Superintendent's Spotlight

Superintendent’s Spotlight

By Mike Kuhrt


Hello Parents and WFISD staff:

Can you believe it?  Another school year is in the rear view mirror. What an awesome year it was! Now we have a short time to catch our breath, do a little planning, and prepare for an even better experience next year.

Recently I learned that one of our Rider High School graduates from the Class of 2014, Michelle Ingle,  graduated as No. 2 in her class at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. What an accomplishment for a former WFISD student!

2nd Lieutenant Michelle Ingle is the daughter of Wichita Falls community member and former City Councilor Lt. Col. Tim Ingle. Her mother is Linda Kemp.

Let me tell you her story. She was an early stand-out at the Air Force Academy. As a freshman, she was selected as a glider instructor pilot and was No. 1 of 28 freshmen in her squadron. She even made the Superintendent’s List in that difficult first year, which means she made the academic, military and athletic honor roll.

She also lettered in fencing!

Because she went on to place in the top of her class, she was offered the opportunity to continue with graduate training at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Then she will return to Wichita Falls to take her pilot training at Sheppard Air Force Base.

Her ambition is to be a pilot physician. This emphasis will give her dual opportunities to fly but also to sit on medical boards, investigate accidents and make contributions to improve aircraft. She will make applications for this later in her career.

By any account, this 22-year-old has been remarkably successful since she attended Fowler Elementary, McNiel Middle School and Rider High School. In high school, she was involved in sports, in Student Council and guitar ensembles; she also liked charity and volunteer work.

Surprisingly, though, she would tell you that she was not the smartest person in any of her classes.  She just tried to work hard at all of them. 

How does a young person grow up in Wichita Falls and create such an inspirational story for themselves?

Michelle started out with a dream: She wanted to be a pilot. Her dad was a pilot in the Air Force for 22 years, which introduced her to flying and the idea of a military career. She likes helping people and  decided that a military life dedicated to protecting people would be a worthwhile way to spend her life.

Then she had a mentor, in this case her father, who planted the idea that it’s better to shoot for something extremely difficult and miss it than shoot for something subpar and hit it.  Her dad encouraged her to try everything and not hold back. As she went along, she felt she was subpar at some things, but she didn’t let that bother her. She said she has never been afraid to fail because her father  always gave her “permission to fail” at the same time he encouraged her to dream big.

She has one personality trait that served her well. She never likes to give up on anything. That helped get her through basic cadet training – five weeks of early rising, rigorous training, tough talk and just plain hard work.

She admits she had highs and lows throughout her four years with the Air Force Academy. But she kept the lows in perspective, realizing that instructors were trying to break her down so they could build her back into a better person.  It was all an exercise in helping her see what her character was really like.

But she wasn’t perfect, and she didn’t have to be. She remembers flunking a test. It was Chemistry 200 in her sophomore year. She was upset as most high achievers are when they get a low grade. But her philosophy then and now is not to let things bother her for too long. If you do, it prevents you from seeing the next opportunity.

When she was selected to be a glider instructor pilot, she fell in love with flying. Even though flying is complicated, she said she taught many to do it and that anyone can learn it, though certain parts of it may come more naturally to some. But she noticed there was a common denominator among all who succeeded at it: They had a passion for it.

If you love it, it’s not daunting.

Looking back on her four years at the Air Force Academy, she remembers them as being full of hard work. She studied every night, and most weekends, admittedly much more than she ever studied in high school. Her game plan for those four years had been simply to work super hard and see where it took her in life.

Then, when someone close to her died unexpectedly, she decided to toss to the wind any preconceptions about what she could do in life. She just decided to “go for it.”

However, she never aimed specifically to be a top finisher in her class.

In fact, she didn’t even know how close she was to the top until the beginning of her senior year when she was offered the opportunity to attend graduate school because of her class ranking.

I share her story as an inspiration for you as you pursue your own goals and help students pursue theirs. You can be that mentor, like her dad, who helps students believe in themselves and set big goals in life. You can introduce students to exciting career options. You can nurture the values of dreaming big and working hard. You can give them the freedom to fail in your class. You can remind them to resist the labels and limitations that life puts on them.

Mull over these thoughts as you go into your summer. Let this be a recharging time. Rest. And dream! Students deserve it, and YOU deserve it.




Mike Kuhrt