Sisters Giving Back and Making a Difference in CISD
Two out of the five Carthage school campuses are under the leadership of two of Marlin and Sharon Bush's three beautiful, intelligent, and vivacious daughters. Staci Bush Davis is principal at Libby Elementary, and Kiley Bush Schumacher is principal at Carthage Primary. The third sister, Amy Bush Clinton, is a registered nurse employed by Heartsway Hospice.
Staci is married to Mark Davis, Ag Science teacher and FFA adviser at CHS, and they have three children: daughter Keaton, a student at Texas A&M, son Connor, a sophomore at CHS, and daughter Cammie, a seventh grader at CJHS. Kiley is married to Shawn Schumacher, owner of Schumacher Construction Services, and they have four children: son Si, a freshman at CHS, son Zane, a seventh grader at CJHS, son Eli, a second grader at Libby, and daughter Eden, age 3. Amy is married to Panola College Vice President of Student Services Don Clinton, and they have a son Cole (a student at UT Tyler), and daughter Cooper (a rodeo team member at Panola College).
Staci graduated from CHS in the class of 1989. She graduated from Panola College, attended the University of Texas at Austin for a year and a half, and graduated from UT Tyler with a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies. She earned an MS in Educational Administration from UT Tyler and also earned her principal and superintendent certifications. She taught for 20 years at Carthage Junior High before going into administration, teaching both language arts and science in both seventh and eighth grades over the years. Her first administrative job was at the PACE Academy. Formerly called the alternative school, she renamed it PACE (Partners in Alternative Curriculum Education) to better fit the four programs housed there: Discipline (for behavior problems), New Beginnings (for pregnant students), Homebound, and Second Chances (for credit recovery). After a year at PACE, she served for three years as assistant principal at the high school, and has been at Libby for five years.
“I love Libby,” she says. “I had never taught elementary students, and certainly there were things I missed about the high school and the older kids when I first moved, but I really love this age children and have found that my heart is with these little ones. I also get to work with a really great staff, and I love being so connected with Kiley. We work very closely and feel like we have a pretty seamless flow for the children as they move from her campus to mine.”
She adds, “I always loved teaching, and I feel like I am still not so far removed from teaching that I would ever ask my staff to do anything I wouldn't do or hadn't done. But I also always knew I wanted to move up in a leadership role, so I was also happy for the opportunity to leave the classroom I loved.”
She and Kiley both say that their parents always let them know that college was just “what you did.” NOT going was never an option. They both knew they needed a plan, and Staci decided on education pretty quickly. Kiley thought for awhile that she wanted to be an optometrist and even went with Dr. Dennis Golden to visit the University of Houston. “But I ultimately decided on education for a career. I have always loved children, and Shawn and I knew from the time we started dating (when I was 14!) that we wanted to marry and have a big family, and that career choice just seemed to make more sense for me.”
Kiley graduated from CHS in 1996 and also graduated from Panola College. She received a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies from UT Tyler and immediately started working on her master's degree in educational administration. Shawn was playing professional baseball at the time for the St. Louis Cardinals and was away so much that it was a good opportunity for her to continue with school. She then started teaching second grade at Bell Elementary in Tyler. When they moved back to Carthage, she didn't teach for awhile but did two long-term substitute jobs, one for her friend Shawna Blissett in Gary and the other for her sister Staci at Carthage Junior High during maternity leave, and also continued to work on her master's. “Then Junior High principal Russell Porter offered me a job teaching eighth grade science, so Staci and I both worked on the same campus for a few years,” she says, and that was wonderful! I also finished my principal certification while I was there. Later when I applied for an assistant principal's job, I told the people interviewing me that I was in a win-win situation—that if I didn't get the job, I would still get to go back to a job I loved with people I loved, and I would be fine.”
Near the end of the school year in 2005, Kiley was offered a position as assistant principal for the next fall, to be shared with both Libby and Primary. “That was a difficult year,” she says. I wanted to do the best job possible for both campuses, but I always felt like I was not doing either campus justice. Fortunately, after that year the district hired a separate assistant principal for each campus, and I went to Primary. I fell completely in love with that school and its fabulous staff and great teachers. It became home to me.” Kiley also finished her superintendent certification while serving as assistant principal.
Both Staci and Kiley applied for the same assistant principal job, and Staci says, “I can't say I wasn't disappointed that I didn't get the job, but I knew in my heart that the decision to hire her made more sense because she had elementary experience and I didn't. And of course she soon became principal at Primary, and it has been such a perfect fit for her!”
Kiley concurs: “It is a perfect fit. I love it—who I work with, the personal relationships I have built with everyone, the age of the children, and the very involved parents. I try to make the transition from home to school as easy and smooth and happy as possible for them as they bring their babies to school for the first time.”
Both sisters agree that the most difficult thing about their jobs is sometimes having to make decisions that can cause hurt feelings or change people's lives in a negative way. They have to make the decisions based on what they believe is best for the children and best for the school, and sometimes people can get hurt in the process. “That's very hard for both of us,” says Staci, “because we really care so much about the people! We want to make everyone happy all the time, and sometimes it’s just not possible.”
Placing children in classrooms is another difficult thing. They hand place each child in a class, giving very consideration to a great variety of issues and needs, and they work together closely in placing children who are moving from Primary to Libby because it is such an advantage that Kiley already knows them and their parents and their needs so well.
Staci and Kiley both feel very fortunate and blessed to be principals in Carthage ISD. “We are products of this community and this district,” they agree, “and we want to give back and make a difference in every way we can.” It is certainly obvious that the community and the district are just as fortunate and blessed to have them!