Chambers faces challenges in finances and accountability

H.D. Chambers
H.D. Chambers explains problems with budgeting. “Right now the state is making it difficult,” he said.

“I’ve only applied to two superintendent jobs my whole life,” Henry D. Chambers said. “I’ve applied for the Stafford job and the Alief job. I wasn’t out trying to find another job. I wanted this job. This is what I wanted to do.”

While the year school year is ending, newly appointed Superintendent Chambers plans for the upcoming years working in Alief. He says he wants to show that he’s not just another person sitting behind a desk.  

“They [the district] wanted someone that was a communicator,” Chambers said. “They wanted someone who would speak, communicate, and be out there. To be approachable and not just sit over here in this building and lose sight with what’s happening everyday with kids. That’s one thing I think I bring.” 

Graduating from Bridge City High School, he first went off to Alvin Community College. Later which he went on to Lamar University to obtain his Bachelors degree. For his Masters degree, he went to Sam Houston State University. Afterwards, he went straight to teaching at the Aldine School District.

“I was a seventh grade Texas History teacher for two classes a day,” Chambers said. “Then I had my off period and for the rest of the day I went to Eisenhower High School to teach 12th grade Government and Economics and also coached high school football.”

After a few years as an administrator, he decided to apply for superintendent in the Stafford Municipal School District. He worked there for five years; then came the opportunity to apply  for the superintendent job in Alief.

Chambers sees Alief as being a unique district with lots of accomplishments from students and teachers.

“I’m excited about the quality of staff,” Chambers said. “I’m excited about the fact that this district is not afraid to take chances. When I say take chances, I mean to think outside of the positional realm of educating kids. Kerr is a classic example. There are a lot of school districts that wouldn’t do that. They wouldn’t take the chance in fear of failure.”

To Chambers, Alief shares his beliefs of how a school district should be. His perspective on what the district has to offer is one reason he didn’t want to apply to work anywhere else.

“I just liked the quality of people,” Chambers said. “I like the people that are working here and I felt Alief was a district I would fit it. I believe their beliefs about education are very consistent with mine. We have to continue to force you guys to perform at levels you don’t think you can. A lot of school systems say they believe that, but no every school system behaves or acts that way.”

As of now, his priorities lie in managing Alief’s finances in the face of state and federal budget cuts and moving the district to State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) testing instead of Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS).

“How do I manage the money that’s being provided by the state of Texas and the local tax property payers?” Chambers said. “How do I maximize the money and not waste any of it? And right now the state is making it difficult [to try and figure out those issues]. Second concern I have is the state moving to a new accountability system. The concern I have is the level of difficulty that they will be testing the students on. My concern is, are we preparing our teachers to the best we can to help teach kids to be successful on these tests?”

Chambers strongly believes that everyone in a district must work together. He wants the teachers to teach at their best and students to reach their desired goals.

“I come to work every day with the thought in my mind of how do we help kids prepare so that when they’re seniors and getting ready to walk across that stage, the diploma that they receive means something,” Chambers said. “It means that they’re prepared for whatever is next. I want them to know that’s why I do what I do. Students have a responsibility. We will do our part best we can…and the students have got to meet us half way.

“Just because I try really hard doesn’t mean that’s going to make you successful. The only way to be successful is if I try hard and you try hard.”