Q/A with principal Dr. Cody Blair
August 27, 2021
Dr. Cody Blair is starting his fourth year as the principal of Rider High School. Despite facing inconveniences the first couple of days, Blair is looking forward to a great year. Blair sat down with the Rider Chronicle to discuss any new changes, dress code and COVID protocols.
Q: Congratulations on earning Region 9 Outstanding Principal of the Year. What does that honor mean to you?
A: It means a ton just because it is such an honor to serve and be a part of this school. To me, it really means and reflects the great people we have at Rider with outstanding students and tons of great families. We have the best staff in the state of Texas, the best teachers, coaches and directors. It is a great place.
Q: How do you feel the first full week went?
A: After we got through bomb threat No. 2, it was a pretty good week. I saw some pretty funny memes people made about it, kind of lightened the mood. We were definitely better with the one on Monday. I hated that we all had to do it again, but we had spent the weekend before trying to revamp how we were doing things, make it better and think through how we can just take care of people better. So it went little better that time, without us getting a chance to formally train the staff on the changes and what we were doing. But now they have all been aware of the new stuff so that is good. Really after that we got to have school last week, which was great. I thought before the first bomb threat on the second day of school, we had a great start to the year just because everyone was back on campus, there was some excitement and a little bit of a sense of normalcy. It was exciting for our staff and students. I thought last week was good, I think this week will be better just because we won’t have that fog hanging over us because those two events did take a lot out of everyone. It takes out a lot of people mentally even some physical taxing on people. This will be a great week, I’m looking forward to it.
Q: How does it feel to get back to a more normal school year?
A: I don’t know how everyone else is feeling, for me it is super exciting. The reason I get so excited about it is just thinking of the students, students that lost a lot of opportunities and a lot of things over the last 18 months. Last year we did our best to try to make it as normal as we could and still do a lot of fun things, activities and events that students enjoy here at the school. This year the idea that we get to do a lot more of that stuff for y’all and y’all to get to have all the fun high school experiences again, that makes it really exciting. I think that’s one of the best things about it is that part. I also think here at Rider, like I said earlier, we have really good people. And to me I don’t mean this in a super bragging way, but we’re really good at having school and doing things with excellence here, all of our staff is, all our programs, all of our leaders. So this year hopefully we don’t have to deal with as many COVID-type things and we can deal more with educational, extracurricular and just be more student focused that way, so we’re excited about it.
Q: What is the biggest hardship you have faced since coming back?
A: Besides two bomb threats on the second and third day of school, which everyone big picture really handled really well, right now there are very different expectations, rules and information for different state entities dealing with COVID specifically. So last year in the state of Texas everything worked because the state was saying here’s what we expect, the health departments were saying here’s what we expect and all the school districts in Texas were saying this is how we’re all going to do it. We’re all going to wear a mask, we’re going to offer remote learning, attendance requirements were relaxed a little bit, accountability requirements for the state were relaxed when it came to test performance. So last year everything lined up and worked well. That is not the case this year and that’s the biggest challenge is I feel like schools are kind of caught in between what the health department is saying because they’re doing the exactly same thing as last year and they kind of follow what the CDC says. And now what TEA which governs schools says, they have very different requirements and very different rules that don’t line up. We have to follow TEA because they told us this year that compulsory attendance is back for all kids all students, we have to come to school, we have to be here 90% of the time, accountability is back that means we have to make sure everyone is on grade level doing all the thing and meeting our marks. So all of that’s back but the health department is just saying we don’t care we’re still going to operate how we did last year. And we are ever sensitive of that, we want to be keeping everyone safe and following what they’re trying to tell us, but we don’t have the resources we did last year or the same set of rules. That is definitely the biggest thing going on right now.
Q: Are there any new rules students need to be informed on?
A: We went over some stuff just for dress code, we went back and looked at the dress code policy a little bit. We clarified some things that we thought would be a little bit more student friendly. We are still following the district policy, but just kind of made how we are interpreting some stuff a little bit better. The (assistant principals) went over that with all groups and all students. So, hopefully that will be good. The district changed some of their discipline requirements, but really it’s not going to impact students too much on day-to-day things. We were already doing a lot of restored practices with that and a lot of that will continue. Again the COVID stuff is different because you have the health department saying if you’re close contact, you have to quarantine. Then the state of Texas TEA says that it is up to the parents of the kid who is close contact that is not symptomatic, the parent may choose to send them to school.
Q: What are your hopes for Rider this school year? Are you excited?
A: I cannot tell y’all how excited that I am and really I think everyone is about this school year. I know we didn’t have the smooth start we wanted just because of those couple of evacuation events, even just some of this COVID stuff, kind of a rollercoaster of that. We are so excited about this year, this is going to be and already has been a great year. We’re excited to have all students back, make it great for you guys with extracurricular events, fun things we do traditionals and all kinds of that stuff. Then also just to make it great for learning in our career education programs, all of our dual credit, advanced courses, every classroom–we just want to keep focusing on and just get back to things we love to do here which is work with kids. And help you guys get prepared for life after high school. I know I’m excited and talking to our staff, a lot of our staff is excited, even talking to the students people are looking forward to a great year. Trying to have a positive mindset and make it a great year, we’re not going to let other things bring us down.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to say about this school year?
A: Besides just how excited we are about it, we’ll still need everyone’s help when things do come up that are unexpected or changes. Everyone, students, parents, even our staff has been so gracious and patient over the last 18 months and there will be some more of that this year, so we just need to be ready. But I do think that if we all kind of keep our eyes on the prize and really what we’re here to do. Do it the Rider way where it’s a “One Family, One Team” approach and we’re positive and really enjoy being with each other and doing all those things. I think it’s going to be a great year.