Patti Pace (A)Patti Pace was recently named Head of School at the Monarch School in Spring Branch, which serves students with special needs.

Congratulations on being named Head of School! How does it feel?

I feel great. I’m really excited–this is an amazing opportunity to work with students. There’s a great staff here of educators and therapists, and an amazing group of parents. I’m really so thrilled to become part of this team. I’ve lived in Spring Branch and taught in Spring Branch for a long time, and I’ve always heard about Monarch and the great job they do for kids.

Tell us a little about your career path. You have 30 years of teaching and administration experience?

Yes, I started as a kindergarten and first grade teacher, then served as a reading specialist, and then as an administrator at all levels—elementary through high school. About five years ago I was asked to serve as the interim principal at Memorial High School while they did a search for their next leader, and going back into a school reminded me how much I love working on campus. So for the last three years I’ve been thinking about going back to the campus level, because from my experience I know that’s where the magic is. That’s where everything happens. I just realized how much I missed it. And that’s how I ended up at Monarch.

Based on what you’ve seen, what makes Monarch so special?

I think you have to go back to our founder, Marti Webb. She had a vision, she was innovative and thoughtful, and what she created here is very special. We look at children from age three all the way to adulthood. It’s extremely comprehensive. We have a diagnostic clinic where we assess students to determine exactly what each student needs. And then we meet the learners where they are and how they come to us. Our teachers don’t say they teach math or teach reading—they teach children.

As Head of School, how do you plan to make Monarch even better?

Monarch already has so many wonderful opportunities for learners of all ages. And I’m one of those learners! Although I’ve done lots of research, this is just my second day on the job, and one of the things a leader needs to do is listen to people they’ll be working with. So that’s what I’m doing—listening. The most important thing is to make sure that our students have opportunities from the day they enter the the school to the day they go out into the world. It’s so important to us that our students become contributing members of our community.

You’ve spent most of your career living and working in Spring Branch. What makes the community unique?

My parents moved here from Pennsylvania in 1970, and they looked at many different places in the Houston area. They settled on Spring Branch very quickly. Then my sister and I raised our own children here, and some of them are also marrying and settling in Spring Branch. So we have three generations living here. It’s a lovely place—it’s a small town in a big city. It’s very connected, and people take care of each other.

The Monarch School. 2815 Rosefield Dr. 713-479-0800.