State Finalists Named for 2022 Superintendent of the Year Award
Austin— The Texas Association of School Boards is pleased to announce that five public school administrators have been selected as state finalists for the annual Superintendent of the Year (SOTY) award, a program that has been honoring exemplary school leaders since 1984.
“We are thrilled about being able to recognize outstanding school superintendents across Texas,” said TASB Executive Director Dan Troxell. “The job of a superintendent has never been tougher or any more important than it is today. An excellent superintendent working within a district’s team of eight is essential to student success and achievement, and we’re so impressed with the talent here in Texas.”
The five finalists were selected by a TASB committee made up of school board members who interviewed 20 nominees from every region in the state from Aug. 26-27. The candidates were evaluated on their work in improving student outcomes, developing a strong team of eight relationship, advocacy, and their ongoing commitment to innovation and leadership.
The five state finalists are:
- Jenny McGown, Klein ISD, Region 4
- Thurston Lamb, Henderson ISD, Region 7
- Bobby Ott, Temple ISD, Region 12
- Doug Killian, Pflugerville ISD, Region 13
- Scott Muri, Ector County ISD, Region 18
“The pool of talent this year was exceptional, and the entire committee was impressed by the accomplishments of these school leaders,” said Dripping Springs ISD Trustee Mary Jane Hetrick, who chaired the TASB selection committee. “Of course, it was difficult to select just five state finalists, and we greatly appreciate all of the regional winners for their work on behalf of Texas schoolchildren.”
Those named as state finalists will advance to the next stage of the Superintendent of the Year competition, which will take place at the Texas Association of School Administrators | TASB Convention being held Sept. 23-25 in San Antonio. The winner will be announced on Saturday, Sept. 24, and will receive an award underwritten by program sponsor Balfour.
Below are short bios of each state finalist:
Jenny McGown, Klein ISD, Region 4
Jenny McGown has served as superintendent of Klein ISD, located in northwest Harris County, since 2019. Prior to being named superintendent, she served the district of 54,000 students in the roles of deputy superintendent, chief learning officer, executive director, principal, assistant principal, and classroom teacher.
Under McGown’s leadership, Klein ISD has been honored as District Administration’s National District of the Year, recognized twice for Houston Business Journal Innovation Awards, and twice was a finalist for an H-E-B Excellence in Education Award for Best Large District. In 2021, she was recognized nationally as a Top Superintendent to Watch by the National School Public Relations Association.
McGown completed her undergraduate studies at Texas A&M University and received her master’s and doctorate in education from Sam Houston State University.
In selecting McGown as a state finalist, the committee noted her commitment to excellent relations with her school board, as well as her focus on student achievement and personalized learning.
Thurston Lamb, Henderson ISD, Region 7
Thurston Lamb has served as superintendent of Henderson ISD, located in Henderson in East Texas, since 2019, where he serves nearly 3,500 students across five campuses.
His career in education spans nearly 25 years and includes time in both the classroom and as an administrator in districts such as Garland, Richardson, DeSoto, Duncanville, Plano, and Crowley. He has also taught undergraduate and graduate level courses for the University of Phoenix and Concordia University in Austin.
Raised in Arkansas, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from high school and served in Desert Storm. He then attended college, earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Central Arkansas, a master’s degree in education from Texas A&M-Commerce, and a doctorate in educational leadership from Capella University.
At Henderson ISD, he has helped build capacity among administrators through his Instructional Leadership Academy (ILA), a rigorous, one-year program designed for candidates to develop and improve their leadership skills.
In selecting Lamb as a state finalist, the committee applauded his approach to coaching teachers, improving student achievement, and sharing the district vision with his community. Committee members also noted his successful relationship with his school board, which has created a climate of open communication and collaboration.
Bobby Ott, Temple ISD, Region 12
Bobby Ott has served as superintendent of Temple ISD, located south of Waco, since 2018, where he serves nearly 8,500 students across 15 campuses.
Over his 24-year career as an education leader, Ott has worked in military, rural, urban, suburban, and fast-growth districts. His previous positions include assistant and deputy superintendent within the school districts of Temple, Copperas Cove, and Killeen. He also served as an executive leader for both the Texas Education Agency and The University of Texas at Austin.
As superintendent in Temple ISD, the district has seen progress in closing student achievement gaps, particularly at the elementary level and among students receiving special education services as well as English language learners.
He holds a doctorate in school administration from The University of Texas at Austin and completed both his master’s and undergraduate degree from Angelo State University.
In selecting Ott as a state finalist, the committee highlighted his commitment to an excellent relationship with his school board, fostered by retreats and shared learning experiences. They also commended his approach to personalizing learning for Temple ISD students and creating a culture of caring and celebration among the district’s teachers.
Doug Killian, Pflugerville ISD, Region 13
Doug Killian has served as superintendent of Pflugerville ISD, located in the north Austin area, since 2017 and brings 27 years of administrative experience to the role. Prior to joining Pflugerville ISD, with its 25,485 students, he served as Hutto ISD superintendent.
Killian was named the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce’s 2014 Superintendent of the Year. In 2015, he was Region 13’s Superintendent of the Year.
He began his educational career at United ISD, serving as a first-grade teacher. He has held various administrative positions, including serving as superintendent in Poteet and Huffman ISDs, as well as administrative roles in educational service centers 3 and 20.
He received his doctorate in educational administration from Texas A&M University, his master's degree in educational administration from Texas A&M International University, and his bachelor's degree in political science and history from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University).
In selecting Killian as a state finalist, the committee noted his commitment to open communications among the team of eight, as well as among his campus and district administrators. Committee members also applauded his work in advancing equity to ensure all students have access to rigorous instruction.
Scott Muri, Ector County ISD, Region 18
Scott Muri joined Ector County ISD, located in Odessa, as superintendent in July 2019. Prior to that role, he served as the superintendent of Spring Branch ISD in Houston for four years.
Under Muri’s leadership in Ector County, he reduced teacher vacancies from 356 to 51 in two years, expanded pre-K to include a full-day program for 4-year-olds and a half-day program for 3-year-olds, and increased kindergarten readiness by 13%.
His 34 years of public education experience includes key leadership roles in large districts like Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina and Fulton County Schools in Atlanta, as well as in unique settings such as Walt Disney’s Celebration School in Celebration, Fla.
Muri completed his undergraduate studies at Wake Forest University and received his master’s degree at Stetson University and his doctorate in educational leadership from Wingate University.
In selecting Muri as a state finalist, the committee highlighted Muri’s work in improving academics among the district’s 33,500 enrolled students, his commitment to teacher training and board relations, and his focus on meaningful equity work.
TASB is a nonprofit organization established in 1949 to serve local Texas 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 public school students.