Dr. Denise Watts – Chief of Schools

  • Dr. Denise Watts has a track record of significantly improving the quality of education for school-age children, especially those in traditionally underserved communities. Watts is experienced in working with various education organizations to create desired conditions in which school leaders, teachers, and students thrive through a range of coherent support services which include professional development, coaching, strategic planning, and school transformation supports.

    Formerly, Watts was employed by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools as the leader of Project L.I.F.T. (Leadership and Investment for Transformation), a philanthropic initiative composed of leaders from Charlotte's largest community and family foundations aiming to accelerate student achievement in up to 29 schools serving the district's most educational and economically disadvantaged students. She served in the role of a principal supervisor for nine years.

    Watts previously served as Chief of District Support for the University of Virginia's Partnership for Leaders in Education. In this role, she worked to assist school districts from around the country in efforts to improve student outcomes through innovation and best practices.

    In addition to completing the Relay Graduate School of Education Principal Supervisor Fellowship in 2017, Dr. Watts also completed a doctorate in educational leadership at Wingate University in 2014. 

    Contact Information:

    Chief of Schools Denise Watts
    Houston Independent School District
    4400 West 18th Street, Houston, TX 77092-8501

    Phone: 713-556-7257
    E-mail: Denise.Watts@HoustonISD.org

Yolanda Rodríguez — Assistant Superintendent Achieve 180

  • Yolanda Rodríguez is a graduate of Northside High School and a 23-year veteran of Team HISD. She comes to her new role after two years as a school support officer, most recently in the Northeast Area. She was instrumental in improving academics at the following schools to the point where they are no longer IR schools: Codwell, Cook, Foster, Kashmere Gardens, Montgomery, Milne, and Petersen elementary schools and Key Middle School. Ms. Rodríguez started her teaching career at Roosevelt Elementary School, where she worked as an instructional coordinator and assistant principal before moving to De Zavala Elementary to become the principal in 2010. Under her leadership, De Zavala earned exemplary status from the TEA in 2011. Ms. Rodríguez holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Houston.
     
    Contact Information:

    Assistant Superintendent Achieve 180 Yolanda Rodríguez
    Houston Independent School District
    4400 West 18th Street, Houston, TX 77092-8501

    Phone: 713-556-6122
    E-mail: YRODRIGU@houstonisd.org

        

Dr. Khalilah Campbell-Rhone — Assistant Superintendent of Transformation

  • Campbell-RhoneDr. Khalilah Campbell-Rhone has been with HISD for more than 23 years. A native Houstonian and author, she attended HISD schools and became a teacher in the district, teaching English, history, and math. While teaching, she earned her master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Houston and served as an adjunct professor teaching master level courses on becoming a principal.  Campbell-Rhone has served HISD as a principal, school support officer, and officer of special populations, overseeing significant growth and development in Gifted and Talented, Special Education, Dyslexia, Interventions and Multilingual, On-Time Grad Academy, and Virtual Learning.

    Campbell-Rhone has a successful track record of improving the educational outcomes of students, especially those in marginalized communities. As dean of instruction at Sam Houston High School, she was instrumental in transforming one of the first high schools to be reconstituted by the Texas Education Agency for low performance. Campbell-Rhone then went on to work in Achieve 180 and superintendent’s schools. Under her leadership as principal of Thomas Middle School, the campus not only met the standard for state accountability but achieved five out of seven distinction designations for overall dedication and work. When she was named principal of Worthing High School in 2017, the campus had not met accountability for more than seven years. Within one year, Khalilah led Worthing to meet all accountability measures and become an Early College Campus, all while initiating the process of becoming an International Baccalaureate school. Campbell-Rhone was named HISD Principal of the Year in 2019. She is a member of several organizations and has received numerous awards for her work in the community. Her life’s mission is to give equitable educational opportunities to disenfranchised students and empower communities to advocate for those opportunities.  

    As assistant superintendent of transformation, Campbell-Rhone will lead 24 of the highest-need campuses in HISD with the unwavering goal of ensuring that equitable opportunities and resources exist in each school so that students receive an exceptional, personalized level of support for success. She is highly regarded for her transformational work in Houston and the positive life impact she has had on students.

    Contact Information:

    Assistant Superintendent of Transformation Khalilah Campbell-Rhone
    Houston Independent School District
    4400 West 18th Street, Houston, TX 77092-8501

    Phone: 713-556-7122
    Email: KCAMPBE1@HoustonISD.org

Julia Dimmitt - Assistant Superintendent Elementary Schools Office 1

  • Julia Dimmitt is a longtime member of Team HISD, having begun her career as an English teacher at Ryan Middle School in 1991, where she was named Rookie Teacher of the Year. She also taught at Madison High School and the Harris County Juvenile Detention Center before moving into school administration. Under Dimmitt’s leadership as principal, Ed White Elementary and Lanier Middle School both were consistently named to the Texas Business and Education Coalition Honor Roll for student achievement. Dimmitt joined central administration in 2008 as an executive principal for the Yates and Lamar feeder pattern schools, during which time all 13 schools met state standards and Yates High School moved from unacceptable to academically acceptable. She continued supporting HISD’s schools as a school improvement officer and school support officer. In July 2013, she was tapped to lead the transition of the former North Forest School District into HISD, following a state-ordered closure and annexation. In the six weeks before school started, she oversaw the hiring of more than 500 new staff, including teachers and school leaders. Through her coaching and support, five of the seven North Forest feeder pattern campuses received a “met standard” rating with distinctions. Most recently, Dimmitt served as north area superintendent.

    Dimmitt earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in secondary education and public school administration from the University of St. Thomas.

    Contact Information:

    Assistant Superintendent Elementary Schools Office 1 Julia Dimmitt
    Houston Independent School District
    4400 West 18th Street, Houston, Texas 77092-8501

    Phone: 713-556-8996
    Email: JDimmitt@HoustonISD.org

Staci Taylor — Assistant Superintendent Elementary Schools Office 2

  • Staci Taylor has worked as a teacher, instructional coordinator, school improvement facilitator, principal, adjunct professor, assistant superintendent, and most recently as the Officer of Student Assessment for HISD. Taylor earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History from Sam Houston State University and obtained a Master of Science in Educational Leadership from Prairie View A&M University. A product of HISD, Taylor is committed to ensuring all students receive a quality education regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or socio-economic background. She has taken an unprecedented approach to managing and designing the district’s assessment resources to ensure school leaders, teachers, students, and parents have access to tools and services that positively impact student achievement, support special populations, and promote college and career readiness. Taylor is highly regarded as a leader in urban education through working tirelessly to provide educational opportunities for underserved communities.
     
    Contact Information:

    Assistant Superintendent Elementary Schools Office 2 Staci Taylor
    Houston Independent School District
    4400 West 18th Street, Houston, TX 77092-8501

    Phone: 713-556-4446
    E-mail: STAYLOR3@houstonisd.org

        

Erwin Garcia — Assistant Superintendent Elementary Schools Office 3

  • Dr. Erwin GarciaDr. Erwin Garcia has been appointed to serve as the Assistant Superintendent for the Elementary Schools Office 3 after serving four years as a School Support Officer in HISD. Before this, Dr. Garcia was the principal of the nationally recognized DeAnda Elementary and the assistant principal of Sanchez Elementary. Dr. Garcia obtained his Doctorate in Executive Leadership from Houston Baptist University. A native of Colombia, Dr. Garcia is committed to foster a positive culture of high expectations with a focus on student achievement on the campuses he supports. He believes in building a culture of empowerment and collective efficacy among leaders and teachers that collectively remove barriers for students as they reach for their goals and aspirations.

    Contact Information:

    Assistant Superintendent Elementary Schools Office 3 Erwin Garcia
    Houston Independent School District
    4400 West 18th Street, Houston, TX 77092-8501

    Phone: 713-556-6000
    E-mail: EGarciaV@HoustonISD.org

Cesar Martinez — Assistant Superintendent Middle Schools Office

  • Cesar Martinez brings 22 years of experience as a leader at the local, regional, and state levels of education. He started his career in the Broad Prize-winning Brownsville ISD as a middle school teacher, elementary school assistant principal, and principal. Martinez then continued as an Education Specialist with the Statewide Initiatives Division of the Education Service Center – Region XIII in Austin, Texas where he managed the Technical Assistance Provider (TAP) Program and developed, identified, and supported effective instructional practices for the Title I School Improvement Plan (SIP) campuses of Regions IV and V of the state of Texas. He returned to the school district setting as a middle school principal in Austin ISD and as a School Leadership Coordinator in Dallas ISD. Most recently, Martinez has coached and developed 34 principals from early childhood, elementary, middle, and high school campuses over the last five years as a School Support Officer (SSO) in Houston ISD. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, his master’s degree from the University of Texas at Brownsville and is completing his Doctor of Education degree at the University of Texas at Austin.
     
    Contact Information:

    Assistant Superintendent Middle Schools Office Cesar Martinez
    Houston Independent School District
    4400 West 18th Street, Houston, TX 77092-8501

    Phone: 713-556-8999
    E-mail: CMARTI43@houstonisd.org

     

Geovanny Ponce — Assistant Superintendent High Schools Office

  • Geovanny PonceGeovanny Ponce has proven to be an innovative and knowledgeable educator for nearly two decades. His childhood experiences fueled his passion for supporting the growth of the urban child. Ponce, an immigrant from Honduras, instills collaborative leadership to ensure students from all social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds have equal access to high-quality learning opportunities.

    Ponce’s broad range of experience includes mechanical engineer, classroom teacher, campus network specialist, dean of instruction, assistant principal, principal of Hartman Middle School, and most recently principal of Jones Futures Academy. Through his work, he has received recognition from Rice University’s REEP Program and the George W. Bush Presidential Center. He was recognized as HISD’s Secondary Principal of the Year and the Region IV Secondary Principal of the Year for the 2017-18 school year. Previously, he was selected as Bilingual Teacher of the Year, HISD Assistant Principal of the Year, and HISD’s Rookie Secondary Principal of the Year.

    Ponce earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at the National Autonomous University of Honduras in Tegucigalpa, a master’s degree in educational administration and supervision at the University of Houston, a bilingual education certification from St. Thomas University, a REEP Business Fellowship for School Leaders from Rice University, and superintendent certification from Region IV. His accomplishments as a secondary school leader led him to serve as a lead principal working to support other secondary school leaders in HISD. Ponce earned his doctoral degree in fall 2019 in public school administration at Texas A&M University- College Station.

    Contact Information:
    Assistant Superintendent High Schools Office
    Houston Independent School District
    4400 West 18th Street, Houston, TX  77092-8501

    Phone: 713-556-9123
    E-mail: GPONCE@houstonisd.org