Elementary School

Megan ZembikMegan Zembik is the current academic dean at Hays High School. She began her career in education in 2007 as a classroom teacher and was hired in Hays CISD in 2016. Her titles have included teacher, assistant principal, and academic dean. Programs under her leadership through the years have included social and emotional learning, advanced academics, gifted and talented education, and intervention. She also is proud to be a student champion, teacher advocate, and community partner.

“All voices have an important seat at the table,” said Zembik. “I firmly believe that inspired teachers inspire students and I look forward to creating an innovative learning environment that supports the belief that ALL students can succeed - every student, every day.”

Zembik holds a Master of Educational Leadership degree from the University of Texas at Austin. She replaces Tim Robinson, who accepted a promotion in the district to a position in Human Resources.

Shea HowardShea Howard – Fuentes Elementary School

Shea Howard is the current assistant principal at Fuentes Elementary School. She has 19 years of experience as an educator, including six with Hays CISD. She has extensive experience with both general education and special education as a teacher, curriculum writer, district coordinator, and assistant principal.

“I believe that there is no greater gift than that of an education. Without an education, we limit our thinking and limit our capacity for greatness as a diverse population,” said Howard. “I believe that every child has a capacity for greatness and that it is our responsibility as educators to create a partnership with every child and every family to assist that child in achieving their potential. Educating children involves more than just teaching core content; it means exposing children to unique experiences that provide them with different perspectives so that they may learn and grow to become happy, successful, contributing members of an ever evolving society.”

Howard holds a Master of Education with an educational administration specialization from Concordia University. She will take the mantle from Regina Butcher, who is retiring after an amazing career, including 17 years in Hays CISD.

Elizabeth LaraElizabeth Lara – Pfluger Elementary School

Elizabeth Lara, who is a current assistant principal at Lehman High School is joining Pfluger Elementary, after six years of service within Hays CISD and 10 years as an educator. Before becoming a teacher, she spent the early 2000s in corporate management. She is a dedicated administrator who is skilled in supervising staff, establishing special programs, and creating a stimulating, safe, and motivating learning environment for students.

“Education was not my first career, but it is definitely the one that I am the most passionate about,” said Lara. “My goal as an administrator is to make a positive difference in the education of our students. I am honored and consider myself very fortunate to be part of the Pfluger Team. It’s a team that truly cares about students and their successes.”

Lara holds a Master in Education, Public School Administration, from Texas A&M University at College Station. She replaces Kathy Noack who has accepted a job in another school district.

Cynthia Zapata – Impact Center

Cynthia Zapata, who is a current assistant principal at McCormick Middle School, has lived in the Hays CISD community since 2003. She began her educational career in 2001 as a teacher. During her career, she has served in a variety of roles, including: campus testing coordinator for alternative, disciplinary, and traditional campuses; 10th and 11th grade assistant principal; early college high school principal; summer school principal for elementary, middle, and high schools; and instructional coach.

“My educational philosophy is based on the belief that all students can learn, given an effective learning environment, strong leadership, a committed educational team, within an encouraging and supportive community.  All of which, Hays Consolidated Independent School District possesses,” said Zapata. “My educational experiences have afforded me the opportunity to collaborate with a diverse group of people to meet the common goal of increasing student achievement and well-being by fostering the ability to create a culture and climate that allows for student success.” Zapata says she is looking forward to leading the Impact campus team.

She holds a Master of Education in Educational Administration from Concordia University. Zapata will replace Sylvia Villejo, who is retiring after a remarkable education career, including 21 years with Hays CISD.

Michelle Velasquez – Special Education Executive Officer

Michelle Velasquez, who is currently the Hays CISD special education curriculum and instruction coordinator, has 26 years of public education experience. She began in Hays CISD in 2007, holding a variety of positions including general education teacher, bilingual ARD facilitator, and her current title.

“The classroom, campus, school district is a living community,” said Velasquez. “Everyone, from the principal to the parent contributes to maintain a positive atmosphere where any one interaction grows-relationships, trust, and knowledge as learning is a lifelong process. You learn new strategies, ideas, and philosophies from others to continuously develop and grow yourself and in turn, others.  Recognizing this process, makes all the difference.”

Velasquez holds a Master of Arts in Multidisciplinary Studies, with a specialization in special education, from the University of the Incarnate Word. She replaces Nadine Hogan who has accepted a job in another school district.