Meet the Administration
Melinda GardnerI am honored to serve the Dripping Springs Community and School District as the proud principal at Walnut Springs Elementary. This fall, I will begin my 17th year in education and my third year at Walnut Springs. Over my career, I have been a classroom teacher, Math and Science curriculum specialist, assistant principal, and now beginning my seventh year as a campus principal. Prior to coming to DSISD, I spent 14 years in Bastrop ISD.
I grew up just down the road in Oak Hill so being in Dripping Springs feels a bit like home to me, with lots of familiar faces and fond memories. I graduated from Texas State University (let’s be honest, it was Southwest Texas...forever in our hearts SWT! But nonetheless, Eat ‘Em Up Cats!) I later received my master’s degree in Educational Administration from Lamar University. I have served and led on a variety of committees including strategic planning, dropout recovery, and district advisory councils. I’ve had the privilege of presenting at conferences including the November Learning Building Learning Communities national conference held in Boston. I believe in a growth mindset and seeking opportunities to continue my development as a leader and educator. I stay connected and engaged as a learner as a Raise Your Hand Texas alumni, participating in the vast opportunities for growth and networking in the field of education including attendance at Harvard Institutes for School Leaders. I am currently working towards the Harvard Certificate in School Management and Leadership. I am passionate about the work I get to do and most of all love helping others to achieve their goals!
I stay busy outside of work as a proud boy mom of three! My boys are spread between high school, middle school, and elementary! Between baseball, football, golf, hunting, and fishing, we stay on the go!
WSES ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL
CHOI "CHAY" HICKSI am thrilled to serve as assistant principal at Walnut Springs Elementary School. Although I've lived in this wonderful community for seven years, this is my first year at Dripping Springs ISD. As the spouse of an active duty Air Force officer (now happily retired), I have taught in four states and in five school districts, all from which I gained a wealth of experiences. I most recently served as a Math Instructional Coach at Bryan ISD and taught fifth grade in Lake Travis ISD for five years. I received my B.A. in Public Relations from The University of Texas-Arlington in 2000, just 2.5 years after I finished my service in the U.S. Air Force. I received my M.S. in Education Human Resource Development from Texas A&M University (whoop!) in 2014, and my Principal Certification from Stephen F. Austin University in 2017.
I consider it a privilege to be working with students each and every day; they truly inspire me to be a better person in every capacity. I enjoy watching them make new discoveries, learn, laugh, share, and grow. I value teacher, parent, and community input, and see communication and collaboration as keystones to developing and maintaining positive relationships. It is an honor to be a Tiger and a member of the Walnut Springs family.
I am married to Neil, a fellow educator in DSISD. We have two children: Megan, 22, a graduate of the Mays Business School at Texas A&M (whoop!) and Evan, 17, a senior at DSHS. I cannot forget my fur babies, Miss Sophie, and Ollie Dog, who both bring so much joy and laughter in the house as we prepare to become empty nesters. When not working, I love to travel (28 countries and counting), working out, cooking, reading, and learning.