Finalists Named for 2016 Superintendent of the Year Award

Published 9:25 am Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Special to The Leader

AUSTIN —Five public school administrators from across Texas were selected as state finalists for the annual Superintendent of the Year (SOTY) award. 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 2016 finalists and their regions are Angi Williams, Galena Park ISD, Region 4; David Harris, DeSoto ISD, Region 10; Marcelo Cavazos, Arlington ISD, Region 11; Robin Battershell, Temple ISD, Region 12; and Greg Gibson, Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD, Region 20.

The state selection committee, which interviewed regional winners August 26–27 in Austin, targeted such issues as advocacy for public education, recruitment and retention of high-quality educators, programs and initiatives that positively affect student growth, and steps to measure continuous improvement.

Serving more than 21,000 students, Williams has led Galena Park ISD for five years and has 20 years of administrative experience. The state selection committee cited her emphasis on the importance of teaching from the “crib to college” and her belief that every educator has to be the best every single day to ensure success for all students. Williams earned her bachelor’s degree at Prairie View A&M University and master’s and doctorate degrees at Texas Southern University.

Harris, superintendent of DeSoto ISD for four years, serves approximately 9,750 students. He has 12 years of administrative experience. Of particular note to the committee were his proactive approach to the challenges and financial obstacles in the district and expectation that administrative staff be actively involved in the community. Harris earned a bachelor’s degree at Texas A&M University, master’s degree at Prairie View A&M University, and doctorate at Lamar University.

With 17 years of administration experience, Cavazos serves about 63,000 students. He has led Arlington ISD for four years. Cited by the selection committee were his outreach and agreements with local universities to secure automatic admission for the top 20 percent of district juniors and emphasis on training to strengthen the leadership skills of aspiring principals and assistant principals. Cavazos earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at The University of Texas—Pan American and doctorate at The University of Texas at Austin.

At the helm of Temple ISD for eight years, Battershell has 18 years of experience in education administration and serves about 8,600 students. Noted by the committee were her outreach to business partners to discover what specific job skills were needed and implementation of programs to address those needs. Also cited was a strong emphasis on measurement to help achieve district goals. Battershell earned her bachelor’s degree at Texas Tech University, master’s degree at the University of Houston, and doctorate at Baylor University.

Gibson serves approximately 15,300 students and has 23 years of administrative experience. He has ledSchertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD for six years. The committee cited his collaborative efforts with other superintendents in preparation of testimony before legislative bodies and his twice-weekly campus visits to stay connected with students and staff. Gibson earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Midwestern State University and doctorate at the University of North Texas.

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 Marla Guerra, South Texas ISD, Region 1; Suzanne Nelson, Tuloso-Midway ISD, Region 2; Jay Killgo, Vidor ISD, Region 5; Jason Marshall, Palestine ISD, Region 7; Don Jefferies, Greenville ISD, Region 8; Jeff McClure, Henrietta ISD, Region 9; Cathy Lauer, Nixon-Smiley ISD, Region 13; Shaun Barnett, Stamford ISD, Region 14; Bill Wiggins, Plemons-Stinnett-Phillips ISD, Region 16; Dewitt Smith, Wink-Loving ISD, Region 18; and José Espinoza, Socorro ISD, Region 19.

The 2016 Superintendent of the Year will be announced September 23 at the TASA/TASB Convention in Houston. 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 more than 5.3 million students.