A Lion’s Legacy: Sue McMichael McGown Elementary School Named in Honor of TAMUC Alum

Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District (CFISD) recognized Texas A&M University-Commerce alum Sue McGown in October 2022 for her contributions to the district by naming an elementary school in her honor. The district dedicated the new Sue McMichael McGown Elementary School on Oct. 16, 2022.

A&M-Commerce has been renowned for producing high-quality, influential educators since opening as a teachers' college in 1889. McGown ('74) believes education is a transformative journey that shapes lives and communities. Her passion for teaching and commitment to student success have impacted countless lives, forging an inspiring legacy of service for current and future educators to follow.

An Early Calling

McGown knew from an early age that she would become a teacher.

“Both of my parents were successful educators. College graduation was a non-choice and a top priority for all five of their children,” McGown said. Her high school French teacher, A&M-Commerce alum Geraldine Brown, touted the university's reputation for training teachers and encouraged McGown to attend.

“My sister attended East Texas State University (ETSU, now A&M-Commerce), and my parents agreed it was the right choice for me,” she said.

At ETSU, McGown gained valuable field experiences and the skills and knowledge to become an effective, resilient teacher. She graduated in 1974 with a bachelor's degree in elementary education.

An Impactful Teacher

After graduation, McGown taught kindergarten in Nacogdoches from 1975-77 before moving to Houston, Texas, to teach elementary students. She arrived at Cypress-Fairbanks ISD in 1986, teaching one year at Holmsley Elementary School before transitioning to secondary education.

After 15 years as a teacher, she shifted to educational administration when a colleague encouraged her to pursue a graduate degree and take on leadership roles. She earned a master's degree and an administrative certification in educational leadership from Prairie View A&M University.

A&M-Commerce alum Sue McGown professional headshot
Sue McMichael McGown. Photo courtesy of Cypress-Fairbanks ISD.

“Mama Wildcat”

McGown served CFISD as an assistant principal and principal at multiple campuses. She spent 13 years as the inaugural principal for Hamilton Middle School and six years as the inaugural principal for Cypress Woods High School, guiding both schools to Exemplary status under the Texas State Accountability System for multiple years. In her time at the district, students and staff affectionately dubbed her “Mama Wildcat.”

In 2012, she moved to East St. Louis School District in Illinois, where she served as an assistant superintendent for secondary education. While there, she facilitated a school improvement grant that resulted in two middle schools receiving $10.5 million in funding.

She retired in 2014 after dedicating nearly four decades of her life to education. McGown returned to Texas, where she continues to serve CFISD as a principal coach. She is also a field supervisor for an alternative teacher certification program in Cypress.

Looking Back

Reflecting on her career, McGown is proud of her contributions as an educator and administrator. She encourages others to join the field.

“Education is the most rewarding career in the world,” she said. “Every child can and will learn, and they deserve every opportunity to succeed. Your dedication and immersion into students' learning and growth will help produce effective citizens who are well prepared to lead future generations and enrich the lives of others.”

Despite her accomplishments, she never imagined seeing her name on the front of a school.

Sue McMichael McGown Elementary School. Photo courtesy of Cypress-Fairbanks ISD.

“I am grateful and honored to be selected as a namesake in Cypress-Fairbanks ISD,” McGown said. “This achievement is a story of champion teachers, leaders, students and parents who allowed us to build a future with our vision fulfilled. I am humbled by this great honor!”

View a video commemorating the dedication of Sue McMichael McGown Elementary School.

Explore the A&M-Commerce website for undergraduate educator-preparation programs or learn how you can become a teacher sooner than you think through our competency-based alternative certification program.