MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - "Every year that we were here, we loved. Again, just being around the children of this school district, being around the people who serve our children. This staff is second to nobody and this community," said Dr. Ryder Warren, Superintendent of MISD.
When Dr. Warren came to Midland ISD nearly six years ago from a small 4,000 student district in Marble Falls, he knew the jump would be a big one.
"Nothing prepares you to be the superintendent of Midland. We have so many what I call independent, external challenges," said Warren.
Lagging test scores and academic progress were among the major challenges.
"If you look at the way the state rates school districts, rates campuses and rates children, Region 18 is last," said Warren.
Making that issue worse, the oil boom made it tough to keep good teachers with the cost of living, all while bringing in thousands of new students.
But identifying that issue early on allowed Warren and the district to come up with a plan.
"The partnerships we were able to establish with the oil companies here, the charitable foundations, and being able to do those unique programs that kept quality teachers here, I'm always going to be proud of that," said Warren.
The district's growth and changing demographics also proved to be tough.
As did the teen suicide problem, which led to a partnership with the hospital to focus on mental health.
On top of those issues, Warren has had to deal with financial issues.
Midland ISD has sent out $95 million the last three years under the 'Robin Hood' provision to poorer districts around the state.
Despite a major $163 million elementary school bond that was passed in 2012, the district has prided themselves on not asking for taxpayer money to deal with these yearly financial issues.
"The one thing that this school board has done is we've never asked the community for another penny to try and fight against that. We've always done it through our local budget," said Warren.
Despite the progress the district has made, Warren felt his new job at Northwest ISD was a perfect fit for him, seeing similarities between there and Midland.
It also presented an opportunity for he and his wife to be closer to family.
And though he won't be involved in the hiring process, he told me what he'd like to see in his successor.
"They really need to be relationship builders. Relationships in this community is what's important. He/She is going to be successful here if they have the trust of the community," said Warren.