CROSBY, Texas (KTRK) -- Today is the first day of classes in Crosby ISD, like many other school districts around the state. And after being out for most of the last year, much of the attention will be focused on the nearly 6,500 students safely getting back to the classroom. But there's another big change in Crosby.
For the first time ever, the district's superintendent is a woman and African American. Paula Patterson, former teacher and principal, is now leading the district where she grew up.
Patterson said, "It was great growing up here, and I loved it so much, I raised my kids here."
Her father grew up in Crosby too, but in a different world.
"He graduated from the segregated high school back in his day. So this is his town, and so to see his daughter leading the district is a huge moment for him," said Patterson.
But it isn't just the older generation who is proud.
Patterson's son Cedric said, "I just felt amazed because she always told us to make a mark, leave a legacy wherever you are and it was nice to see that she said that, then went out and did it."
When Patterson got the call, she said she took a deep breath, said thank you, and told the district they wouldn't regret it. "I promise I'm going to give you 110%. And I hung up. My husband got up to hug me, and I just started crying," said Patterson.
The district has battled financial difficulties and COVID. So Patterson's priorities are clear for this new school year.
"Most definitely bringing our kids back in a safe environment, keeping everyone healthy and continuing the top notch education we provide here. It's also increasing and improving our district culture. Let's get back to loving each other," said Patterson. "I'm here to bring about healing and moving forward. And I can do that because I'm from here. I know where we've been and I know where I want us to be. So let's move forward together."
Patterson added she wants to be a role model for every student in the district, proof that with hard work and a sense of purpose, anyone can rise to the top.