July 9, 2021 by HCDE-Texas
An unconventional school requires a multifaceted leader, someone with a caring, service-orientated nature. Travita Slay Godfrey brings those qualities to her new role as principal of Fortis Academy, where she will use her counseling experience and leadership skills to guide the school recovery community—students, their families, and her school staff.
Counselors and teachers team up to help students at Fortis Academy, who come from their home schools for individualized recovery and academic programs. A low student-to-teacher ratio is a hallmark of the high school.
Godfrey brings an extensive background in counseling to her new role at Fortis Academy. The former coordinator of secondary counseling at Humble Independent School District has vast experience and certifications in youth behavioral intervention.
“Ms. Godfrey is an innovative, forward-thinking leader,” said Dr. Charles Ned, director for Harris County Department of Education’s Schools Division. “She has an outstanding record of success in maximizing the effect of social-emotional, behavioral and academic programs so that all students reach their maximum potential.”
After receiving her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Dillard University in New Orleans, Godfrey went on to earn a Master of Education in Counseling from Houston Baptist University.
The 22-year educator began her career in Teach for America as a science teacher in Houston Independent School District. She served as a lead counselor in Clear Creek ISD and career and technical education specialist, and college and career readiness coordinator in Goose Creek Consolidated ISD. In 2010, she gained her principal certification.
While in college, she developed an affinity for working with at-risk youth. She mentored a young girl in Big Brothers Big Sisters of America whose parents were in and out of prison and rehab due to drug addiction.
“It affects the whole family because the (family) structure is broken,” she said.
Oftentimes families compensate by enabling the child they are trying to save, she said. Recognizing and discontinuing the cycle of enabling is key to student and family recovery.
Godfrey acknowledges the “wear and tear” that addiction can have on school staff, and one of her priorities is to keep up the morale of the professionals at Fortis.
“People who haven’t been in the world of addiction might not understand the cycle of addiction,” she said. “It’s not zero to 10 but sometimes zero to 0.1—it’s very difficult and challenging.”
Godfrey says she hopes to create a safe, supported space at Fortis where all feel valued.
“My goal is for students to see Fortis as a place where [students] learn the skills to live out their dreams and become the best version of themselves,” she said. “As principal, I hope that others will see me as someone who leads with empathy and speaks from the heart.”
5 Things to Know about new Fortis Academy Principal Travita Slay Godfrey:
- She’s the oldest of four children.
- The married mother of five has children ranging from 13 to 32 years old.
- She parents two miniature schnauzer fur babies.
- Traveling with her hubby, she likes to experience new cultures and cuisines.
- She loves word-search puzzles, reading and listening to music.