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Five Questions With James B. Crow Award Winner Bobby Blount

Bobby Blount, a longtime Northside ISD school board member, is the 2024 recipient of TASB’s James B. Crow Innovation in Governance Award.

In his 25 years of service on the Northside ISD school board, Bobby Blount's commitment to public schools has never wavered.

Blount, who also serves as president of the Texas Caucus of Black School Board Members, is this year's recipient of the James B. Crow Innovation in Governance Award. The award, which was established in 2022, is presented to honorees who have shown a dedication to improving Texas public education. Blount will formally receive the award at this year’s Summer Leadership Institute in June.

As a longstanding advocate of public schools, Blount is known for his leadership in the San Antonio education community. A former TASB board member and a Leadership TASB alumni, he has also held notable positions at the Bexar County School Board Coalition, the Go Public Campaign, and the San Antonio Area African American Community Fund.

TASB sat down with Blount to discuss his long history of public school leadership and how board members can stay focused and inspired.

Q: What inspires you to keep serving on the Northside ISD school board after 25 years?

A: Working with the kids. Every day there’s a new kid to support and a new way to be successful. Especially when you start having personal interactions with the kids, you begin to develop a love for this kind of work, and you start to notice more things you can do for them.

Since education has been around, there have always been challenges. There’s always somebody that needs additional help or an additional boost, whether it be over the last five years or the 20 years prior to that. But if you focus on trying to make those kids successful, that’s the one constant that we can always bring.

Q: What advice do you have for new school board members?

A. Keep your eye on the ball. There are a lot of distractions, a lot of things can take you off focus and cause you to start losing ground. You have to say, “No matter what's going on around me, I’m going to stay focused on those kids and let everything else be noise.” I think that’s the best way you can be successful.

It’s also important for people coming on the school boards to understand that you have to be willing to work as a team. The team includes your other board members and the community. Single issues are distracting right now. But if you want to make a difference, you have to think about how to sustain your achievements over the long term.

Q: How do you build relationships with new team members once you get on the board?

A: Building relationships not only with your own team but also with the superintendent and with staff, too, is really important. When it comes to the team itself, being honest and having dialogues with each other is key. You have to be willing to learn how individual team members prefer to communicate and use that to build connections.

At Northside, we have a strong culture, and we try to make sure that culture is maintained. We meet with past superintendents and trustees for an annual luncheon. Those types of things are very important, and it’s something that has always been strong with the Northside School Board.

Q: Can you share a little about your work as the president of the Texas Caucus of Black School Board Members? What have you been working on during your time there?

A: About 15 years ago, during a Summer Leadership Institute and some other forums and across the state, we started looking at the achievement gap. We know the data across Texas, across the nation, across the world. We’re really trying to work now on actual solutions.

We’ve started a strategy that developed over time, where we ask what areas we can focus on to help out any group that may not be performing as well. We identified reading, attendance, discipline, and rigor. If you just focus on those particular areas, you're going to help move a group forward. So now we're in the middle of sharing what we’ve learned. We’re going to present some of our findings at the upcoming Summer Leadership Institute.

I take great pride that the Caucus has taken something that we started years ago and built it up in a way that can benefit the whole state.

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to share with TASB members?

A: I’m very appreciative of the San Antonio community. We’ve been very fortunate that our trustees here, through our Bexar County School Board Coalition and other things, we’re very close to each other and very supportive of each other. I can call them any time of the day and we can begin to look at things. I’ve built relationships with the local districts. Thanks to my TASB involvement, I have built relationships with trustees across the state. Through working with other trustees, I know we all have great stories to tell and just need to tell them.

I’m also very thankful to Jim Crow. I was fortunate to get to work with him on so many different things over the years. It’s an honor to receive this award named after him.

Photo courtesy of Northside ISD.

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Leslie Trahan
Content Strategy Manager

Leslie Trahan is the content strategy manager for TASB.