Tool Elementary School
Malakoff Independent School District
Building on previous experience as a paraprofessional and classroom teacher, Christal Calhoun has spent the last seven years leading Tool Elementary, a rural Pre-K through fifth grade school serving 220 students. Guided by the mantra “Whatever it Takes, Meet Their Needs,” Calhoun has led Tool Elementary in responding to the complex challenges facing its high-poverty and highly mobile student population, putting the physical and emotional needs of every child first. Leveraging relationships with community organizations, she has organized resources to ensure access to basic needs like clothing and food, built a successful mentorship program, and taken on a creative “Granny Calhoun” alter ego aimed at boosting attendance. After tending to students’ foundational well-being, Calhoun has worked to shift intervention toward seeing academic potential in every child, targeting instruction accordingly, and fighting for their success. She assures cohesion of this holistic work by building a community-oriented and collaborative school culture grounded in high expectations, anchored by a daily school-wide morning meeting that she facilitates. Tool Elementary has earned multiple distinctions under Calhoun’s leadership, including the 2018 National ESEA Distinguished School Award and the 2016 National Blue Ribbon School Award. The school has ranked six consecutive years with the TEA Accountability Ranking, most recently earning all six distinctions with an overall grade of 97 in 2018. Calhoun holds an M.Ed. from Stephen F. Austin State University and a B.S. from Texas A&M University.