Man on a Mission

MIDLOTHIAN, TX —  Going back to the late 19th century in America, the education profession has been dominated by females. Through decades where women were often unable to work outside the home, teaching has long been considered the job for a lady. Even in recent years, people generally assume male teachers are coaches outside of the classroom setting. But more and more, men are pursuing jobs in education, and even more notably, men are filling roles in elementary education. What was once rare to see, has now become commonplace. Kyle Chambers, vice principal of J.A. Vitovsky, is a man with a purpose. He is, in fact, a man on a mission.

Kyle graduated from Red Oak High School and then went to college at Cedar Valley and Tarleton State University. While studying  wildlife biology at Tarleton, Kyle had some interesting opportunities. “I had a professor with a brother in Idaho,” he said, “so I volunteered to study grizzly bears during the summers.”

Kyle started out working as a wildlife specialist, but had some experiences within education as well. “I also spent some time as a lab tech aide, so I got a bit of the teaching experience,” he explained. “I enjoyed that, so I went ahead and got my teaching certificate.” Kyle went from working in the field as a biologist to teaching science in the classroom. Once he started, he knew he was in the right place. “I realized I had a talent for teaching,” he admitted. “I still have the passion today. You don’t let that passion go.”

As a classroom teacher, Kyle loved to tackle the challenge of helping science come alive for middle school and high school students. “I think that because of the way I understood the content, I was able to relate it with passion,” he said. Kyle loved imparting his passion for science to his students, and he still hears evidence of his work from years past. “Every so often,” he added, “I hear about one of my former students working or going into a science field. It’s fulfilling to know they’re keeping that passion.”

After eight years in the classroom, Kyle felt it was time for a new challenge. “I knew I had leadership qualities,” he said, “and I wanted to see them working.” Kyle earned his master’s degree from  Texas A&M University-Commerce, and transitioned once again, this time going into administration in Midlothian. Kyle immediately relished the work he was doing. “I used to have a classroom of kids to lead. Now I have a school full of teachers to lead.” Kyle started as a vice principal at T.E. Baxter, moving to the then-new campus, Vitovsky, when it opened in 2001.

After several years as a vice principal in Midlothian, Kyle had a promotion prospect that would take him and his family west. He talked about it with his wife, Leslie, and their three sons, Phillip, Mitchell and Timothy who are 17, 13 and 11, respectively. “We decided as a family this would be a great opportunity for us. We liked making the move to a smaller town, and we had a great experience out there.”

After three-and-a-half years as a kindergarten through eighth-grade principal in Menard, Texas, Kyle and his family were brought back to this area through family circumstances. In describing his move back, Kyle exhibits the faith that is vital to his family. “It’s hard sometimes to find a job midyear,” he confessed. “It was time for a change, though, and God once again opened doors for us. It worked out that there was an opening. I moved out of this office, and moved right back in a few years later.”

Kyle enjoyed and learned from his time in Menard. “Everything I learned here, I took to Menard. I learned things being in charge of the campus there, and a lot of that has helped me now that I’m back.”

Kyle enjoys his job, and he loves the various duties he performs each day. He typically starts the day greeting students as they arrive for school, which is often his favorite thing. “Where else do you get 1,000 hugs in 15 minutes?” Along with morning greetings, Kyle makes it a point to eat lunch with the students. He and Principal Cherie Wagoner eat at various, times so they can see different children throughout the week.

Kyle knows that greeting and being around the students is one of the most important tasks he has. “In those times, you find out what happened last night or last weekend. You know about dogs dying and kids losing their lunch money,” Kyle explained. “You are able to
connect with the kids and try to help improve their day.”

Kyle also has appointments with kids in more deliberate settings. He plays a big part in assessing and providing for the needs of each child at the school. He both deals with special education students and helps kids who are struggling. He is happy that discipline

is only a small part of his schedule. “I would say four or five discipline issues would be a heavy day. I spend a lot of time in the classrooms, so I know why the kids behave,” he said. “The teachers have high expectations. They don’t accept anything less.”

Public perception may be that Kyle is a man in a woman’s world. But he sees it in a different way. “We’re at a time when so many kids are raised by mom or grandma, often without a male figure. In junior high or high school, sometimes there is a coach. But for kids this age,
I feel like I can be a positive male in their lives.” Kyle stops short of calling himself a father-figure, but he clearly sees his opportunity to offer advice and encouragement that many of his students may be lacking.

Kyle has had success throughout his education career. In 2006, he was voted Region X Assistant Principal of the Year. When he moved to J.A. Vitovsky with Cherie in 2005, many of their teaching staff chose to come along. “Even though we were coming to a school that is classified as Title I (meaning that a high percentage of students are deemed low income), we were honored that most of the teachers wanted to come,” he shared. “That showed faith in Cherie and me.”

Kyle hopes to one day be the principal over a campus in Midlothian, but he knows he has to keep an open mind. He is content right now to wait for God to close one door as He opens another. In the meantime, Kyle works hard to be a man on a mission.

Written by Zachary R. Urquhart.