One of the many TASA member benefits is access to member service representatives. These former school leaders serve as an extension of the TASA staff, dedicating their time to support individual TASA members in their respective regions. The roles of a TASA member service representative are many, from welcoming new administrators to supporting those who’ve been in their positions for an extended period of time and find themselves in need of a mentor. TASA’s member service representative for Regions 12, 13, 14, and 15 is Kelli Moulton. This is her story.
Kelli Moulton, TASA’s newest member services representative, stepped into the role in February 2021, not long after her retirement as Galveston ISD superintendent. After nearly five years of leadership in Galveston, including piloting the district through Hurricane Harvey, Moulton didn’t take more than a weekend off before stepping into her new position at TASA, along with another school-supporting role at Raise Your Hand Texas.
It’s clear from her work and her continued advocacy that education is near and dear to Moulton’s heart, though it wasn’t a career choice she saw herself making at first. “My parents were both educators, and the last thing I wanted to do was be an educator,” Moulton says. “It chose me more than I chose it.”
While studying at the University of Texas, Moulton worked for the parks and recreation department in Austin, and found herself teaching dance, theater and cooking classes. The work got a hold on her, and she came to realize her love for teaching and coaching.
Moulton earned her bachelor’s degree in physical/health education, and spent 13 years teaching preschool and coaching in Spring ISD. She also ran math tutorials and lead the National Junior Honor Society, and started to feel the urge to move into administration. “I loved teaching and I loved coaching, but I felt like I had a calling to expand what it means to be a great mentor for kids.”
For a long time, the coach-to-administrator pipeline was a common one in Texas schools, but Moulton found herself faced with obstacles as she worked her way through the ranks. “I was always seen as, ‘Oh, she’s just a coach,’ so I had to work on some things,” Moulton says.
She focused on her knowledge of curriculum and Texas politics, working hard to make herself an invaluable asset to any school district, and after years of interviews was offered an assistant principal position in Magnolia ISD, which she held while getting her master’s degree. From there, Moulton moved into the central office in Hereford ISD, up in the Panhandle. Hereford was also where she accepted her first position as a principal, and once she had received her superintendent certificate from West Texas A&M, Moulton was hired to serve as the district’s superintendent.
Moulton was superintendent of Hereford ISD for eight years, earning her doctorate at Texas Tech during that time, before making the move to Galveston. In her career, Moulton says she saw her journey through administration as a sort of relay race.
“I had the baton for the time I had it, and my job was to put us in a better position than when I got it,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to be able to look back and say, ‘We did really good things for the community, for the district, but especially for the kids. We made an impact while I was at the helm.’”
Now in her retirement, Moulton has moved into the member service role at TASA with ease. A TASA member for the last 21 years or so, she’s always been happy to step up when the organization needed volunteers.
Moulton was in the first group of the Future-Ready Superintendents Leadership Network (FRSLN), and has made presentations at various TASA conferences over the years. “I’ve never been one to sit back and not have control or take the opportunity to lead,” she says.
Transitioning from superintendent to member services representative has allowed Moulton to stay in the loop. She has more time to attend TASA events, and can pass on what she’s learned there to superintendents working in her four designated regions — a boon for those administrators, who are often unable to travel to and attend many meetings.
“Running a school and a school district is the most incredibly hard work right now,” she says. “Administrators across the state are tasked with so much. Bless them for getting up every morning and just persevering.” If there is one upside to the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual meetings have become the norm, which has allowed Moulton to attend regular meetings for her designated regions, answering questions and offering help to administrators.
Through her work with TASA and Raise Your Hand Texas, she has also traveled to the Capitol to advocate on behalf of Texas’ public schools during the legislative session. “School district personnel don’t have that luxury. There’s so much going on in your districts and on the ground, that you can have a vision going forward, but it can’t include staying in Austin for days and weeks at a time during the session.” Of the benefits TASA membership offers, Moulton says that for her, one of the most important has been the opportunity for networking and collaboration.
“You have to be in touch with people across the state,” she says. “You can’t be your own prophet in your own land. You need to have support for what you’re doing, and you need to have a colleague group so you can talk honestly. Just taking one step toward a colleague group and creating a friend group is healthy.”
Find contact information for all five TASA member service representatives on the TASA staff webpage.