1999 OSU alumna named Texas middle school principal of the year | News
Positive role models are essential to young minds.
Middle school principal and OSU alumna Amber Epperson strives to set a good example for more than 1,200 students who attend Cockrill Middle School in McKinney, Texas.
Epperson grew up in Ponca City and graduated from Ponca City High School in 1995. She graduated from OSU in 1999 and moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth area after learning of a teacher shortage in Texas at the time.
Epperson received her masters in school administration in 2002 and her doctorate in December 2004.
She has been awarded the title of 2022 Middle School Principal of the Year after the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals named her the 2022 Region 10 Outstanding Principal of the Year in September.
“I am honored to represent the outstanding middle school principals across the state of Texas,” Epperson said. “This recognition is a validation of the work I had led alongside very talented teams of people who are invested in positively impacting the lives of young people in our communities. I have been afforded many incredible opportunities in my career, and this recognition is a pinnacle experience in my career as a building principal.”
Epperson’s leadership ability and prioritization of students’ happiness are what defines her career. The principal at her first teaching job played a large role in laying the foundation for the values and priorities she would have as a principal herself.
Epperson said her first principal, Bill Porter, constantly reassured her that she had a future in education. Using her experience with Porter as a guide, Epperson focuses on building confident students through continuous encouragement and support.
“Obviously, academics are a priority,” Epperson said. “But, I want kids to be involved in things here and to have a positive peer group and make memories. I want them to feel like people cared about them and that people had faith in them and that people here poured into them. I hope kids leave here feeling like they can be successful in high school and that there is a path even beyond high school for them.”
Epperson’s efforts have been on the TASSP’s radar for years. Cockrill Middle School has been named a Texas School to Watch, a school that has consistently moved to meet fully the nationally endorsed criteria for high-performing middle schools, three times under her leadership. In 2021, Cockrill Middle School was one of only 50 middle schools to earn that title.
“My colleagues and I are passionate about creating wonderful places for all students to learn, where teachers are happy and thrive in their work and where parents and the community feel a sense of pride and investment in our schools,” Epperson said
In addition to being named a Texas School to Watch, Cockrill Middle School’s counseling department received a CREST award for its outstanding counseling services from the Texas Counselor School Association in 2021.
“This recognition has given me a treasured opportunity to reflect on my experiences in this role and the truly talented, dedicated people I have had the fortune to work with in my career,” she said. “McKinney ISD has supported my efforts as a school leader through intentional steps to develop my leadership to this point. I am very grateful for this recognition and truly proud to be part of McKinney ISD.”