Michelle Rochinski Leaving Legacy of Excellence After Consecutive State Championship Victories

LCHS Softball Coach stepping away from head coaching duties to focus on family, being a mom

After twenty-three years as a head coach, Michelle Rochinski is hanging up the head coach title with a record of 541-171 and 76% career win percentage. She has advanced her team to the playoffs each year that she has been a head coach, has been named District Coach of the Year seven times, County Coach of the Year five times and will most likely add one to each of those categories when this year’s awards are announced. Her teams have won nine District Championships and had three state tournament appearances, resulting in a second place finish with the Montgomery Bears in 2012 and two State Championships with the Lions in 2022 and 2023.

“This decision was made prior to the outcome of this season,” Rochinski shared. “I just needed to make sure that the season was about the girls, my players, and I could announce my decision after we finished our run for another title. We had huge goals and I wanted to see them accomplish them without any attention being on me.”

Rochinski is not retiring from teaching and coaching, but instead is stepping away from the duties of a head coach so she can commit her weekends and holidays to her family. Her son Cade, a 2022 Lake Creek graduate, is a linebacker at Howard Payne University and her daughter Kalee, the Lions starting catcher who graduated this year, is committed to play at UTSA beginning this fall.

“I need to be a mom now, in the stands cheering for Cade and Kalee,” Rochinski said. “They deserve my time and I’m so excited to just get to be their biggest fan.”

Rochinski has coached her daughter through high school, as well as in select ball during her junior high years. Though she admits that coaching your own kid, especially in such a successful and competitive program, for sure had its moments, she wouldn’t change a thing about the opportunity these last four years provided for the two of them together.

“We’ve had our times,” Rochinski said. “I think it’s been harder for her than for me, but she says she wouldn’t change a thing and I surely wouldn’t either. “

In 2012 Coach Rochinski brought home a silver medal to her little girl and exactly ten years later they brought home gold together.

When Kaylee was preparing to enter high school, Michelle considered stepping away from coaching so her daughter could play without her mom on the staff. Then with a new high school opening and the opportunity to be the coach that opens a school and lays a foundation for a brand new program, Rochinski admits that’s an opportunity that not every coach gets. Kalee wanted to go to Lake Creek, her zoned campus, and Michelle wasn’t going to coach against her, so they agreed to give it a year and see what would come.

“Gosh, it just goes by so fast,” Rochinski said. “After the first year- yeah, I knew I wanted to keep going with her. When we get home from practices and games, I have to be intentional about being mom and not being coach, but it’s been so very enjoyable. This senior class I have seen play forever, since they were all little girls, I have been cheering for them to succeed. So to make the run we made with this class, with my daughter’s friends, it’s been good times.”

Rochinski has a lot to say about a 23-year head coaching career, but her favorite thing, the thing that made her show up each day and give all she has to softball, was seeing the growth that comes in student-athletes as they learn and mature from freshmen to seniors. She finds so much joy and value in the energy that the girls provided and the passion and enthusiasm they have shown for a sport they love, but getting to witness the way they improve and grow in just four years was definitely the highlight of her coaching career.

“Getting to reflect with them on the ways they have improved and learned, yeah, that’s my favorite part,” Rochinski said. “And just being a part of influencing them with the life lessons that sports can offer. Having them come back from college and admit they learned something from me as a coach, things about life, that’s what coaching is all about for me.”

There’s no doubt that coaching has also been about winning, as success has been evident when Rochinski has been a head coach. Over the last two seasons, the Lions have only lost one game, setting a new state record for most consecutive wins with 82. After a loss to Georgetown in game two of the Regional Finals, some around the team wondered how the Lions would handle a loss and if it would end their run to defend their state championship. Rochinski says it was clear that it was never about a win streak. Lots of good teams win state championships with losses and it’s how they overcome those losses that really builds a champion.

“Winning a state tournament undefeated wasn’t even a goal to have in mind this year, because it’s so unreal,” Rochinski said. “That streak was phenomenal and it may be a streak that is never again broken, but the goal this year was always to win two games a week, which would get us to the state tournament. Even going back-to-back is so incredibly hard and I don’t know how many people really understand that, so just getting to the tournament two years in a row was an incredible feat. And two games a week. That was our goal and that’s what we did.”

Before the first pitch of the Championship game on Saturday afternoon, Rochinski was recognized on the field with her husband and two children by her side, named the National Federation of State High School Coaches (NFHS) Coach of the Year. After the historic 41-0 season in 2022, Rochinski was named the 5A-6A Texas Girls Coaches Association Coach of the Year, TSWA Class 5A Coach of the Year, H-Town Sports High School Coach of the Year, Vype Houston Coach of the Year and with her assistant coaches, the Lions coaching staff was named the NFCA Coaching Staff of the Year.

Rochinski feels like she’s achieved the goals that she has set for herself as a coach and her 500 plus career wins, three state tournament appearances and the foundation that’s been laid for the Lake Creek softball program can clearly support that thought. Since she’s not stepping away from coaching altogether, she is excited for the opportunity to do something different. As Lake Creek’s Assistant Athletic Coordinator, she says she wants to be there for everybody, supporting and helping all head coaches with whatever they need.

“Whether it’s advice that I can offer after my 24 years’ experience or helping them manage the outside influences that can impact their season, I just want to help,” Rochinski said. “I know I have more to offer our Lake Creek Lions, I just need to do it in a role that allows me to focus on my family too, while helping as many coaches and players as I can in the years I have left. We have amazing kids at Lake Creek and I’m just excited to be a part of all the greatness that is happening here.”

Rochinski will continue to serve the Lake Creek Athletic Department in her role as Assistant Athletic Coordinator and will also be the assistant golf coach in the spring, helping to support those successful programs that produced a State Finalist team with the girls and the State Champion team for the boys in 2023. In her career, Michelle has been an assistant coach for volleyball, basketball and soccer and though golf is going to be new for her, the mentality of coaching champions and helping student-athletes find success in the sport and in life is what she knows she can offer.

“Michelle has been an incredible asset for Montgomery ISD at both MHS and Lake Creek and we are so thankful that she is going to stay on board as an active team member of Lake Creek Athletics,” MISD Athletic Director Coach Heard said. “She has a commitment to excellence in all that she does and the way she has grown such great character and maturity in her student-athletes is something we are not ready to let go of quite yet. Any female-athlete that she can help train mentally and any coach she can mentor will be blessed by her leadership and work ethic.”

Rochinski will be a part of the search and selection process for the coach that takes the reigns of Lake Creek Softball and is excited for the future of the program and all sports at Lake Creek. She is a celebrated coach for more than just wins, as her reputation and that of her program is seen as one that rises to the level of character development she expects as well. The Lions softball team has been praised for the ways they win with grace, treat their opponents, serve in the community and how to behave as a guest in a visitor’s locker room or on a bus, and Rochinksi says those things, in addition to the kind of students they are in the classroom, are what make champions even better than an 82-game win-streak does.

“That’s always been an important part of our program,” Rochinski said. “It’s not just about varsity and a winning record, it’s about all the players in the program and how they are performing in the classroom and out in their daily lives. That’s the most important part of education for us as coaches. I’m not saying my way is the right way all the time, but the more we can implement the character and the reputation into what we teach and train in student-athletes, the more successful they will be in life and the better Lake Creek High School will be.”

So it’s not goodbye. It’s see you in August, when Rochinski will take lessons learned and the standard of excellence she has set and support all of the Lake Creek family, while having time available to be her own kids’ number one fan.

Montgomery selects Dettmer as new coach of Bears Softball

Montgomery ISD has named Jeremy Dettmer as the head coach of Montgomery Bears softball program. Dettmer comes to MISD with 29 years coaching experience at both the high school and college level, in schools in Iowa and North Texas.

“Jeremy brings an incredible amount of experience, having coached at both the high school and collegiate level,” MHS Athletic Coordinator Grant Cooper said. “I believe the leadership and skill development he will bring to Montgomery will provide great opportunity for success for our softball program.”

Education and coaching was always in the plans for Dettmer after college, but when an injury ended his collegiate career after just two years of college football, Dettmer asked to be a manager of the girls softball team at Buena Vista University and has been assisting or coaching ever since. This coming school year will be his 30th year in coaching and his 21st year in the classroom. In Iowa a coach is not required to fill a teaching role, so Dettmer was able to continue coaching while he took a break from the classroom from 2001-2008 to work in the private sector and obtain his master’s degree in Sports Psychology and his Doctorate of Psychology. Dettmer moved to Texas in 2008 to coach at South Grand Prairie and has been a head coach or varsity assistant in Colleyville Heritage, Euless Trinity, Brock and Coppell school districts.

“I’m excited to bring my knowledge and experience, but also come to a place that truly values a focus on culture,” Dettmer said. “I want to grow a program in which the players, parents and coaches all trust each other, and the parents and coaches can work together to support the needs of our student-athletes.”

Dettmer believes he has something to offer in developing strong female student-athletes as they learn to compete at a high level while handling the stress and the challenges that come, on top of their need to succeed in the classroom and in life. Having coached collegiate Conference Champion basketball teams and high school softball teams that have advanced as far as the Regional Tournament, Dettmer combines education and experience as he coaches and trains athletes.

“I believe it is a coach’s responsibility to help our students overcome struggles and learn how to succeed through failure,” Dettmer said. “I will not lower the bar, but rather we will have a standard and we will work harder than our opponents to meet that standard-together. I will not only coach softball, but I will teach them stress management and coping skills to be able to handle the big moments and overcome the challenges that come with being a competitive athlete.”

Jeremy is married to Amy and together they have three children Madison (25), Brayden (21) and Reece (16) and one granddaughter, Luna. His teaching experience is in specialized learning, social studies and psychology and he is very excited to join the Bear family this summer.

Lake Creek exchange student overcomes challenging start and contributes to State-Medalist Lions Girls Golf

Only child at age 15 comes to America and leaves an everlasting impact on her host family and golf team

Lake Creek golf coach Sam Hochhauser received word last summer that a student from Spain, that may be pretty good at golf, would be attending Lake Creek for the year as a foreign exchange student. Being the coach of a team that placed sixth at State in 2022 and only graduated one senior, one couldn’t predict that a foreign exchange student would fill in the gap and make the impact that Maria Ruiz de la Herran Espana was going to make.

“We were so fortunate to get an immediate-impact player like Maria,” Hochhauser said. “I found out she was coming a couple of weeks prior to the start of school. From the first swing I saw of hers, I knew she would be special, and that first impression proved to be true throughout the season.”

While Coach Hochhauser was learning that he had a new team member that would make an impact, Maria was not in a placement that was suitable and was requesting a change through her agency coordinator. For Maria, it wasn’t looking like her experience in America was going to be a good one. Then came the Ogorchock family and their obedience to what they can only describe as God’s calling.

“I was visiting with a friend the first week of school and she mentioned that a foreign exchange student that played golf needed a new host home,” host mom Amanda Ogorchock shared. “We already have three children that are all busy and have multiple sports and activities, so I wasn’t sure we could handle another. But after prayer and talking to our children, we said yes! She joined us August 18 and she has been an incredible blessing to our family.”

Maria, an only child in her family, immediately had three siblings and two host parents that adored her and were completely invested in making this year in America one for the memory books. Though the Ogorchocks have a golf membership at Conroe Country Club, which offered Maria the opportunity to practice and train with golf pro Ron Herridge, Michael and Amanda Ogorchock have never had a golfer in the house that they had to go watch.

“It was a learning experience on how to follow at the course and walking along with her,” Michael Ogorchock said. “I learned her mannerisms to know when she was upset with a shot or when she made a great one. The toughest part was wanting to will her to do well, and hurting for her when she didn’t.”

Lake Creek golf did do quite well, earning the title of both District and Region Champions and finishing third at State, the most successful season in Lake Creek Golf’s history. Maria’s contributions to the team, both as a golfer and as a teammate, were instrumental to their success.

“The girls are a tight knit group and they accepted her as one of their own,” Coach Sam Hochhauser said. “She fit in to the group seamlessly and her play on the course helped us tremendously. She worked hard and improved as the year went on, having several tournaments where her score was meaningful to our success.”

Golf has always been a sport that Maria’s family has played, but in Spain it is an individual sport. After putting the clubs down competitively at around age 12, because it didn’t provide much fun anymore, Maria learned she would be attending school in America at a high school that had a golf team. She spent the month before traveling working on her game and practicing more, sending swing videos to Coach Hochhauser.

“Losing a senior on varsity last year, we weren’t sure who would fill the spot,” senior Lake Creek golfer Katya Tibbetts said. “But as soon as she came to practice, we knew she was going to be the one.”

Lake Creek Girls Golf District Scorecard for District 21-5A Championship

Coming onto a successful team as a female athlete can be rough, especially a team so competitive and successful. Not being able to drive and get herself to any school events, her teammates quickly became her chauffeurs and say they never did it out of pity or obligation, but because they truly wanted to be her friend and loved getting to know her better.

“Maria is so sweet and she was pretty clueless when she first came, so we were just really happy to take her under our wings,” senior team member Kailana Davis said. “Then it was just easy, and we hung out with her because she was our friend- not because we had to help the new girl.”

Girls on the team started attending Bible study together and hanging out after practice and the connection between them all as friends quickly turned to success on the course.

“This has been the best year for me!” Maria said. “I’ve never gotten to play this sport on a team, and it just made it so much more fun! As a team player, you want to do better, and you want to put in the work to improve when you are motivated to support a team score. I love these girls so much and they’ve always been so nice to me!”

Being a foreign exchange student is a one-year commitment that will leave a family and a team very saddened to see her leave, but very thankful for the impact she made. Maria says that school in America is much more fun and the opportunities for learning are significantly better than at home. At Lake Creek HS she is taking the required exchange classes of Geography, US History, Biology and Algebra II, but she is thankful for classes like Hospitality and Child Development that are allowing her the opportunity to think about her future. As this was technically her sophomore year of high school, she is hopeful that she can experience another year here before graduation.

“In Spain you don’t have the options that are available here to take career and future-based learning or specialize in a detailed subject area,” Maria said. “Math is just math and science is just science, so the specific course studies have been a lot more fun. I have to go back to Spain for my junior year, but if the school will let me, I would like to come back my senior year.”

With a grin and giggle among her teammates, she added, “But if I get to come back, I will only come back if I can come back to Lake Creek.”

In less than a year, Maria has not only created lifelong friendships through the golf team, but has also developed sibling relationships with the three Ogorchock children, something very different than her only-child life back home. Maggie (14) is a freshman at Lake Creek and Mollie (11) and Luke (9) attend Keenan ES.

“Maria embraced each of them from day one, and now they are all very close,” Michael said. “Our youngest Luke said she is his nicest sister, Mollie adores her because she pays attention to her and lets her hang out with her, and our oldest Maggie and her are as thick as thieves.  We will all be very sad when she leaves.”

Maria (left) with the Ogorchock children, Maggie, Mollie and Luke.

The family has shared Aggie football, Houston Astros baseball and even Disneyland with Maria in tow, always including her as their own. Amanda says that they first decided that above all she needed to feel safe and loved, because that’s what she would want for her own children. And together with their extended family, they immediately found out she was easy to love as they shared holidays and vacations with her. Before she returns to Spain in June, the family is taking a trip to Mexico together for one final experience.

“We didn’t really know anything about hosting until Maria arrived,” Amanda said. “We soon realized that these students look at this year as an amazing opportunity to have a true American experience and we are grateful for the blessings that have poured out because we said yes to something God put on our hearts. I couldn’t imagine not knowing and loving this sweet girl.”

Lake Creek golf couldn’t imagine not knowing and loving Maria either.

“Maria was a dream to coach,” Hochhauser said. “She was determined to be the best player she could be throughout the season, she never complained and she was encouraging to all of her teammates. We will not only miss her play on the course, but also her character, her work ethic, and her determination to be the best teammate she could be. Her impact on Lake Creek golf will be everlasting.”

Lake Creek Varsity Girls Golf Team before heading to state in May 2023

What’s next for Maria? She leaves America and returns to Spain in June and the golf girls and Ogorchock family have a going away party planned. A few girls will accompany her to the airport on June 8 and undoubtedly there will be tears shed. But Maria plans to return to America and most definitely looks forward to keeping in touch with her new family and friends.

“Golf will be different, because I won’t have anyone to practice with or be challenged by,” Maria said. “But if I can’t come back my senior year, I for sure want to come to the states for college. I’d really like to return and get to experience being on a golf team again and I’m so thankful for the way the Ogorchocks treated me like their daughter. God was so good to me through the love of their family.”

Michael and Amanda Ogorchock with Maria holding the 3rd Place Trophy at the 5A UIL State Championships

As Michael and Amanda prepare to say goodbye, many would want to know if they plan to host another student in the future. Of course, their home is open to Maria if she can return her senior year, but whether or not they will take in another child is yet to be determined.

“I’m not sure if we’ll do it again, because Maria set the bar so high,” Michael said. “But we are a family of faith, and we know God was 100% in control of her coming to us, so we’ll leave that decision up to Him.”

Montgomery HS selects Maxwell to lead Bears Swim and Dive in 2023-2024 school year

Montgomery ISD has announced the hiring of Kelly Maxwell as the new Montgomery HS Bears Swim and Dive coach following the retirement of long-time coach Dale Villemez. Coach Maxwell is returning to MISD after teaching at Lone Star ES and Montgomery HS in 2005-2010 and is coming from Conroe ISD.

Maxwell has been in education for 22 years and will be teaching Professional Communications for Montgomery’s CTE Department. She has experience teaching students in grades 3-12, most recently as a debate coach and communications applications teacher, and says she is excited to return to Montgomery ISD and to the pool.

“I love this community and I have a passion for swimming, so I’m excited to get to work with the students and swimmers at Montgomery HS,” Maxwell said. “The district just has the most exceptional children and the best parents and I’m very excited to work with Ms. Lou again at the MISD Aquatic Center!”

Maxwell comes with 18 years experience as a competitive swimmer herself and she has been a head swim coach at both Conroe HS and Cy-Springs HS. She lives in Montgomery and is the proud mother of two boys, the youngest of which graduated from Lake Creek HS is 2022.

“Coach Maxwell is truly passionate about swim and brings excitement, dedication and experience to the pool,” Montgomery HS Principal Noah Hollander said. “And communication is at the heart of any successful program, so having Coach Maxwell teaching Professional Communications allows all MHS scholars, and especially our scholar-athletes, an opportunity to improve communication skills.”

Montgomery ISD Valedictorians and Salutatorians stepping into the future, reflecting on paths taken

Next week, both Montgomery ISD 2023 senior classes will cross the stage and step forward into their futures. These students have overcome adversity, with their freshmen years being interrupted by a pandemic, and achieved what only few can. They will each graduate at the top of their class, ready to take on the future.

Charley Wernli, Montgomery HS Valedictorian

Charley Wernli is a Legacy Senior that has attended MISD schools since Kindergarten. She is a member of National Honor Society, Student Council, Mu Alpha Theta, Spanish Honor Society and also played soccer at Montgomery HS, before having two knee surgeries. She was a student in the Engineering CTE pathway who participated in Project Lead the Way and plans to attend Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, majoring in Biomedical Engineering..

“My knee surgeries are actually what opened my mind to Biomedical Engineering,” Charley said. “As I learned about the brace and devices used by my orthopedic surgeon, and he offered me an opportunity to shadow him in the operating room, my interest was built.”

Charley is the youngest of three kids and is a first-generation college student. She has selected Brown University because of the open curriculum offered, allowing her to learn for the sake of learning, without general education requirements.

“I never really expected to go to college,” Charley said. “But when I got my class rank my freshman year, before Covid, and saw I was number one, I was shocked. I guess I realized my potential then, and it pushed me to realize I could go somewhere and do big things.”

Charley is excited to have the opportunity to explore different interests while pursuing her degree and is thankful for the experience that the Covid shutdown provided for her time in high school. She says that before Covid, her one hobby included studying, taking academics very, maybe too, seriously. The perspective from that time at home forced her to find her passions and interests, which included soccer, painting, sewing, poetry and playing guitar. Brown University will give her a college experience that allows her to study more freely.

“It’s funny to say, but I’m thankful to have learned that my passion is so much more important than my grade point average,” Charley said. “The character development that happened in my life through high school and the Covid experience has allowed me to find other things and enjoy them.”

Charley says she loves Montgomery and has been here her entire life, but she’s excited to experience something different in the culture of Rhode Island and living more of a city-life for awhile.

Cline Piotrowski, Lake Creek HS Valedictorian

Cline Piotrowski will attend the University of Texas at Austin as a student in the Canfield Business Honors Program and the Liberal Arts Honors Program beginning in August. With selections across the state and country available to him, Cline is excited to be in Austin, close to the State Capitol as he considers a career in government.

Cline serves Lake Creek HS as the Student Council President and is also involved in National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, My Alpha Theta and UIL Academics. He also ran cross country and track early in high school, after transferring to Lake Creek from private school.

“When I came my freshman year, I jumped in with both feet, to get involved and find ways to serve my school,” Cline said. “I knew I had potential to be ranked high and believed that obtaining Valedictorian was something I could challenge myself to grow in.”

Cline always knew that he would be a student that worked hard and did well academically, but he also believed it was most important to keep his priorities in order. Class rank could be a healthy thing to push for, but he never wanted it to define him, or saw it as the most rewarding thing about high school.

“I’ve always believed that serving others needed to come first,” Cline said. “My priorities are one, my relationship with Christ. Then comes my family and then my school, through student council. Class rank was fourth and though I knew I was capable, it was never going to be more rewarding than the first three priorities.”

Cline has been a student in the STEM Computer Science CTE Pathway, having first believed that Computer Science was a possible career path. His involvement in student government and public service has changed that future mindset and he is most thankful for the teachers that have been along the journey with him every day, pushing him academically, but also challenging him as a person.

“The educators that have influenced me are one of the most important components to the confidence I have as I go forward after high school,” Cline said. “Mrs. Rice has taught me so much about leadership and how to lead. Mrs. Lorance, oh gosh, her character and the way she has just been such a guide for me. And then there’s Hanel and Whitten, who have both pushed me academically and helped me find my passions. So many incredible teachers helped me get here.”

Cline is the second of four children in his family and is thankful for the experiences that high school has provided. He looks forward to his move to Austin and jumping in with both feet, like he did at Lake Creek, joining all the student organizations he can that will offer opportunities to serve others and be involved in student life.

Cole Haynes, Montgomery HS Salutatorian

Cole Haynes will be attending Yale University in the fall, with plans to study Computer Science. He is the oldest of four children, a member of the Montgomery Bears Cross Country team and participates in UIL Academics and Business Professionals of America. Competing to represent Montgomery HS academically, he was a member of the team that placed 2nd at Nationals with a software creation, he advanced to Nationals individually in Digital Media Production and he has advanced to State in UIL Social Studies this year.

Deciding between Yale and Rice was a tough decision for this academically driven student, but he believes Yale will offer him opportunities to explore a variety of studies and branch out in his interests. Cole has completed the CTE Cybersecurity and Computer Science Pathway in Montgomery ISD and aims to study Computer Science and Cognitive Science in college.

“I’ve been reading about the physical processes behind our thinking and our waking conscious actions,” Cole said. “There isn’t a lot known about what happens inside of our brain when we think, and the opportunity to research and study that really interests me.”

When asked about his class rank and goals for achieving Salutatorian, Cole shared how he found out he was number four his freshman year and realized he had the ability to be in the mix. He enjoys studying and being challenged by taking AP classes, so the potential to compete was there and he just continued to work hard. In addition to academics, he also found joy in stepping outside his comfort zone and trying a variety of things.

“I could’ve done a better job with stepping outside of my comfort zone, but taking CTE courtroom classes was a highlight of my high school career,” Cole said. “The mock trials class with Mrs. Krizan was such a great learning experience. She’s just such a great teacher and after that experience, the idea of studying law isn’t off the table.”

Cole loves to run. He tries to find time to run every day and has found that running while preparing for a test is a great way to test his recall for an upcoming exam. As college provides opportunities for freedom and exploring a new culture in New Haven, it will also require some new running gear to tackle those much colder seasons.

Jada Freeney, Lake Creek HS Salutatorian

Jada Freeney will be attending Texas A&M to study Molecular and Cell Biology with plans to attend medical school and pursue a career in Optometry. She is involved in Student Council, National Honor Society, is President of Spanish Honor Society and has been a member of Mu Alpha Theta, while also playing soccer and running track during her time at Lake Creek.

Jada’s academic experience in high school has her reflecting on the pressure she allowed herself to carry and looks forward to pursuing her passions and interests in college.

“Finding out I was ranked number one my freshman year completely influenced my academic trajectory in high school,” Jada said. “I made my course selections based on holding onto my rank and that required me to sacrifice some of my passions. It was worth it, because I was challenged and had some amazing teachers, but I’m excited to indulge a bit more in my personal interests in college.”

Jada is the middle child of three Lake Creek Lions. Her older brother graduated in 2022 and her younger brother will graduate in 2024. She is thankful for parents that didn’t push her too hard, as she was already very self-motivated, and the teachers she has had that have helped her find her passion and desire to pursue science more fully.

“Mrs. Boyles is an incredible human being that has taught both of my brothers and me,” Jada said. “She has helped me through all of the challenges that I put on myself and has instilled and nurtured this science passion in me. If I decide not to go to medical school, I hope I can be a science teacher and impact students the way that she does.”

Montgomery ISD trustees sworn into office following May Election

BoardTrustees also select new board officers

Three Montgomery ISD trustees were sworn into office during the board’s regular monthly meeting for May 2023. Montgomery County Judge Phil Grant administered the oath of office to new trustee Eddie Winn, who was elected as the Position 1 trustee alongside Shawn Denison and Laurie Turner, who were both re-elected to Positions 2 and 3 respectively, on May 6, 2023.

“I am honored to have been elected to serve as a member of the Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees,” Winn said. “As a trustee, I am looking forward to continuing the great work achieved by the school board and superintendent to prioritize our students and employees. Serving as a member of the MISD bond task force and CTE and Ag-Science Center advisory committee has been an incredible experience and I am looking forward to advocating for our students and staff members in the district as a trustee.”

Winn, Denison and Turner will all serve three-year terms. Denison, a resident of Montgomery since 2004 begins his second term on the board.

“I’m excited to begin my second term as a member of the Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees,” Denison said. “Three years ago, I ran for this position because I truly care about this community and wanted to improve transparency in our district and accountability of our board. We have made great progress in both of those areas, and I plan to continue this focus. I also look forward to continuing to focus on school safety, growing our CTE programs, and working collaboratively with our families and community.”

Turner, a former MISD teacher, will also return for a second term as trustee.

“I am proud of what our board and district leadership team have accomplished together over the last three years,” Turner said. “This past year I was especially pleased with our efforts to engage with our state lawmakers and educate the community about our district’s unique state funding challenges. Our board and superintendent’s continued collaboration with our lawmakers to push for impactful changes to public school funding formulas is critical as we
focus on employee compensation, class sizes and academic supports we provide students.”

After the administration of the oaths of office, the trustees voted to elect the board leadership positions for the 2023-24 school year. Trustees selected Laurie Turner to serve as Board President. Nate Robb will serve as Board Vice-President and Linda Porten will continue to serve as Board Secretary.

“It is a true honor and privilege that my peers have selected me to lead the Board as President,” Turner said. “As Board President, I plan to continue our commitment to operating as a strong ‘Team of 8’, alongside Dr. Morrison, so that we can maintain our sharp focus on improvements to employee compensation, student programs and the workplace culture in Montgomery ISD.”

Turner succeeds Matt Fuller as Board President, who spent the previous three years as the
Board’s leading officer.

“I want to express my sincere appreciation for Dr. Fuller’s service as Board President,” Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison said. “His leadership for this board and community has been truly remarkable. Dr. Fuller has operated with the utmost integrity, professionalism, and passion for our students and staff. He embodies the term servant leader, and I look forward to continuing to work with him in his capacity as a board trustee.”

Montgomery ISD Assistant Superintendent of Finance & Operations Kris Lynn provided trustees with an update on projects funded by the district’s 2022 bond program. Trustees approved the guaranteed maximum price for the construction of the district’s seventh elementary school, Creekside Elementary, and the Phase Two addition to Lake Creek High School.

“We are extremely pleased that the guaranteed maximum price for these two projects is under what was budgeted in the 2022 bond,” Trustee Trey Kirby said. “This is a major accomplishment, given rising costs in construction labor and materials. We are excited to move forward with both the Creekside and Lake Creek projects as we work diligently to deliver on the expectations of our community.”

Kirby credited the collaborative team effort that went into the planning process for both projects.

“I would like to express my appreciation for Dr. Morrison, Kris Lynn and our partners at Huckabee Architects and Pogue Construction for the many hours of work it took to get us where we are with Phase Two of Lake Creek and Creekside Elementary,” Kirby said. “A school building takes extensive planning and preparation before breaking ground, and Huckabee Architects and Pogue Construction have acted as outstanding district partners in this work. We’re thrilled to move to the next stage of these two projects.”

Construction of Creekside Elementary School and the addition to Lake Creek High School are expected to be complete for the start of the 2024-25 school year.

Trustees recognized the 2023 Valedictorians and Salutatorians from both high schools. From Montgomery High School, Charley Wernli is the Valedictorian and Cole Haynes is the Salutatorian.  Lake Creek High School’s Valedictorian is Cline Piotrowski and the Salutatorian is Jada Freeney. 

CTE Director Amy Vance presented students in MISD CTE programs who have qualified for state and national level competitions.

MISD PK-5 Elementary Specialist Danette Key shared information about how MISD educators, with support from the school board, have fulfilled completion of Reading Academies as required by Texas House Bill 3. Pictured below are 4th and 5th grade teachers that voluntarily completed the Reading Academy to better support their campus and students.

Montgomery announces Bears alum Hamilton to lead highly successful varsity golf program

Matt Hamilton will finish season with Lake Creek before taking over as Bears head coach

Montgomery ISD has selected Matt Hamilton as the Varsity Golf Coach for Montgomery HS. Hamilton is currently the Assistant Coach at hometown rival Lake Creek HS and will finish the season with Lake Creek girls and boys teams attending the State Tournament in May.

Returning to his hometown in the summer of 2022 as the Assistant Coach, under former Bears teammate Sam Hochauser, may have been viewed by many as a step down after already being a successful 6A head coach. Matt Hamilton finds the experience has been invaluable as he now prepares to lead what many consider to be the most successful golf program in Texas high school history.

“Being a part of the Lake Creek success this last year has been the best decision I could’ve made,” Hamilton said. “I’ve come to learn how to coach a state-contending program, how to be most effective in qualifying players for tournaments and have been able to get adjusted to the way Montgomery ISD does things. It couldn’t have been a better experience!”

With the retirement of long time Bears coach Kirk Thomason, Hamilton admits he has big shoes to fill and is excited for the opportunity. Montgomery Bears Golf holds 24 team medals and eight individual medals at State, while also holding the record for most consecutive State Championships in UIL Texas History.

“There’s such a rich tradition of success when you look at Montgomery golf,” Hamilton said. “Thomason and Herridge (Rusty) and the foundation they have built. I’m excited to have been able to learn from them and to have the opportunity to follow in their footsteps.”

Hamilton graduated from Montgomery HS in 2011 as a golf and basketball letterman and is a University of Texas graduate with a degree in Mathematics. He is married to his wife Jenny and is the proud father of three young children, Ellie- age 4, Joanna- age 3, and Luke- age 1.

Before coming to Lake Creek HS, Hamilton was the Head Coach at Bryan HS for three years, growing a program that only had seven golfers in 2019, to having over 20 players and a junior high program developed by the time he left in 2022. Hamilton is committed to educating and coaching kids through building relationships and personal accountability and the Montgomery Bears are excited to welcome him back “home”.

“Matt not only comes to us with head coach experience, but he is a member of Montgomery’s golf history and is familiar with the deep-rooted traditions of this very successful program,” Montgomery HS Athletic Coordinator and Head Football Coach Grant Cooper said. “He has done a great job as an assistant at Lake Creek this year and we’re excited to get him wearing purple again.”

Montgomery ISD selects Daniels to lead Lions Volleyball following most successful season in school history

Former Bears Coach, Sheila Daniels, selected as new Varsity Volleyball coach at Lake Creek HS

Lake Creek High School has selected Sheila Daniels as the Varsity Volleyball Coach at Lake Creek HS. Sheila currently serves as Montgomery ISD’s Transition Specialist in Montgomery ISD’s Specialized Learning Department, and will be returning courtside to lead the Lions after their historical 2022 season.

“I’ve been honored to serve in my role with Specialized Learning, but have truly missed the kids,” Daniels said. “I’ve missed the sport, the competition and I feel like I can continue to make an impact as a coach, helping to grow and mold these incredible student athletes into solid young women.”

Coach Daniels has been in education for 17 years, twelve of those as a Volleyball coach, and is thankful for the opportunity to return to the court in the community and district she loves.

“Sheila comes to the court with years of experience as a head coach and a real strong understanding of the culture and community here in Montgomery ISD,” MISD Athletic Director Clint Heard said. “She rose to the top of a strong pool of candidates and we believe her passion and experience will be just what is needed to lead our Lions.”

With Lake Creek Volleyball coming off their first ever Regional Championship and appearance at the UIL 5A State Tournament in the fall of 2022, Daniels realizes she has big shoes to fill. Because she has been in the role of both coach and parent, she also believes she has the ability to fill a unique need for high school volleyball parents and athletes.

“I look forward to continuing the tradition of success that Lake Creek Volleyball has established,” Daniels said. “Contributing all the life lessons that competing on the court can provide and leading and supporting these girls on our journey together.”

In just five years, Lake Creek athletics has created a standard of excellence, advancing to playoffs and having student-athletes representing Montgomery ISD at the region and state level in nearly every sport.

“I believe Coach Daniels will do an excellent job leading our Lions and continuing the incredible growth of our volleyball program,” Lake Creek Athletic Coordinator and Head Football Coach Pat Kennedy said. “Her experience as a high school coach and in the club volleyball world makes her the right fit and we are excited for her to get started!”

McDonald, Peak named Varsity Boys Basketball Coaches at Montgomery ISD high schools

Montgomery ISD excited to announce the selections of new head basketball coaches at both Montgomery HS and Lake Creek HS.

Jake McDonald has been selected as the head coach of the Montgomery Bears, coming to Montgomery from Orange Field HS in Orange, Texas.

“Coach McDonald comes to Montgomery with years of experience building successful programs in small communities,” MISD Athletic Director Clint Heard said. “We are very excited to have him bring his passion and drive for success to the court at Montgomery HS and believe his coaching style is exactly what our Bears need to win, both on the court and in the classroom.”

McDonald is a Beaumont native and a Texas A&M graduate with a Master’s Degree from Sam Houston State University. He has nine years of high school coaching experience, eight as a head coach, and has coached Orange Field to five playoff appearances in six seasons, advancing to the third round twice. Before his arrival to Orange Field, the Bobcats had never advanced that far in the State Playoffs.

McDonald was named District 25-2A Coach of the Year in 2015 and District 22-4A Coach of the Year in 2022 and has led Orange Field HS in its three winningest seasons in school history in 2019, 2022 and 2023. He was named the Southeast Texas Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 2020 and the Orange Leader Coach of the Year in 2019, 2020 and 2022. Most recently, McDonald led the Bobcats to their highest TABC ranking in school history (11th) during the 2023 season.

“I’m thrilled for the opportunity to lead the Bears,” McDonald said. “I’ve got the energy and passion to lead young men, not only in basketball, but in life. I’ve found great success in recent years and I’m hoping to carry that success with me to Montgomery.”

During his coaching career, Jake has prioritized increasing community involvement with his players and is excited for the opportunity to move to Montgomery and do the same. He is six years married to his wife Taylor, a school counselor, and they look forward to making Montgomery home.

Across town in Montgomery ISD, Scott Peak has been selected as the head coach of the Lions, after serving as the Assistant Coach for the 2023 season.

“We interviewed several amazing candidates from across the state and Scott continued to be the selection that truly made the most sense for the continued success of Lions Basketball,” MISD Athletic Director Clint Heard said. “He’s passionate about the game and will create a seamless transition for our Lions, leading our young men to be great athletes and strong men of character on and off the court.”

Coach Peak spent twelve years teaching and coaching at both the college and high school level, as the Assistant Coach to his father at Texas A&M Commerce and coaching high school in both Conroe ISD and Spring ISD. With a desire to serve his community, Peak took a break from coaching and became a HPD Police Officer for twelve years, returning to the classroom in the fall of 2022 as Lake Creek’s Assistant Coach. Lake Creek Varsity finished fourth in district play last season with a playoff appearance and Junior Varsity, under the leadership of Coach Peak, were first in district play with a 25-4 record.

“I really missed the kids and the opportunity to work with young athletes again,” Coach Peak said. “I am thankful and grateful for this opportunity, didn’t expect it so soon, but am honored to build on the great foundation from previous coaches. The admin here is fantastic, there’s a real teamwork mentality on this campus and in this district, and I feel truly honored to get to carry on the tradition of success.”

Peak is a second-generation basketball coach with his father, Paul Peak, having coached for five decades. He is honored to have an opportunity to continue his legacy and use his background and passion for the game to influence student-athletes again. Peak looks forward to implementing the mentality of “Great Purpose” and is considering that as their team’s slogan at this time of leadership change.

“Yes, we want to win,” Peak said. “But there’s also great purpose for developing character, how I help prepare kids for their future and how my students will present themselves in the classroom and work hard in all areas of their lives. There is “great purpose” in growing these young men.”

Scott Peak has been married to his wife Joanna for 25 years and is the proud father of two sons, Preston and David. Preston is a recent Biomedical Engineering graduate of Texas A&M and David is currently in college, pursuing his goals of being a third-generation basketball coach. With educators as parents and a combined career in education and law enforcement, Peak is committed to service and training his student-athletes to be service-minded.

“I’m so happy and honored,” Peak said. “I can’t quit smiling!”

Montgomery ISD 2022 bond projects to ramp up this summer

Trustees recognize GT Advocates, Librarians, and Volunteers

April 18, 2023 – During the regular monthly meeting of the Montgomery ISD School Board, trustees recognized MISD librarians, as part of National School Library Week, April 24-28.  Counselors and advocates from the MISD Gifted & Talented Education Department were also recognized as part of GT awareness week earlier this month. Finally, volunteers from MISD’s WATCH D.O.G.S. program were recognized for their impactful service across the district, in conjunction with School Volunteer Appreciation Week, April 17-21. 

MISD GT Advocates & Counselors Recognized by Board of Trustees

“Our Board of Trustees always looks forward to celebrating different groups for their unique and valued contributions on our campuses,” Trustee Linda Porten said.  “We are happy to celebrate our librarians, for fostering a love of learning in our students, our GT department for meeting the educational needs of learners, and our WATCH D.O.G.S. volunteers for partnering with our campuses, serving as positive role models and an extra set of eyes and ears in our schools. Each of these groups fulfills an important role on our campuses and we are thankful for their service.”

MISD Librarians recognized by Board of Trustees

The WATCH D.O.G.S. program was established in MISD in 2011. It was reinstated in MISD elementary schools this year, after being paused in 2020 due to the pandemic. Over 250 WATCH D.O.G.S. have volunteered in elementary campuses this school year under the leadership and guidance of MISD administrators and staff members.  

MISD WATCH D.O.G.S. recognized by Board of Trustees

Trustees also heard a department update from Denise Miner, MISD Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, on progress made toward the Pathway to Premier Goal 4 – Human Capital.

In 2021, Montgomery ISD conducted a third-party review to evaluate the overall performance of the Human Resource department. Under Denise Miner’s leadership, the department has acted on recommendations from the review to improve policies and procedures, define responsibilities, and utilize metrics to manage the workforce more effectively. 

“We are incredibly proud of the milestones achieved by our Human Resources department,” Trustee Mike Hopkins said. “They have done a fantastic job over the past three years to formalize and streamline HR processes for the district and have made remarkable contributions toward bolstering MISD’s traditionally strong workplace environment, via the Culture of Respect initiative.”

The Culture of Respect initiative was introduced during the 2021-22 school year. Founded on the concept of fostering open communication and closing feedback loops, the initiative ensures the culture in Montgomery ISD provides security and affirms that the work employees do, and the way they are made to feel while doing it, is always valuable. 

MISD Assistant Superintendent of Finance & Operations Kris Lynn shared a progress update on projects funded by the district’s 2022 bond initiative. Expansion of Lake Creek High School’s parking lot is ongoing and nearing completion.  Bidding for the construction of Creekside Elementary and addition to Lake Creek High School will be completed this week, followed by a recommendation to the trustees at the May board workshop. Groundbreaking for both projects is expected mid-May.  Drawings will be released this week for artificial turf installations for the baseball and softball fields at both high schools, and the batting cages at Lake Creek High School. Renovations at Lincoln and Montgomery Elementary schools and Montgomery Junior High are in the permitting stage, with work expected to begin this summer. Four new school buses have been added to the MISD fleet, and land purchase for the Career & Technical Education Center is complete.

“This will be a very busy summer in Montgomery ISD, with significant work being performed on multiple projects over a short period of time,” Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison said. “We are excited that many bond projects will be underway and our community will soon begin to see the investments that voters made in our school district through the passage our May 2022 bond referendum.”