Lufkin ISD Superintendent Lynn Torres

Lufkin ISD is hosting the Parents for African American Academic Success (PAAAS) symposium Feb. 3-4 at the Pitser Garrison Convention Center. The goals of this event include:

■ Providing windows/mirrors for our students to see positive images of African American individuals.

■ Encouraging our students to take rigorous/advanced courses.

■ Exposing our students to various career fields.

■ Developing a network of support for Lufkin students and the surrounding community.


We will, once again, host an informal mixer Friday evening and will have live music from the band Atmosphere, food trucks and student performances. That night, we’ll have a keynote speaker C. Spencer Platt, an associate professor of Higher Education Administration and interim director of the Center for Innovation and Inclusion in Higher Education at the University of South Carolina.


Platt earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin and his Master of Science degree from the University of Dayton. He holds a baccalaureate degree from the University of South Carolina. He has more than 20 years of experience in student affairs, community engagement, diversity/equity and academic affairs. His research interests center on issues of diversity, equity, access and excellence in education.


The next day, we will partner with the Dunbar Hall of Honor to celebrate two former Dunbar High School students being inducted — Joe Harris and Kenneth Williams. There will be more student performances and advanced academics presentations about our programs for gifted and talented, dual language, early college high school, advanced placement and the STEM program with Stephen F. Austin State University.


Our keynote speaker will be Kenyatta N. Shamburger, chief of staff in the Office of the President at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas. In his role, he provides executive and strategic support to the college president, advises the president on organizational climate, policy and other topics relevant to the college’s success, and assists the president in delivering on short- and long-term strategic objectives.


In addition, he serves as the United Negro College Fund transformation officer. In February, he will transition to Talladega College in Talladega, Alabama, where he was recently appointed as the vice president and chief of staff in the office of the president.


A native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Shamburger graduated from Northeastern University in Boston after completing a Bachelor of Science degree in political science with a dual minor in psychology and African American studies. He earned a master’s degree in leadership and administration from the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta and a Doctor of Philosophy in higher education administration from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.


We’re excited about a new component of the symposium, an academic and career expo where our students and families will be able to interact with African American professionals throughout the country. We’ve invited our panelists back from last year and have asked them to bring their friends and colleagues. Daniel Spikes, our assistant superintendent, has invited more of his friends from around the country, including attorneys, professors, authors, a demographer and an engineer, to name a few, so they can meet and encourage our students.


We’re looking forward to having a great turnout as we come together to highlight our African American alumni, students, successes and to Celebrate Lufkin ISD!