Finalists Named for 2019 Superintendent of the Year (SOTY) Award

For release: August 26, 2019  
Contact: Joan Randall, 512.340.2983
Find us on Facebook and Twitter.

(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 2019 finalists are the following:

  • Charles Dupre, Fort Bend ISD, Region 4
  • Walter Jackson, Brenham ISD, Region 6
  • Tylor Chaplin, Burkburnett ISD, Region 9
  • Bruce Gearing, Dripping Springs ISD, Region 13
  • Keith Bryant, Lubbock-Cooper ISD, Region 17

The state selection committee, which interviewed regional winners August 23-24 in Austin, targeted such topics as advocacy, community engagement, the superintendent’s work with the board, and the future of public education.

Dupre has served as an administrator for 24 years and has led Fort Bend ISD for six years. The committee cited Dupre’s advocacy efforts and the encouragement he gives staff to speak up for the district and public education. The committee also noted his strategic alignment with his school board, his accessibility to staff, and the support he provides to help them face the challenges of serving the district’s nearly 77,000 students. Dupre received his bachelor’s degree from Harding University, his master’s degree from the University of Houston, and his doctorate from Lamar University.

At the helm of Brenham ISD for the last four years, Jackson serves around 5,100 students. He has 21 years of administrative experience. The committee cited his visibility as a leader and as a champion for public education. The committee noted his efforts to herald public education as the equalizer for all students—providing a path out of poverty through learning and academic achievement—and the foundation for the nation’s future. He received his bachelor’s degree from Texas Southern University, his master’s degree from Prairie View A&M University, and his doctorate from Baylor University.

Chaplin has 12 years of administrative experience. He has been superintendent of Burkburnett ISD for four years and serves approximately 3,300 students. The committee cited his passion for protecting public education’s future and for civic involvement. The committee noted his efforts to be involved at every level in the district – whether visiting each campus to greet arriving students or being inclusive when gathering input and ideas to make sure the district and students are future-ready. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Tarleton State University and his doctorate from Lamar University. 

Gearing serves a population of about 7,000 students in Dripping Springs ISD. He has been in education administration for 18 years and served as Dripping Springs ISD superintendent for seven years. The committee described Gearing as a visionary and catalyst for change and noted his focus on preparing students broadly for the world of today. They also cited the encouragement he gives staff to interact and learn from one another and his efforts to stay on top of changing needs by proactively listening. Gearing earned his bachelor’s degree from University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; his master’s degree from Texas A&M University – Texarkana; and his doctorate from Texas A&M University – Commerce.

Bryant has led Lubbock-Cooper ISD for six years, where he serves more than 6,900 students.  He has been in education administration for 23 years. Of particular note to the committee was Bryant’s thoughts on the future of public education and the necessity for educators to embrace change, including new technology. Along with his future focus, the committee also appreciated his efforts to place a priority on the advocacy work that occurs between legislative sessions. Bryant earned his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and superintendent certification from Texas Tech 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:

  • Carlos Guzman, Roma ISD, Region 1
  • Sharon McKinney, Port Aransas ISD, Region 2
  • Tina Herrington, Wharton ISD, Region 3
  • Cody Abshier, Liberty ISD, Region 5
  • Christopher Moran, Whitehouse ISD, Region 7
  • Paul Jones, Paris ISD, Region 8
  • Roosevelt Nivens, Community ISD, Region 10
  • John Ramos, Castleberry ISD, Region 11
  • Duane Hyde, Highland ISD, Region 14
  • Carlos Rios, San Felipe Del Rio CISD, Region 15
  • Tanya Larkin, Pampa ISD, Region 16
  • Leandro Gonzales, Jr., Grady ISD, Region 18
  • Evelyn Loeffler, Sierra Blanca ISD, Region 19
  • Lloyd Verstuyft, Southwest ISD, Region 20

The 2019 Superintendent of the Year will be announced September 21 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 5.3 million students.