The Scottish motto for the McAndrew family translates to “wisdom conquers fate.” However, for school namesake Dr. Sara B. McAndrew, wisdom and fate often seem to go hand in hand.The beloved teacher, administrator, and now school namesake, never planned to become an educator, but thankfully, fate had other ideas.
The little girl born on the Fourth of July was destined to possess nothing less than a captivating and unforgettable personality. Dr. McAndrew is known for having a flair for the dramatic from her striking white hair to her penchant for doling out nicknames to her endless optimism and enthusiasm.
The only child was raised in Hillsboro, Texas where she lived until she went to college at the University of Texas in Austin. After graduation, teaching was not on her mind, but her father was insistent she join the workforce. She was hired to teach advanced English in Gatesville, Texas and says she loved it from the first day. A career was born.
And as fate would have it, at the end of her first week of teaching, she met the man who would become her husband, fellow educator “Mack” McAndrew. The two were married for 43 years and between them, devoted more than 90 years to public education. They also have two children, Patrick and Emily. Grandson Graham Boone McAndrew was born in September 2013.
As their children were growing up, the McAndrew family moved across the state of Texas as Mack’s advancing career brought them to several school districts. At each stop, Dr. McAndrew taught English at the middle school, high school, and junior college levels. While she was teaching in Castroville, Dr. McAndrew attended a writing training at Region 20 led by Northside educators. Soon thereafter, she eagerly applied to Northside and joined Taft High School in 1988 as an English teacher. In 1995, she was instrumental in the creation of the magnet school, Communications Arts High School (CAHS), as one of three founding Principal-Teachers.
After seven years at CAHS, Dr. McAndrew spent two years as Academic Dean at Clark High School before moving to Central Office as Executive Director of Secondary Instruction. There she was in charge of managing the District’s secondary curriculum and instructional goals. She worked to expand Advanced Placement and Dual Credit programs and led the efforts to implement the District’s use of High School Allotment funds, which brought state money to create programs that would increase graduation rates and prepare students for success in higher education. Dr. McAndrew developed the District’s college and career readiness curriculum that is available for all Bexar County school districts, and was instrumental in establishing partnerships with area colleges and universities. She worked closely with Northside’s Academic Deans and created Leader Colleges to provide continuing professional development for the District’s instructional and department leaders.
The woman who believes in postsecondary success for all children certainly practices what she preaches. As she guided her students toward higher education, Dr. McAndrew was often in the midst of college studies herself. With a bachelor’s degree, two master’s degrees, and a doctorate under her belt, she has never forgotten what it means to be a lifelong learner.
Dr. McAndrew retired from Northside in 2010 but continues to teach, serving as adjunct faculty at the University of Texas at San Antonio and Trinity University. She also does consulting work for the Alamo Colleges and the San Antonio Education Partnership’s Diplomàs Project.
Though she didn’t spend her career at the elementary level, Dr. McAndrew’s vision for education will now be reflected in Northside’s youngest students at her namesake school. The McAndrew Highlanders will understand that through wisdom and education they will be able to control their future and fate.