New Memorial High School principal shares vision; 3 meet-and-greets planned this month

Published 12:40 am Friday, June 16, 2023

Dr. Jeremy Small calls himself a dream protector in that he wants students to achieve success.

Small was recently appointed principal for Memorial High School.

Port Arthur Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Mark Porterie said Small is showing ownership of the school and is ready to share his vision for the students’ successes.

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“I recently witnessed the new student council coming to his office, excited about ideas they have to increase and spread school pride,” Porterie said. 

“Dr. Small is quickly making connections with students, and they are excited. The future of our Memorial High School is in great hands with Dr. Small.”

Porterie said since the announcement of his new role was made May 16, Small has hit the ground running.

“He comes to us with a proven track record of change and school improvement,” Porterie said.

Small is from Center, Texas, which is 2.5 hours north of Port Arthur. After graduating Center High School in 2010, he attended Ouachita Baptist University on a football scholarship, where he majored in Biology and Psychology in 2014.

After completing his undergraduate degrees he received his master’s from the University of Central Arkansas in 2016 with an emphasis in teaching and learning. He then received his principal certification from Stephen F. Austin State University while being enrolled in the doctorate program. He finished his doctorate in Educational Leadership in 2022.

He has taught and led in West Memphis, Nacogdoches, Center and San Augustine. Through the years he taught physics, chemistry and biology. 

Small has served as a campus academic coordinator, assistant principal and principal.

Reaching academic goals

“My leadership style is set to be collaborative and inclusive. Students are always at the forefront of every decision we will make at Memorial. Meeting with students early and often is a staple of what I do and will continue to do,” Small said. “I am a dream protector in the instance that I want kids to reach their successes. It is not OK for a student to tell me they do not have a plan for success. My job is to help them create a plan to get to where they want to be and not just tell me goals.”

Small went on to say academically the school is working to restructure some systems to monitor, track and respond to student data. The plan is to have students become owners of their knowledge by having them also monitor, track and respond to their data. 

Assisting teachers

The teachers receive support from the administrative team and Small’s job is to be an instructional leader on campus, he said.

“Currently, we are building systematic ways to do consistent observations with frequent and quick feedback. Also, I am all about sending teachers to professional development to continue to grow in the profession,” he said. “One of his missions is to have everyone take on the mindset of being a lifelong learner.”

Teachers, he said, are the soldiers with boots on the ground and his vision for the campus is not carried out without them. He plans to include teacher voices often in the decision-making process because he wants teachers to have ownership of the campus and plans. 


All schools have some form of discipline issues, and Small spoke on his plans to create a hospitable climate for learning at Memorial High School.

The plans surrounding discipline are to be clear, consistent and transparent in what leaders are looking for and they will model the expectations they seek from students.

“The current discipline plan is under revision to provide a more comprehensive layout. One of the most sacred things to me is the learning environment. I want everyone to know that we will protect our instructional environment and instructional time. This is not set to remove students from our spaces but to have them realize what we are at school for. Our focus is education, and we will educate,” he said.

But he and school leaders are not prison wardens or correctional officers, he added; so their goals are not to always do punitive punishment.

Model behavior will be rewarded. Incorrect behavior will be corrected and discipline data will be discussed.

Small said he wants the parents on board for what’s going on with their students.

“Even with that, I do want to highlight that we will remove students if it is warranted, but that is not, at all, our first plan,” Small said. “Our plans and discipline continuum, if approved, will be posted for all the see our process.”

Vision for Memorial High School

The new principal envisions MHS as a flagship school. 

He wants the students exposed to what the world outside this corner of Texas has to offer. 

“We want to produce global citizens who can compete in this fast-changing society. I am a winner, and I want to win in all that we do. I am seeking to boost our participation in academic UIL and auxiliaries outside of athletics,” he said. “Memorial, and Port Arthur in general, is a gold mine. But, in order for gold to be the precious shiny metal that we love, it must go through fire to get there. I want Memorial to go through the fire of rigor, relevance and relationships in an effort for us all to achieve.”

Small is assessing all of the opportunities the school offers students and seeking to add more chances for students to feel included. 

Meet the Principal

Students and parents have several chances to meet Small during upcoming Meet and Greet events.

  • June 21, 5:30 to 7 p.m., Memorial High School cafeteria
  • June 24, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Thomas Jefferson Middle School gym
  • June 29, 5:30 to 7 p.m., Rock Island Missionary Baptist Church, 549 W. 11th St.

The PAISD Technology Team will be on site to help parents register any returning students for enrollment at their zoned campuses for the 2023-2024 school year.

Students who are not registered will experience a severe delay in first day of school enrollment, scheduling and bus transportation if needed, according to information from the district.