Terry Grier became the Houston Independent School District’s superintendent of schools after a unanimous vote of the district’s Board of Education in September 2009. Under his watch, HISD’s graduation rate has increased to its all-time high (81.7 percent). Scholarship dollars offered to HISD seniors have increased from $51 million to $186 million. And the number of students scoring three or higher on Advanced Placement exams has increased by 45 percent, from 4,915 to 7,106.
Dr. Grier is widely recognized for his leadership in turning around failing schools. The district’s Apollo 20 program has received state and national recognition—effectively eliminating the math achievement gap in Apollo elementary schools and reducing it by one-half in Apollo middle and high schools. He is committed to placing an effective teacher in every HISD classroom and an exemplary principal in every school. To help ensure this, the district’s teacher and principal evaluation models contain indicators of student success.
In 2013, under his leadership, HISD became the first district in America to win the Broad Prize for Urban Education a second time (the district won the inaugural award in 2002). HISD received high marks for its progress in decreasing achievement gaps and increasing the number of minority students taking and doing well on advanced placement tests.
In November 2012, Houston voters approved a $1.89 billion school construction bond—the largest in the history of Texas—with an amazing 69 percent voting in favor. These funds will be used to rebuild 28 of the district’s high schools, making HISD the only major school district in the country with all high school buildings being re-built since 2000.
HISD’s PowerUp initiative, one of the nation’s largest digital conversion projects, will provide all high school students with a laptop computer to be used in school and at home. The program is changing how and what students are taught in HISD’s high schools, meanwhile setting an example of digital transformation done right.
Dr. Grier has received numerous awards in recognition of his accomplished leadership. He has received “Outstanding Alumni” awards from East Carolina University, where he received his Bachelor of Science and Masters Degrees, and from Vanderbilt University, where he received his Educational Doctorate.
In 2014, he was named a finalist for the National Superintendent of The Year Award by the American Association of School Administrators. In addition, he is among a handful of superintendents named “State Superintendent of The Year” in two different states—Texas and North Carolina. The American Association of School Administrators presented him with the prestigious Effie H. Jones Humanitarian Award for his support of women and minorities in education. And the Southwestern Regional Forum of the College Board presented him with their Martha H. Salmon Leadership Award for his role in expanding advanced placement opportunities for disadvantaged students.
He and his wife, Nancy, have four grown children, a cat, and a cool dog.