Carrie Rochon McAfee was a very important figure in the Five Corners District community. She is best known for being the first female principal of a comprehensive high school in Texas when she was promoted to that position at James Madison High School in 1974 at the age of 44.
McAfee was born in Galveston, TX, on December 20, 1930. Raised by her grandmother, she was the youngest child in her large family family. She relentlessly pursued her dreams of being involved in education, urged on by her father, and earned her Bachelors of Arts in English and History at Texas Southern University in 1951. Always driven by a desire for knowledge, McAfee did not stop there. She went on to earn her Master’s in Journalism studies at the same university in 1963, and studied journalism at universities all over the country from the University of California at Berkeley to Columbia University in New York. While pursuing her studies in journalism, she also became a certified guidance counselor. From there, she began postgraduate work in sociology, clinical psychology and administration at her home university Texas Southern. Her education certificates included everything from Elementary Education to Superintendent K-12 to specific specializations in English and History.
At her first teaching position at Jack Yates High School, she was a well-loved and vivacious presence for her students. Her passion for education was reflected in how many students asked her to speak at after school and church functions, even years later, and the many different places she appears in Yates High yearbooks at the time. Her mentor, John C. Codwell, saw her love for seeing her students succeed, and encouraged her to pursue guidance counseling. She took on a summer position with Neighborhood Youth Corps as Supervisor and Counselor Coordinator at his recommendation, and in 1968 was named first “Dean of Girls” and later Assistant Principal. In 1973, she transferred to become Assistant Principal at James Madison High, where she would attain her historic post as first female principal the following year. Students called her the “Marlin Mama,” and she took her post seriously, nurturing Madison High for 15 years and bringing it from its former obscurity into state-recognized achievements in academics, athletics and fine arts. The school’s library is named for her.
After nearly sixteen years as principal, she moved on to a leadership position with Houston Independent School District IX, where she remained until 1992 when she was promoted to Executive Director of the School Operations Department. As Executive Director, she implemented Project Reconnect, recognized by the state of Texas as a highly successful program for helping parents get and stay involved with their children’s education.
Carrie Rochon McAfee may have passed on September 22nd, 2006, but her legacy of improving Texas education and her landmark achievements as an African-American woman in Houston will live on forever.