Michael Van Essen has been named principal of the Dobie Ninth Grade Campus. Also pictured: Franklin Moses, principal of Dobie High School and Ryan Peel, named dean of instruction for the Dobie Early College High School at the Pasadena ISD November board meeting.
By Reesha Brown
The Pasadena ISD Board of Trustees approved the hiring recommendation for Michael Van Essen to serve as principal of the Dobie Ninth Grade Campus, effective January 2017.
Van Essen has accumulated 27 years of experience in education. He began his teaching career at Santa Fe ISD in 1989, where he taught P.E., Texas history and world geography. Van Essen got his start in educational administration as an assistant principal at Santa Fe High in 2002, and was promoted to principal in 2004.
In 2007, he joined the Dobie Longhorns as assistant principal and will continue to lead a new herd as principal of the Ninth Grade Campus.
“I am extremely excited,” Van Essen said. “I think this is a great opportunity for our students at Dobie High School and throughout Pasadena ISD.”
A graduate of South Dakota State University with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and history, Van Essen holds a master’s in educational management from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. He received his educational certifications in all levels of P.E., secondary history and administrative leadership.
His first plan of action is to collaborate with district leaders on a plan to educate the community about the vision of the new campus.
“I plan on meeting with Dr. DeeAnn Powell [Pasadena ISD school superintendent] Ms. Alyta Harrell [PISD associate superintendent] and [Dobie] Principal Franklin Moses to set up timelines to release important information to all the stakeholders involved.”
The Ninth Grade Campus is designed to help intermediate students make a smooth transition into high school. The campus will house only first-year ninth graders and provide them with the same academic and extra-curricular opportunities as students on the main campus.
Enrollment at Dobie reached an all-time high with 4,000 students this school year, exceeding the maximum capacity of the building based on current academic programming requirements. To address overcrowding issues, during the 2014 school bond measure, members of the Future Facilities Committee, recommended a ninth grade campus.
Located at the corner of Monroe and Fuqua, the campus is undergoing construction and is expected to open to students in fall 2017.
Dobie Principal Franklin Moses anticipates that with the selection of Van Essen as leader of the Ninth Grade Campus, the school will be successful.
“Michael was an excellent choice due to his strong leadership abilities, familiarity with the Dobie culture and his passion and excitement for all things Dobie, including students, teachers and programs,” Moses said.
“I am very excited to collaborate with Mr. Van Essen and I know that this will be a productive and positive opportunity for all students coming up through the Dobie feeder system.”