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Southlake Style

Principal Reflections

May 03, 2016 11:42AM ● By Dia

If you want a glimpse into the world of education, just ask Betty McIlvain, Ed.D. She was on the frontlines for more than 40 years, most recently as principal of Walnut Grove Elementary School (WGES). As the Dragons gear up for summer break, we invited Dr. McIlvain, who retired last semester, to reflect on her career and her time in Carroll ISD. 

Q: How has education evolved over the decades?

A: Changes in education over the last 40 years have proven excitingly revolutionary. Many learning opportunities are available online for teachers and learners. Parents can help their children access these opportunities at home as never before.

Q: How have students evolved?

A: Students now have opportunities to become more resilient and reflective learners. They can interactively engage in meaningful academic and personal growth.

Q: From your perspective, what makes Carroll ISD different from others?

A: Carroll ISD is distinctive in the systemic approach taken to capturing excellence
in achievement. The ownership for this approach starts with our amazing students, but extends to teachers and administrators, and is supported community-wide at unprecedented levels.

Q: What was one of your proudest moments as a Dragon?

A: My “Dragon pride” moments include celebrating the enrichment of learning achievement levels at Durham Elementary and Walnut Grove Elementary School,
and the pervasive TEAMWORK WORKS philosophy uniquely tied to those moments.

Q: What advice would you give educators?

A: Be like a duck. Stay calm and unruffled on the surface, but paddle with every bit of energy you have underneath.

Q: What did you enjoy most about the Dragon community?

A: Carroll ISD is a resilient place. We capture the tasks that are difficult, but not impossible. One example of our supportive community is the school safety provision for School Resource Officers.

Q: You’re half a year into your retirement. What’s this new phase in life like?

A: The retirement phase of living is very much a transition to more flexible frameworks of thinking and subsequent forms of opportunity. It’s
joyous, but challenges you to be highly creative. Fortunately, creativity is on my side. In addition to my philanthropy involvements, I also teach higher education classes at a private university. One

of my enduring professional roles has been as a teacher/mentor to aspiring school administrators.

Q: What do you miss most now that you’re retired?

A: I’ll always relish the close interaction with colleagues, students and parents with whom I’ve worked. I cherish the fine-tuned problem solving associated with providing optimum opportunities for our students.

Q: What did your time within Carroll ISD mean to you personally?

A: My Carroll years embody the culmination of a 43-year career. “Reaching for the Stars through Difficulties...Ad Astra per Aspera” is the motto of my beloved native state of Kansas—not that I didn’t arrive in Southlake as soon as I could.