Five public school administrators from across Texas were selected as state finalists for the annual Superintendent of the Year (SOTY) award, one of those being Dr. LaTonya Goffney, Superintendent of Schools from Lufkin ISD. Sponsored by the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), the SOTY program has recognized exemplary superintendents for excellence and achievement in educational leadership since 1984.
The 2017 finalists and their regions are Robert Jaklich, Victoria ISD, Region 3; Thomas Randle, Lamar CISD, Region 4; LaTonya Goffney, Lufkin ISD, Region 7; Judd Marshall, Mount Pleasant ISD, Region 8; and Jim Vaszauskas, Mansfield ISD, Region 11.
The state selection committee, which interviewed regional winners August 25-26 in Austin, targeted such issues as advocacy efforts during the regular and special sessions and the importance of all staff members’ contributions to a district’s success. Also explored were the ever-changing challenges facing education leaders as they focus on initiatives and programs that truly benefit students.
Scott Skelton, President of the Lufkin ISD Board of Trustees, said, “The Board of Trustees of the Lufkin Independent School District is pleased, but not surprised, that Dr. Goffney has been selected as one of the five finalist for Texas Superintendent of the Year. Dr. Goffney welcomes new ideas and is not afraid to address problems. She handles her job skillfully and leaves our citizens with the knowledge that the District cares about each and every child. The State of Texas has some great educators, but when the roll is called of the greatest, Dr. Goffney’s name is at the top.”
Dr. Goffney, Lufkin ISD Superintendent, said, “I am very grateful and incredibly honored to be among the top five finalists for this statewide award. What a blessing it is to serve among some of the most outstanding fellow superintendents in Texas.” She went on to say, “It’s a privilege to work in the Lufkin community where people value public education. This award is a testament to the hard work of our dedicated team including a visionary board, unified staff, and great students.”
The finalists include:
- Serving more than 14,300 students, Jaklich has led Victoria ISD for five years and has 24 years of administrative experience. The committee cited his commitment that all students reach their maximum potential, serving every child in every classroom every day. The district also thrives under his leadership by being the center of communication in the community. Jaklich earned his bachelor’s degree at St. Mary’s University, master’s at Texas A&I University, and doctorate at The University of Texas at Austin.
- Randle, superintendent of Lamar CISD for 16 years, serves approximately 32,000 students. He has 36 years of administrative experience. Of particular note to the state selection committee were his emphasis on academic excellence, creative learning, and innovative practices. Working with his staff and board of trustees, the district stresses that every decision should be made with the students in mind. Randle earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Texas A&M University and doctorate at Oklahoma State University.
- With 15 years of administration experience, Goffney serves about 8,175 students. She has led Lufkin ISD for four years. Cited by the selection committee were her focus on transparency, removing barriers, and sharing best practices for continuous improvement in the district. Also noted were the community forums and state-of-the-district breakfasts to gather input and share progress. Goffney earned her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees at Sam Houston State University.
- At the helm of Mount Pleasant ISD for four years, Marshall has 11 years of experience in education administration and serves about 5,350 students. Noted by the committee members were his emphasis on visibility and civic involvement in the community. Also cited were his aggressive and progressive approaches to learning and belief that education leaders can act as change agents in the community and state. Marshall earned his bachelor’s degree at Henderson State University and master’s degree at Texas A&M University at Commerce.
- Vaszauskas serves approximately 34,500 students and has 17 years of administrative experience. He has led Mansfield ISD for four years. The committee cited his focus on a clear, simplified strategic plan to attain district goals. Also noted were his emphasis on district transparency for the community and straightforward communication with lawmakers. Vaszauskas earned his bachelor’s degree at Baylor University, master’s degree at Texas Wesleyan University, and doctorate at Stephen F. Austin State University.
Candidates are chosen for their strong leadership skills, dedication to improving educational quality, ability to build effective employee relations, student performance, and commitment to public involvement in education. Superintendents from any of the state’s local school districts are eligible for nomination by their school boards. Local nominees are submitted to a regional selection committee, which chooses one nominee to send to the state selection committee.
Regional winners nominated by regional selection committees are: Arturo Cavazos, Harlingen CISD, Region 1; Maria Vidaurri, Robstown ISD, Region 2; Scott Campbell, East Chambers ISD, Region 5; Denise Monzingo, Rockdale ISD, Region 6; John Chapman, Ennis ISD, Region 10; Marcus Faulkner, China Spring ISD, Region 12; Tommy Hooker, Thrall ISD, Region 13; Jason Cochran, Eastland ISD, Region 14; Wes Beck, Early ISD, Region 15; Donna Hale, Miami ISD, Region 16; Julee Becker, Slaton ISD, Region 17; Amy Jacobs, Coahoma ISD, Region 18; Jeannie Meza-Chavez, Tornillo ISD, Region 19; and Jeff Cottrill, Knippa ISD, Region 20.
The 2017 Superintendent of the Year will be announced October 7 at the TASA/TASB Convention in Dallas. The districts of the winning superintendent and state finalists will receive an award from Balfour, program underwriter.
TASB is a nonprofit association established in 1949 to serve local public school boards. School board members are the largest group of publicly elected officials in the state. The districts they represent serve approximately 5.4 million students.