An Interview with New Associate Principal, Ms. Jessica Rinehart

Sitting in her college classroom on a pre-med track, Mrs. Jessica Rinehart was intent on making an impact on children struggling with trauma as a child psychiatrist. While her major and career path might have changed, her mission sure hasn’t. It’s safe to say she has definitely accomplished her goal and left an impact on young kids as an educator.  

Mrs. Rinehart’s journey at Westwood from being an administrative intern to being an assistant principal has allowed her to explore a variety of roles, and she can now add “Associate Principal” to the list. She knew this role was up her alley when she saw that the job description entailed working on AP and IB curriculums as well as building enrichment programs for students. 

“A lot of that work brings me so much joy and I love working with students and families in all of those areas,” Mrs. Rinehart said. “The job really called me towards the things that I love the most about education.”

The exposure Mrs. Rinehart has harnessed as a result of her experience being an Assistant Principal is invaluable as she takes on this new position, truly enabling her to be the best Associate Principal she can be. Although she’s ecstatic about this role, the key change that Mrs. Rinehart faces is not having an alpha office of students to assist. 

“As an Assistant Principal, students are constantly coming into your office, whether it’s [because] they need help [or] support, or you’re touching base with them about a discipline issue,” Mrs. Rinehart said. “I’m not having that constant student interaction as much, so I’m having to find ways to fill my day with students.”

Previously being a teacher at Caraway Elementary and administrator at Westwood, Mrs. Rinehart’s vision encompasses not just Westwood, but public education as a whole in order to transform the futures of students. She aspires for the teaching and training systems utilized at Westwood to spread to other campuses and help them thrive. 

“It doesn’t matter what part of town you live on, or what school you’re zoned for,” Mrs. Rinehart said.  “I would want [all] public education to have [the] amazing opportunities that we do.” 

When she’s not changing students’ lives, Mrs. Rinehart, a Longhorn, finds joy doing crafts, cooking, running, and playing with her two children. 

“If I need to decompress in some way, I love doing little home improvement projects,” Mrs. Rinehart said. “I will rip out the tile in the kitchen and replace it — I say little, they’re not little projects.” 

So much has changed this year at Westwood for Mrs. Rinehart with a new position and a new principal to learn from, but the one thing that has remained steadfast is her faith in students. 

“Westwood students can do anything. There is absolutely no problem that I have ever found that the solution wasn’t better when we brought the students [in],” Mrs. Rinehart said. “So I would want to use that and use that [student] strength and the incredible ways that our kids think to push Westwood to be even better.”