Popular East Texas Principal Talks About Leaving

John Tyler Principal Michael McFarland calls it the hardest decision he's had to make. Tuesday, McFarland accepted the Assistant Superintendent position in Champaign, Illinois to work under former Longview Superintendent Arthur Culvert.

In 2004, at just 34 years old, Michael McFarland left Foster Middle School in Longview and came to John Tyler. It was at a time when the school district was looking for someone to improve test scores, and inspire its students to achieve.

"My goal was to remove barriers, to improve success for students, and I hope that students are now able to realize that college is a viable option for them," said Michael McFarland, John Tyler Principal. Last year, John Tyler was just one of three schools to receive a national award, the 2006 College Board Inspiration Award. It's improvements like this, McFarland says makes it difficult to leave.

"I love Tyler," said McFarland. "I wish the opportunity would have been here, but it's not, so I'm moving forward.  I think there are a lot of great people, from what I can tell in Champaign that are working extremely hard, and I think I can come in with an outside perspective and be able to put systems and programs in place to help us be even more successful." McFarland says he wants the community to know he's leaving John Tyler in a good place.

"They should feel comfortable and confident that we have created a structure here that's really empowered our teachers, and empowered our department chairs and empowered our administrative chairs to continue to grow and to change," said McFarland. McFarland says right now he plans to leave Tyler sometime in May. He wants to wait until after the TAKS tests and his replacement is found.

Molly Reuter, reporting. mreuter@kltv.com