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Woman I Am | Temple High's First African American Valedictorian turned Assistant Principal looks back on her journey

First African American Temple High Valedictorian turned Cedar Hill Assistant Principal explains how her life lessons have prepared her for the pandemic era of today.

TEMPLE, Texas — For International Women's Month, 6 News is presenting a series titled "I Am Woman," which will highlight the exceptional women right here in Central Texas. These women have stories, goals and obstacles they have overcome in order to get where they are and give back to the community.

As an assistant principal at Bray Elementary in Cedar Hill Independent School District (CHISD) and a Ph.D. Candidate, Temple native Mary Robinson, says all it took was impactful teachers to inspire her to become the first African American valedictorian at Temple High School.  

Before she became Assistant Principal in 2021, in 2003, she was Temple High School Student Mary Alice Murray. 

"My favorite teacher was Mike Horner," Robinson said, "He taught me history. I was naturally just a math person, science person. So Temple and my schooling there hold a special place in my heart. I learned the power of really connecting with an audience."

Robinson credits Horner's dedication to teaching to be what really motivated her to excel in her classes. A teacher who really had a presence in the classroom.

"I saw my teacher do that. I saw him do more than just the bare minimum. Read the textbook. Children answer the questions. I saw him inspire. I saw him engage with us," said Robinson. 

The lessons she learned from teachers like Horner, she uses as the assistant principal at Cedar Hill's Bray Elementary and even outside of work-life as well. 

Robinson worked as a teacher, department head and instructional coach, before her position at Bray Elementary.

Robinson is continuing her education after receiving her master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the University of Chicago (2003) and John Hopkins University (2008). Currently, the assistant principal is working towards her Ph.D. in Educational Administration at the University of North Texas. 

What the assistant principal learned almost fifteen years ago, she says still rings true today. Her students even during the pandemic, are no different especially when motivation is involved. 

"I'm just someone who is passionate about helping other students and really growing teachers, just helping them grow, and delivering impactful lessons," said Robinson.  

 As the pandemic continues COVID numbers surge and teaching has become difficult on students in the new age of technology, Robinson has had to equip her students with tools to handle the new pandemic stressors.

"We are equipping our scholars to manage everything on their plate and deal with life," said Robinson. "I find it really important and it's really just gratifying because we know as adults we have to do the same thing."

This year has taught all of us that even as new problems arise, old lessons don't ever change. Robinson continues to use her skills to inspire not only her school but her community.

"I'm just excited to be a part of a community of teachers and staff and leaders that are working to support kids. I love being a part of that," said Robinson.

Here are pictures of Robinson when she was a student at Temple High with peers: 

Editor's Note | This is the longer version of Mary Robinson's story of motivation and inspiration.