Plainview ISD Leader Wins 2021 Superintendent of the Year Award

For release: September 24, 2021
Contact: Joan Randall, 512.340.2983
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(Dallas)  – September 24, 2021 – H.T. Sanchez of Plainview ISD was named Superintendent of the Year (SOTY) by the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB). The presentation was made in Dallas at the annual conference hosted by TASB and the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA). 

Sanchez, whose district is in Region 17, was selected for the prestigious award from a group of five state finalists that included Courtney Hudgins, East Bernard ISD, Region 3; Mark Estrada, Lockhart ISD, Region 13; Samuel Wyatt, Rankin ISD, Region 18; and Jeanette Ball, Judson ISD, Region 20.

Sanchez has led Plainview ISD since May 2018, serving 4,843 students in a Panhandle district that stretches nearly 400 square miles across most of Hale and some of Floyd counties. His educational experience spans two decades as a teacher, coach, and principal before becoming a superintendent. In nominating him, the Plainview ISD Board President Sylvia De La Garza noted his work in passing a $76.6 million bond package, recruiting and retention efforts, advancements in technology, and generally moving the district forward. “We hired the right superintendent, and we have all become better leaders,” she said. 

In naming Sanchez as the winner of this year’s award, the 10-member selection committee commended his collaborative leadership style, unwavering focus on student outcomes, and ability to connect with teachers and staff. 

“We are so pleased to be able to celebrate outstanding school leadership, especially now with all of the challenges facing our school districts across the state,” said Debbie Gillespie, committee chair, TASB first vice-president, and a Frisco ISD board member. “We were very impressed with each finalist and their commitment to leading during these unprecedented times. All of the superintendent finalists reflect the hard work happening in our Texas schools, and it’s inspirational to hear everything they are doing to put our students first.”

Sponsored by TASB and underwritten by Balfour, the SOTY program has recognized exemplary superintendents for excellence and achievement in educational leadership since 1984. 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. The SOTY winner receives a $5,000 check and a special ring, donated by Balfour. The finalists each receive $1,000, also given by Balfour.

Sanchez earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Angelo State University, his master’s degree in school administration from Sul Ross State University, and doctorate in educational administration from Texas A&M University-Commerce. 

In his remarks, Sanchez thanked his wife and his board members for their encouragement and support. “There’s no superintendent that can do good work without the support of an amazing board,” he said.

The selection of the winner is the culmination of a nine-month process that begins in January when school boards across the state start to prepare their superintendent nomination, which must be approved by resolution. Recommended superintendents are then interviewed by regional selection committees, with finalists from each Texas education service center (ESC) region being announced in June. Each ESC finalist is then brought forward for interviews by the state selection committee, which narrows the pool to five state finalists, announced in August.

The naming of the Superintendent of the Year is a highlight of the annual TASA | TASB Convention, held each year in the fall to promote excellence in Texas public education. 

“We’re always excited to partner with TASA to host this convention because it highlights the vital relationship that exists between board members and their superintendents,” said TASB Executive Director Dan Troxell. “We know outstanding leadership and governance are key to advancing student achievement and that’s our mission at TASB – to provide support and resources so that all of our public school districts, and the students they serve, are successful.”

Regional superintendents of the year nominated by regional selection committees are:

  • Hafedh Azaiez**, Donna ISD, Region 1 
  • Conrado Garcia, West Oso ISD, Region 2
  • HD Chambers, Alief ISD, Region 4
  • Mike Gonzales, Port Neches-Groves ISD, Region 5
  • Keith Smith, Madisonville CISD, Region 6
  • Rickey Albritton, Gilmer ISD, Region 7
  • Sidney Harrist, Atlanta ISD, Region 8
  • Michelle Cline, Throckmorton Collegiate ISD, Region 9
  • Michael Hinojosa, Dallas ISD, Region 10
  • Susan Bohn, Aledo ISD, Region 11
  • Brandon Hubbard, Chilton ISD, Region 12
  • Jason Cochran, Eastland ISD, Region 14
  • Dave Lewis, Rochelle ISD, Region 15
  • Jimmy Hannon, Highland Park ISD-Potter County, Region 16
  • Rosa Vega-Barrio, Tornillo ISD, Region 19

**Donna ISD was the nominating district. Azaiez is now serving as superintendent of Round Rock ISD.

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 5.4 million students.