Group photo of Inaugural Aubrey ISD Aspiring Leader Academy class

Inaugural class of Aspiring Leader Academy has first meeting


They filed in one-by-one, signed in, grabbed dinner and got right to work. This Monday evening session in the Aubrey Independent School District (ISD) professional development room was the start of something big. There were numerous applicants and forty were selected for leadership training in the school district experiencing exponential growth. The desire to grow leaders from within officially took off, as fast as a chaparral. 


“I have been so fortunate to learn from outstanding leaders in Aubrey ISD - Dr. Monaco, Deborah Sanders, Susan Harms, and of course, Dr. Belding,” Deputy Superintendent Terrie McNabb said on seeing the Aubrey ISD Aspiring Leader Academy (AALA) become a reality.

The vision to provide leadership training to existing faculty and staff in the District has been in the works for several years. Derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic and other pressing needs, getting AALA back on track was a priority. McNabb created and leads the academy, carrying the wisdom of her abovementioned mentors with her every step of the way. 

“Their influence is priceless and continues in this academy.”

Superintendent Dr. David Belding delivered greetings to the impressive class of educators from all around Aubrey ISD. He shared the origins of “the idea” to get AALA started.

McNabb followed, welcoming members of this first cohort, going over the schedule and expectations. She shared several of her favorite quotes on what it means to be a leader, including “True leaders don’t create followers. True leaders create other leaders.”

On the first meeting’s agenda was “Philosophy of AISD Leadership.” Assistant Superintendent Dr. Shannon Saylor led this portion of the training, starting with a group activity involving pretzels and exercises in communication and listening. Dr. Saylor continued with activities that offered the class the opportunity to reflect, collaborate and share.


McNabb is no stranger to training in Aubrey ISD. Dr. Saylor sees the AALA as a transition opportunity for McNabb based on district growth.

“Terrie was an integral part of beginning the Aubrey New Teacher Academy, training new teachers for 25 years,” Dr. Saylor said. “As we’ve grown and have people under her to do that job, she’s able to do this. It's a new administrator academy, what it can evolve into. It gets her training the future like she was doing with new teachers.”

Secondary teacher facilitator Brandee Gallagher was clearly moved after attending the first class.

“I am one hundred percent inspired,” Gallagher said. “This is my heart district, and I’ve said that since I got here in 2012 and I’ve loved every minute of it. To see our district going through tremendous growth is exciting and exhilarating, and to be able to learn more about how to better serve my district, teachers, staff, kids and families through these two ladies here who have such wisdom and expertise… I’m very inspired and can’t wait until the next meeting.”

Many in the inaugural cohort expressed gratitude for being selected and for the opportunity to learn from District leaders.

“I feel that they are going to encourage us to work to bring out the best in us and our leadership abilities,”  High School Assistant Principal Pamela Foster said. “I’m excited to be a part of this group and I’m very appreciative for being chosen.”

High School Choir Director Paul Norris looks forward to also learning from and working alongside District peers.

“It’s so welcoming, so fun; we’re going to have a great group that’s going to be able to collaborate and work together and build each other up,” Norris said. “I could tell that right away from our first meeting.”

The AALA will meet monthly through March 2024.

“It’s a dream come true,” McNabb said. “I’m very proud of the number of people that were interested in being a part of it. It really makes me excited about the potential leadership that we have in this district; and if you look around this room, you see amazing people who are amazing at their jobs that want to learn, improve and grow.”