Lufkin ISD is undergoing several staff changes at the district level for the upcoming 2021-22 school year.
Below is a brief description of each district leader:
Kim Kassaw – Executive Director of Special Programs
Kim Kassaw began her teaching career as a middle school teacher for students with learning disabilities. She began working for Lufkin ISD in 2003 as a content mastery teacher at Lufkin Middle School. After completing the diagnostician’s program at Stephen F. Austin State University (SFASU), she joined the Lufkin ISD Special Services team as an educational diagnostician. She has worked in the roles as the Lead Diagnostician, Special Education Coordinator and Special Services Director. Mrs. Kassaw was awarded the DEC Director’s Award in 2015-2016 and 2019-2020.
Mrs. Kassaw has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Texas A&M University and a teacher certification and Master of Education degree from SFASU. She completed the Educational Leadership Program at SFASU and received her principal certification in 2014.
Mrs. Kassaw has served on a number of boards and worked closely with numerous non-profits in the Lufkin community. She is a past president of the Junior League of Lufkin (2006-2007). She and her husband Todd Kassaw have been married for 33 years and have two adult children, Katie and Tanner, who are both graduates of Lufkin High School and daughter-in-law Madison Berry Kassaw.
“Working for Lufkin ISD continues to be a blessing to my life. I may not be a native of Lufkin, but I feel that I am! This is my home; the students and staff have touched my heart in unimaginable ways, and I am honored to work for a district that cares so deeply about students with disabilities,” she said.
Kathy Jost –Executive Director of PK-5 Teaching & Learning
Kathy Jost began a career in education 34 years ago at Lufkin ISD. She served as a 7th grade ELA teacher at Dunbar Intermediate and a K-6th Math and ELA resource teacher at Coston Elementary. Mrs. Jost worked as school counselor for five years, serving Slack Elementary, Coston Elementary and Brandon Elementary. During this time, she also served as the district’s lead counselor. In 1996, Mrs. Jost joined the Lufkin High School Administration team as Assistant Principal of Curriculum. Beginning in 2002, she began her service as a district principal for the following campuses: Herty Primary, Brandon Elementary, and most recently Coston Elementary. While at Coston, Mrs. Jost was named as one of three Principal of the Year finalists for the National Association of Elementary School Principals.
Originally from Pasadena, California, Mrs. Jost moved to Texas to attend SFASU where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies and a Master of Counseling with school counselor certification. In 1996 Mrs. Jost completed a second master’s degree in Mid-Management with a principal certification.
Mrs. Jost serves on the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA) Ambassador Board. For 23 years, she has served as a member of The Lufkin Rotary Club, presiding as President in 2012. She finds her work with the Rotary Youth Leadership Award Board (RYLA) rewarding and works with the Lufkin High School juniors at the RYLA Leadership Camp each year.
Mrs. Jost has been married to Jay Jost, Lufkin ISD Chief of Police, for the past 17 years. They share a blended family, deriving great joy from time shared with their six children, sons- and daughters-in-law, and grandchildren.
“Passionate about all things Lufkin, my mission has always been and will continue to be to grow and help others. I am steadfast in keeping the welfare and success of both students and educators at the center of my every action. I am proud to be a Lufkin Panther and proud to serve the Lufkin community at large,” she said.
Cindy Tierney – Executive Director of Student Services & Federal Programs
Cindy Tierney began her career with Lufkin ISD as a 2nd grade teacher at Dunbar Primary in 2000. In her twenty-one years with the district, she has held numerous leadership positions including Literacy Coordinator, GEAR UP Coordinator, Herty Primary Principal, Anderson Elementary Principal, and most recently, Director of Middle School Curriculum and Instruction.
Mrs. Tierney received her Bachelor of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and two Master of Education degrees, one as a Reading Specialist and another in Educational Administration, all from SFASU. She received a superintendent certification from the University of Texas at Tyler.
Mrs. Tierney is currently serving as the State Vice President for the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA), serving Texas Pre-K-8 school leaders. She also serves on Texas Education Agency’s (TEA’s) Assessment Advisory Committee and the New Item Types Subcommittee. She is actively involved in Lufkin’s First United Methodist Church and chairs a monthly event to serve free meals to the Herty/Coston community. She is a past president of both the Junior League of Lufkin and the Lufkin Rotary Club. She currently serves as the Secretary of the Kurth Memorial Library Board and is the Corresponding Secretary for the Junior League Sustainers.
Mrs. Tierney was selected as Region 7’s TEPSAN of the Year in 2016, Lufkin ISD’s Principal of the Year in 2017, and was the recipient of the 2019 Athena Leadership Award. She has been married to Jim Tierney for 28 years, and they have two children, Kayla and Kyle.
“I am honored and humbled to have been selected to serve Lufkin ISD in this capacity. I know there are big shoes to fill with the previous leader in this position and I am excited to continue the tradition of excellence in Lufkin ISD,” she said.
Beginning her 14th year in education, Mrs. Herrera began her career as an administrative assistant in the bilingual department. As a Lufkin ISD “Grow Your Own” employee, she pursued finishing her degree in teaching and joined Slack Elementary as a bilingual teacher. Later, she taught 5th grade Dual Language at Slack Elementary and gained valuable experience teaching summer school. During summer school, she was afforded the opportunity to work with bilingual pre-kinder/kindergarten students and at-risk students in the general education setting. She has worked for Special Services as an Educational Diagnostician and Special Ed Coordinator for seven years.
Mrs. Herrera is a Lufkin native and graduated from Diboll High School. She obtained an Associate of Science degree in 2001 from Angelina College. In 2010, she earned her Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies from SFASU. In 2011, she earned her Bilingual Education Supplemental certification. Later, she earned a Master of Education Degree in Special Education, and Educational Diagnostician certificate from SFASU. In addition, Mrs. Herrera has continued her education and completed the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Educations Standards (IBCCES), becoming a Certified Autism Specialist. She completed the Educational Leadership Program at SFASU, receiving her principal certification.
Mrs. Herrera has been married to Robert Herrera Jr. for 21 years, and they have three children. Her eldest son is a freshman at Texas A&M University in College Station, she has a daughter at Lufkin Middle School and her youngest son attends Anderson Elementary.
“As the Director of Special Services, I look forward to supporting students with special needs and their families. I have enjoyed working within our department of strong and dedicated staff and feel blessed to be trusted with my new role at Lufkin ISD,” she said.
Dr. Betsy Mijares – Director of Bilingual Services
Dr. Betsy Mijares is a Lufkin native and graduated from Lufkin High School in 2001. She attended Sam Houston State University, graduating in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice minoring in English and Spanish. She then attended Stephen F. Austin State University (SFASU) in the Post Baccalaureate Initial Certification (PBIC) program to seek her teaching certification. Dr. Mijares continued her education at SFASU to receive her Master in Secondary Education degree and principal certification in 2009. Years later, she pursued her Doctorate in Educational Leadership and received her superintendent certification in 2017.
Dr. Mijares is a homegrown educator with 16 years of experience in education. She began her career as an 8th grade Reading/Language Arts teacher in 2005 at Lufkin Middle School and worked there for seven years. She served as an assistant principal at Burley Primary for almost two years and became principal of Burley Primary for seven years. Dr. Mijares is also an adjunct professor for the Educational Leadership Department at Sam Houston State University.
She is actively involved in the community as a board member of the Communities Cinco de Mayo, East Texas Cancer Alliance, and Boys and Girls Clubs of East Texas. She has also been a member of Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association since 2012.
Dr. Betsy Mijares has been married to Andres Mijares for 11 years. They have a son, Giovani Andres Mijares, who attends Slack Elementary, and daughter, Penelope Meadow Mijares, future Lufkin Panther.
“I am blessed to have the opportunity to learn and continue to advocate for students and support district staff in continuing student success. My goal is the continuation of growing and supporting all programs to provide quality education experience for students to explore, innovate, and reach their learning goals. Plus, it is a bonus to continue to work for this great Panther Nation,” she said.
Erin Kay – Director of Science and Social Studies
Erin Kay was born in Lufkin and has proudly served Lufkin ISD for the past 14 years. Her many roles in the district have included science teacher, Academic Decathlon coach, Lufkin High School science instructional coach, and Lufkin High School LPAC coordinator.
Mrs. Kay is a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University (SFASU) with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in geology. She has earned a master’s degree in Educational Leadership and superintendent certification through SFASU.
Erin is married to Ronnie Kay, and they have two sons, Ricky and Larson, who both attend Angelina College.
“Having worked at LHS for 14 years, I now look forward to expanding my role in the district and serving all of our students from K-12 in science and social studies. Student success, growth, and excellence are the foundational components I seek to develop for all students in Lufkin ISD,” she said.