Midway Makes Movement in Major Roles
Superintendent Dr. George Kazanas’s philosophy to grow leaders pays off when positions open up in Midway ISD. Due to impending retirements from two assistant superintendents, a domino effect is leading to new placements in several major roles for the upcoming school year. All of these new district administrators are being promoted internally from Midway’s deep bench.
Earlier in June, Dr. Becky Odajima was named as replacement in the retirement of Dr. Jeanie Johnson, Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services. Her appointment leaves an opening in the Department of Innovation and Learning. A natural leader on the Innovation and Learning team, Sarah Collins will replace her as Coordinator of Innovation & Learning. Dr. Valerie Willis, principal of Midway’s Horizons Program, will remain with Horizons and also assume Dr. Odajima’s role as principal of Midway Virtual School.
Also in the early June announcement, Dr. Ashley Canuteson was named as replacement in the retirement of Mary Lou Glaesmann, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources. Her appointment leaves an opening in leadership of college, career and military readiness, as well as career and technical education. Jess Wheeler, current Associate Principal at Midway High School, will move into the role as the district’s new Director of College and Career Readiness.
Mr. Wheeler’s move to central office opens the role of associate principal of McLennan County’s largest high school. Wes Kanawyer, current principal of Woodgate Intermediate/Chapel Park Elementary and former Midway Middle School assistant principal, has been named MHS Associate Principal. Stepping up to Chapel Park Elementary Principal will be Kimberly Hawkins, Woodway Elementary’s 2021-22 assistant principal, former assistant principal at Woodgate Intermediate and the incoming Chapel Park Elementary assistant principal.
A closer look at these new leaders
Dr. Becky Odajima, Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services
In the last ten years, Dr. Becky Odajima has served Midway ISD as Director of Innovation & Learning, Virtual School Principal, MHS Associate Principal, MHS Assistant Principal, and an Instructional Technologist. Before coming to Midway ISD, she served for three years as an Instructional Specialist and 11 years directing middle school band. Dr. Odajima has a doctoral degree in education from Baylor University and a superintendent certification from University of Texas at Tyler. She also earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from Central Michigan University and a bachelor’s degree in music from Stephen F. Austin State University, as well as her teacher certification.
Dr. Ashley Canuteson, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources
Dr. Ashley Canuteson began her career in Midway ISD as a high school biology teacher in 1999, then became an assistant principal at MHS, the associate principal at MHS, and has spent the last 11 years working with Career & Technical Education programs, academic advisement efforts, and postsecondary accountability as the Director of College & Career Readiness. Dr. Canuteson earned a doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction from Baylor University and a superintendent certification from Lamar University. She also earned a master’s degree in educational administration from Tarleton State University and a bachelor’s degree in education from Baylor University with a focus in biology and health. She and her husband, Wade, have two children who both started their education in Midway Pre-K and who are now at Midway High School.
Jess Wheeler, Director of College and Career Readiness
Midway’s new Director of College and Career Readiness is well-prepared, coming from the role of associate principal at Midway High School. Jess Wheeler is known for identifying challenges and maintaining an efficient, solution-oriented mentality. The director position also entails leading MISD Career and Technical Education (CTE), and Mr. Wheeler is well-versed in the CTE world as well. He previously served as Lead Agricultural Science Teacher, with 11 years of ag science experience. He is an Aggie at heart and in his complete higher education experience. Mr. Wheeler has a bachelor’s degree in science with a double major of animal science and entomology, a master’s degree in education, and he is currently working on his educational doctorate in education administration with superintendency, all from Texas A&M University.
Wes Kanawyer, Midway High School Associate Principal
In 17 years in education, Wes Kanawyer has served as a social science teacher, positive behavior interventions and support coach, afterschool program coordinator, principal designee, dean of students, assistant principal, and principal spanning grade levels 5-12. During his leadership as principal of Woodgate Intermediate School, the campus accumulated awards such as being designated a National Middle School to Watch, maximum distinctions from Texas Education Agency, and Mr. Kanawyer was the 2022 state finalist for H-E-B Excellence in Education Principal of the Year. Mr. Kanawyer has a bachelor’s degree in social science and master’s degree in education from Azusa Pacific University. He is currently pursuing his doctorate in educational leadership from Baylor University.
Kim Hawkins, Chapel Park Elementary Principal
Kim Hawkins is finishing the 2021-22 school year as assistant principal for Woodway Elementary, and she had already been named assistant principal for Chapel Park Elementary beginning in 2022-23. She has been integral in planning the renovations from Woodgate Intermediate into a PK-5th grade elementary campus. Ms. Hawkins has 24 years of experience as an educator. She has been with Midway ISD since 2010, serving as a third grade teacher and Math Instructional Specialist at Woodway Elementary, then assistant principal at Woodgate Intermediate and Woodway Elementary. Throughout her time at Midway, Ms. Hawkins has become known for her strengths in building relationships with students, parents and staff to positively address each student’s individual needs. She has a bachelor’s degree in Academic Studies from Sam Houston State University and a master’s degree in Educational Administration from Lamar University.
Sarah Collins, Coordinator of Innovation and Learning
As an Innovation and Learning Specialist, Sarah Collins supports curriculum design with research-based blended learning strategies for Midway High School. She will be expanding her skills to lead the Innovation and Learning team district-wide as Midway’s Coordinator for Innovation and Learning. The position will be structured under the Human Resources Office in order to administer professional development for a staff of 1,300+. Mrs. Collins has 24 years of experience in education as a teacher and teacher leader. She has a bachelor’s degree in both psychology and history from University of Texas San Antonio, and her master’s degree in instructional technology from Sam Houston State University.