Linda Ellis has moved permanently into the office of superintendent of the Grand Prairie Independent School District. She’s held this role on an interim basis since the death of her longtime colleague Susan Simpson Hull in July. And as she prepares to put her own stamp on the office, she remains inspired by her late predecessor.
“I learned a lot serving under her leadership. Susan had a great impact on education in Grand Prairie and beyond,” Ellis said. “She was highly regarded around the state, not only as a strong, female superintendent, but also for positioning Grand Prairie ISD as a leader in providing choice for students and families.
“She continues to inspire me because she was a model for determination, and she made things happen. Hull was an advocate for all children and always made child-centered decisions. And, of course, she created a system where students could attend the school or program of their choice.”
Having been in the Grand Prairie school district for 26 years, Ellis was privy to each of those accomplishments. She has spent the past school year since Hull’s death in a motorcycle accident, continuing to advance the district. A bigger challenge in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic since March.
“Our most immediate challenge is navigating the pandemic that has changed the way we have delivered education for over 100 years in Grand Prairie. Long term, we want to offer the best education for students so they will be competitive in a global marketplace,” Ellis said. “We also want to make GPISD a destination district that parents want their children to attend.”
Goals: Improve academic performance, create opportunities, ensure equity
Ellis said her major goals as superintendent include improving academic performance, continuing to create diversifying opportunities for children and their families and ensuring equity for all children.
Over the next decade, Ellis said, “I want every student to have an individualized and specialized education to meet their needs and goals.”
As for her greatest accomplishments during her interim capacity, Ellis named providing devices for instruction in a totally virtual environment (thanks to COVID-19) and pulling staff together after the death of Hull.
“Ms. Ellis has done a tremendous job leading our district through two significant events,” said School Board President Burke Hall. “Her leadership has been a steadying presence in the wake of the loss of Dr. Hull, and again with the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our schools. We feel she will further the vision of GPISD and lead us into the next great chapter of Grand Prairie schools.”
Before being appointed interim superintendent, Ellis served as the deputy superintendent of teaching and learning with oversight of core curriculum, dyslexia services, special education, bilingual education, languages other than English, response to intervention, section 504, STEM education and advanced academics.
Ellis holds a bachelor of science degree from East Texas State University (now Texas A&M-Commerce) and a master of education degree from Texas A&M-Commerce.
“I’ve invested 26 years here. I have worked in various capacities in the district and I always felt like my impact would be bigger,” Ellis said. “I never saw myself as superintendent but felt an obligation to step up following Dr. Hull’s death.”