NHS Associated Principal Claire Bray

Claire Bray hoped making the finalist round for the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals’ Assistant Principal of the Year contest would stand as confirmation of everything that’s taking place at Nacogdoches High School.

Mission accomplished for Bray, the Associate Principal at NHS and the Region 7 Assistant Principal of the Year for Secondary Schools.

Bray is one of three finalists from across Texas for the statewide honor. She will learn the outcome later this month, following a selection committee interview in Austin on Dec. 10 for TASSP.

“It just validates the things we are doing here at NHS,” Bray said Friday. “We’re doing the right things.”

Stephen Autrey, who’s in his second year as principal at NHS, is not surprised that Bray is a state finalist.

“Like I said back in June, when we learned Ms. Bray was the regional honoree, her commitment to make sure our campus is successful just really stands out,” said Autrey. “She’s extremely talented, and she truly loves her staff and the students. That kind of attitude and work ethic is infectious and influences those around her.”

Superintendent Dr. Gabriel Trujillo said that Bray’s recognition, by extension, is an acknowledgement of the quality education that can be obtained at NISD.

 “Ms. Bray is to be commended for her hard work and dedication to the district,” he said. “I greatly appreciate her and thrilled that she’s being recognized. She does a great job at the high school.

“There are so many great things taking place within NISD right now, and I’m grateful to be a part of it.”

Bray has been with NISD since 2004, starting out at Thomas J. Rusk when it was the district’s middle school. She taught the spring semester of 2004 then moved into the newly completed McMichael Middle School that fall to teach Texas History to seventh-graders.

From 2006 to 2013, Bray was a social studies teacher at NHS, where she served as department chair then district coordinator for the subject. 

In 2013, Bray became assistant principal for curriculum at NHS and moved to Mike Moses Middle School as an assistant principal in January of 2017 before returning to the high school in 2021.

After learning of the Region 7 honor in June, Bray completed a rigorous application process for the state competition that included reference letters from a teacher, community member and Autrey, the campus principal. As part of the application, Bray had to demonstrate how she supports excellence, equity and opportunity for students.

“I had to use a lot of ‘me and I’ in the application,” Bray said. “That was really hard because it’s our team that is doing these things. The things we are doing are the right things, but it’s the entire team making those contributions, not just me.

“I’m honored to be one of three state finalists, but on our team, any of my colleagues are equally deserving.”