TASA begins rollout of new executive coaching program
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FEATURE ARTICLES & COLUMNS TASA begins rollout of new 10 executive coaching program From TASA with love 13 It was a TASA Midwinter Conference for the books! 34 MEET TASA’S INSPIRING LEADERS 39 LEADERSHIP PERSPECTIVE 43 Communication superpower by Bobby Ott and Quintin Shepherd TECH TAKE 46 Artificial intelligence in K-12 education by Dianne Borreson HIGHER EDUCATION 50 Using appreciative inquiry for enhancing the Teacher Incentive Allotment by Amy Hosick and Dusty Palmer Volume 38 No. 1 SPRING 2023 INSIGHT SPRING 2023 3
INSIGHT EDITORIAL STAFF
Executive Director Kevin Brown
Deputy Executive Director, Charles Dupre Member Engagement & Support
Director, Communications Amy Francisco & Marketing
Coordinator, Graphics & Multimedia Marco A. De La Cueva
Editorial Director Dacia Rivers
INSIGHT is published quarterly by the Texas Association of School Administrators, 406 East 11th Street, Austin, Texas, 78701-2617. Subscription is included in TASA membership dues. © 2023 by TASA. All rights reserved.TASA members may reprint articles in limited quantities for in-house educational use. Articles in INSIGHT are expressions of the author or interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of TASA. Advertisements do not necessarily carry the endorsement of the Texas Association of School Administrators.
TASA’s mission is to promote, provide and develop leaders who create and sustain studentcentered schools and develop future-ready students.
We envision innovative, future-focused leaders for every public school student.
TASA values the strengths, contributions, and varying perspectives of all educational leaders. Our goal is to intentionally equip and support school districts and leaders as they foster a culture in which all students and adults are valued for their unique gifts, supported academically, socially, and emotionally, and empowered to reach their full potential.
Gonzalo Salazar, President, Los Fresnos CISD
LaTonya Goffney, President-Elect, Aldine ISD
Martha Salazar-Zamora, Vice President, Tomball ISD
Doug Williams, Past President, Sunnyvale ISD
Rene Gutierrez, Region 1, Brownsville ISD
Sharon McKinney, Region 2, Port Aransas ISD
Jo Ann Bludau, Region 3, Hallettsville ISD
Walter Jackson, Region 4, La Porte ISD
Stacey Brister, Region 5, Little Cypress-Mauriceville CISD
Darol Hail, Region 6, New Waverly ISD
Chris Moran, Region 7, Whitehouse ISD
Michael Lamb, Region 8, Sulphur Springs ISD
Sonny Cruse, Region 9, Graham ISD
John “JJ” Villarreal, Region 10, Rockwall ISD
Jeremy Thompson, Region 11, Ponder ISD
Bobby Ott, Region 12, Temple ISD
Steven Snell, Region 13, Liberty Hill ISD
David Young, Region 14, Abilene ISD
Joe Young, Region 15, Brownwood ISD
Sheri Blankenship, Region 16, Hereford ISD
Michelle McCord, Region 17, Frenship ISD
Samuel Wyatt, Region 18, Rankin ISD
Veronica Vijil, Region 19, Fabens ISD
Burnie Roper, Region 20, Lackland ISD
Hafedh Azaiez, Round Rock ISD
Robert Bayard, Clear Creek ISD
Roland Hernandez, Corpus Christi ISD
Tory Hill, Channelview ISD
Keith Bryant, Legislative
Celina Estrada Thomas, Member Engagement
Roosevelt Nivens, Advocacy
Macy Satterwhite, Professional Learning
EDITORIAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Martha Salazar-Zamora, Tomball ISD, Chair
Keith Bryant, Lubbock-Cooper ISD
Roosevelt Nivens, Lamar CISD
Celina Estrada Thomas, Hutto ISD
Macy Satterwhite, Lubbock-Cooper ISD
Stacey Edmonson, Sam Houston State University
TASA Professional Learning Calendar 5 President’s Message 7 Executive Director’s View 9
TASA Professional Learning Calendar
For details on our professional development events, please refer to the TASA Daily e-newsletter, or call the TASA office at 512.477.6361 or 800.725.TASA (8272)
Date Event Location April 20 TASA Breakaway Leadership Cohort 2 Session 4 Online May 2 TASA Virtual Book Study: Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead, Online Session 5 11 TASA Breakaway Leadership Cohort 2 Session 5 Online 24 Hanover Superintendents Leadership Council Meeting 5 Online "Focusing Your System on Curriculum & Instruction" June 5 N2 Learning Assistant Principal Leadership Academy, Online/Cypress Session 6 ( Virtual, Houston Cohorts) 6 N2 Learning Assistant Principal Leadership Academy, Session 6 (Dallas Cohort) Allen 6 TASA Aspiring Superintendents Virtual Summer Series, Session 1 Online 7 N2 Learning Assistant Principal Leadership Academy, San Antonio Session 6 (Austin/San Antonio Cohort) 8 N2 Learning Assistant Principal Leadership Academy, Corpus Christi Session 6 (Corpus Christi/Victoria Cohort) 8 TASA Breakaway Leadership Cohort 2 Session 6 Online 13 TASA Aspiring Superintendents Virtual Summer Series, Session 2 Online 13-14 N2 Learning Principals’ Institute 12, Session 6 Houston 14 TASA/TASB/TASBO Budget Cohort for Texas District Leaders Event 8 Galveston 14-16 TASA txedFest Summer Conference Round Rock 20 TASA Aspiring Superintendents Virtual Summer Series, Session 3 Online July 26-27 TASA First-Time Superintendents Academy, Session 1 of 4 (2023-24) Round Rock SPRING 2023 5
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Gonzalo Salazar PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE
GROWING LEADERSHIP CAPACITY
Meeting public school leaders where they are in their leadership journey and helping them grow through professional learning opportunities continues to be a point of pride for TASA. As a result, TASA staff continue to seek new ways to deliver on one of the most important tenets of the organization. Out of a desire to support and assist first-year superintendents in their efforts to improve teaching and learning in their respective communities, this year TASA piloted an executive coaching program. The program was designed to build leadership capacity in a large cohort of first-year superintendents, and is intended to complement the mentoring program that has existed for years.
The Executive Coaching Pilot Program (see page 10) paired a combination of recently retired and seasoned superintendents currently serving in the field with first-year superintendents. TASA Deputy Executive Director Charles Dupre organized the training for the retired and current superintendents who would serve as executive coaches. The training helped potential coaches differentiate between coaching and mentoring. It helped us understand how leadership capacity grows through a process in which the executive coach serves as a thought partner who ensures that the first-year superintendent/client remains the change agent — ultimately responsible for his or her own professional growth and the growth of those they lead. The training taught us how to guide our colleagues to identify their challenges and opportunities; how to leverage their high-level focus areas to overcome those challenges and achieve a higher level of proficiency in the field of public education.
I have thoroughly enjoyed participating in this program. I believe it is an initiative that holds promise and delivers a return on investment for both the client and the coach. Although the program is designed to help our colleagues get off to a great start, I can tell you that it has also helped me grow my skill set as well. I have expanded my network and established interpersonal working relationships with a couple of great leaders with whom I know I will continue to communicate and offer encouragement throughout their careers.
TASA is currently exploring ways to expand this program and my fellow officers and I urge you to encourage new superintendents in your region to join TASA and seek out the benefits of member services. I also encourage those of you with experience to participate as an executive coach and invest in the next generation of leaders. Remember that our legacy is the difference we made when we had an opportunity and what we inspired in the lives of others.
The TASA officers, Executive Committee and I wish you continued success as you work to make a difference in the lives of our students. Please do not hesitate to reach out if we can be of assistance to you.
Gonzalo Salazar TASA President Superintendent, Los Fresnos CISD
Remember that our legacy is the difference we made when we had an opportunity and what we inspired in the lives of others.
SPRING 2023 7
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Kevin Brown EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S VIEW
Our state leaders and agencies would be wise to focus on supporting public education and educators rather than constantly criticizing our profession or placing onerous regulations that make it impossible to effectively do our jobs.
THE KEY TO LEADERSHIP SUCCESS IS SURROUNDING YOURSELF WITH TALENT
One of the most fortunate occurrences in my professional career was working for a superintendent, Charles Bradberry, whose passion was finding talented teachers and administrators. As an assistant principal in my mid-20s, I learned so much from him about creating a culture of hiring excellence and providing the tools for our entire district to invest heavily in finding the most talented, mission-driven employees to serve our students.
I learned early that it is a far better investment in time to find the right people to hire than it is to hire the wrong person quickly and then exhaust yourself trying to manage them. Just one toxic employee can suck the energy out of the entire operation, not to mention the damage done to a child’s educational experience. Those lessons helped me immensely through my career in every role I filled. No organization can exceed the quality of the people who work in it.
A key to any career success I have had — some would say the only thing I have done right — is to surround myself and the organizations I serve with incredible talent. I believe in it so much that my dissertation research focused on this very topic.
To hire talent, though, you need to have a large, quality applicant pool. And in order to have a large applicant pool: you have to have a pipeline of folks coming into the profession; you have to be smart about the selection process; you have to train folks once they are hired with high-quality professional development that promotes career-long learning; you have to create a dynamic organizational culture and systems that helps retain them; and you have to compensate them fairly and competitively.
Our state leaders and agencies would be wise to focus on supporting public education and educators rather than constantly criticizing our profession or placing onerous regulations that make it impossible to effectively do our jobs. That seems to be fashionable among some. As school administrators, you are wise to focus on your people and organizational culture, especially now when there is a shortage of applicants. I continue to hear inspiring stories about how superintendents are hiring and supporting their teams in innovative ways in spite of the challenges. Thank you for honoring and celebrating your people. At TASA, it is my privilege to work with some amazing people who are totally invested in you, the leaders who serve 5.4 million public school students. Two of those people are being honored in this publication — Ann Halstead and Marita Rogers. What a blessing they have been to TASA members for the 70 years that they have collectively served our organization. In many ways, they have been the heart and soul of our team, and their departure is bittersweet for all of us who love them. My wish for them is a happy and long retirement with a deep understanding of how much we appreciate their unending devotion. Each of your schools has people like Ann and Marita who quietly go about making huge differences in the lives of others. For all of those extraordinary people doing such critical work in spite of the challenges and rhetoric we face, I give a heartfelt thanks. And that includes you.
Kevin Brown TASA Executive Director
SPRING 2023 9
TASA begins rollout of new executive coaching program
A vision conceived by TASA Deputy Executive Director, Member Engagement and Support, Charles Dupre and Executive Director Kevin Brown is now in its initiation phase.
TASA’s new executive coaching initiative kicked off last year as a pilot program, designed to help new and experienced superintendents succeed.
As a superintendent, Dupre says that during the last five years of his career, he received executive coaching that transformed his leadership abilities. He says that many people think of coaching as a punitive action, or an experience akin to mentorship, but with TASA’s executive coaching program, he set out to go much deeper, offering the kind of hands-on coaching offered to corporate executives.
“Coaching is not therapy, it’s not mentoring, it's not consulting,” Dupre says. “Coaching is focused on the coach working with the client to find the answers within the client themselves. Coaches partner with them to co-create a relationship, set goals they want to achieve, then take them through reflective inquiry and challenge their thinking to help them grow to be the best they can be.”
The program began a slow rollout last year with 10 executive coaches working with 30 new superintendents. The coaches — some current superintendents, some retired — went through two days of coaching training, facilitated through a partnership with the Teaching and Learning Alliance. The coaches hold monthly one-on-one, 60- to 90-minute coaching sessions with each of their three assigned new superintendents, while also attending monthly coaching training sessions themselves. This summer, the coaches will also be trained in the International Coaching Federation Core Competencies. The goal is to create a developmental process that allows the coaches to grow and learn so they can best support their superintendents.
“We want to distinguish our program from others to make sure everyone knows it is true executive coaching, just like leaders in the corporate world receive,” says Dupre.
So far, the feedback TASA has received from coaches and clients has been entirely positive.
One of the coaches, Karen Rue, comes to her role following a 37-year career in education, including 14 as superintendent. She has been working as an executive coach since her retirement, and being able to apply those skills to TASA’s mission was an excellent fit.
“An executive coach helps the reflective leader make gains that matter in leading systems for improvement,” she says. “At the heart of it, executive coaching is a bit of a creative process that inspires the leader to maximize their professional potential — to be a mirror for their thinking, to sometimes push them out of a comfort zone, be a thought partner to help them see beyond what they currently see. Executive coaching can disrupt old patterns of thinking and lead to stronger competencies in leadership.”
Amy Jacobs, who held the superintendency in Coahoma ISD for seven years, also serves as one of TASA’s executive coaches and says the experience has been wonderful.
“The coaching program not only allows superintendents to have a supportive listener and a thought partner, but also challenges them to grow as leaders. I truly believe we could all benefit from an executive coach — I’m excited to see the program expand.”
This year, TASA plans to bring on between 10 and 12 new coaches to be able to offer coaching to about 90 superintendents over the next three years. While the program so far has been offered to new superintendents, TASA plans to offer coaching to experienced superintendents as well.
Because the program is in its infancy, superintendents are currently invited to participate, but Dupre says in the next year or two the coaching will be available to any interested TASA members.
The overall goal of the program is twofold. With high turnover rates across Texas, the coaching program aims to provide support to a larger-than-usual number of new superintendents. For more experienced superintendents, the program is designed to help them extend their tenures in their districts. Dupre points to research showing that superintendents need to spend seven to 10 years in a district to create a sustainable impact, and believes executive coaching can help superintendents perform at their highest levels and stay in a district longer.
“For new superintendents, coaching helps them get into the rhythm and the feel of the superintendency sooner than if they only have a mentor and fight their way through without a coach,” he says. “For experienced and new superintendents, we think it better prepares them to navigate the challenges they face by expanding their leadership effectiveness.”
Look for more information on the executive coaching program in future issues of INSIGHT.
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From TASA with
This spring, TASA said goodbye to our two longest-serving staff members, Ann Halstead and Marita Rogers. After nearly 37 years (Ann) and nearly 35 years (Marita) these amazing women stepped down and stepped into the next chapters of their lives. Both leave indelible marks on TASA, having helped shape the organization over the past three decades. On the following pages, you will read about the impact Ann and Marita have had on the people they have worked with, the people they have served, and on the association itself. We will miss them greatly but wish them all the best in retirement!
SPRING 2023 13
Ann Halstead, Nearly 37 Years of Service to TASA
Johnny Veselka, Executive Director Emeritus, TASA
“One of my first objectives as the new executive director of TASA in 1986 was to enhance the association’s communications strategy. I will always remember my first personnel decision, employing Ann Halstead as our editor and education writer. Ann came highly recommended by her colleagues at the Texas Education Agency, and I was excited to have her join our staff. Little did I know my decision would have such a profound impact on TASA’s growth and development over the next 36+ years. Ann has had a major role in shaping TASA programs, services, and internal operations. She has assumed greater and greater positions of responsibility. From editor to director of communications to director of communications and technology to assistant executive director of services and systems administration to associate executive director of internal operations, she has been at the forefront of shaping TASA’s image. From continuous improvements in member communications, creating INSIGHT, TASA’s professional journal, guiding TASA’s entry into electronic communications, launching the first TASA website, and much more, we owe a tremendous debt
of gratitude to Ann for her perceptive leadership. When TASA partnered with the Texas Council of Women School Executives, Ann readily accepted a leadership role in supporting TCWSE, working with TCWSE leaders to bring their dreams to reality. She guided the organization through significant growth as its executive director, while also serving her diverse leadership roles within TASA. Ann has been a loyal and dedicated servant, working collaboratively with her colleagues across all departments, always willing to go the extra mile, to fine-tune our internal systems and enhance the image of TASA. Thank you, Ann, for a job well done!”
Brown, Executive Director, TASA
“‘Hey, you!’ That is the very endearing signature greeting from Ann whenever you see her. No one at TASA who knows more about the internal workings of our association. Her long, committed tenure at TASA has been extraordinary, and she means the world to all of us — both professionally and personally. Ann is such a competent, quiet leader who goes about doing her job behind the scenes. Her knowledge of the TASA ops system, the history of TASA, and how to organize
everything we do has been instrumental to TASA’s success for nearly four decades. Ann’s innovative spirit has led her into different positions at TASA. No matter what job she is doing, she looks for new ways to solve problems in a very common-sense way. Whenever we are doing strategic planning, Ann is a critical member of the team because she ties in why we operate the way we do while also being open to new ideas. Most important, though, is that Ann has a servant heart and a strong sense of loyalty. She loves TASA and the people on our team, and that shows in everything she does. She also has a great sense of humor, which keeps things light, even when things are challenging. My message to Ann is this: ‘Hey you ... I hope you know how grateful we are for your incredible career at TASA. You will always be part of our family. Have a great and long retirement, and know that you will always be loved by all of us. And keep your phone on because we will no doubt need your advice!’”
Charles Dupre, Deputy Executive Director, Member Engagement & Support, TASA
“During my brief tenure as a TASA team member, I have observed just how much Ann’s unique vision, hard work and dedication to our members has shaped the organization we all
know and love. As a member for 20 years before joining the staff, I knew Ann, but didn’t fully appreciate the true depth and value of her contributions to the daily operations, including her role in putting on three major conferences annually. Ann’s investment in TASA and, thus, public education, will resonate for many years to come.”
Albert Rivas, Director, Operations & Technology, TASA
“To say that you have been an amazing boss is an understatement. It has been an inspiration to have seen you lead our department for 23 years as we have gone through so many changes in staff, leadership, and technology. You have adapted to these changes but yet always stayed consistent. You are the backbone of our organization and someone who is selfless and always making sure that everyone is taken care of. You have been a mentor and coach, but most important, a true friend as I’ve grown from a young man to the person I am today. I am thankful that you were my first boss and happy that you will get to enjoy retirement. You will always have a special place in my heart. Thank you for being you.”
Debbie O'Donnell, Coordinator, Membership & Registration Services, TASA
“My dear boss, Ann Halstead, you are what we all strive to be in the workplace — an encourager, motivator, leader, advocate, teacher, great communicator, awesome teammate, and above all, a friend to all. Your dedication to TASA and TCWSE has assisted in making both incredible organizations what they are today. A quote from Helen Keller: ‘Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all.’ May your new chapter be filled with great, daring adventures! Thank you for teaching me and working alongside me for the past several years. It has been my great honor to have learned from the best! I will miss you dearly, especially as my registration partner at conventions, conferences, meetings, etc. Cheers, my friend! Well done!”
Noemi Pena, Chief Financial Officer, TASA
“Ann (AKA Mamuela for me), what will I do without you at TASA? I am so happy for you and all your future endeavors. I can't think of anyone who is more deserving of
SPRING 2023 15
finally getting to relax and enjoy life to its fullest. I will never forget your guidance when I first started at TASA and throughout the seven years I’ve been here. You have been my sounding board and my voice of reasoning on so many different occasions. I can only aspire to have the same loyalty and commitment that you have demonstrated throughout your career. You have been a true inspiration to me as a co-worker and as a friend!”
Maria Cruz, Coordinator, Learning & Events, TASA
“Ann, congratulations on your retirement! I’m thrilled to honor you, your 36 years of excellent service to TASA, and the legacy of hard work and commitment you leave behind. You remain an inspiration and role model to us all. In my 15 years at TASA, I’ve learned so much from you and will be forever grateful to you for the patience and kindness you showed us as we learned new technologies and processes, but mostly for advocating for support staff and going to bat for us and asking the boss ‘if we’re getting off early on a Friday before a holiday’ … LOL! We’ve come a long way, BABY! Thank you for being a wonderful colleague and friend. I will miss you, but I’m not saying goodbye, only ‘hasta muy pronto, amiga!’”
Margret Montgomery Sheffield, TCWSE Founder and 1984-85 President
“Ann Halstead’s incredible leadership shaped the Texas Council of Women School Executives to become a valuable organization for women educators. For over 36 years
she recognized the strengths of TCWSE leaders and wove their contributions into the fabric and structure of the organization. In the 1980s she took the dreams of a small group of women educators and brought them to what they are today — a reality that benefits hundreds of women leaders who strive for the highest quality of education for Texas schoolchildren. From the very beginning, Ann enthusiastically created the necessary documents, planned for growth, directed staff to conduct annual conferences, encouraged vendors to get involved, managed an outstanding marketing program, and kept the Board of Directors focused on the objectives of the organization. I honestly cannot say enough about the many talents of Ann Halstead. She has sacrificed, gone beyond the extra mile, worked tirelessly, and appeared to enjoy every minute of it! What a treasure! Thank you, Ann Halstead!”
Elizabeth A. Clark, Ed.D., Associate Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Birdville ISD
“When I was president of TCWSE in 2001-02, Ann was instrumental in helping me with communications, planning, Board events, and anything else that needed my attention. Never did you hear complaints or excuses from Ann. She always followed through with what she said she would do. She also helped me when I served as president of the Pink Pink Rose. Ann is a precious jewel in the crown of TCWSE as well as TASA. Her influence will always be a reminder of what a consummate professional is and should be. She stands as a hallmark of servant leadership because she served willingly, skillfully, selfishly, and graciously. It has been my pleasure and joy to call her friend.”
Lloyd H. Treadwell, Retired TASA Member Services Representative and TASA Honorary Life Member
“Ann Halstead has long been the go-to lady for any issue that you need resolved and resolved quickly and correctly. Ann’s dependability, caring, and loyalty to TASA and its many members and associates is a well-known reputation for her. Anyone who has ever had dealings with Ann fully appreciates the quality and capability she has always shown. Over the years, Ann has worn many hats for TASA. She has handled all of her assignments with skill and competence. As a TASA member service representative, I was always confident to tell my district superintendents who had problems or difficulties or questions to call Ann at
TASA. She will either know or find you an answer promptly. TASA will truly be losing a valuable employee as Ann takes her well-deserved retirement. Our wish for Ann is a wonderful retirement full of blessings and peace for her and her family.”
Linsae Snider, Retired Executive Director, Texas School Public Relations Association (TSPRA)
“Ann Halstead is one of those professionals you observe and wonder, ‘How does she do it with such style and grace?’ (Yes, those are Joe Walsh lyrics.) Ann can do just about everything and never get flustered, overwhelmed, or perturbed. She can assemble INSIGHT articles, design conference programs, collect survey data, address parking issues, respond to senseless phone calls and collect information for TCWSE all on the same day and at the same time. Every day is a sprint for Ann. Nothing seems to unnerve her. She has been our go-to-girl with her photographic memory. She is also a benevolent worker! During my tenure at TSPRA, Ann continually found the time to mentor me without even knowing she was mentoring. She offered suggestions. She shared resources. She introduced new ideas. She connected us to vendors. She promoted the role of school communications. She modeled time management. She shared association best practices. She reminded us of deadlines and upcoming events. We were just ‘lucky like way’ (as Joe Walsh would also suggest) to have Ann on our side and watching out for us. She has contributed so much to TASA and all education associations. Her historical knowledge will keep her connected to future association leaders. Her absence will be felt. Her legacy will outlast most of us. Ann, I wish you late morning wake-up calls, time to enjoy the coffee, afternoon naps and time with your computer only for the fun things. You have earned it. Congratulations on your well-deserved retirement.”
Shirley Coleman, TCWSE Past President
“I have known Ann Halstead for more than 20 years through TASA and TCWSE. Ann is always thinking and planning ahead to make sure that those of us who work with her can do our job at the highest levels. She prepares information and sets up meetings as needed for us to do our work, especially for members of TCWSE. She works tirelessly for TCWSE without compensation for the extra hours she puts into the organization’s conferences and notifications about events. Ann cares not only for the organizations but for the individuals as well. We are all better leaders and individuals having known and worked with her. She will be almost impossible to replace and will be missed by all of us who have worked with her. Ann, I wish you well as you begin this next phase of your life.”
Susan Holley, Associate Clinical Professor/Director, Administrative Leadership Institute, Department of Educational Administration & Human Resource Development,
School of Education & Human Development, Texas A&M University
“I met Ann long ago when TCWSE was a new and growing organization. She was the supporting mainstay of the organization and the reason it has survived and thrived. She is so talented in so many ways. I knew it then, but never understood the depth of her experience, technical skills, and good business sense until I had the pleasure of working with her at TASA. TASA is a small organization that works big. Everyone who has worked there knows this. Ann has been at the center of making things happen and making things work for so long, it will be difficult for them to operate without her! She is one of those people who you can count on to figure things out. She has a ‘can-do’ work ethic and just gets after whatever challenge is thrown her way. I know that Ann was instrumental in leading TASA’s growth in technology and entrance into the digital world. Ann, you leave a legacy at TASA that we all appreciate and honor. Happy Retirement!”
SPRING 2023 17
Marita Rogers, Nearly 35 Years of Service to TASA
Johnny Veselka, Executive Director Emeritus, TASA
“For nearly 35 years, Marita Rogers has been the VOICE of TASA, extending a pleasant, cheerful and welcoming message of assistance to every person who calls the office. She has been the FACE of TASA, being the first person whom every member, associate or friend encounters when they enter the TASA offices. Her loyalty and dedication to TASA is evident every day, whether she is greeting members on the phone, in the office, or at any of our conferences. Responding to inquiries about membership, conference registrations, hotel reservations, or countless other questions, Marita has always placed the customer first and either answered their question or directed them to another person on the staff who could help them. Her empathy, interpersonal communication skills, and being a willing team member have always been evident to all. A day does not go by without Marita offering to help other staff with mailings, preparation of materials for the next conference, or other needed tasks. I always trusted Marita to represent the association with dignity and class, and I received countless expressions of appreciation for the personal touch that she extended to members and others who contacted the association. I wish her all the best in her well-deserved retirement.”
Kevin Brown, Executive Director, TASA
“My first memory of Marita is from when I was a superintendent calling the TASA office many years before I joined the staff. The sweetest, kindest voice answered the phone, ‘T-A-S-A, may I help you?’ I actually remember that call many years later because her response stood out so much. I knew she really meant it — she was there to help. It reflected kindness with a comforting, soothing tone and timber that can’t be faked by a wannabe good person. I knew immediately that she was all-in for TASA and for me. What a wonderful first impression to make for not only me, but for every person who called over the past 34+ years, whether they are going through a crisis, searching for information, registering for an event, or calling a staff member. When I arrived at TASA as the executive director, I found, not surprisingly, that Marita was much more than a ‘kind first impression.’ She has gone out of her way to be welcoming to me personally, and she is always willing to do whatever it takes to help our members and our team. Three things really stand out to me about Marita. First, I frequently find her having a pleasant conversation with visitors while they wait
for an appointment. By the time I come downstairs, she has already made friends with them. She has never met a stranger, and she makes everyone feel welcome while they wait. Often as I escort a visitor up to my office, they comment about how nice Marita was. Second, when we
had to close down for COVID, Marita was anxious to get back into the office to work. I was incredibly worried she would get sick, but she was insistent that she wanted to come back even knowing the risk. We built her a plexiglass barrier to provide protection, and she went right
back to work. Her dedication to TASA and our members really stands out. Last but not least, when I travel around the state or with other association leaders, people always ask about Marita. She has made an impression on so many people, and they genuinely care about her and her well-being. I am honored to have worked with Marita for nearly five years now, plus many more when I was a superintendent, and I consider her to be one of the dearest people, colleagues and friends. She will always have a place at TASA as part of our close family.”
Charles Dupre, Deputy Executive Director, Member Engagement & Support, TASA
“Marita is a TASA icon. She has served the organization since before the internet, which means the way she does her job has shifted many times. What has not changed is her gracious, helpful greeting and demeanor that helps TASA members feel welcomed and like they
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are part of the family. I think it is safe to say there will never be another ‘voice of TASA,’ but Marita's influence on the organization’s culture will live on.”
Debbie O'Donnell, Coordinator, Membership & Registration Services, TASA
“Marita knows everyone in the TASA family, and her friendly, happy voice that has spread across Texas for the past 35 years is going to be sorely missed. Marita loves her people and people love her. She is a natural at remembering details about you and making you and anyone who comes to the office feel like they are the only person in the world. Marita is always that extra set of hands that we all need, and she is always willing to help. Thank you for your incredible service to TASA! No one deserves retirement more than you! It’s time to exercise that newfound freedom to nap, sip tea, watch a movie, volunteer, read, take an extended coffee break, or do whatever the heck you want to do! Carpe Diem! You are loved and will be missed.”
Noemi Pena, Chief Financial Officer, TASA
“Marita, you are as unique as your voice when you answer the phones with ‘T-AS-A’! Yours will be some pretty big shoes to fill — and you have tons of shoes, making it that much more difficult. I am so happy for you as you continue on to the next step in your life. You’ll have
to keep us posted on all your traveling adventures! It’s been a great honor working with you.”
Maria Cruz, Coordinator, Learning & Events, TASA
“Marita, congratulations on your retirement and thank you for your dedication to TASA these last 35 years! In 2007, when I first stepped in the doors of TASA Headquarters, you greeted me with that beautiful smile, and with the warmness and kindness you show everyone who walks through those doors. I’m so grateful to you for all the assistance you’ve provided Professional Learning and the rest of the TASA team in preparation for our conferences and workshops. Your dedication to TASA and the children of public education we serve is exemplary! My friend, I will truly miss our regular interactions, visiting about our beloved Longhorns and our families. You’ve become so much more than just a colleague, but a friend. I look forward to catching up and hearing about the new adventures. You will now have time to do all the things you’ve put off, plus I plan to scoop you up on the weekends, go listen to good music, wine tastings and dancing … yes, get your boots shined and be ready! Cheers to you on your retirement!”
Margret Montgomery Sheffield,
“When I first walked into the TASA building in 1987, Marita Rogers welcomed me with her contagious smile and a clear description of where to go to take care of my business. The front desk was a very busy place. But no matter how busy the office may be, Marita takes care of the person at the front of the line as though they are the only one in the room. Her friendly and inviting personality is the secret to her success in dealing with a wide variety of people. In all the years I have known her, I have never seen her discouraged, depressed or unpleasant. Never. Marita is consistently positive, supportive, professional and pleasant. In my old age today, she still recognizes my voice when I call and usually has a fun story to share. TASA is fortunate to have found Marita to represent them.”
Elizabeth A. Clark, Ed.D., Associate Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Birdville ISD
“I will always remember the kind and friendly voice of Marita whenever you call TASA headquarters. Customer service is in her DNA. When you visit headquarters for a meeting or a training, Marita greets you with such warmness. TASA will miss Marita and the customer service that she provides
as the receptionist. I know her years of service have been greatly appreciated by many school administrators. We will miss her but wish her the very best in her retirement.”
Lloyd H. Treadwell, Retired TASA Member Services Representative and TASA Honorary Life Member
“Marita Rogers has been a TASA treasure for as long as anyone can remember. She has always been the face and the voice of TASA to the membership and to anyone who has had the pleasure of entering the building and meeting her. Her beautiful smile and pleasant, pleasing personality have always made you feel like she was genuinely glad to see you. On the phone, you could almost hear that radiant smile. Marita maintained a thorough working knowledge of all aspects of TASA. You can tell Marita what your problem or question might be, and she will know exactly which department or staff member to refer you to for resolution. It is my hope and wish for Marita that she has a wonderful retirement full of the blessings
that she deserves. Her retirement will be a loss for TASA. Best wishes, blessings, and peace to Marita.”
Linsae Snider, Retired Executive Director, Texas School Public Relations Association (TSPRA)
“There is rarely a voice on the phone or face entering the TASA building that Marita Rogers does not recognize. She has been the first and last connection with school leaders as they enter and exit the TASA building for over 34 years. Marita has been a role model for so many in terms of demonstrating genuine customer service. As an aspiring school leader almost 30 years ago, I met Marita when attending professional development sessions at the TASA building. In 2010, when I was hired as TSPRA’s executive director (and our offices were in the TASA building), Marita remembered me the day I arrived for the interview and was among the first to welcome me to Austin when I accepted the job. Our friendship these past 12 years is cherished. We have shared fashion finds,
vacation pointers, shopping secrets, Austin adventures, wellness remedies, UT vs. Texas Tech rivalries and general girl gossip. These endeavors will only multiply during our mutual days of leisure. Marita is valued as a treasured friend and partner to not only me personally, but also to TSPRA. She often lends a helping hand and listening ear in support of the small TSPRA office.”
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Susan Holley, Associate Clinical Professor/Director, Administrative Leadership Institute, Department of Educational Administration & Human Resource Development, School of Education & Human Development, Texas A&M University
“I first met Marita when I worked for the Education Service Center, Region 12, in Waco. She was always so helpful and pleasant, and it gave me the best possible impression of TASA as a new member. What I did not know then was that I would become a superintendent, and that pleasant, assuring voice on the other end of the line when calling TASA often provided calm during a storm. A long-lasting friendship was formed during those years. Marita is fun and upbeat and the best possible public relations person that TASA could have. When I joined the TASA staff in 2007, I learned what a delight Marita is as a work colleague. I miss her beautiful smile and infectious positive attitude. She will be missed by so many. Happy Retirement, Marita!”
TASA Staff: Supporting You Behind the Scenes
Although we are losing our longest-tenured staff members this spring with Ann Halstead's and Marita Rogers' retirements, we still have many, many years of TASA experience among our staff ranks (approximately 166!). TASA is blessed with many long-time employees (many of whom were members before they were full-time staffers) as well as a few new folks we'd like you to know. If you have a question, suggestion, or concern, don't hesitate to email or call a member of the TASA staff. Here they are in order of tenure:
Director, Operations & Technology
TASA Staff Since 2001
Although you may know him as TASA’s “IT guy,” Albert's job title has changed over the years as he has proved himself to be an invaluable resource to both fellow staff and members. Most recently, he has taken on the monumental responsibility of managing TASA’s internal operations and systems, including implementing a brand-new association management system that will be unveiled in fall 2023. In his “ spare ” time, Albert coordinates the TASA/TASB Exhibit of School Architecture. Look for a new “IT guy” to join the staff to help out Albert soon!
Deputy Executive Director, Governmental Relations
TASA Staff Since 2002
TASA Member Since 2008
Amy B leads TASA’s governmental relations and advocacy team, and has been a part of that team for over 20 years (11 legislative sessions)! Equipped with a law degree and a deep understanding of the legislative and policymaking processes, she works hard to positively influence public education policy. She has built a stellar reputation for working cooperatively and collaboratively with other stakeholders and policymakers to benefit Texas public school students and schools.
Associate Executive Director, Education Policy
TASA Staff Since 2007
TASA Member Since 2008
Casey came to TASA from TEA, where she served as the state reading director. A former teacher, she knows what it’s like to lead a classroom and what it takes to educate kids. In her role as associate executive director, education policy, she works with Amy B as part of TASA’s governmental relations team, advocating at the Legislature and in the rule-making process that follows to advance public education policy that benefits students.
Maria Cruz Coordinator, Learning & Events
TASA Staff Since 2007
Even though she’s been with TASA for 16 years, Maria has already retired once — from a career in higher education. She supports TASA’s professional learning efforts and is instrumental in TASA’s major conferences. If you’ve ever been to TASA Midwinter or the TASA/TASB Convention, you’ve probably seen her wrangling all the speakers and guests near the stage! If it’s a TASA academy, workshop, network, training, or other professional development offering, you can bet Maria has a hand in making it happen.
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Jennifer Garrido Director, Corporate Partner Services
TASA Staff Since 2010
Jennifer has worked in several different areas of the TASA organization over the years, from governmental relations to meeting planning, but her amazing people skills (developed, perhaps, from her former life as a lobbyist) have made her the perfect person to manage and grow TASA’s corporate partner program. When she’s not taking care of business so that TASA can keep doing business, she’s facilitating the official state Texas Teacher of the Year program, which TASA has managed since 2011.
Ann Roland Executive Assistant, Executive Office
TASA Staff Since 2013
If it relates to TASA’s governance structure, Ann takes care of it and never misses a detail. Alongside the TASA executive director, she is the main staff liaison to TASA’s Executive Committee. She does the leg work to plan and organize their meetings, as well as those of TASA’s many committees, and she manages elections, handles communications with TASA leaders, ensures TASA sticks to its bylaws and constitution, and much more. Prior to TASA, she worked in Eanes ISD.
Brandon Core Associate Executive Director, Professional Learning & Member Engagement
TASA Staff Since 2013
TASA Member Since 2004
This former small-district superintendent originally came to TASA to help develop quality professional learning programs. He still works in that area, but he also contributes to member engagement. His focus is on optimizing the TASA member experience through both professional learning offerings and engagement opportunities such as mentoring, coaching, and participating on design teams.
Amy Francisco Director, Communications & Marketing
TASA Staff Since 2015
A career communications professional, Amy F came to TASA after having served on the staffs of two of Texas’ teacher associations (with a stint in university marketing). If it’s a TASA communication, you can be sure she worked on it. She produces TASA Daily, manages the TASA websites, and writes a whole lot of emails to let members and others know all about TASA’s many offerings and the benefits of membership. She also takes reporters’ calls every now and again.
Marco De La Cueva Coordinator, Graphics & Multimedia
TASA Staff Since 2016
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If it has a TASA logo on it and it looks good, you can bet Marco created it. As TASA’s designer, he produces graphics for a variety of TASA programs and events and designs our INSIGHT professional journal. At conferences, you’ll see Marco everywhere all the time with his trusty camera in hand. He captures TASA events using both his photography and videography skills, and works with Amy F to put it all together into communications for our members.
Noemi Pena Chief Financial Officer
TASA Staff Since 2016
Noemi is the TASA money lady, and TASA’s money couldn’t be in better hands. Her CPA credentials and years of experience help her keep TASA in the black. Noemi handles all TASA financial matters, including accounts payable/receivable and payroll, provides direction and management of the finance/ accounting team, facilitates TASA staff insurance and retirement programs, and much more.
Debbie O'Donnell Coordinator, Membership & Registration Services
TASA Staff Since 2016
If you’ve ever called TASA to get assistance with joining, renewing, or registering for an event, you’ve probably spoken with Debbie. You might remember her cheerful, friendly voice and helpful attitude. That’s why she’s so great at what she does ... supporting our members. Although Debbie honed those customer service skills working at other associations and with the public, her upbeat demeanor is nothing but natural! When she’s not taking calls or answering emails, Debbie is the staff liaison to TASA partner organization TCWSE, which TASA supports in various ways.
Eric Simpson Chief Learning Officer
TASA Staff Since 2016
TASA Member Since 2012
A former teacher, Eric is the brainy, quiet type — unless you get him talking! Then, in his radio DJ voice, he’ll tell you all about his passion for public education and for developing professional development programming that meets the needs of Texas school leaders and supports them along their career pathways. When he’s not planning the session line-ups for TASA events and conferences, he’s facilitating the work of the Texas Public Accountability Consortium (TPAC).
Faye Alexis Exec. Asst. for Governmental Relations & Executive Director
TASA Awards Coordinator
TASA Staff Since 2016
Faye wears several hats at TASA. While she supports Amy B and Casey with whatever they need in the governmental relations department, she also provides support to the TASA executive director by keeping his busy calendar updated and booking travel, etc. Faye also serves as TASA’s awards coordinator, facilitating the TASA School Board Awards, Johnny L. Veselka Scholarship, and Golden Deeds Award programs.
Kevin Brown Executive Director
TASA Staff Since 2018
TASA Member Since 2000
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Kevin is the boss, el jefe, the big cheese. In his former life as the superintendent of Alamo Heights ISD, he served as TASA’s state president, leading the organization through an important time of strategic planning and rebranding that resulted in the TASA Strategic Framework, which guides us into 2025, TASA’s centennial year. As executive director, Kevin is the face of TASA, traveling across the state and even the nation representing the organization. During legislative sessions, he stays closer to home to assist Amy B and Casey at the Capitol, advocating for Texas public schools, which he firmly believes are the bedrock of our democracy. SPRING 2023 27
Sheri Hicks Director, Conferences & Events
TASA Staff Since 2019
An experienced association professional, Sheri came to TASA with a variety of experience, including a stint at TASB. Her job at TASA is to plan our many, many meetings, events, and conferences from beginning to end. She manages our relationships with meeting venues, hotels, and caterers, and handles all the details on everything event-related from the shuttle bus routes to what's for dessert. If you attend a TASA event or conference, you'll see Sheri out and about ensuring everything is running smoothly.
Deputy Executive Director, Professional Learning
TASA Staff Since 2021
TASA Member Since 2007
Before she joined the full-time TASA staff, Jill was already working for TASA ... for free! A dedicated and enthusiastic TASA member, this former superintendent volunteered her time and expertise to facilitate TASA’s Aspiring Superintendents Academy and led our Future-Ready Superintendents Leadership Network design team. Now that she’s officially on the payroll, she does all that and so much more as she leads TASA’s professional learning team. Jill is also a published author and frequent speaker at educationrelated events around the country. Oh, and she’s all about that Twitter!
Deputy Executive Director, Member Engagement & Support
TASA Staff Since 2021
TASA Member Since 2000
Charles is one of those rare former superintendents who didn’t start out as a teacher but rather a CPA. His financial-savvy mind and eye for detail are complemented by his heart for leadership and innovation. Since joining the TASA staff, Charles has enhanced the TASA member experience by introducing several wellness-focused benefits, including the Breakaway Leadership leadership development program. He is also focused on superintendent mentoring and is the man behind a brand-new executive coaching program to be unveiled soon!
Executive Assistant, Member Engagement & Support
TASA Staff Since 2022
Once Charles dreams up a new program, Jessica is there to help make it happen. Although she’s one of our newest staff members, you’d never know it. She has learned the ropes quickly and can assist you with a variety of TASA programs, from the wellness programs and Breakaway Leadership to accessing a TASA Executive Superintendent if you need leadership advice. If you have a question about TASA member benefits or offerings, or how you can become more engaged with TASA, don't hesitate to contact Jessica!
Stephanie Shaw Accounting Coordinator
TASA Staff Since 2022
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Stephanie joined the TASA staff about a year ago and works diligently to help Noemi with accounts payable/receivable and much more in the financial realm. If you’ve ever received an invoice or a check from TASA, chances are Stephanie sent it. If you have questions related to billing, she’s your (very organized and helpful) staff member to reach out to. SPRING 2023 29
Jenny Jones Director, Member Services
TASA Staff Since 2022
Another seasoned association professional, Jenny serves in a new position at TASA that is responsible for membership recruitment, retention, and engagement. She supports a variety of TASA programs, conferences, and member benefits. Jenny works closely with Debbie to support the membership and registration functions, and works with Albert to implement TASA's new association management system, all while focusing on “people and purpose” and dreaming up ways to enhance TASA member engagement.
Lizet Benites Receptionist
TASA Staff Since 2023
Our newest staff member is brand-new, just starting at TASA in March! Lizet exemplifies the best of public education as a recent, proud first-generation college graduate from UTSA who worked her way through college in three years as a service lead at our favorite Texas retailer, H-E-B! There she learned all kinds of great customer service and organizational skills that will serve her well as she serves TASA members. When you call TASA, Lizet’s will be the first voice you hear, so please say “howdy and welcome!”
Dacia Rivers Editorial Director, INSIGHT and Texas School Business
TASA Consultant Since 2017
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Although she’s not on the full-time staff, Dacia works for TASA pretty much full time on a contract basis, serving as our editorial director for both of our magazines: this one (INSIGHT), our membership-focused professional journal and Texas School Business, which TASA began publishing in 2014 (though it’s been around for 70 years now). Dacia is a talented writer and editor who has done her share of freelance over the course of her career, but whose roots are in K-12 education, having cut her teeth in the communications department of a professional association for teachers. If you have ideas or suggestions for either publication, please don’t hesitate to contact her at email@example.com.
TASA Executive Superintendents: Providing Leadership Support
TASA's executive superintendents serve as an extension of the TASA staff and are available to support TASA members in a variety of ways, with an emphasis on helping new superintendents navigate the role. These highly regarded former superintendents are experts on public school leadership and serve as your “go-to” on matters related to public school leadership, career pathways, and the transformation of Texas public education. As seasoned administrators, these superintendents are able to listen and provide support based on their own experiences.
Regions 1 & 19
Art Cavazos, who retired as superintendent of Harlingen CISD in 2021, is a well-regarded former superintendent who has served on both the State Board for Educator Certification and on the UIL's Legislative Council. Read more about Art at https://tasanet.org/dr-arturo-cavazos.
Regions 2 & 4
Alton Frailey is a well-known and highly regarded superintendent in Texas and across the nation. He has not only served as TASA president, but also as president of AASA, the School Superintendents Association. Read more about Alton at https://tasanet.org/alton-frailey.
Regions 3 & 6
Thomas Randle retired from his position as superintendent of Lamar CISD in 2021. He is a former TASA president (2007-08) with a long list of accomplishments and awards, including having a high school named after him in LCISD. Read more about Thomas at https://tasanet.org/thomas-randle.
Regions 5 & 7
Mary Ann Whiteker
Mary Ann Whiteker is a strong advocate for a reduction in the emphasis on standardized testing and a supporter of digital learning and local accountability. Read more about Mary Ann at https://tasanet. org/mary-ann-whiteker.
Regions 8 & 9
Amy Jacobs, the former superintendent of Coahoma ISD and CEO/executive director of Hill Country Educational Leadership, previously served TASA as a study group chair for Region 18. Read more about Amy at https://tasanet.org/amy-jacobs.
Regions 10 & 11
Karen Rue is a leader on the local, state, and national levels in creating transformation in education, with a focus on preparing future-ready students, encouraging innovation and creativity, and developing more meaningful assessment and accountability measures. Read more about Karen at https:// tasanet.org/karen-rue.
Regions 12 & 15
Kelli Moulton, who retired as Galveston ISD superintendent in 2021, was in the first group of the FutureReady Superintendents Leadership Network (FRSLN) and is a strong advocate for public education in Texas. Read more about Kelli at https://tasanet.org/kelli-moulton.
Regions 13 & 14
Steve Flores, who's had a 37-year career in education, is the award-winning former superintendent of Round Rock ISD and Harlingen CISD. Read more about Steve at https://tasanet.org/steve-flores.
Regions 16 & 17
Larry Coffman served as superintendent of Borger ISD for 17 years before his retirement, during which he has served TASA as a member service rep and now executive superintendent. Read more about Larry at https:// tasanet.org/larry-coffman.
Regions 18 & 20
Sherri Bays, who retired as superintendent of Floresville ISD in 2021, served TASA in a number of leadership roles before becoming an executive superintendent. Read more about Sherri at https://tasanet.org/sherri-bays.
It was a TASA Midwinter Conference for the books!
Thank you to all those who participated in the TASA Midwinter Conference January 29-February 1! Despite the worst weather in recent Midwinter history, we ended up with a record number of attendees and exhibitors ... more than 7,500 (compared to 6,600 in 2022)! School leaders didn't let unexpected ice and freezing temperatures get in the way of sharing their experience and expertise with each other at the Austin Convention Center. We're hearing from attendees that it was well worth the trip ... even if it was cut short for some. In the following pages you'll see a few of the highlights of the conference.
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The Allen High School Symphony Orchestra was scheduled to perform the national anthem to kick off the Midwinter Conference, but Mother Nature had other plans. When the orchestra was unable to attend due to icy conditions, Bob Floyd, executive director of the Texas Music Educators Association, reached out to Michael Zook, director of choirs at nearby Vandegrift High School, to see if he could supply a replacement anthem performer. Enter Varsha Kumar, 12th grader and member of the Vandegrift chamber choir.
Kumar says she was practicing for an upcoming performance on the morning of January 30 when Zook motioned for her to come speak with him. He explained the situation and asked if she’d be willing to fill in and sing the anthem just a few hours later. Kumar says she thought it over for about 30 seconds, initially concerned about missing her AP calculus class, before deciding the opportunity was worth it.
“I have had prior experience in this situation when I had to abruptly step up to sing the national anthem for a football game after an unexpected absence, so this opportunity didn’t make me as nervous,” she says.
A short time later, Kumar was eating her lunch and warming up her vocals en route to the conference, where she gave an outstanding performance. Singing and dancing are an important part of life for Kumar, and she is a member of both the choir and the dance team at Vandegrift. When she first started at the school, she was hesitant to try out for both and use space in her schedule for fine arts classes while many other students opt for more AP classes to take advantage of the weighted GPA. Now in her senior year, Kumar says her time in these two classes has helped her maintain balance in her life and has benefited her mental and physical health.
“My mindset is to always choose what makes you content, regardless of the consequences, because it will inevitably end up working in your favor,” she says. “The consistent assistance and support that my choir and dance directors have given me is immeasurable, and I am very grateful that they help me pursue my passions.”
As she heads to college, Kumar hopes to maintain her practices in the fine arts while pursuing an education that will put her on a path to an engineering career.
“I have a strong desire to showcase that any individual can succeed in their chosen academic career while simultaneously practicing their passion,” Kumar says, and we wish her all the best.
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Meet TASA’s Inspiring Leaders
Now more than ever, Texas public school staff members are looking to leaders to inspire them in their day-to-day work as we all cope with an ever-changing educational landscape. TASA’s “Inspiring Leaders” tagline is not just a reminder of TASA’s commitment to leadership development — it describes our members themselves. In this and future issues of INSIGHT, you’ll meet some of those Inspiring Leaders, and it’s our hope that they will guide you and invigorate you in the work that you do. To nominate a leader for inclusion, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2021, Dr. Mike Rockwood stepped into the superintendency in Lake Dallas ISD, after serving as deputy superintendent in Lamar CISD for nine years. During his time in LDISD, every elementary campus in the district reached its highest ever academic rating, and U.S. News & World Report named Lake Dallas High School one of the best high schools in the country. Recognized on the Dallas Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” list for innovative business leadership in the Metroplex, Rockwood is looked to in his community as an insightful, visionary leader with a strong desire to support and champion the school district.
Shorr Heathcote, chief administrative officer in the district, nominated Rockwood as an inspiring leader due to the vision he created and promotes among staff and students.
“Dr. Rockwood exemplifies a strong vision for preparing all students to be future-ready,” Heathcote says. “He excels at empowering and supporting those around him and has proven leadership skills in creating a collaborative working and learning environment.”
When asked what makes him most proud of LDISD, Rockwood points to teachers and staff and praises how they’ve worked together to go “all in” for the kids.
“Through intentional conversations, collaboration, and care, we’ve seen every elementary school in our district reach record student achievement,” Rockwood says. “The accomplishment itself is wonderful, but what it represents, in the form of each individual student reaching his or her goal, is what truly inspires me.”
Work in the education field can be challenging, but Rockwood says that educators are uniquely qualified with the experience and energy to overcome any hurdles.
“As long as there is hope, there is an opportunity for success. There have been challenging times throughout history, and more are inevitably on the horizon, but I will never doubt our ability to rise above them. Education will always be a glass half-full endeavor, which is why we must remember to keep pouring into one another as leaders.”
As an inspiring leader, Rockwood stays connected with his peers and encourages others to approach every interaction as a teacher and a student, to remain open to learning and growing through any relationship. “Education is all about relationships,” he says. “I can’t recall one significant achievement that was accomplished alone. Working with others is the spark that ignites success.”
Note: On March 27, 2023, the Highland Park ISD Board of Trustees named Dr. Mike Rockwood as the lone finalist for the top job in Highland Park ISD.
SPRING 2023 39
Right along the Louisiana border lies Buna ISD, where Dr. Tiffany Spicer has led the district as superintendent since 2022. Previously, Spicer worked in Beeville ISD as chief of staff and assistant superintendent of learning and innovation. With an 18-year career in education, Spicer leads BISD with a commitment to working closely with the board of trustees, district staff and parents to provide students the best possible educational opportunities in a safe and supportive environment.
Sharon Mosley, assistant superintendent of finance in BISD, says Spicer is an inspiring leader who is passionate about equity and access for all students, ensuring they are prepared to reach their fullest potential.
“Words might inspire a few, but actions inspire many. Dr. Spicer has inspired me and others in our district with her tireless efforts to support every student and employee,” Mosley says. “She truly wants to understand all aspects of our small rural school, and it is not uncommon to see her in the cafeteria serving meals or riding a bus route at 5 in the morning. The actions of Dr. Spicer speak much louder than words.”
Buna is known locally as a "small town with a big heart,” and Spicer says she’s seen that big heart firsthand. In December, she reached out to the local community to see if anyone would be willing to donate gifts to BISD staff — in the end, the district was able to give gifts to all employees, including cash, gift cards, appliances, and more. The district gave away one gift of $500, and the employee who received it used it to take students shopping so they could choose gifts to donate to children in need in the community.
“This is what makes the people, our staff especially, so special,” Spicer says. “I am honored to serve as they serve not only our students but others around us.”
As a first-time superintendent, Spicer blogs about her experiences, and shares that she maintains her focus by keeping her values and her priorities aligned.
“My faith is first, my family is second, my health is next, and then my career. It is that simple for me. This is how I keep my peace and stay ready for the daily grind. When these items are aligned and in order I am ready to take on any situation (no one day is ever the same).”
The superintendency can be a lonely job, and Spicer says having a support system is essential. For her, connecting with colleagues, as both a mentor and mentee, has helped her to grow in her career while allowing her to give back.
“I was onced asked if I had the time to mentor one more person; my answer is always, ‘Yes!’ People have invested and believe in me, and I must do the same for others as well. These relationships and friendships I have developed over the years have become invaluable and life changing. As some of my mentors have stated, ‘Iron sharpens iron.’”
A professor in Texas A&M University’s School of Education & Human Development, Dr. Kay Wijekumar also serves as director for the Center for Urban School Partnerships (CUSP), which provides support to more than 58 school districts in Texas. CUSP supports the development of thousands of in-service teachers and administrators and has secured more than $40 million in grants to develop, adapt, research, and support teachers in urban, rural, and suburban districts to deliver evidence-based literacy practices. For Wijekumar, the success she’s seen CUSP help bring about makes her exceptionally proud of the program and the university.
Amy Jurica, outreach program manager at the university, nominated Wijekumar as an inspiring leader after years of witnessing her tireless work for children, teachers, administrators and families.
“Hearing Dr. Wijekumar speak about the urgency and need to help every child successfully master the foundational skills of reading and writing has attendees enthralled and energized to make a difference themselves,”Jurica says. “Her team is fully engaged and energized by her passion and dedication. The power of her dedication is most evident in the rapport she builds with the children and teachers in all the schools. She inspires success through her generous spirit of giving and absolute belief in every child’s potential.”
In a challenging field, Wijekumar says she is rewarded by watching the results of her efforts and maintains a laser-like focus on fostering academic success for all students.
“I further believe that we as an educational community in the greatest country in the world should work hard to ensure that every child regardless of their economic, language, or academic backgrounds should be given the best education we can offer. Experiencing the success of the children we help through our programs is immensely rewarding to me and energizes me to keep moving forward and continue to enhance our work.”
Through her work with the CUSP team, Wijekumar works to support administrators to help them ensure success for teachers and their students.
“Administrators are the instructional leaders of the school community and hold so much power to positively influence the school climate, support and guide the teachers, ensure equitable access to resources for all children, make important decisions about curricula, and promote a professional learning community for their school,” she says. “Thus, we view the role of administrators as extremely important to every aspect of schools and we focus on building and sustaining all the necessary support for administrators to create a wonderful learning environment for our children.”
SPRING 2023 41
by Bobby Ott and Quintin Shepherd
It is said that Albert Einstein could explain the theory of relativity to a barmaid on a napkin. We cannot source this to be true, but it does make for a wonderful image to start this article. This is exactly how I felt (Quintin as the barmaid) while sitting with Dr. Bobby Ott at a National Council of Education Research and Technology conference. It was during a break between speakers that he leaned over and started talking about communication and identity. I asked a bunch of questions in rapid fire, and before long it was time for the next speaker. Within minutes, he sketched out what he was talking about on a napkin! My response was, “We need to write about this.” What follows is a brilliant communication framework that may be new to you and something you will be able to incorporate into your communication
Superintendent communication is one of the most critical superpowers in moving school systems forward. Effective superintendents have honed both communication skills and communication strategies to develop this superpower. What follows is more of a strategy and not a skill, and hopefully, you will be able to incorporate this new strategy as soon as you are finished reading! Remember, strategies beget tactics, so we will break this strategy into two tactical parts: The Power of Addition and The Power of Multiplication. Both tactics are equally important and serve the school district well. Unfortunately, many of us have not been strategic or deliberate in our application of these communication superpowers. Let us explain, but before we do ...
A basic math primer might be helpful as we jump in. Addition is the process of combining several individual items together to form a new total. Multiplication, however, is the process of using repeated addition and combining the total number of items that make up equal-sized groups. An example, if Bobby passes an idea to Q, this is the rule of addition, 1+1=2. One person had an idea and shared it with another, and now they both have an idea. If Bobby then shares it with another person but Q does not, the formula is 1+1+1=3. Addition. But if Q also shares the idea with another along with Bobby, the equation becomes 2x2=4. Multiplication. In these two different examples, Bobby did not change, but Q did. Let us explore this further.
The Power of Addition is exactly what it suggests — compounding or adding to an existing message. This type of communication is important and valuable but has some limitations. The superintendent is the author of such communications, and in many cases, viewed as the expected “paid champion” telling the story. These stories are also told by additional staff members, communications staff, senior leaders, campus leaders, and teachers. No matter, these are all paid champions, expected to sing the school district’s praises and communicate the needs clearly. There is an expectation, even prior to delivering the communication, that it will include a message infused with knowledge and positivity. Due to these predetermined expectations, traction is limited. This news travels much slower and could even be met with suspicion because the author (us) is perceived as an inherent advocate with natural biases.
Examples of superintendent communication that would qualify for a Power of Addition approach would include periodic updates, less sensitive topics, and purely informational sessions such as your annual state of the district presentations, celebratory topics/awards, and even redundancy plans that
SPRING 2023 43
provide reassurance of continuity. These would be delivered by you — the superintendent — and usually transpire in customary places such as faculty meetings, civic organizations, or community groups. As a sitting superintendent, we challenge you to evaluate an entire year’s worth of presentations and begin sorting these presentations into your Power of Addition container. Preparation and expectation for this type of communication are far different from Power of Multiplication, and quite honestly, the form most used.
The Power of Multiplication, by comparison, is very different. The author is usually someone two or more degrees away from the school system; however, you as the superintendent strategically plant these authors with information. These messages are communicated by external groups (not the superintendent) and viewed with more authenticity and less subjectivity. They are not your “paid champions” of the school system. These could be parents, business leaders/recruiters, pastors, realtors, etc. The traction gained from these authors is exponentially faster throughout the community, carrying more weight and less suspicion or debate from opposers.
Sitting superintendents, please take note of this approach. Survey your community and determine who the top selling realtors are, the largest businesses, banks, most active churches, and parent groups. Then, identify their key leaders or how they organize. For example, in some communities you will find a Board of Realtors, Ministerial Alliance (multiple pastors who gather), Chamber of Commerce (multiple businesses gather), or you can even set up your own gatherings such as bringing together HR recruiters of various businesses to the table. Then you, as the superintendent, provide them with the information rather informally, including digital links and hard copy handouts — turn them loose and watch them multiply the messages. These messages travel quickly across the community and are viewed as a more reliable source to a variety of audiences.
So, what messages would benefit the most from the Power of Multiplication you ask. We would say messages around sensitive topics such as bond or tax ratification elections (community asking), rezoning, crisis planning, or even new, large-scale district initiatives (blended learning, improved safety/security measures etc.). When you engage in informal, more personal sessions with these groups, they are empowered, they ask questions they expect you to answer and then they become your multipliers to parents, families new to the area and community members who are not attached directly to the school system. Your message fills the church seats, Little League
fields, business tours, and living rooms of the community. This is the Power of Multiplication! As a new or sitting superintendent, the Power of Multiplication approach is a worthy exercise because your message takes place in their various venues as opposed to the Power of Addition approach — where your message takes place in your venues or those that are primarily standardized.
Across the nation, we are facing a politicizing of public education, and the media is using both addition and multiplication of the message. To restore the positivity and integrity of this institution called public education, we must also embrace both the Power of Addition and the Power of Multiplication. Let us drill in on this idea a little further because none of us are in the same position as traditional or social media when it comes to scope and reach. We believe the communication strategic advantage comes from something we learned in elementary math class. Since we are talking about addition and multiplication, it makes sense to remember the order of operations rules. Always start with multiplication before addition ... which begs the question, why don’t we do this when we are thinking about communication strategies?
As you think about this concept and apply some of the tactics you have picked up, we encourage you to focus and then refocus your efforts on the power of multiplication before using the power of addition. Determine the purpose of your message, then the speed at which you need it to travel, and the level of sensitivity, and then deliberately select your communication approach: Power of Addition, Power of Multiplication, or both. Cast a keen eye over your list of members in each container, put together your plan, and set up your delivery schedule in a way that backs into your desired timeline for message reach. Taking this deliberate approach can not only help move your school system forward, and control the narrative, but also restore credibility back to a profession that has been tarnished by grand generalizations.
When it comes to your communication strategies and tactics, remember this quote from George Bernard Shaw, "The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Accept the reality that your communications skills, strategies, and tactics should be ever-evolving.
As we think about all our brother and sister superintendents, we know amazing things are happening in every one of our campuses around the great state of Texas, and by focusing on communicating our message, this is how we shine a positive light on our systems and bring the public back to public education.
We recognize we did not invent this notion of addition and multiplication, but we are trying to name it within a leadership communication framework. Stories make for great remembering tools, so we will pivot to a close with a story and a song. After Mother Teresa accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, a reporter challenged her about the seeming futility of her efforts. “Mother, you are 70 now. When you die, the world will be as it was before. What has changed after so much effort?” Mother Teresa responded (with a smile), “You know, I never wanted to change the world. I have only tried to be a drop of pure water ... Does that seem like a small thing to you? Why don’t you try, too, to become a drop of pure water? Then there will be two of us already.” The reporter was silent. “Are you married?” The reporter replied, “Yes.” “Tell your wife about it, too, and then we are already three. Do you have children?” “Three children, Mother.” “Then tell your children also and then we are already six.” Mother Teresa understood the power of addition and multiplication. Finally, if you need a theme song or “walk-up” music for this strategy, check out “One Voice” by The Wailin’ Jennys. They get it too.
In the opening paragraph we wrote “communication and identity,” and we bet you are wondering how these communication strategies and tactics are part of a bigger picture about the difference between a district’s reputation and a district’s personality. This was sketched out by Dr. Bobby Ott on another napkin at the NCERT Conference. Alas, we have run out of room, so you are just going to have to wait for a future INSIGHT article! n
Dr. Bobby Ott has served as the superintendent of Schools for Temple ISD since 2018. TISD has earned state and national recognition in the areas of academic/technology innovation, financial solvency, student programming, staff retention efforts and business partnerships.
Dr. Quintin Shepherd is superintendent of Victoria ISD and works as adjunct professor at University of Houston-Victoria. He has served as a superintendent for the past 19 years in three states.
Artificial intelligence in K-12 education
by Dianne Borreson
In my last article, I discussed the changing role of the CTO and the ways in which CTOs must adapt to the everchanging K-12 educational environment and accept the new challenges at hand. In this article, I will explore one of the many big challenges presently facing us on the instructional front — artificial intelligence.
AI is defined as using computer technology to do things that traditionally require human intelligence. AI is not a new concept and it’s likely already part of everyone’s ordinary day. How many times a week do you say, “Google it!” or “Alexa, what is … ?” We have watches that detect irregular heart rhythms and call 911 if a fall is detected. We have cars that tell you when your fuel level is low and make recommendations on where to stop. Self-driving electric cars are capable of auto-correcting a driver’s moves by the use of interactive cameras and ultrasonic sensors. We have “smart” electronics, “smart” appliances, “smart” TVs; we even have vacuum bots that map the floorplan of your house and run regularly to keep things tidy. “Smart” devices are part of our everyday lives and are built around AI.
The field of education has seen many technological advances in the past 30 years, but is sometimes reluctant to implement new technologies. For instance, AI is beginning to make its way into our classrooms, but not necessarily because it’s being eagerly adopted by our districts. Instead, students are using these technologies and requiring our teachers and schools to respond.
It makes sense: Our students’ entire lives have been infiltrated with technology so they are quick to adapt. Because AI can process large amounts of data in ways that humans cannot, using the technology available to better accomplish the assignment at hand is a seemingly logical solution. The abundance of information, immediate access to profound knowledge, and the simplification of analytical processes could have a powerful impact on learning, but because technology evolves so quickly, sometimes our educational expectations about how students should acquire information falls behind.
Recently, a new technology, called a chatbot or ChatGPT, is requiring us to reexamine those educational expectations. A chatbot is a computer program that uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing to understand questions and responses. Chatbots have been used in businesses and web browsers to interface with users and provide support or additional information. More advanced chatbots can provide instantaneous information, which students are now using to gather data, solve complex questions, analyze varying viewpoints, and write research papers.
As an experiment, I decided to solicit help from a chatbot (https://chat.openai.com) to write this article. Setting up an account was easy, you must verify you are human, which I found interesting. Once in the application, you open a chat and specify what information you are seeking. I typed, “Can you provide the pros and cons of using artificial intelligence in education?”
Within seconds, I have the following information:
Pros of AI tools in education:
1. Personalization: AI tools can be used to personalize the learning experience for each student based on their strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles.
2. Automation: AI tools can automate administrative tasks such as grading and scheduling, which can save teachers time and allow them to focus on teaching.
3. Accessibility: AI tools can be used to create accessible learning materials for students with disabilities or special needs.
4. Adaptive learning: AI tools can adapt the learning materials and pace to the individual student's performance.
5. Data analytics: AI tools can provide teachers with valuable insights into student learning, such as identifying areas where students are struggling and providing recommendations for improvement.
Cons of AI tools in education:
1. Cost: AI tools can be expensive to implement and maintain, which can be a barrier for schools and teachers who don't have the necessary resources.
2. Dependence on technology: AI tools require reliable technology and internet access, which may not be available in all schools or communities.
3. Bias: AI tools can be biased if they are trained on biased data or if they are designed without considering the diversity of the student population.
4. Lack of human interaction: AI tools can replace human interaction and personal attention, which can negatively impact social and emotional development.
5. Privacy concerns: AI tools may collect and use personal data, which can raise privacy concerns if not properly managed.
Overall, AI tools have the potential to improve the quality and efficiency of education, but it is important to carefully consider the potential benefits and drawbacks before implementing them in the classroom.
Because of my old-school research training, I asked the chatbot about citing sources. I got this response:
As an AI language model, I synthesized the information based on my training data, which includes various reputable sources. However, if you are looking for a specific source to cite for this information, you could consider citing some of the following sources that discuss AI tools in education:
• "Artificial intelligence in education" by UNESCO: https://en.unesco.org/themes/ict-education/ artificial-intelligence
There is no application form to submit; rather, submit data and
• "The Pros and Cons of Artificial Intelligence in Education" by EdTech Magazine: https://www. edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2018/08/ pros-and-cons-artificial-intelligence-education-perfcon
• "The Pros and Cons of AI in Education" by eLearning Industry: https://elearningindustry.com/ pros-and-cons-of-ai-in-education
• "Artificial intelligence in education: the pros and cons" by Information Age: https://www.information-age.com/ artificial-intelligence-education-pros-cons-123471331/
The information that the chatbot generated was precisely what I found when searching the web. While I found the interaction with the chatbot extremely interesting, I began thinking about the impact this could have on education.
We acknowledge that bots are useful in communication, medical procedures, transportation, and many other innovative applications, but are they acceptable as a learning tool, specifically a research tool?
If the purpose of education is to gain knowledge, does it matter how the knowledge is gained? Is there an inherent value to conducting research using traditional methods?
What are the ethical considerations of using AI in a classroom? How important is citing sources when we live in a world where infinite information is at our fingertips?
What skills do students need to interpret the information they can access?
Is it lazy or ingenious for students to use these bots to gain knowledge and expedite the research process?
I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I believe they need to be answered by the educational experts who are responsible for instructional decisions in our schools. As we seek to prepare the next generation to solve complex problems and succeed in a rapidly changing world, how will we harness the power of new technologies in order to best serve our students and their future needs? n
Dianne Borreson, CETL, was the chief technology officer at Hays CISD for 21 years. She currently serves as the executive director of the Texas Education Technology Leaders (TETL).
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Using appreciative inquiry for enhancing the Teacher Incentive Allotment
by Amy Hosick and Dusty Palmer
The Texas Legislature created the Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA) as part of House Bill 3. This initiative was developed by the TEA to align a student growth measure with teacher effectiveness, as determined by T-TESS. As TEA described, TIA is to provide a realistic pathway for top teachers to earn six-figure salaries to help attract and retain highly effective teachers at traditionally hard-to-staff schools.
During the 2019-20 school year, a district stakeholder committee researched, developed, and submitted a Cohort C TIA application approved by TEA for implementation starting with the 2020-21 school year. The Cohort C application included PreK through Grade 12 reading and math teachers. During fall 2020, teachers were provided training on the TEA TIA Initiative including pre-test and post-test measures and T-TESS components. During the 2020-21 school year, the stakeholder committee and a focus group of campus experts developed the local designation system components and weightings: 1) T-TESS (40%), 2) Student Growth (50%), and 3) Leadership Practices (10%). Central ISD contracted with three testing companies and bought an electronic platform for data input and extraction. Through ongoing discussion with the focus group of teacher experts and the stakeholder group, it became evident that school leaders and teachers needed more guidance and support in implementing the TIA initiative.
This district was in the second year of professional development with school administrators to align observation criteria with teacher growth feedback. Teachers at all 21 campuses were trained at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year in the TIA program. An overview was provided to ensure new employees understood the local designation system components, including the measures for student growth from PreK through grade 12. Although the training was provided at the start of the school year, the previous year’s data was used to determine the alignment of teaching and learning.
A problem of practice arose when teacher evaluation results and student growth measures were not aligned. Based on the previous needs assessment, questions of concern formed. Are we closing the gap between teacher evaluation scores and student growth? What measurement tools are we using to determine growth in teaching and learning? Do principals feel supported in their growth as instructional leaders using the T-TESS rubric, specifically in Domain 2? Keep in mind that the goal is for school leaders to be supported in their instructional leadership using the T-TESS rubric to align and improve teaching and learning.
School leaders shared and reflected on how to best serve the needs of students on their campuses through professional development social and emotional learning (SEL) focus group sessions that supported school leaders in their instructional leadership work. During the SEL focus group sessions, school leaders looked closely at the effectiveness of teaching and learning within their schools and the use of the T-TESS rubric to support teacher growth. School leaders were provided support and space to reflect on the best practices of teaching and learning within their schools and how using the T-TESS rubric provides feedback to teachers to align instruction and student growth.
During the focus group sessions, individuals engaged in the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) design-thinking five-step process of 1) Define, 2) Discover, 3) Dream, 4) Design, and 5) Destiny/ Deliver, and ask the following questions in each stage: 1) What is the focus of inquiry? 2) What gives life? 3) What might be? 4) What should be? and 5) What will be? (Zakariasen & Victoroff, 2013; Priest et al., 2013). As the SEL focus group engaged in each step of the process, they concluded by developing a destiny statement during the last stage. After the AI process, a graphic was designed to capture the collective thinking of the participants. The figure below illustrates the stages of the AI design-thinking process, guiding questions, and the cluster topics. After each AI stage, the focus group created statements of collective thinking. From this AI process, two major themes emerged.
learners in meaningful experiences, set improvement goals, collaborate with colleagues, involve parents, and engage the community, evidence will show highly effective teaching practices. Throughout the Appreciative Inquiry, the SEL focus groups strongly felt that using evidence to evaluate teacher effectiveness in all four domains of the T-TESS rubric supported teacher growth, not just Domain 2.
Emerging theme 2: continuous improvement of the school leader as the instructional leader
Emerging theme 1: using evidence to evaluate teacher effectiveness
School leaders utilized the AI framework to develop collective thinking through focus group sessions. Positive results indicated that using evidence to evaluate teacher effectiveness in all four domains is most effective as part of the feedback cycle to teachers to help improve instruction. When teachers engage in quality lesson planning that aligns content to curricular standards, use data to inform instruction, understand the needs of their students, plan engaging activities with higher-order thinking, deliver effective instruction that engages and deepens the learning of each student, monitor and adjusts the lesson, establishes effective routines, engages
The theme of the continuous improvement of the school leader as the instructional leader emerged. During the Appreciative Inquiry, the SEL focus group developed an innovative destiny that focused on the need for school leaders to be supported in instructional leadership, specifically in collaboration with other school leaders, calibration activities, and continued professional development. Furthermore, the SEL focus group provided evidence that supported the theme of continuous improvement of the school leader as the instructional leader. At the conclusion of a second focus group session, the SEL groups responded to an exit ticket with new understanding. Out of three responses to the question, “What was the most important thing you learned in today’s focus group session and why is it important?” two individuals identified collaboration and professional development as support needed and two out of three individuals responded to the exit ticket question, “How could you apply what you learned today into your role as a school leader?” with references to the use of the T-TESS rubric. In addition, the SEL groups completed a pre- and post-survey and from the post-survey results, the respondents felt strongly that more time is needed for administrators to deepen understanding of the T-TESS rubric and the need to calibrate. The SEL focus group sessions produced evidence to support the theme of using continuous improvement of the school leader as the instructional leader to allow for collaboration with other school leaders, calibration activities, and continued professional development.
District level considerations
District level leaders should have a professional development plan of support for how school leaders use the T-TESS rubric to effectively evaluate teaching and learning and how the systems of support, such as the TIA program and DDI structures, at the district level align within the comprehensive professional development plan. This plan should be communicated to all district and school leaders throughout the school year as well as new school leaders during the onboarding process. By supporting school leaders with collaboration, calibration, and ongoing professional development, district
Figure 1: Appreciative inquiry graphic summary
SPRING 2023 51
leaders will anticipate a better understanding of how school leaders use the T-TESS rubric to effectively evaluate teaching and learning.
Campus-level school leaders should have a strategic professional development plan of support for how evaluators and instructional specialists use the T-TESS rubric to effectively evaluate and provide feedback on teaching and learning and how the systems of support, such as the TIA program, PLC meetings, and DDI structures, at the campus level align within this plan. In addition, the plan should include support for how teachers use the T-TESS rubric to positively impact teaching and learning. District and school leaders might consider the evidence in all four domains that is needed to rate a teacher as highly effective using the T-TESS rubric. Districts should consider creating high quality videos of effective instruction as examples for evaluators, ongoing learning walks with evaluators and instructional specialists to calibrate on the dimensions of the T-TESS rubric, and a concentration of the collection of evidence that aligns to the intended learning objectives.
Implications for district and school leaders
At the local level, district and school leaders must implement local policies, regulations, and mandates. Often, educators refer to their loads as being too heavy or a plate is too full. When new initiatives are introduced, educators are sometimes hesitant to engage for fear of not being able to handle the workload. In a four-year study conducted by Adams (2016), the research suggests that school board support for instructional leadership professional development likely impacts teacher’s instructional improvement and leaders who possess and use generative dialogue with staff have higher levels of trust and collaboration. A school district or campus might consider using the AI framework to ask school leaders or teachers their individual and collective thinking when implementing new programs.
The goal of using the AI model was for school leaders to be supported in their professional growth and use of the T-TESS rubric to align and improve teaching and learning. The findings confirmed the deeper understanding of how school leaders are supported in their professional growth and the use of the T-TESS rubric to align and improve teaching and learning. This indicates that the understanding created during the AI design-based thinking process will allow school leaders to effectively use the T- TESS rubric to evaluate teaching and learning in K-12 schools. n
Adams, P. (2016). A Noticeable Impact: Perceptions of How System Leaders Can Affect Leading and Learning. EAF Journal, 25(3), 39–55. http://search.ebscohost.com.lib- e2.lib.ttu. edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eue&AN=121606802&site= ehost-live
Priest, K. L., Kaufman, E. K., Brunton, K., & Seibel, M. (2013). Appreciative Inquiry: A Tool for Organizational, Programmatic, and Project-Focused Change. Journal of Leadership Education, 12(1), 18–33.
Zakariasen, K., & Victoroff, K. Z. (2013). Teaching Leadership and Organizational Change through an Appreciative Inquiry-driven Reflective Process. Journal of the World Universities Forum, 5(3), 23–31. https://doi-org.lib-e2.lib.ttu. edu/10.18848/1835-2030/cgp/v05i03/56806
Dr. Amy Hosick has served school communities as a middle level teacher, secondary principal and district leader. Her experience includes overseeing a state initiative, supervising and supporting school leaders, developing STEAM curriculum, and creating a high school academy model. Dr. Hosick has led school growth in all areas of accountability resulting in “A” ratings and Distinction Awards. She has been recognized as a finalist for principal of the year, presented at state conferences, conducted research on supporting school leaders, and has visited high-performing schools specializing in design thinking and problem-based learning. She is an advocate for deeper learning and is currently serving as the Director of Strategic Evaluation Systems & Support in Waco ISD. Dr. Hosick earned her doctoral degree from Texas Tech University in Educational Leadership in 2022, her master’s degree from Texas State University in 2001 and her bachelor’s degree from University of the Southwest in 1996.
Dr. Dusty L. Palmer is an assistant professor of educational leadership at Texas Tech University. He has a demonstrated history of working more than 20 years in public education serving as a teacher and secondary school principal. His research agenda includes university-district partnerships, the effectiveness of job-embedded principal preparation residency programs, content analysis of school policies, and mental health preparation for school leaders. He has also served as a faculty coach for principal residents with Terrell, Lancaster and Grand Prairie ISDs. Dr. Palmer earned his doctoral degree in educational leadership (2014), master of education degree (2007), and bachelor of music degree (2001) all from Texas Tech University.
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More Options. More Choices to Improve Your Students’ Education
The Principals’ Institute (PI) is a year-long professional development series that provides a unique opportunity for principals to understand why transformation of public education is necessary. PI is designed to help principals develop the knowledge and skills required to be transformational leaders and to help build the capacity it takes to sustain transformation over time. The PI experience includes exposure to inﬂuential superintendents and speakers, such as Eric Sheninger, Rob Evans, George Couros, Dwight Carter, John Tanner, Jimmy Casas, and Joe Sanfelippo.
• Registration Fee: $6,000.00 per participant (excluding travel expenses)
• Six, 2-day sessions alternating between Austin, Dallas, and Houston
The Assistant Principal Leadership Academy (APL) provides learning opportunities to develop, challenge, and inspire assistant principals to be transformative leaders. APL participants will engage in processes which support the development of skills speciﬁc to transformational leadership and building a learning organization while preparing them for the role of principal.
• Registration Fee: in-person sessions - $1,000 per participant (excluding travel expenses); virtual sessions - $1,000 per participant
• Six, 4-hour sessions throughout the year
The Executive Leadership Institute (ELI) is designed to build the capacity of district executive leaders for system-wide improvements in teaching and learning. Sessions will include opportunities for leaders to cultivate strategic approaches and actions in order to support district transformational efforts. The ELI experience includes exposure to inﬂuential superintendents and speakers, such as Eric Sheninger, Rob Evans, George Couros, John Tanner, Jimmy Casas, and Joe Sanfelippo. In addition to the scheduled sessions, each participant will receive the support of an Executive Coach throughout the year.
• Registration Fee: $4,500.00 per participant (excluding travel expenses)
• Four, 2-day sessions alternating between Austin, Dallas, and Houston
The Teacher Leadership Institute (TLI) is a boundarybreaking institute for classroom teachers. Throughout the 6 sessions, committed teachers are empowered to revitalize learning cultures while leaning N2 an inspired future. Centered on teacher voice and grounded in a foundation of collaboration, the Teacher Leadership Institute challenges teachers to move beyond accountability standards and toward innovative learning that ignites student engagement.
•Customized for individual districts or regional consortiums of districts
•Six full day sessions
Find out more about our partner initiatives with TASA at www.N2learning.org
TASA Corporate Partners
TASA is grateful to our 2022–23 corporate partners for their support. Each level of the Corporate Partner Program is designed to offer our partners quality exposure to association members. Partners at the President’s Circle, Platinum, and Gold levels may customize special events and opportunities.
Raise Your Hand Texas
Trusted Capital Group (TCG), a HUB International Company
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Grand Canyon University
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
The Justice Claims Group
Lone Star Furnishings, LLC
Milliken & Company
Learn more about TASA’s Corporate Partner Program
Corwin Press, Inc.
Education Advanced, Inc.
Gulf Coast Educators Federal Credit Union
The Princeton Review
Savvas Learning Company
Harris County Department of Education
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MIND Research Institute, Creators of ST Math
MSB School Services
School Innovations & Achievement (SI&A)
Uncharted Learning Entrepreneurship
Vanir Construction Management
SPRING 2023 55
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