Tomball ISD Leader Wins 2023 Superintendent of the Year Award
Dallas— Martha Salazar-Zamora of Tomball ISD was named Superintendent of the Year (SOTY) by the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) in a special presentation at the annual convention hosted by TASB and the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA).
Salazar-Zamora, whose district is in Region 4, was selected for the prestigious award from a group of five state finalists that included Wade Stanford, Westwood ISD, Region 7; Jim F. Chadwell, Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD, Region 11; Sheri Blankenship, Hereford ISD, Region 16; and Jose Rafael Lopez, Kermit ISD, Region 18.
In naming Salazar-Zamora as the winner of this year’s award, the eight-member selection committee commended her energy and commitment to helping all students succeed, no matter their zip code or circumstances. They also noted her willingness to listen, build relationships, and work with other community and education leaders to strengthen public education in Tomball ISD and across the state.
“The entire committee was so impressed by the candidates for this year’s Superintendent of the Year award,” said Kerrville ISD Trustee Rolinda Schmidt, who chaired the TASB selection committee. “As school board members, we understand the challenges involved in successfully leading a school district and it’s no small accomplishment to be a state finalist. It’s always so inspiring to hear about what these public education leaders are doing to advance student outcomes in their districts and to create learning and working environments where everyone has the opportunity to achieve.”
Schmidt said the committee was particularly impressed with Salazar-Zamora’s approach to finding creative and innovative solutions to ensure every child gets a quality education. “We were all so impressed by Dr. Salazar-Zamora’s unmatched energy, enterprising spirit, and commitment to serving her students and community,” Schmidt said. “She is truly an advocate for her students and for creating opportunities for them to achieve their goals – whatever they may be.”
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 district of the SOTY winner receives a $5,000 check and the superintendent is given a custom ring. The districts of each of the finalists receive $1,000, also given by Balfour.
In her remarks before an audience of hundreds at the TASA | TASB Convention, Salazar-Zamora said she was honored to receive the award and commended all the regional winners and state finalists for their work on behalf of Texas public school children. She also thanked her family, board, and the entire Tomball ISD community. In winning the award, Salazar-Zamora becomes the first female Hispanic superintendent to earn the honor in the history of the Superintendent of the Year program.
“I’m so amazingly grateful to God to allow me this opportunity to serve the students in Tomball ISD,” she said. She commended all the superintendents at the event, as well as all educators, school board members, and leaders for their collective passion in helping students be successful, despite the challenges facing public education.
“It is not an easy time to be in public education today but together we can and will continue to fight for public education,” she said. “Together we will continue to make the difference that matters.”
Salazar-Zamora has served as superintendent of Tomball ISD, located about 30 miles northwest of Houston, since 2017 and brings more than 36 years of education experience to the role. Prior to joining Tomball ISD in 2014 as chief academic officer, she served in leadership positions in Round Rock, Houston, Spring, and Kingsville ISDs.
Salazar-Zamora was recognized on Aug. 25 as one of the Houston area’s 30 most influential women and is the first female and Hispanic superintendent of Tomball ISD, which includes more than 22,000 students across 23 campuses, most of which are rated A campuses under the state accountability system. Salazar-Zamora’s accomplishments include implementation of Tomball Star Academy, the district’s early college high school; Tomball ISD’s Two-Way Dual Language Academy; and the district’s first P-TECH focused on healthcare.
She received a doctorate in education at Texas A&M University, a master of education in educational administration and a master of education in special education at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, and a bachelor of science at Texas A&I University.
The selection of a Superintendent of the Year 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 from each Texas education service center (ESC), which announce their regional finalist in June. Each ESC regional 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.
“It is really saying something to stand out among this talented and dedicated group who are the superintendents of Texas public school districts,” said TASB Executive Director Dan Troxell. “We are honored to partner with TASA in hosting this event and being able to present the Superintendent of the Year Award recognizing outstanding leadership. The successful working relationship between school boards and their superintendents is at the heart of excellent student outcomes and strong governance in their districts. Everything we do at TASB is in support of the extraordinary work that superintendents and school boards do in service to their students.”
The 14 regional superintendents of the year were also recognized at the event. They are:
- René Gutiérrez, Brownsville ISD, Region 1
- Judi Whitis, London ISD, Region 2
- Larry Gajewskey, Nursery ISD, Region 3
- Stuart Kieschnick, Nederland ISD, Region 5
- Scott Sheppard, Huntsville ISD, Region 6
- Chad Pirtle, Pleasant Grove ISD, Region 8
- Kevin Worthy, Royse City ISD, Region 10
- Chris Skinner, Teague ISD, Region 12
- Darren Webb, Lago Vista ISD, Region 13
- Greg Decker, Rotan ISD, Region 14
- Thomas “Todd” White, Santa Anna ISD, Region 15
- Kathy Rollo, Lubbock ISD, Region 17
- Xavier De La Torre, Ysleta ISD, Region 19
- Matthew Gutierrez, Seguin ISD, Region 20
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.