Inside Fleming Middle School: Who is Devin Adams?

KPRC 2 will spend a year chronicling Fleming MS, one of 28 schools labeled as a high-priority campus

Inside a Fleming Middle School classroom where students are learning under a new structure curriculum program. (Copyright 2023 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

HOUSTON – Houston ISD is under state appointed leadership this year and the change has been met with mixed emotion and controversy.

Adams is the principal of Fleming Middle School located on the northeast side of Houston. He has been with the campus for four years, starting off as the Dean of Instruction.

“Essentially, I was over the entire instructional programming on campus, making sure teachers were providing high-quality instruction (and making sure) that they had the right resources and materials. And any students who were not receiving or were not getting what they needed in class, I was able to provide that for them. Or, if they were excelling, I made sure that they didn’t have to feel that they were held back, that they could continue to excel and go further,” Adams said while explaining his previous role.

Before working with the Houston Independent School District and Flemming Middle School, Adams earned his Bachelor of Arts in Music from Prairie View A&M University, and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from the University of North Texas.

He began his career in education in 2014 as a math teacher in Manor ISD. Adams eventually moved to Houston in 2016, where he began to teach 8th-grade math, Algebra I, and Geometry at Welch Middle School. Adams also served as a math specialist at Hilliard Elementary School. During his time in HISD, Adams was named Campus Teacher of the Year, HAABSE Campus Teacher of the Year, PVAMU Top 40 under 40, and Achieve 180 First-year Assistant Principal of the Year.

“I am a lifelong learner. I’ve always wanted to be in education,” Adams said.

He has been a part of HISD’s initiative to help turn campuses around. Adams said when he first joined the district, he noticed the enrollment decreasing and parents sending their kids to magnet schools in the area.

“I was wondering, why? We have the same classes, the same program, and the same amazing teachers here. Why or why do parents feel like they need to take their kids across the city?” Adams questioned.

Fleming Middle School is on Houston's northside and is one of the campuses picked to implement new education system. (Copyright 2023 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

He said he then brainstormed about what he could do to improve the quality of education on his campus. Adams said he created an entire accelerated math program that brought Algebra I and geometry down to a middle school level, which allowed him to become an elementary school math specialist, and eventually paved his way to become the Dean of Instruction at Fleming Middle School.

But even with his impressive background, Adams said he had to reapply to his job as principal this school year due to the TEA takeover.

“It was it was definitely interesting. I think that, through listening to the superintendent interviews and everything, even before I had a chance to actually get to know him and who he is as a person and understand what he wants, he wants instructional leaders. He wants people to understand that good quality instruction is only in the classroom. So, I have it. I wasn’t worried at all because, you know, he wants to show off to the leaders. I know I am one, so I didn’t necessarily have a concern. I just went in there, did my interview, and spoke to what I know -- good, high-quality instruction,” Adams said.

Like most HISD schools that are labeled “high-priority campuses” in HISD, Fleming Middle School is mostly filled with Black and Brown students who are economically disadvantaged and being raised in non-traditional family structure units, according to Adams.

“Statistically, these kids have marks against them. Statistically, these kids are going to have additional hurdles that they are going to have to cross that maybe their more economically advantaged peers don’t have to worry about. So, it’s about what are the supports that we can provide as a campus to ensure that they can clear those hurdles with no problem,” Adams said.

Inside a Fleming Middle School classroom where students are learning under a new structure curriculum program. (Copyright 2023 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Last year, Fleming’s state accountability rating was a B. This year, Principal Adams said their campus will likely be a non-rated campus, which means there was a decline in achievement.

“There are a lot of different factors that go into that, including -- it was the first year that all of our students tested online, so we went from taking it on paper to taking it online. We also implemented two new curriculums: The Carnegie Learning curriculum, which is the state-based math curriculum, and Amplify, which is the state-based ELA curriculum. The research shows that whenever you are implementing a new curriculum there is going to be a drop in achievement,” Adams explained.

Moving forward with a clear plan of execution, Adams said he feels confident about this school year, adding that he was able to hire new teachers that better align with the district’s expectations.

“I’m committed to HISD, and I’m committed to this campus,” Adams said. “I want to be here. I want to make an impact here, and I don’t feel as though my work here is done. To hear of the bold change and plan of the superintendent, really did excite me because, as I said, we had to disrupt what was happening because what was happening wasn’t working.”

About the Authors:

Candace Burns is committed to helping keep her community informed, and loves sharing inspiring stories about people who make the world a better place.