Howdie Principal Patterson!

Principal Heather Patterson talks about her past life and how it is like following her Wildcats into the Ranch!


Ethan McGinty

George Ranch’s new principal Mrs. Patterson at her positivity wall.

By Ethan McGinty, Staff Photographer

The Wrangler: What made you decide to go into education?

Patterson: I thought I wanted to be a flight attendant or marine biologist, but after working with kids in gymnastics and babysitting it was the natural fit for me.

The Wrangler: What did you originally teach and for how long?

Patterson: I have been in education for 20 years…yikes I’m old!  I taught elementary school at Pink Elementary and Travis Elementary before becoming the Assistant Principal when we opened Velasquez Elementary.  I opened Polly Ryon Middle School as the Principal in 2013 and that was such an amazing experience because now I get to see what we started in 6th grade and how you have transformed into amazing high school young adults.  Not many Principals get to follow their kids all the way up, so I am super thankful for the opportunity.

The Wrangler: Why did you decide to come to George Ranch? 

Patterson: This was a surprise to me!  I never really thought I would be a High School principal, but when Dr. Randle asked me, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to follow the first class of Polly Ryon Longhorns…who are now the Graduating class of 2020! That’s a full circle moment for me, as I feel super blessed to be the one that gets to watch them walk across that stage.  I better stock up on Kleenex!

The Wrangler: Why did you decide to start being a principal? 

Patterson: I loved teaching, but I love watching teachers teaching and kids learning even more.  Being a principal allows that.  I get a bird’s eye view of all the great lessons going on in the classrooms and I get to hang out with kids and teachers all day…what’s not to love?

The Wrangler: What is it like becoming a high school principal after years of being an elementary and middle school principal?

Patterson: Although I loved being at elementary and middle school, High school has so many exciting things going on in every area of the building.  There is never a boring moment on the Ranch!

The Wrangler: How has the change in the number of kids you’re responsible for affected you as a principal?

Patterson: This is four times the amount of kids I had at Velasquez and Polly Ryon so more than anything it takes a lot more hands-on-deck to monitor safety and security on the campus.  We have 3,000 people in this building each day with staff and students, so I kind of feel like a Mayor of a small city.  I want our Longhorn families, students, and staff to feel safe here and hopefully have a little fun in the process while they are getting their “learn on”.

The Wrangler: What are some differences between the three schools you’ve been principal for?

Patterson: The biggest difference is I have had Pre-K through 12th now…that’s a wide range!

The Wrangler: What is it like being principal? What are some of your responsibilities? Is being a principal hard? Explain in detail.

Patterson: Being a Principal is the best, but it’s the hardest job that I have ever had. I am responsible for 3,000 people every day, and I do not take that lightly.  I love the staff and students at GR, and will do everything in my power to keep them safe (yes, even wearing lanyards to help make sure it is only GR peeps walking around here). Being a Principal is hard work, but luckily when you work in a school you can always find something to make you laugh, especially on the hard days, we keep looking for that silver lining.  Tough days don’t last…tough people do, and Longhorns are the toughest!

The Wrangler: How is the Ranch treating you?

Patterson: I love the Ranch!  Lots of great families, staff, and students have been very welcoming!  I feel blessed to be here.

The Wrangler: What is it like seeing kids you’ve known since they were in elementary being seniors in high school?

Patterson: Oh my goodness, I get really emotional seeing my Wildcats all grown up and thriving.  I like to take out the yearbooks from elementary and look through them to see how much you all have changed.  I kind of feel like I have been a “school mama” to some of you since we have been together so long.  It’s really special to me, and something that is really going to hit me at graduation time for sure!

The Wrangler: How has the age difference between the schools affected how you view the kids?

Patterson: Kids are kids! Little kids and big kids both have problems, obstacles to overcome, they are just different types of obstacles.  At the High school level, I just try to listen more and give pointers.  Most of the time you all have already figured out a solution, you just need some advice and that is why I am here.  I want you to leave GRHS feeling loved and supported and ready to tackle the world!

The Wrangler: What was your inspiration to be a teacher, let alone the principal of several schools?

Patterson: Mrs. Burns was my first-grade teacher and I always wanted to be just like her.  She was smart, pretty, and gave me my first swat on the behind.  No, I am not kidding!  I might or might not have been chasing my best friend Holly under a bathroom stall, totally (gross) her fault of course. 🙂  Mrs. Burns was that teacher who sent me news clippings from when I made the paper, came to my graduation, and was even there 20 years later when my grandfather passed away.  That the kind of impact I hope that I make on some (or many) of you! I want to stay in touch long after you graduate!

The Wrangler: You’ve changed kids’ lives making them feel safe and full of spirit, how does that make you feel?

Patterson: Where’s the Kleenex?  That makes my heart so happy.  If I can make ONE person feel like a SOMEBODY I feel I am doing a decent job! I truly love being the principal of George Ranch and can’t wait to see where we go from here!