University of Houston-Clear Lake School of Education officials are busy welcoming James “Randy” Willison Sr. as their new director for the school’s Center for Educational Programs.
Willison, who served 22 years as an Arkansas public school administrator, including superintendent, comes to UH-Clear Lake most recently from the Fort Bend School District, where he was senior consultant for teacher development.
He admits to being passionate about teacher development and plans to draw upon his 20-plus years of experience in that area as the UHCL center seeks to expand its offering of professional development opportunities to educators in the surrounding area’s school districts.
“We do some now,” he explains, “but the dean (School of Education Dean Mark Shermis) would like to see us expand our role and be a resource for districts in the area.”
Willison also envisions involving the UHCL faculty more in the process, seeing himself “as a broker, matching the needs for professional development and training at the schools with what the School of Education faculty and staff care about and do best.”
He is only the third director of the center that traces its history back to the early 1980s. Today, the Center for Educational Programs coordinates the School of Education’s clinical services such as diagnostic testing, supports a broad range of programs for children and youth including the popular Kids U summer camps, and the year-round tutoring program. It also offers non-credit courses for area educators, and assists local schools and school districts in emerging and ongoing professional development activities, while also promoting and supporting other SOE projects.
At the top of the new director’s agenda is a series of visits to area schools and school districts, where he will seek to reinforce current partnerships and create new ones, while pursuing a needs analysis.
Originally from Oklahoma, Willison earned a Doctor of Education in Educational Administration and Supervision at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. His Bachelor of Arts in Education and Masters of Arts in English were both completed at the University of Central Oklahoma. He began his career as a secondary classroom English teacher, before going on to become an assistant principal, principal, and ultimately superintendent.
Willison retired from the Arkansas public school system after 28 years, relocating to the Houston area.