Doing her duty: Maternal strength drives Weslaco High’s first female principal

They say if you could make it past four senior graduating classes as a principal, then you’re considered lucky. Normally, high school principals don’t last that long.

Yvett Morales is going on her eighth, but she doesn’t need luck on her side; just an impressive educational career that spans nearly two decades.

Be careful about heaping too much praise, however.

“Anytime that a kid comes into my office and I could tell they’re nervous, the very first thing I tell them is, ‘Look, I’m somebody’s mom,’” she said. “‘I do everything you do. I’m just as normal as you.’ So no, I’m not amazing.”

When asked how she felt about being nominated for The Monitor’s Women We Love series, she said, “I’m pleasantly surprised. Honored. Humbled.”

Yvett’s hard-working nature can be traced to her parents; her mother was a nurse and her father served in the United States Army.

“My mother has always been a real strong woman, mentor in my life,” Yvett, 48, recalled about watching her mother work all the time. “She’s been a great example for me.”

Although her father wasn’t around a lot, Yvett said he inspired her to join the service, but was told not to around the time she graduated from Weslaco High, which was in 1989, when she was 17.

“It wasn’t a place for women,” she recalled her father saying. “I don’t think he meant it that way, I think he just knew me better than what I knew myself back then when I was 17.”

Right after graduation, Yvett decided to go into education at University of Texas-Pan American, because she knew she wanted to be a coach.

After earning her bachelor’s, Yvett began her career as a P.E. teacher and coached tennis at Armando Cuellar Middle School for six years.

Yvett became certified as an English teacher, so she could have classroom experience in case she wanted to be an administrator one day.

As a result, Yvett spent between four and five years teaching Language Arts at Mary Hoge Middle School.

Then, Yvett soared higher as she returned to Pan-American and left with a master’s in Education.

“I just wanted to be able to provide more for my family and just do more for the system,” she said.

After teaching in the classroom, Yvett became an instructional facilitator for three years at Mary Hoge. She was then moved to Weslaco High School, where she served as a facilitator for five years.

In 2012, Yvett became the first female principal at Weslaco High in its near century-long history.

“I tell our teachers all the time, ‘We have the world’s greatest job.’ We get to work with kids every day,” she said. “We get to work around so much young and fun, energetic, inspiring students.”

Yvett noted all the great people who have surrounded her, such as Weslaco ISD’s board president, Isidoro Nieto, who was her mentor for 13 years, and Dr. Priscilla Canales, Weslaco ISD’s first female superintendent.

Outside of work, Yvett is surrounded and supported by her church, First Baptist Church, and her family.

Whether it’s a sports game, a folklorico recital, or band performance, you can find Yvett there accompanied by her family. Her husband, Cruz Morales, is familiar as he’s a softball coach and a teacher for a middle school.

“I know that they’re not my kids, but it’s just such an awesome feeling,” she said. “There’s just a little piece of me that makes me proud, like if it were my kid.”

When asked about her greatest accomplishment, Yvett gave two answers: Professionally, graduation; personally, her two children — Jason and Sarah.

“Just to see them walk across the stage, and knowing that, you know, we did all we can and that they’re going out there in the real world,” she said about graduation.

“Still working on them,” Yvett said jokingly about her kids, “But very, very proud of both Jason and Sarah.”

Looking back on her career, Yvett has no regrets after not enlisting.

“I still get to serve the community through many, many things,” she said. “By no means can I compare it to serving our country, but I still get to be a servant for the community.”

And Yvett is still not slowing down, as she’s currently working on receiving her superintendent certificate. She’s preparing to graduate her eighth senior class. Next year, the graduating class of 2021, will be Weslaco High’s 100th class.

“It’s like doing high school all over again,” she said.