Total named Junior High Principal

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN

A veteran of 16 years in education – a dozen of those in administration – was tapped Monday as the new principal at Liberty Hill Junior High.

Travis Motal – who comes to Liberty Hill from Taylor, where he most recently served three years as middle school principal, after serving in the same role at Taylor’s intermediate campus – is excited about the new opportunity on the other end of Williamson County for a couple of reasons.

“One is this is a really great district that’s got a really great reputation to be a part of,” Motal said. “It is fast-growing so there are a lot of opportunities to be a part of something really special as you open up buildings and you open up things for new kids.

“The second part of it is personally for my professional growth I just think Mr. (Steve) Snell has put together a great team and to be a part of that is just something really special.”

Throughout the interview process, Motal impressed Superintendent Steve Snell.

“He has done some tough things in Taylor and done some really, really good things,” Snell said. “We look forward to him bringing his leadership style and experience to Liberty Hill. At the end of the day, not only was he the best candidate, but he also had some real experience to go along with it.”

Finding someone with solid administrative experience was critical.

“That was important because I’ve got great principals at every campus, but now that we have two veterans retiring we have some young principals and I thought bringing a veteran into the mix would be good for Liberty Hill,” Snell said.

Working with students at middle school age and watching them grow has been the great joy of a career in education for Motal.

“Hands down it’s the kids,” he said. “When I was at the intermediate campus in Taylor I was with those kids as fourth and fifth graders and now they are seventh and eighth graders and to see them grow and change and develop, being a part of their lives when they are really at a transition point, is really special.”

He is looking forward to doing the same in Liberty Hill.

“If I can be a part of kids’ lives here, it is the same thing, just watching them grow and experience different things going through the ups and downs of life, whether it be grades or personal stuff,” he said. “Helping them understand this all part of the growing process is important.”

Being raised on a farm in Hallettsville taught Motal the value of hard work today.

“I grew up on a farm, raising cows, fixing fences,” he said. “I played all the sports because you know our school was small you had to play everything. It was great. It really taught me a lot about hard work and perseverance.”

Snell said Liberty Hill had 75 applicants for the principal post, and used a lengthy process to narrow it down to one.

“We culled all those resumes and the first round of interviews was myself and central office staff,” Snell said. “We pulled the top 10 candidates and vetted those to take to the next round. The next round ended up being five people. We wanted to have three, but we had five really good ones so we took five to the second round.”

There were 15 people on the committee conducting second-round interviews, mostly made up of campus staff.

“It’s an important hire so we wanted to get it right,” Snell said. “From there two candidates really emerged as the top two and I brought them back for a one-on-one interview and talked some campus specifics and how they thought they could lead the campus through.”

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