Midlothian Independent School District’s third middle school is on-target to open in August 2020, and even has a name and a mascot: the Earl Dieterich Middle School Bobcats.
“It’s going to be a beautiful school,” MISD assistant superintendent Jim Norris said. “It’s really looking nice over there.”
But one thing the new school doesn’t have yet is an attendance zone, and that is the job being worked on by a committee comprised of parents and community members who met for the first time last week. The committee took a bus tour of the expansive school district, which covers the city of Midlothian and parts of five other municipalities.
The new campus, located on Ledgestone Lane not far from LaRue Miller Elementary, will send rising high schoolers to both Midlothian and Heritage at the outset.
The zoning committee will meet continually and will make a recommendation to the MISD board of trustees at the Nov. 18 regular monthly meeting. The board is slated to take action during the Dec. 16 meeting.
The new school is named for longtime Midlothian educator Earl Wesley Dieterich, who passed away in 2016 just two days after his 80th birthday. Dieterich coached basketball at MHS for almost two decades and continued as an agriculture teacher at MHS before retiring from education in 1991.
The yet-to-open school also has a principal, Amanda Rodgers, who has been working for the last two years helping advise the new school’s architectural design. Rodgers, who has been with the district since 2009, most recently was principal at T.E. Baxter Elementary.
“She has a huge task in front of her to open up that school,” Norris said. “It’s not like moving a campus; it’s all brand new. New mascot, new colors, new traditions, new everything. She’s done a fantastic job of getting this organized. We’ve charged her with talking to people about what we need there.”
Rodgers came to MISD in 2009 to teach English and coach at Midlothian High School. Rodgers later became the physical education teacher at Frank Seale Middle School before transitioning to the campus’ testing coordinator, language arts and math instructional leader and campus liaison. In 2017, she became the assistant principal at Baxter Elementary and in 2018 transitioned to campus principal.
Rodgers earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in communication studies at the University of North Texas and her master’s degree in education administration from Texas Christian University. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in educational leadership at Dallas Baptist University.
Now, her full-time focus is getting the new middle school ready to roll on day one next August.
“I can honestly say that every time I talk about the school, I get excited,” Rodgers said. “It’s just going to be a fabulous facility for our kids to have such wonderful educational experiences.”
Rodgers already has an administrative staff in place that will be ready to hit the ground running when the students arrive next August. Assistant principals Chris Foster and Blane Rogers are currently working at Walnut Grove and Frank Seale middle schools, respectively, and will shift to the new school when it opens.
Tonya Colman of Frank Seale and Mendi Melton of Walnut Grove will serve as counselors at the new school.
Rodgers told the Midlothian ISD board of trustees at last week’s monthly meeting why education is important to her. And that is, “To create a personalized learning environment where every student is empowered to create their learning by discovering their individual life’s passion and purpose in order to positively impact the community. And students finding who they are and how they can contribute to this wonderful community that we live in is probably the most valuable thing that we do in middle school.”
Rodgers said she has been meeting with furniture companies and going on visits to other campuses to get an idea of what her new school will need.
Earlier this month, future students were polled on what they wanted their mascot to be, and “Bobcats” was chosen. The school colors will be blue and white, with the addition of light gray.
“We said at the beginning it was supposed to be in the cat family,” Rodgers said. “We had ‘Starfish’ and anything else you can probably imagine that came through on the survey. We did send out a voting survey that had the three finalists that had the most nominations — Tigers, Cougars and Bobcats — and as of (last week) the Bobcats won, so we will be the Dieterich Bobcats.”