Being named Texas Superintendent of the Year has been completely surreal. I felt humbled and honored to be among the 20 regional winners. To be among the top five superintendents of the state was unimaginable for this hopeless little girl born into poverty and the ills that go along with that. I was told that education would make all the difference, and when I stood onstage with the four men who were chosen among the more than a thousand superintendents statewide, I believed it.
The journey has never been about me. I am simply the tool to put it all in action. It has always been about the work. The work we’ve done together here at Lufkin ISD.
Here’s to the Lufkin ISD Board of Trustees who unanimously named me the lone finalist in 2013 for the superintendent’s position. That decision alone set the trajectory for our success over the next four years working side by side with good people doing great things for kids.
Here’s to a community that welcomed me with open arms. For those of you who know me, I’m a hugger. This community embraced my family and me immediately. I will never forget how what seemed like thousands showed up to the welcome reception at the convention center, and many others invited me into their homes and churches. It wasn’t just hospitality — it was love. This community loves education. More than 100 community members participated in the Lufkin ISD strategic planning committee to help map out the direction for our district to go. I knew from the beginning that I would have the support I needed to make a positive impact in Lufkin.
Here’s to the students, who are the catalyst for all we do. Each student brings his or her own talents and abilities, and it is our greatest pleasure to discover the greatness within them. We are here to serve them, and by doing so, they make us better people and give us a glimpse of the possibilities of a better tomorrow.
Here’s to our teachers and leaders who work tirelessly every day to ensure that our students graduate not only with a diploma, but with choices and opportunities. We have the best employees who give it their all, day in and day out. They do more than teach. They mentor, counsel, support, nourish, comfort and, most of all, care for each child.
Here’s to the staff members who provide safe transportation for our kids to and from school; cook hot, healthy meals for our children; and ensure our buildings are clean and inviting. Without our support staff, we could not provide our students the exceptional education we do.
Here’s to my mother, who gave birth to me at a young age, and my grandmother, who always provided for me even with limited resources. She knew an education would make all the difference for me. Here’s to my husband, who has prayed for me, encouraged me and supported me no matter what my endeavors. Here’s to my very own children, who I hope understand the sacrifice of hard work and know I appreciate their love more than words can say.
I realize the significance of the honor bestowed upon me as the State Superintendent of the Year. I also appreciate all who played a part in getting me where I am today, and I am extremely grateful; but most importantly, here’s to an all-wise and all-knowing Creator who took a girl born into a hopeless past and gave her a hopeful future.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving filled with hope.
LaTonya Goffney is the superintendent of Lufkin ISD. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. This column originally appeared in The Lufkin News.