Former Midway Middle School principal joins Baylor staff

Midway Middle School Principal Dr. Herb Cox has joined Baylor's staff as a clinical assistant professor to educate future administrators. Cox said he hopes to be an example of what it looks like to lead like Jesus as an administrator. Photo courtesy of Dr. Herb Cox

By Lauren Combs | Reporter

Dr. Herb Cox, clinical assistant professor, began teaching at Baylor this fall after working in public education for 29 years — the last nine as the principal of Midway Middle School.

“Looking back on my career, the times that I had the most fun was working with middle school kids because they’re just, it is what it is, they are a different beast,” Cox said. “I would walk into a building every day with 1,325 12-, 13- or 14-year-olds and 145 adults, and there were high-fives, fist bumps, and everybody was friendly and everybody for the most part got along.”

Cox said he really struggled transitioning from working with middle schoolers to working with college students.

“I came here over the summer; there was nobody here, and I was lonely at first,” Cox said. “I was so glad when students came back in the fall and people were back at work. It’s different in higher-ed. We work hard, but we work differently.”

Despite the tough transition, Cox said he has always followed where God was calling him to be. He said God called him to education while he was a student at Baylor.

“The calling that I got in our apartment over here at Casa Royale on Speight Street, about 11 o’clock one night, was as clear as a bell,” Cox said. “I heard God’s voice speak and said, ‘This is what I want you to do.'”

Cox taught for 12 years before shifting to a corporate career. However, Cox said God called him back to education — specifically to administration. Cox went back to Baylor to receive his Ed.D. and pursue administration.

“I never wanted to be an administrator,” Cox said. “I fought that tooth and nail and really wrestled with that for a long time. It was a couple years before I said yes to that particular piece. But when I got into it, it just became — it was exactly what I was supposed to be doing … I have a lot of really good ideas, but God has the perfect plan, and we need to just listen to him.”

Cox said he didn’t like principals because everyone became uptight when they did teacher and coach evaluations. However, he said he realized there was much more to administration behind the scenes.

“As an administrator, you kind of have to run interference for [teachers],” Cox said. “It’s like we’re the secret service. We’ll take a bullet for you so you can do your job, and I had missed that part about being a principal until I became one.”

Woodway freshman Hannah Bowden, a Midway Middle School alumna, said she got to know Cox when discussing absences for a monthlong mission trip to Uganda in seventh grade. Bowden said the biggest thing she learned from Cox was to pursue whatever God is calling you to do.

“Technically, I probably should not have missed two weeks of school,” Bowden said. “But he was just so encouraging and so supportive and worked so hard to make it so that I could go … He knew that God was calling me to go in seventh grade, and he was fully supporting it.”

At Baylor, Cox observes graduate students and future administrators as they intern in schools. Cox said they learn state and federal education laws, discipline and classroom management and intervention response.

Jackie Villarreal, Career Technical Education inclusion at Midway High School, worked as a middle school English and special education teacher under Cox’s supervision for seven years. Cox is now Villarreal’s professor within the Baylor MA in School Leadership graduate program.

“So, Dr. Cox — one thing that I love about him is he is always able to adapt and adjust and overcome any obstacle, and he always sees everything as a learning opportunity,” Villarreal said. “We’ve been able to collaborate together on starting new positions … His presence is so comforting to have as I have gone through this program, and just seeing his perseverance in starting new things has encouraged me as well.”

Cox said this position at Baylor is the last stop in his professional career.

“I hope [my students] can see me lead that example for them — to lead like Jesus,” Cox said. “To be the kind of administrator that loves the Lord first and foremost, but secondly, being an administrator that focuses on loving your kids, and then thirdly, being an administrator that focuses on loving your teachers. If they can walk out of here with those three things in their pocket, I will have done my job.”