Dr. LaTonya Goffney
Lufkin ISD Superintendent

It’s the holiday season, and through the hustle and bustle of buying presents and all of the festivities, I take the time to reflect on the gifts that really matter, the gifts that are lifelong, the gifts that years from now students will talk about and retell to their children and grandchildren. At Lufkin ISD, I believe some of those gifts that will keep on giving are the gift of preparation, the gift of support and the ultimate gift of love.

Preparation is a simple concept. It’s just making sure you’re ready. Ready for whatever comes your way. I think back on this amazing football season and how our students were well-prepared. No matter what the weather, what team they were playing, what obstacles were in their way, the Lufkin Panthers were ready.

My favorite example of this was when Max Quick ran back to get the football when it was snapped over his head in the Westfield game. He immediately retrieved the ball and kicked it for more than 50 yards down the field with a Westfield player (or two) about to tackle him. Some may say it was a split-second decision, but it was preparation. Even though that play cannot be completely replicated in practice, he’s been preparing for a moment like that from all of the hard work and dedication he has put into his skill.

Whether it’s students preparing for the SAT or a band member honing their skills for the NAAMB competition, our students are working hard, and our teachers and staff are preparing them for what lies ahead. When I think about our band winning the NAAMB state competition three years in a row, that doesn’t happen by accident. It’s the gift of preparation that is making sure our students are ready for the opportunities in store for them.

The gift of support is something that cannot be bought. Our community supports our students like nowhere else I’ve seen. When I looked up into the stands during our playoff games and saw a sea of purple from young to young-at-heart all cheering in one accord for our students to do their best, it made me proud.

We live in a special town. When I think about how our Education Foundation was able to give $54,000 to teachers for innovative ideas in the classroom, it makes me proud that dreams are fulfilled in this city. When I see the enormous support for our Little League team that won the national championship, it makes me think, how can our kids not succeed when they have all of the support and more that they could ever need. Thank you, Lufkin, for showing up. Kids need that, and it means the world to me to be a part of a community that values children and the hope within them.

Love. It all comes down to love. The gift of love is lifelong. When students know you want them to do their very best because of love, they rise to the occasion. Our teachers love to teach. It’s evident in our retention rate that not only do they love to teach, they love to teach in Lufkin. Our staff loves to serve. I am amazed when I see our cafeteria team making lunchtime fun and connecting with our students. From the first face our students see on a school bus, they are given the best. Our board loves Lufkin ISD. Every time they meet, they are intentional about making a difference for all kids. They want to make sure our school district is fiscally sound for the future and that teachers and staff have what they need to be successful.

Reflecting on this past year and the accomplishments of the district, I am proud to serve as the superintendent of Lufkin ISD. The secret to our success is simple, but it takes everyone playing their part making sure that our students are prepared, supported and loved. … Gifts that will last a lifetime.

Dr. LaTonya Goffney is the superintendent of Lufkin ISD. Her email address is lgoffney@lufkinisd.org. This column originally appeared in The Lufkin News.