INSIGHT-Summer 2022

Page 1



Gonzalo Salazar, President Superintendent, Los Fresnos CISD

LaTonya Goffney, President-Elect Superintendent, Aldine ISD

Martha Salazar-Zamora, Vice President Superintendent, Tomball ISD

Doug Williams, Past President Superintendent, Sunnyvale ISD

Plus - Meet TASA’s Inspiring Leaders pg.15


Meet TASA’s 2022-23 officers


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Volume 38 No. 2


Meet TASA’s 2022-23 officers 10 Get to know TASA’s executive superintendents


Meet TASA’s inspiring leaders


HIGHER EDUCATION Stress, burnout and mental health crises in K-12 public schools by Cynthia Martinez-Garcia and Jennifer T. Butcher


TSPRA VOICE Emotional intelligence in leadership: Is EQ more important than IQ? by Samantha Ruiz


TECH TAKE Impact of technology: professional development by Karla Burkholder and Anne Halsey


TEACHER PERSPECTIVE Uvalde CISD Heroes: Irma Garcia and Eva Mireles by Ramon Benavides and Jennifer Han


LEADERSHIP PERSPECTIVE Growing emotional intelligence: Do self-assessments help partnering on teams? by Amy Sharp





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

TASA Professional Learning Calendar


President’s Message



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 Donny Lee, Region 5, Buna ISD Darol Hail, Region 6, New Waverly ISD

INSIGHT EDITORIAL STAFF Executive Director Deputy Executive Director, Member Engagement & Support Associate Executive Director, Internal Operations Director, Communications and Media Relations Design/Production Editorial Director

Chris Moran, Region 7, Whitehouse ISD Kevin Brown Charles Dupre Ann M. Halstead

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

Amy Francisco Marco A. De La Cueva 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. © 2022 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.

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

About TASA

Robert Bayard, Clear Creek ISD

TASA’s mission is to promote, provide and develop leaders who create and sustain studentcentered schools and develop future-ready students.

Tory Hill, Channelview ISD

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.

Roland Hernandez, Corpus Christi ISD


Keith Bryant, Legislative Celina Estrada Thomas, Member Engagement Roosevelt Nivens, Advocacy Macy Satterwhite, Professional Learning


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 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)




June 15

2021-22 N2 Learning Assistant Principal Leadership Academy, Session 6 (Houston- and Austin/San Antonio-area Cohorts)

Cypress/San Antonio


2021-22 TASA/TASB/TASBO Budget Cohort for District Leaders June Event



TASA Aspiring Superintendents Virtual Summer Series, Session 3



TASA “Inspiring Leaders” Superintendent Mentor Training

Round Rock


TASA Breakaway Leadership Closing Session & Celebration

Round Rock


TASA txedFest Summer Conference

Round Rock

July 27-28

2022-23 TASA First-Time Superintendents Academy, Session 1

Round Rock


2022-23 N2 Learning Assistant Principal Leadership Academy, Session 1 (Dallas- and Houston-area Cohorts)



2022-23 TASA First-Time Superintendents Academy, Session 2

Round Rock


2022-23 N2 Learning Assistant Principal Leadership Academy, Session 1 (Virtual Cohort)



2022-23 N2 Learning Assistant Principal Leadership Academy, Session 1 (Austin/San Antonio-area and West Texas Cohorts)

San Antonio/ Wolfforth


2022-23 N2 Learning Assistant Principal Leadership Academy, Session 1 (Rio Grande Valley Cohort)



2022-23 N2 Learning Assistant Principal Leadership Academy Session 1 (Wichita Falls Cohort)

Wichita Falls


txEDCON22, The TASA|TASB Convention

San Antonio


2022-23 N2 Learning Principals’ Institute, Session 1



2022-23 N2 Learning Executive Leadership Institute, Session 1





MAKING AN EVERYDAY IMPACT Through specialized schools; Head Start early childhood education; afterschool programs; school-based therapy services; and a scholastic art and writing awards program, HCDE makes a BIG impact on Harris County communities.




Gonzalo Salazar

PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE Let’s work as one so we never have to mourn the

ear colleagues,

On May 24, 2022, as staff in schools throughout Texas participated in end-of-the-year activities and ceremonies to celebrate the accomplishments of our students, our day came to a screeching halt. An entire nation gasped and our hearts shattered as we learned of the horror at Robb Elementary in Uvalde that claimed the lives of 19 innocent children and two gifted, courageous teachers who dedicated their lives to a most noble cause. The heart of a nation wept and sorrow tested the soul of the education community that empathized with parents who waited to be reunified with their children, and spouses who were left with broken hearts. The beautiful smiles and the dreams in the eyes of the 19 children whose pictures were shared by the media on our computer and televisions screens spoke of the purity of their hearts and left us looking to the heavens attempting to make sense of the incomprehensible.

loss of life in a classroom again.

Media outlets sorted through data to put this massacre into perspective. A Texas Tribune headline described the unthinkable in the context of other school shootings: “Texas’ Deadliest School Shooting Ever.” The New York Times stated, “The Uvalde massacre is the second deadliest shooting at an elementary, middle or high school on record in the United States.” The evening news revealed, “The tragedy in Uvalde was the eighth mass shooting in a Texas public space since the Fort Hood shooting that claimed 13 lives.” Why? Gov. Greg Abbott correctly stated, “What happened in Uvalde is a horrific tragedy that cannot be tolerated in the state of Texas.” This horrific tragedy cannot be tolerated anywhere. We are called to lead and this moment in time requires us, all of us, to do so with courage. This moment calls on us to come together as one. We are stewards of the future and the architects of our own destiny. If we are going to forge a brighter tomorrow, we must put our differences aside and work to protect those we serve. We must work with resolve to further strengthen safety and security measures in and around our schools and work alongside local, state and federal leaders to exercise what we ask teachers to do; let’s analyze the data and demonstrate a willingness to go where it takes us. Let’s work alongside our state and federal elected officials to take a comprehensible approach that moves us closer to God, addresses mental health, improves the family nucleus, addresses the desensitization of young children through access to violent media and yes … regulate who can access the weapons of war that are killing innocent children and people in schools, churches, hospitals, movie theaters, grocery stores and shopping centers. I am convinced that if we do so, our focus in the world of education can return to arming teachers with best practices and the adequate resources to help children use math and science to make sense of the world around them.

President’s Message continues on page 8



President’s Message continued from page 7

Comprehensive reform does not have to infringe on our constitutional rights. There is evidence of this all around us. When we work together, we are able to do such things as reducing fatalities on the roadway by passing common sense legislation that has led to responsible vehicle ownership. We have laws requiring us to pass a driving test to demonstrate a skill set that allows us to obtain a driver’s license. Leaders have worked together in the past to enact laws that limit how fast we can drive on roadways, require us to register our vehicles, pass annual state inspections, prohibit driving under the influence and require vehicle owners to carry liability insurance. We have done all of this for public safety, and we can apply these proven concepts to an issue that has stolen our peace and increasingly threatens our safety and well-being. One of the greatest gifts we have is the ability to choose. I pray the Lord will give us wisdom and discernment to make the choices that forge a brighter tomorrow and that He will be a light unto our path so we can be a light for those we serve. We are called to lead in this moment. Let’s work as one so we never have to mourn the loss of life in a classroom again. I am humbled by the opportunity to serve in the role of president of the Texas Association of School Administrators and look forward to working with TASA staff, our officers, the Executive Committee and each of you to deliver on our mission. Serving in the role of president is an opportunity to give back to an organization that has helped me grow personally and professionally. I have grown through every interaction with the remarkable people I have met as I participated in committees and professional learning sessions. I urge you to be a part of developing the next generation of leaders and seek out opportunities to serve in community and policy advocacy so we can amplify the voices of teachers and students.


Gonzalo Salazar TASA President Superintendent, Los Fresnos CISD



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TASA’s 2022-23 officers Gonzalo Salazar, president Gonzalo Salazar is serving as TASA president for the 2022-23 year. He has served as superintendent of Los Fresnos CISD since 2006. He received a bachelor’s of arts and master’s of education from The University of Texas at Brownsville, which honored him with the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Salazar earned his doctorate in education from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Salazar has worked in education for more than 21 years, serving as an assistant principal, principal and interim administrator. A 17-year TASA member, he served as the Region 1 chair on the Executive Committee. In his time in Los Fresnos, Salazar has worked with staff, parents and the community to ensure that all students who graduate from the district are prepared for post-secondary education and the workforce. All campuses in the district have consistently met state standards since Salazar took office, and the district received the College Readiness distinction six years in a row.

LaTonya Goffney, president-elect Superintendent of Aldine ISD LaTonya Goffney has held the top office in the dis-

trict since 2018. Prior to that, she served as superintendent of Lufkin ISD. In 2017, Goffney was named Texas Superintendent of the Year. She earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Sam Houston State University. Goffney began her career in education as a language arts teacher, serving as an assistant principal and principal before stepping into her first superintendency in Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD. She holds roles in a number of organizations, including not only TASA but also the Texas School Alliance, the University Interscholastic League Legislative Committee, the Texas Association of Black School Educators and the Texas Council of Women School Executives, among others. Through her work in Aldine, Goffney has helped kick-start several new initiatives in the district, such as a pre-K pilot program, an Accelerating Campus Excellence model and new P-TECH and Leadership Academy campuses, designed to offer opportunities for students to earn college degrees and industry certifications after graduation.



Martha Salazar-Zamora, vice president Tomball ISD welcomed Dr. Martha Salazar-Zamora as superintendent in 2017. She has worked in education for more than 30 years, serving in several diverse districts across the state, including as deputy superintendent for instruction and administration in Round Rock ISD. Salazar-Zamora received her master’s and doctoral degrees from Texas A&M University. What makes Salazar-Zamora most proud of Tomball is the staff’s dedication to students and commitment to working as a team to the benefit of everyone in the district. She works to cultivate “Team Tomball,” a sense of community and teamwork and a culture of learning in the district that helps benefit individual learners day in and day out. Salazar-Zamora has been a TASA member for more than 20 years, and in that time she has served on the Commissioner’s Cabinet, Executive Committee, Legislative Committee and Central Office Committee and worked with the Texas High Performance Schools Consortium and Future-Ready Superintendents Leadership Network

Doug Williams, past president Sunnyvale ISD welcomed Williams as its superintendent in 2007. Williams previously served as a high school principal and grew up not too far away, graduating from high school in Wolfe City ISD. He received a bachelor’s of science degree in engineering from East Texas State University and a master’s of science from Texas A&M University-Commerce. Williams began his career in education more than 30 years ago and has served as a teacher, assistant coach, athletic director, head football coach, and high school principal in a handful of Texas school districts. In Sunnyvale, Williams is committed to incorporating engaged/project-based learning in an effort to increase critical thinking skills and better prepare students for careers or further education. As part of this mission, Williams is a member of TASA’s Future-Ready Superintendents Leadership Network, which aims to help create more meaningful assessment and accountability standards in the state. He strongly believes in advocating for his students in Sunnyvale and across the state and was honored to serve two years as the TASA Legislative Chair.



Get to know TASA’s executive superintendents TASA recently unveiled its new executive superintendent program in an effort to support TASA members through networking and mentorship opportunities. The program combines the previous superintendent-in-residence and member services representative programs. Through the program, TASA members have access to 10 executive superintendents, each dedicated to serving administrators in two ESC regions. These executive superintendents serve as an extension of TASA staff and are on hand to support TASA members in a variety of ways, with an emphasis on helping new superintendents navigate the role. As seasoned administrators, these superintendents are able to listen and provide support based on their own experiences. In this and upcoming issues of INSIGHT, we will introduce you to the 10 executive superintendents. For a complete list of TASA’s executive superintendents and their contact information, visit We continue this series with Sherri Bays, TASA executive superintendent for regions 18 and 19, and Karen Rue, TASA executive superintendent for regions 10 and 11.


or as long as Sherri Bays can remember, she knew she wanted to work in education.

“I was that kid in the summer, we’d get together in the garage and play school, and I was always the teacher. I honestly never considered doing anything else.” After more than 30 years working in Texas public school districts, Bays recently retired from the superintendency in Floresville ISD, a position she held for the last eight years of her career. She spent most of that career in Floresville, with brief teaching and principal stints in Beeville and Kenedy ISDs. Bays started her work in education as a first-grade teacher, a role she held for seven years before making the move into administration — a step that came thanks to the encouragement of her peers. “I had a principal who saw leadership qualities in me,” she says. “So, she put me into leadership roles and encouraged me to take advantage of opportunities to broaden my impact. And I really try to do the same with others as well, trying to grow people the way I felt like I have been grown.”

While serving as an assistant principal, Bays joined TASA and attended a Midwinter Conference. From then on, the association became one of the two groups she couldn’t imagine doing her job without, along with her education service center. “I love the innovation and camaraderie that comes with TASA,” she says. “Some of the most successful initiatives that I’ve been a part of have been ideas that started at Midwinter or TASA|TASB.” Bays says that being a TASA member helped her develop a network of school administrators across the state who were available when she needed assistance or support in her role. “The networking is invaluable. And they care about every individual. Even little old Sherri Bays in Floresville, I could reach out to Brian Woods at Northside in San Antonio, and he would take my call and help talk me through a situation.” 12


Bays retired from Floresville to spend more time with her family, but she is still able to advocate for and support public school administrators as a TASA executive superintendent for regions 18 and 19. She was excited to receive the offer and says she’s happy to stay involved and help superintendents in any way that she can.

“I realized as a classroom teacher, I could impact the kids in my classes, but as a principal, I could get my work done through teachers, and impact students throughout the school. That changes your perspective when you realize there’s a greater opportunity to support kids in a different way.”

“I may not always know the answer, but TASA is such a diverse group of leaders that I can reach out and we can figure out how to provide assistance when it’s needed.”

Rue joined TASA while working in Katy ISD in the mid-to-late 1990s, and wound up taking a leadership role in the association, serving as TASA president and a founding member of the Public Education Visioning Institute. She says TASA has helped her learn and grow as an administrator over the years.

As an executive superintendent, Bays works hard to build relationships with superintendents in her regions and support them in their work. She keeps them informed of the opportunities TASA has to offer them, such as the Future-Ready Superintendents Leadership Network and Texas Public Accountability Consortium. A lifelong advocate for public education, Bays ends each conversation with the superintendents she supports by letting them know that she is there to help, no matter what they need. For her, it’s about continuing to support the progress of public education across the state. “When [TASA Executive Director] Kevin Brown talks about public education being the foundation of our democracy, that resonates with me,” Bays says. “There’s got to be voices for public education. We have to make sure that we’re working to tell their stories. I’m thrilled to be a part of that.”


aren Rue retired from education after a 37-year career, with 14 of those years spent at the superintendent’s desks in Tuloso-Midway and Northwest ISDs. She got her start as a classroom teacher in Port Arthur, with a goal of helping children have the kind of lives they dreamed of. “Like any other starry-eyed college graduate who wants a job, but also thinks she can save the world, I wanted to be a teacher,” Rue says. “I wanted to make an impact and help kids.” Once Rue realized she could make an even larger impact from an administrative role, she became an assistant principal, principal, executive director for elementary education, and finally, superintendent.

“I could learn more and find ways to be more effective in my role as a superintendent,” Rue says. “I looked to TASA as my professional development, and it fed me and kept me motivated. It kept my fire alive.” Of the many benefits Rue has found in TASA membership, she points to professional development and networking opportunities as highlights. “Helping superintendents connect and grow and learn together is huge,” she says. “The other is the advocacy role that TASA plays in helping them stay aware of policy changes and what those impacts can be to their own systems so they can advocate for public education locally and regionally.” Rue says she has enjoyed working with TASA staff, and seeing the commitment and pride that everyone in the association has for supporting educators across the state. She now serves as executive superintendent for regions 10 and 11, a natural progression from administration in that it allows her to continue to support public education and lend her experience and expertise to those who need it. “I feel like my role provides support for superintendents who want to be more transformative in their work,” Rue says. “They want to lead their districts deeper into school transformation, and I feel like my role affords me the opportunity to help them out.” Working as an executive superintendent also allows Rue to give back to the organization that supported her during her years as an administrator. Currently, she’s networking with aspiring superintendents, looking at their resumes and advising them on how to get noticed and make the move into the top office. “I think as executive superintendents, we can help grow what is sorely needed: a really strong pool of superintendents who are focused on systems and system redesign,” she says. “We can help promote and develop and support the next generation of superintendents. They’re the ones who will step in, and we need them so desperately.”



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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

Randy Burks Now in his fifth year as superintendent of Hamlin Collegiate ISD, Dr. Randy Burks says that the district’s chief goal is to break the cycle of generational poverty that exists for students who are disadvantaged. In Hamlin, more than 65% of students are considered economically disadvantaged. It’s Burks’ goal that every student who graduates from the district will have a clear pathway to a high-demand, high-wage job. “Whether their circumstances are the result of economic hardships or a limited understanding of the college and career opportunities that are available, the overarching goal of the model is to transform public education and to provide affordable access to college and careers,” Burks says. Hamlin is a member of Collegiate Edu-Nation, and Chief of Staff Rachael McClain says Burks is a strong leader dedicated to innovating education practices so that each student has the opportunity to reach their goals and aspirations. “Two years ago, Hamlin CISD launched the P-20 Educational Model with programs of study designed to address needs in Hamlin and the region,” McClain says. “Although the pandemic has impacted education tremendously, Hamlin will graduate more than 30% of their senior class with associate degrees this spring.” Burks says that his own experience growing up as the oldest of seven children and watching his parents work hard to make ends meet helped him appreciate the importance of getting an education. “I knew that education was the key to moving beyond a life of subsistence,” he says. “I had teachers and coaches who advocated for and encouraged me to work hard in school so that I could have a brighter future. Because of these experiences, I have felt called to do the same for our students here in Hamlin.” McClain says that by serving on state-level committees, Burks has expanded his influence by sharing his insights with other school administrators. Burks says he doesn’t consider himself a mentor, but hopes that he can serve as a good example to others. “We are all in this business to make a difference in the lives of our students, in our communities, and in the world. During the past two very challenging years, it has been the support and encouragement of my colleagues that has sustained me.”



Shannon Luis A new superintendent in Era ISD, north of Dallas, Dr. Shannon Luis took the helm smack in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, replacing an administrator who had held the position for more than a decade. Her colleagues in Era say she’s done a remarkable job since making the move to the tiny, one-campus district. “Dr. Luis has worked to honor the success that the district has had, while pushing the staff out of their comfort zone to raise student achievement across the district,” says Matt Brennan, Era ISD principal. “She is an enthusiastic and inspiring leader of our small school.” “We look at our size as an opportunity, not a challenge,” Luis says. “I am proud that we offer our students varying programs of study as they enter high school, and we work to continually improve the opportunities all of our students have. We are a family all working to graduate seniors each year who know their path in the world, whatever that path may be.” Luis says that staying positive keeps her going in a job that can be challenging even in the best of times. “At the end of the day, I am here to serve the Era ISD community, and that is what keeps me going,” she says. “I choose to keep making each decision based on what is best for our students. I know that with that foundation, we will continue to make positive strides in the right direction.” As an inspiring leader, Luis feels an important part of her role as superintendent is mentoring other administrators in her district so that they are prepared to step up as needed. “Having served as a principal myself, I know exactly what they are experiencing,” she says. “My approach is to provide guidance by asking questions that allow new leaders to sit with their struggle a bit, then discover the solution. I believe that learning sticks with them much longer than me just answering their questions.”



Jeni Neatherlin Jeni Neatherlin became superintendent of Granger ISD last year, and has since led the district through not only a pandemic, but also a highly destructive tornado that destroyed many homes in the community. Through her work, she has become noticed by her peers, such as Taylor ISD Superintendent Devin Padavil, who says Neatherlin is a “positive and focused leader who treats each child as if they are her own.” “I have always been impressed by Ms. Neatherlin’s ability to take on tasks under difficult circumstances,” Padavil says. “I think this says a lot about her and her ability to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Truly, Jeni has a desire to make a difference, not only in the lives of children, but in the lives of the child’s community.” Neatherlin says she is exceptionally proud of how the local community responded to the tornado and its aftermath. “I am so proud of how we responded as a district and as a community. We had collections and cleanups. On clean-up days, our admin team and board members were at different locations and were bragging about who had the best clean-up crew. The concept of ‘love thy neighbor’ was seen over and over again. Leaders were leading, and we saw the need and met the need.” When challenges arise, Neatherlin keeps strong by reminding herself that leadership roles are often accompanied by setbacks, and that she is not alone in her struggles. “Adversity is not the enemy,” she says. “We grow from those situations and I try to come at it with the perspective that any problems are happening for me rather than to me. I love Dr. LaTonya Goffney’s reminder, too, when she tells leaders, ‘You prayed for this.’ Yes, I did.” Neatherlin says one of the highlights of her career is watching the people she works with achieve and be promoted to higher levels of leadership. For her, mentorship is all about leaders helping other leaders reach their goals. “It’s so important to build these relationships because we need each other. Every connection, every collaboration pays off dividends in time, well-being and job performance.”




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HIGHER EDUCATION Stress, burnout and mental health crises in K-12 public schools by Cynthia Martinez-Garcia and Jennifer T. Butcher


hile teaching has been considered a stressful profession for many years, the pandemic increased teachers’ stress levels with the additional challenges they experienced and are still experiencing today. In the 2013 Gallup poll, teachers indicated that they had positive interactions (smiling, laughing, and enjoyment) throughout the day. “However, nearly half of K-12 teachers (46%) report high daily stress during the school year” (Gallup, 2013, p. 24). In a more recent survey, 60% of teachers reported that they feel stressed always or most of the time (Education Week, 2021). Principals are also facing more challenges which have “the potential to be highly stressful and cause burnout” than in previous times (Muir, 2018, para 13). The National Education Association (2022) recently surveyed its members on their opinions on key factors facing public educators during the pandemic. Their results were that the “massive staff shortages in America’s public schools are leaving educators increasingly burned out, with an alarming 55% of educators now indicating that they are ready to leave the profession they love earlier than planned” (p. 1). Experiencing work and stress overload can cause serious health issues for educators (DeMatthews, 2021). Therefore, by practicing some self-care strategies and by school leaders providing opportunities for learning more about healthy ways to cope with stress may help educators avoid burnout and serious health issues.

Stress The stress experienced by K-12 staff and faculty has slowly grown within the past decade and drastically increased since the start of COVID-19. Teachers have acted as miracle workers, quickly adapting lesson plans for virtually held classes and working longer hours to help students, all while having limited authority in their school’s decision-making. The stress faced by teachers is understandable, but it’s problematic. Taylor et al. (2019) reported that teaching-related stressors within one’s first year of teaching was significantly related to lower career optimism. Moreover, several researchers have identified stress as the number one reason for teacher turnover and believe it accounts for up to 40% of the turnover rate (Glazzard & Rose, 2020; Herman et al., 2020; Landsbergis et al., 2020). While stress in small doses is not harmful, the continued stress faced by teachers can lead to burnout. With the current health and educational issues in K-12, educator stress and burnout are major factors that have increased the numbers of them leaving the profession in the era of the great resignation. We offer some healthy ways to cope with stress before it causes burnout. continues on page 20



Healthy ways to cope with stress For healthy ways to cope with stress, it is important to take breaks from news stories, take care of your body, make time to unwind, connect with others, connect with your community or faith-based organizations (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022). Individuals need to be informed about what is going on in the world. However, if it causes stress and is upsetting, it is time to take a break from the news and social media.

The signs and symptoms of burnout exist along a continuum, and the difference between stress and burnout is a matter of degree (Carter, 2013). Therefore, the earlier an individual recognizes the stress signs and addresses the symptoms when they recognize them may help them avoid burnout (Carter, 2013).

Signs of physical and mental exhaustion •

Chronic fatigue

Taking care of your body includes staying up to date on vaccines, eating healthy foods (e.g., vegetables, fruit, lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat milk products and limiting saturated fats, cholesterol and added sugars) having a regular routine (bedtime and getting up time), moving more and sitting less, taking deep breaths and stretching, and keeping up with health appointments, testing, and screening.


Forgetfulness/impaired concentration and attention

Physical symptoms

Increased illness

Make time to unwind by doing some other (healthy) activities that are enjoyable. By communicating with others whom you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling is another strategy that helps you connect with others who care and can help you or point you in the right direction (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022).

Loss of appetite



Anger (Carter, 2013)

Burnout According to WebMD (2020), some of the “major reasons for burnout are unmanageable workloads, unfair treatment at work, confusing work responsibilities, lack of communication or support from managers, and immense deadline pressure.” With many educators leaving the profession due to stress and burnout, it causes many vacancies which are hard to fill, and the educators who remain in the profession must take on more work or multiple roles to fill in for those vacancies. “Burnout is a state of chronic stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment” (Abramson, 2022: Carter, 2013, para 1). Burnout can occur when an individual experiences “long-term stress” or has “worked in a physically and emotionally draining role” for a long duration (Abramson, 2022; Mental Health UK, 2020). The symptoms of burnout are categorized by depleted energy, increased negativity or cynicism about work, and decreased job performance (Salvagioni et al., 2017). García-Carmona et al.’s (2018) meta-analysis compiled data from 45 articles and reported that teachers experiencing burnout faced higher levels of detachment from their work and had fewer personal accomplishments. 20


During the early stages, these signs or symptoms may start off as mild or occasional, but if these signs and symptoms are not addressed, they can lead to serious physical and/or mental health issues. Moreover, researchers have reported that prolonged periods of stress and subsequent burnout can result in diagnosable mental health disorders. Teachers who are faced with high stress and burnout are susceptible to depression- or anxiety-related disorders. Mental illness in any capacity can be debilitating, and the effects of mental illness span beyond the teacher’s well-being. Haydon (2018) stated teachers with mental health difficulties felt less in control of their classroom and did not believe their students were making as much academic progress. Additionally, Glazzard and Rose (2020) reported that teachers had a more challenging time maintaining the pace of their curriculum when experiencing mental health difficulties. Thus, when the teacher is experiencing mental health challenges, it affects not only them, but their students’ learning, so there is a dire need for us to address the mental health of our teachers. Fortunately, mental health has received widespread attention in recent years, which has decreased stigmas surrounding mental health treatment. Unfortunately, despite mental health treatment becoming more accepted, there are often long waitlists for mental health treatment due to mental health provider

shortages. Thus, a need for evidence-based interventions for educators who cannot receive prompt mental health treatment exists. Additionally, we must provide social support to teachers experiencing high stress. Researchers such as Sun et al. (2019) stated that social support acts as a mediator for stress interventions (e.g., mindfulness) and burnout in teachers. To combat the succession from stress to mental illness, we advocate for the implementation of the following evidence-based interventions.

Some recommended self-care strategies What is self-care? Most of us think of eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and exercising on a regular basis. These three areas of self-care are a good start. However, we can do more by adding some areas that focus on the emotional/mental aspect of self-care to avoid burnout. According to Ciampi (2019), the following questions are areas of self-care that can help prevent burnout. •

How are you feeling, thinking and behaving? Awareness of these things is key.

How important is a comprehensive self-care plan for you? This is one of the first questions to ask yourself before getting started.

How have past negative self-care experiences set habits in motion that may make present self-care challenging? If you have tried in the past to get on a path of self-care but did not succeed, what got in the way? A big part of self-care is being kind to yourself and not making your stress any worse than it already is.

A healthy work-life balance is an important aspect of our overall health. What does your work-life balance look like?

How do you process your “unfinished business” or baggage from the past so that you have the energy for new challenges?

How and with whom do you spend your leisure time? Do you spend your leisure time doing what you really want to do and with whom you want to do it, or do you go with others’ ideas of what you should be doing?

How much quiet, or personal, time do you set aside for yourself each day?

Can you delegate some of your tasks? Do you have to do everything yourself, or can you ask for help?

Are you able to access resources that can help you manage your problems? (Chiampi, 2019)

Evidence-based self-care tips for school leaders Educational leaders can support faculty and staff by creating a culture of wellness. Emotional wellness can be integrated throughout the school to help teachers and staff navigate the increasing demands. •

Provide emotional wellness professional development for teachers and staff

“Mindfulness is a moment-by-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surrounding environment” (Zhang et al., 2021, p. 42). “Mindfulness is understood to be open, nonjudgmental, friendly, curious, accepting, compassionate, and kind” (Baer et al., 2019, p. 102). Mindfulness-based interventions are known to reduce stress and are easily accessible through mobile phone apps or YouTube. Continued practice has been shown to mitigate stress over time (Sanetti et al., 2020). May is Mental Health Awareness month. However, teachers like other caring professionals need encouragement and support all year long. Therefore, training or professional development should be ongoing and not be a one-and-done. •

Provide self-care health professional development or opportunities for teachers and staff

Get support from your district, local community and health agencies to provide self-care health strategies and tips (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022) for teachers and staff. Encourage educators who are healthy and knowledgeable to lead and share some healthy self-care training sessions by using evidence-based self-care strategies from credible resources. •

Create opportunities for teachers and staff to connect for fun

Connecting with others can build social support and you can hold each other accountable for intentional self-care. Brooks et al. (2022) interviewed teachers who found it helpful to go on walks together and vent about stressors. •

Encourage teachers and staff to take time to unwind

It’s important for educators to make time to unwind by doing healthy activities (e.g., bicycling, cooking, jogging, hiking, gardening, swimming, and yoga), another way to have fun (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022) and enjoy healthy



habits. Therefore, school leaders should encourage their teachers and staff to take time to unwind to alleviate stress, as well as practice this strategy themselves.

Conclusion With the additional challenges teachers and principals in K-12 public education are experiencing right now, we hope that the strategies, tips, and references listed in this article are helpful. Often self-care is missing from the life of someone who is too busy and stressed. As you may be aware, these self-care strategies and tips are not meant to be an exhaustive list. However, most of them are easy and practical to do if you hold each other accountable for intentional self-care. While being mindful sounds easy, it requires constant practice. If you or someone are struggling with serious stress issues, please contact someone in the mental health field for assistance. n

Cynthia Martinez-Garcia is a professor and is the doctoral director for the educational leadership program at Sam Houston State University. She serves as a member of TASA’s Higher Education Committee. She served as the principal program and practicum coordinator for many years and as the Texas Council of Professors of Educational Administration (TCPEA) president in 2018 and 2020. Jennifer T. Butcher is past president of the TCPEA. She served as president in 2021. She is also a member of TASA’s Higher Education Committee. Dr. Butcher is a professor in the School of Organizational Leadership and the director of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Abilene Christian University-Dallas.

References Abramson, A. (2022). Burnout and stress everywhere. 2022 Trends-Report, 53(1), 72. Akimbekov, N. S., & Razzaque, M. S. (2021). Laughter therapy: A humor-induced hormonal intervention to reduce stress and anxiety. Current Research in Physiology, 4, 135-38. Baer, R., Crane, C., Miller, E., & Kuyken, W. (2019). Doing no harm in mindfulness-based programs: Conceptual issues and empirical findings. Clinical Psychology Review 71, 101–114. Brooks, M., Creely, E., & Laletas, S. (2022). Coping through the unknown: School staff wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. International Journal of Educational Research Open, 3, 100146. Carter, S. B. (2013). The tell tale signs of burnout ... Do you have them? Running out of gas? Recognizing the signs of burnout before it’s too late. Psychology Today. The Tell Tale Signs of Burnout ... Do You Have Them? | Psychology Today Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Coping with stress. Coping with Stress ( Ciampi, R. C. (2019). Stress and burnout: Know your limits. Psychology Today. Stress and Burnout | Psychology Today DeMatthews, D. E. (2021). We’re facing a looming crisis of principal burnout. Education Week. We’re Facing a Looming Crisis of Principal Burnout (Opinion) ( Gallup Inc. (2013). State of America’s schools: The path to winning in again in education. U.S. must attract and retain teachers- rather than hinder-teacher talent. Gallup Report -- State Of Americas Schools.pdf García-Camona, M., Marín, M. D., & Aguayo, R. (2018). Burnout syndrome in secondary school teachers: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Social Psychology of Education, 22, 189-208. Glazzard, J., & Rose, A. (2020). The impact of teacher well-being and mental health on pupil progress in primary school. Journal of Public Mental Health, 19(4), 349-357. Haydon, T. (2018). Teacher stress: Sources, effects, and protective factors. Journal of Special Education Leadership, 31(2), 99-107. Herman, K. C., Reinke, W. M., & Eddy, C. L. (2020). Advances in understanding and intervening in teacher stress and coping: The coping-competencecontext theory. Journal of School Psychology, 78, 69-74.



Landsbergis, P. A., Shtridler, E., Bahruth, A., & Alexander, D. (2020). Job stress and health of elementary and secondary school educators in the United States. New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, 30(3), 192-203. Mental Health UK (2020). Burnout. Burnout - Mental Health UK ( National Education Association. (2022). NEA survey: Massive staff shortages in schools leading to educator burnout” indicating they plan to leave the profession (Press Release). Salvagioni, D. A., Melanda, F. N., Mesas, A. E., González, A. D., Gabani, F. L., & Andrade, S. M. (2017). Physical, psychological, and occupational consequences of job burnout: A systematic review of prospective studies. PLOS ONE, 12(10). Sanetti, L., Boyle, A. S., Magrath, E., Cascio, A., & Moore, E. (2021). Intervening to decrease teacher stress: A review of current research and new directions. Contemporary School Psychology, 25, 416–425. Taylor, M., McLean, L., Bryce, C. I., Abry, T., & Granger, K. L. (2019). The influence of multiple life stressors during teacher training on burnout and career optimism in the first year of teaching. Teaching and Teacher Education, 86, 102910. Trevor, M. (2018). How to Avoid Principal Burnout and Love the Job Again. How to Avoid Principal Burnout and Love the Job Again - We Are Teachers WebMD. (2020). Burnout: Symptoms and signs. Medically reviewed by Brennan, D., MD. Burnout: 3 Signs To Look For ( Will. M. (2021). Teachers are not ok, even though we need them to be. Administrators must think about teacher well-being differently. Education Week. Teachers Are Not OK, Even Though We Need Them to Be ( Zhang, D., Lee, E., Mak, E., Ho, C. Y., & Wong, S. (2021). Mindfulness-based interventions: An overall review. British Medical Bulletin, 138(1), 41-57.


Superintendents Academy 22-23

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TSPRA VOICE Emotional intelligence in leadership: Is EQ more important than IQ? by Samantha Ruiz


hen I started my doctoral program in leadership studies, I could not tell you one leadership theory from the other. I didn’t even know what my end goal was at that point. Fast forward five years (and counting), and I can tell you that I have a clearer picture of both. Not only have I developed a passion for leadership, but also for all theories that cover the topic. My overall goal is to help people become better leaders. More specifically, to help in areas where there is high turnover because of poor leadership. When asked what my goals are with leadership, most people nod in agreement. Through observation and firsthand experience, it seems as though the “great” leaders are few and far between. Most people’s experiences with leadership have not been the best, and I typically get the response, “You should research my company.” As I learned about leadership theories, emotional intelligence (EQ) was my least favorite, mainly because it was a complex topic to grasp. However, after application in the workplace, I can honestly say that it is probably the most important attribute of great leaders. EQ is one of the most under-taught and overlooked approaches in leadership. I strongly believe that emotional intelligence should be built into every type of leadership training program. Why? Because this type of intelligence is not about academic applications; it comes from within. The best part is that it can be controlled and practiced within oneself. It can be taught, but you have to be willing to learn and unlearn.

What is emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence gives us the ability to recognize, understand and manage our own emotions and recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others. Self-awareness, self-management, relational management and social skills are the four key areas that make up EQ. Self-awareness is one’s ability to manage and control emotions. This includes understanding your feelings and emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior. With high levels of self-awareness, you can identify your strengths and weaknesses. Self-awareness allows us to think before we speak, to act instead of react. Self-management is your ability to control impulsive feelings and behaviors. This area of EQ allows you to take a healthy approach to managing your emotions. Individuals who master self-management can also be adaptable in all types of situations.



Emotional intelligence helps others improve interpersonal skills As leaders, we lead by example. As we become more mindful of our own emotional intelligence in our organizations, the more beneficial we are to our followers. This allows us to help teach others how to practice their own emotional intelligence. Additionally, it allows us to build up successful and productive teams. Relational management allows individuals to develop and maintain successful relationships, clear communication and conflict management. This kind of management helps you to interact in a positive capacity with those around you. Oftentimes, we are more likely to de-escalate situations in healthy ways. Relationship management helps a leader be adaptable to their environment and those around them. The fourth construct of EQ is social skills. Successful social skills allow you to have empathy, the ability to identify emotional needs, and concern for other people, and to provide comfort in social settings. Mastering social skills allows you to be mindful and observant when interacting with others. It also gives you the ability to read situations and how to respond positively.

Why is emotional intelligence important for leadership? Emotional intelligence is important for leadership because it allows us to take control of our actions and reactions. It plays a vital role in helping us build and maintain successful teams. It also allows leaders to adapt to each follower. Not everyone has the same working or learning style. EQ enables leaders to adapt to their followers instead of the followers adapting to their leaders. This concept is intensely overlooked in the workplace.

How can emotional intelligence improve our workplace? Emotional intelligence in leadership can help improve our workplaces. It helps us understand non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication is important in the workplace because it allows us to identify the temperature of the conversation being held. It allows us to be more mindful of the other party in the conversation as well. It can arguably be one of the more powerful ways to communicate because looks and gestures can say much more than words.



Emotional intelligence helps improve empathy Empathy is a key part of relational management. It allows us to listen before we speak. It shows that we care about the feelings and emotions of others. When an employee knows that you feel empathy, they are more likely to be more honest and transparent. Individuals who are successful in showing empathy can adapt to conversations with different approaches. Communication is not one-size-fits-all. Empathy allows leaders to adapt to everyone’s style of communication.

Emotional intelligence improves communication and helps facilitate positive relationships Relationships! Relationships! Relationships! I cannot stress how important leader-follower relationships are in the workplace. Regardless of the industry, workplace relationships can make or break your work culture. Leaders that are higher on the EQ scale are more likely to build and maintain successful relationships with their followers. A positive work environment stems from good leadership and good leadership stems from a leader’s execution with their EQ. When you have negative relationships in the workplace, this brings on stress, misery, unhappiness and possibly turnover, over time. For the first 10 years of my adult career, I worked in the adult beverage industry. My roles did not involve much office time. They required me to be out with customers 90% of the time. I made an unexpected switch to public education earlier this year and I now work in a district’s community relations department. This role is quite the opposite of my previous experience; it requires much more office time. It also includes much community involvement, which means that I interact with members of the community, senior staff of the district, board members, etc. This role has enabled me to keep myself in check with my emotional intelligence. I interact with different personalities daily. It has allowed me to take a step back to make sure I am

practicing each key area of EQ. Moreover, it has allowed me to sharpen the skills of adaptability, communication, strategic thinking and social skills. It is cool to be a key part of your EQ development once you have recognized the foundation of practicing these skills. I will say, this process involves a lot of self-talk and self-reflection. While I have not mastered all the EQ areas yet, I do see internal progress a little each day. When you take your professional and personal growth into your own hands, it is truly a great experience. Whether you have been a leader for 10 years or 10 days, it’s never too early or late to monitor your development and progress with the emotional intelligence constructs. Hold yourself accountable for your actions and reactions. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to have someone you are comfortable with help you be accountable as well. Oftentimes, we can be biased when it comes to our progress, so having someone that can be straightforward and honest with you can accelerate your EQ journey in leadership. Don’t know where or how to start? There are many great articles and books out there that can help. If nothing else, practice mindfulness when working with your followers. An open ear and an open heart can take you a long way in your leadership career. Furthermore, there are emotional intelligence quizzes and certification classes available if this is something you want to get serious about. Lastly, anyone can be a manager, but not everyone can be a leader. Let’s help minimize those turnover rates, improve work culture and be the light in our workplaces. Let’s be those great leaders that people want to work hard for. Let’s grow with our teams. Most importantly, let’s start by mastering our emotional intelligence. Cheers to your leadership journey! n

& s r ea ng! y 60 unti co Texas School Public Relations Association TSPRA is a professional organization whose members are dedicated to improving public education in Texas by: PROMOTING effective public relations practices PROVIDING professional development for its members IMPROVING communication between Texans and their public schools


Samantha Ruiz is district and community relations coordinator in Southwest ISD.



TECH TAKE Impact of technology: professional development by Karla Burkholder and Anne Halsey


reat school leaders know that strategic professional development is the key to any successful K-12 education technology initiative. The challenge, however, is to move beyond simply training staff on how to use IT applications and equipment to providing staff the relevant, curriculum-aligned professional development — in a variety of formats — that ensures staff buy-in and fidelity of use. Although the pandemic has definitely increased awareness of the need for high-quality educational technology in the classroom, virtually and in-person, this issue is not new to educational technology in 2022. And it’s not news to K-12 schools. In 2013, the “K-12 Horizon Report” identified continuous, ongoing professional development for teachers as a significant challenge. In 2017, the “NMC/CoSN Horizon Report K-12” cited ongoing professional development as a key factor in the evolving role of classroom teachers. According to the reports, professional development is too often delivered in a one-size-fits-all format. And if remote learning during the pandemic taught anyone anything it was that one size doesn’t fit all student learners, and with the broad range of when, where, and how teachers have been trained — it doesn’t fit teacher learners either. It’s well past time to rethink the way in which we create and deliver professional development for teachers so that it is personalized, ongoing, job-embedded and, ultimately, most beneficial to students. A review of the research on professional development related to technology implementation in schools revealed a number of helpful insights. 1.

Teachers’ use of technology in the classroom must be viewed as fundamental literacy (Mishra & Koehler, 2008, p. 11).


Frequent, ongoing professional development for teachers focused on instructional strategies is required for technology to have any significant impact on student achievement (Hanover, July 2017, p. 12).


Instructional best practices must be modeled in all technology-based professional development and establish a clear connection to curriculum (Saaris, 2017).


Learner-centered professional development leads to more effective use of technology in the classroom (Hanover, June 2014, p. 4).


Students use technology more effectively when their teachers are confident about using it (Hanover, 2016, p. 6).

From these studies a few points become very clear. As education leaders we must develop specific pathways for technology professional learning for each and every staff member. We must also advocate for the staffing of qualified instructional coaches to support teachers and instructional assistants in the classroom with timely professional development that is directly tied to their classroom activities and objectives. In order to most effectively ensure that the technology applications students use and the technology training teachers receive is responsive to the wide range of students’ learning needs, districts may find it helpful to adopt an instructional framework, such as TPACK, SAMR, LoTI, or TIM, for 29

mapping the incorporation of classroom technology. Such a system matches the content students need to master with the teaching practices and technology needed to deliver it across the curriculum.

Anne Halsey is communications coordinator at Texas Education Technology Leaders.

The research and our own district experiences over the last two years make it clear that going forward, we must make innovating “inside the box” part of our everyday practice. We must offer our school staff ongoing training that is meaningful, directed and learner-centered, in order to ensure teachers will stick with the new technology over time.

Alsbury, T. L., & Gore, P. (2015). Improving school board effectiveness: A balanced governance approach. Cambridge, Mass. Harvard Education Press.

To do this effectively, it is crucial that our technology teams seek and nurture a relationship with curriculum and technology leaders to ensure that technology-based professional development is not an event, but rather that it is commonly understood as part and parcel of all professional development offerings. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has a helpful set of best practices for determining the qualifications and characteristics of a successful instructional technology coach. Individuals who are good at building capacity in others are imperative in implementing classroom technology that is high impact, sustainable, scalable and equitable for all. As the pandemic made abundantly clear, online learning is here to stay. Schools turned on a dime to create virtual lessons when the pandemic closed campuses and, as they did, teachers, staff, and administrators learned valuable lessons about what was required — of students and educators — to best facilitate virtual learning. From both the rapid switch to virtual learning, and the subsequent return to in-person classes, educators identified many gaps in and outside of our classrooms that must be addressed. Since classrooms have reopened, many districts have continued to offer a variety of individualized options for in-class and virtual schooling. Technology-based concepts and practices, such as the flipped classroom, which seemed cutting-edge just a few years ago, are now permanent fixtures in our school landscapes and require sustained training and iteration. Now, as we emerge from two years of pandemic practices and fully reflect on what we’ve learned, we have the opportunity to adapt our professional development to create the spaces and methods necessary for academic and professional success — in any K-12 setting — through the thoughtful use of educational technology going forward. n

Karla Burkholder is director of technology in Schertz-CiboloUniversal City ISD and a Texas Education Technology Leaders board member.





Instructional Frameworks: TPACK SAMR LoTI TIM


ISTE Standards for Coaches:


Learning forward Standards for Professional Learning: https://standards.

Couros, G. (2015). The innovator’s mindset: empower learning, unleash talent, and lead a culture of creativity. San Diego, CA: Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc. Hanover Research. (2014, June). Professional development for technology integration. Retrieved from tal/sfc/servlet.shepherd/versio n/download/ 06850000001MKuvAAG Hanover Research. (2016, July). Frameworks and applications for technology integration. Retrieved from portal/sfc/servlet.shepherd/versio n/ download/06850000000B0P0AAK Hanover Research. (2017, July). Research brief: best practices in technology integration. Retrieved from versio n/download/ 068500000032dLBAAY Harris, J. B., & Hofer, M. J. (2017). “TPACK stories:” Schools and school districts repurposing a theoretical construct for technology-related professional development. Journal of Research on Technology in Education. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/15391523.2017.1295408 Saaris, N. (2017) Five ways to transform pd with best practices for learning. Retrieved from

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.

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

• Registration Fee: $6,000.00 per participant (excluding travel expenses) • Six, 2-day sessions alternating between Austin, Dallas, and Houston

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. In addition to the scheduled sessions, each participant will receive the support of an Executive Coach throughout the year. Logistics: • Registration Fee: $4,000.00 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. Logistics: • •

Customized for individual districts or regional consortiums of districts Six full day sessions

Find out more about our partner initiatives with TASA at

TEACHER PERSPECTIVE Uvalde CISD Heroes: Irma Garcia and Eva Mireles by Ramon Benavides and Jennifer Han


s the 2022 Texas Teachers of the Year, and on behalf of our fellow Texas teachers, we thought it was important to honor the two Uvalde CISD teachers whose lives were taken recently as they tried so hard to protect their students. While what they did on May 24 does indeed make them “heroes,” the legacy they leave behind is much, much greater than that. Over the course of two decades, these two educators touched hundreds of lives. Whether it was giving a lesson or a hug, day in and day out, they made a difference. There are so many overwhelming thoughts, words, and emotions that we am feeling but this is not about us. It’s about Irma Garcia and Eva Mireles and their lives as teachers. We would like to share a little bit about them. Mrs. Irma Garcia and Mrs. Eva Mireles were veteran teachers. Mrs. Irma Garcia had 23 years of teaching, and Mrs. Mireles had 17. From what we have learned about them, they were inspirational and passionate educators who loved going to work at Robb Elementary, and they loved their students. Mrs. Irma Garcia was an award-winning educator. Most recently, in 2019, she was named the Teacher of the Year for her campus, where she had taught her entire career. A couple of years ago, she was also one of only 19 San Antonio-area teachers to be named a finalist for the prestigious Trinity Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Everyone who knew Mrs. Garcia has said that she was a “sweet, kind, and loving teacher” and that she treated all her students as part of her family. She and her husband, Mr. Joe Garcia, had four children of their own. But sadly Mr. Garcia has also passed. To all the hearts that were impacted by the work of these two amazing teachers, now is the time to share their stories. Let’s honor them for their love and passion, but most importantly, let’s honor them for the angels they are. A teacher’s work cannot be confined or constrained. A teacher’s love transcends. We’re more than positive they are still being teachers wherever they are. They are still doing what they love to do with their little angels. We hope that they will be remembered and honored for the incredible legacy of love they have left behind. Teaching is not confined to the four corners of the classroom and is not limited by the perimeters of the schools. Teaching transcends the physical. Teaching shapes the hearts, the souls, and the minds. And as educators we set the foundation and we provide the mortar in building the future. And that is exactly what Mrs. Garcia and Mrs. Mireles did for their students and their community. So their work of love and their passion, and their ultimate sacrifice, should be forever remembered and honored at the highest level.



Please join us in prayer for the 19 students and two teachers, for everyone who is in the hospitals, and their families, and the Uvalde community. May God give them peace that transcends all understanding, may he renew their hope and their strength each and every day.

Ramon Benavides is a biology teacher at Del Valle High School in Ysleta ISD in El Paso. He was named 2022 Texas Secondary of the Year in October 2021 and chosen to represent the state as Texas Teacher of the Year in the National Teacher of the Year program. Jennifer Han is a fourth-grade teacher at Juan Seguin Elementary School in McAllen ISD in the Rio Grande Valley. In October 2021, she was named 2022 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year.



LEADERSHIP PERSPECTIVE Growing emotional intelligence: Do self-assessments help partnering on teams? by Amy Sharp


n most learning organizations, people are encouraged to grow their emotional intelligence through self-awareness to maximize progress and partner better on teams. In his podcast, “The Future of Work,” Jacob Morgan recently explained that internal self-awareness is how we see our values, thoughts and emotions. When doing so, he explained we ask, “Why did I say that to a team member?” and “What made me say that to my team member?” Morgan details that external self-awareness is how others see us and encourages you to seek critical feedback that ultimately helps you improve. Therefore, many organizations pursue this type of discovery to support personal and professional growth and to enhance emotional intelligence, performance, climate and culture system-wide. After all, as Simon Sinek notes on his podcast, “A Bit of Optimism,” “The ability to form partnerships is literally the thing that distinguishes the great from the good.” To start, self-assessments are often a launching point to growing emotional intelligence. Listed below are a few well-known self-assessments. Please note, however, that these assessments vary depending on the company and research foundations. •

Gallup Strengths

Working Genius

The Enneagram

Business Chemistry

16 Personalities

True Colours

The Personality Compass

What did I learn? Believe it or not, I have taken all of these assessments over the last 18 years of my service in education. Why? To be honest, how my teams partnered with one another was not always moving the work effectively. I was puzzled regarding various barriers to the relationships on my team and how they hampered our teams’ abilities to reach goals. I saw this pattern frequently on multiple campuses and districts I served. Some groups flourished, and others did not, even after seeing their strengths and areas to develop. There was a missing link, and soon I realized internal and external work still needed to be done.



With self-awareness, the goal is to balance internal and external self-awareness, or how you see yourself be the same way others see you. That aspect is vital to partner with teammates, and I hoped the stakeholders I was working with saw my values and purpose according to how I saw it. Morgan details in his podcast that “... when the two sides match, you can target areas for improvement and change how you interact with yourself and with others. Being able to master both sides of self-awareness is crucial for future leaders as they develop emotional intelligence.” After seeing all of my variations of self in different assessments, I started to see familiar areas of celebration, appreciation, awareness and strength fully. Now that there is a shared understanding of self-awareness and self-assessment, let’s dive into what I learned about myself. Strategic, Relator, Futuristic, Individualization and Learner, top five strengths Working Genius of discernment and wonder Enneagram One, wing Enneagram Nine, so an Idealist Guardian and Driver Chemistry Architect or INTJ-T Personality Green (34%) and Yellow (31%) I am from the East. Before you start wondering if I just wrote a bio poem, let us pause and reflect on what I learned throughout these assessments. As Patrick Lencioni explains in “The Six Types of Working Genius,” “If you want to be successful and fulfilled in your work, you must tap into your gifts. That cannot happen if you do not know those gifts.” After some reflection, I noticed I am the same in every aspect of these assessments. What is unique is the season of life, climate and level of capacity I was in to hear, appreciate, apply and reflect upon the information to grow my self-awareness and emotional intelligence while partnering with my teammates. This work allowed me to reframe my failures to experience relief from shame. As Tom Rath says in “Strengths Finder,” “You cannot be anything you want to be, but you can be a whole lot more of who you already are.” In other words, I started to accept my limitations and embrace them on my teams.

Let me explain. In my 20s through the start of my 30s, I took the “Well, this is who I am” approach in even my most challenging climates. At that time, I did not see the need to work on who I was programmed to be; again, I simply embraced it. I embraced my individualism, and in some relationships, that backfired or left me confused after an interaction or experience. I started to learn how to show up for others on my team because of who I am. This type of work allowed me to give myself and my team grace. It provided the self-awareness I needed to acknowledge and be intentional in areas my team and I had to grow instead of experiencing guilt. It gave my teams and me a plan on how to intentionally approach our goals with an action that was feasible and set us up for success. I would be remiss not to mention that it takes a balance of professional reflection and space to accomplish an ideal state to show up fully. Being in a safe environment or climate where this process is modeled and valued systemically simply makes it easier for everyone to be authentic and full of grace. Remember, the goal of building emotional intelligence is to see how you show up in a safe environment. This realization led me to my next critical aspect of the work; I learned to walk away when psychological safety and my value were no longer seen at the table or in the room. This work and discovery reminded me to “not abandon myself” (from Glennon Doyle, “Untamed”) but lean into who I am, celebrate it, and grow for myself and help others where that space and effort are appreciated and encouraged. That is the heart of emotional intelligence, and if one person or team is the only one working on it, the organization cannot fully grow or partner on teams for kids. It cannot go from good to great.

Why is this important as a district and campus leader? Before establishing my values and starting this process, I needed to see the good, the bad, and the ugly of who I am to know how to intentionally show up for my stakeholders and be a better partner in our relationships. I asked, “What does my ‘best self’ look like?” “What climate do I strive and thrive in for students and our teams of stakeholders?” and “What barriers are holding me back from being my best self on our teams for our students?”

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continued from page 35

It’s essential to know who I am, and various self-assessments launched that journey of purpose and intention for growth. It also helped me see I did not need to feel ashamed if our team did not have the required skill set. It allowed me to embrace it, name it and be intentional in sharpening it. As a district and campus leader, I encourage my teams to do the same type of work to grow our capacity and partnerships so we can accomplish our goals and lean into our purpose through the failures and gains. As Greg McKeown explains in “Essentialism,” “When we have clarity of purpose, it enables us to succeed at our endeavor.” Because of this work, I am aware of my areas of growth and celebration, and the data then informs my values and infinite goals (from Simon Sinek, “The Infinite Game”). Because I experience peace of mind and a level of “knowing” (from Glennon Doyle, “Untamed”), I strive to support others around me in doing this work, too. Because, in truth, if leaders can help people in their organization reach their potential, they help each person, team and themselves. I cannot say that one self-assessment is better than the other to grow emotional intelligence or that this effort finishes in a set amount of time. I can say that a common language and culture around who you are and allowing others to think through that process is a practical and necessary step for cyclical reflection and growth in an organization. Identifying strengths and areas for development on teams supports hiring and recruiting staff practices. It allows teams to look at themselves and each other objectively to grow their capacity in partnering toward a common purpose and goal. Admittedly, my current campus teams are in the infant stages of this work with my principal. Yet, it is effective and gaining traction over time. After all, this effort is a beautiful, messy and cyclical process that involves care and candor throughout.

So, what’s next? In sum, “We need braver leaders and more courageous cultures,” as Dr. Brene Brown explains in “Dare to Lead.” As a campus and district leader, think through which selfassessments have the most value and alignment with your district’s leadership, hiring practices, and strategic goals. Why? Because self-assessments are effective in partnering on teams. But, do not stop there. Decide if you have a budget for this work and create time and space for it on the calendar. If you do not have a budget

and realize there needs to be, start deciding on the next steps to make it happen. Plan out what this effort can look like with intention into the next school year with your teams. Be clear on your why for the work. Know whom you need to be to show up for staff as they start their cyclical process of striving and thriving in your district. Because, as John C. Maxwell explained in “Leadershift,” “Teams either grow together or they grow apart.” Make a commitment to grow every day and then develop relationships with growing people will keep your growth on track. The future of any organization can be found in the growth of the people who are part of it and lead it. Therefore, if Gallup is your go-to as an organization, decide what your teams lack in immediate strengths. Then, craft hiring questions to filter those strengths and agree on how to grow the team’s capacity through professional development and planning team building and self-awareness time for emotional intelligence and partnering on teams to flourish in your organization. Most importantly, ensure that your upper and middle management teams align with self-assessment language and emotional intelligence in hiring practices. If you are in a situation where you realize your team or other teams lack a specific skill set, no problem. Start acknowledging pitfalls in the team and be intentional with creating a plan to hone in on skill set needs. There is no shame in not having it all on a team, so be clear on when and how things will get done even when the team may lack an immediate strength. This effort will support how your organization is striving to grow your learning community’s emotional intelligence to better partner with your stakeholders and teams for kids. n

Dr. Amy Sharp a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT), serves as an assistant principal in Lake Travis ISD.



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