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Kara-Morgan-Headshot (1).jpg

08 May . 2024

Meet the principal of Katy ISD’s new Nelson JH at Elyson

With Katy ISD’s new Nelson Junior High School opening in August 2024 at Elyson, we visited with Principal Kara Morgan to learn about just a few of many exciting highlights of the district’s 18th junior high, whose mascot is the Hawks.

Ms. Morgan has hired most of her 96 staff members for Nelson, which has a capacity of 1,400 students and will begin its first year with an expected 850 students. She said about two-thirds of the teaching staff comes from KISD, several from surrounding districts and a few home out of state.

“We are getting a very good mix of teachers,” she said.

A 22-year career

Some Elyson parents may already know Ms. Morgan, who was most recently principal of Bethke Elementary, the original elementary school serving Elyson, before McElwain Elementary and Youngblood Elementary opened in the community.

Her career in education spans two decades, starting with 6 years as a classroom teacher and 16 years in administrative leadership roles. Before Bethke, she was Assistant Principal at Tompkins High and Jordan High in KISD.

She has a Master of Science in Educational Management from the University of Houston-Clear Lake.

“Ms. Morgan’s strong rapport with the Katy ISD community makes her exceptionally qualified to lead the opening of Nelson JHS,” stated Dr. Ken Gregorski, KISD Superintendent of Schools. “Her previous experience in successfully opening and managing a new middle school and high school, overseeing construction, hiring staff, and managing finances effectively, makes her the perfect choice for this leadership role.”  

Ms. Morgan is “dedicated to establishing a school culture that actively involves future staff, students, and parents,” the statement continued. “Her enthusiasm and passion for education will create a nurturing and vibrant environment where students can flourish and grow.   

“I am honored to be named Principal of Junior High #18 and look forward to collaborating with our dedicated staff, engaging students, and building strong partnerships with parents,” said Ms. Morgan.

“Together, we will embark on an exciting journey as we create an environment that develops a love for learning in each of our students.”

Innovative learning features

Ms. Morgan shared some of the highlights of Nelson’s design, including a three-story floor plan that will allow academics for each grade level, from 6th grade to 8th grade, to be on its own dedicated floor.

“We call the three-story building the learning tower, and it will be surrounded by one-story wings that will house the cafeteria, gym, electives and fine arts facilities,” she said.

A “learning stairwell” with a large display screen will be at the center of the learning tower, providing an added instructional area for all grade levels.

The design provides numerous areas for collaborative learning, from tech-enabled spaces along the hallways, to an amphitheater for outdoor activities.

Nelson JHS will offer Katy ISD’s full array of athletics, along with robust programs in choir, band, orchestra and theater. There will also be career launch pad classes that will invite eighth graders to explore career possibilities.

Bridge to high school

The Nelson JHS campus is integrated with that of Katy ISD’s adjoining Freeman High School, also opening in August 2024. It’s a layout that many Elyson residents may be familiar with, from the learning green that connects Stockdick Junior High and Paetow High, the first Katy ISD secondary schools serving our community.

“We share the same backyard, with our students able to use the high school’s stadium, sports fields, tennis courts and other facilities when they are not using them,” Ms. Morgan said. “Freeman teachers will collaborate with us and be visible in fine arts and athletics classes. That will be wonderful because when our students go on to high school, they will already know some of their teachers and coaches.”

Nelson JH and Freeman HS are located across the street from Youngblood Elementary, opened in 2023.

The namesakes

Nelson JH is named in honor of the Nelson family, whose history spans across five generations in the Katy area. Over that time, family members have graduated from KISD, served on the Board of Trustees, been deeply involved in various district programs such as FFA, and their active involvement in the community has helped our schools flourish.

Their connection to the land that Nelson Junior High is being built on today is unique, having purchased the land generations ago from a beloved Katy ISD schoolteacher. “In Fall 2024, Nelson Junior High will welcome eager and passionate learners and educators, creating a storybook link between the past and the future,” the district stated.

Learn more about education in and around Elyson, from Katy ISD schools and charter schools, to higher education and preschool.