Finalists Named for 2017 Superintendent of the Year Award

For Release: August 28, 2017
Contact: Barbara Williams, 512.340.2933
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(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 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.

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 the following:

Region Name ISD
1 Arturo Cavazos Harlingen CISD
2 Maria Vidaurri Robstown ISD
5 Scott Campbell East Chambers ISD
6 Denise Monzingo Rockdale ISD
10 John Chapman Ennis ISD
12 Marcus Faulkner China Spring ISD
13 Tommy Hooker Thrall ISD
14 Jason Cochran Eastland ISD
15 Wes Beck Early ISD
16 Donna Hale Miami ISD
17 Julee Becker Slaton ISD
18 Amy Jacobs Coahoma ISD
19 Jeannie Meza-Chavez Tornillo ISD
20 Jeff Cottrill Knippa ISD

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.