Every leader who has attained any level of success inevitability is contacted about other job opportunities. Your leadership story is just as much the opportunities you say no to as much as the ones you do decide to pursue. Several leaders often forget that it is as important to focus on how you leave your current organization as it is to have a successful entry.

In that spirit, I would like to share the letter I sent to my employees, announcing why and left, where I am going and my deep appreciation for what we collectively achieved.

 Dear Colleagues,

Recently, our board president, Laurie Turner, shared that I will be leaving my role as superintendent of MISD on July 31st. I appreciated her kind words about all that has been accomplished over the last several years with a great board of trustees, amazing employees and a supportive community. It’s why I always introduce myself as the “proud superintendent of MISD” and why it was such an incredibly difficult decision to step away from a job I truly love. I wanted to take a moment and share some final thoughts, express my sincere gratitude to all of you, and let you know what I will be doing next.

When I first arrived in Montgomery in 2020 and started to engage our employees and the community, I kept hearing the same strengths of MISD; fantastic staff and tremendous students with a community that truly loves its schools. I also kept hearing the same areas of growth that needed to be addressed: balance the budget, improve compensation, as many quality staff members were leaving MISD for higher pay, improve processes within Human Resources, and focus on longstanding issues surrounding transparency and proactive communications. This was quite a list to focus on, especially as we had no back-to-school plan in the midst of the pandemic, and the start of classes was only a few weeks away.

 With a courageous board, we worked collaboratively with staff to get students back to school by October 2020 and avoided the “COVID Slide ” that impacted so many school districts across the state and nation. We immediately balanced the district’s budget and gave the first of several raises to all employees, which we have continued every year. We also launched an unprecedented community outreach to craft a new strategic plan that would serve as our North Star to become the premier school district in the state of Texas. We established a strong Communications Department, reorganized Human Resources, and brought back a true Curriculum and Instruction Department. All of this while continuing to receive some of the least funding in the state compared to other school districts. 

As I reflect on the last several years, I’m incredibly proud of the improvements we have made in employee compensation. When I first arrived, our employees were at the bottom of the Region 6 salary schedule. Today, we are in the top three or four school districts depending on the employee category. We have made targeted investments in quality professional development; I know that every MISD staff member is going to be excited and engaged by the upcoming Back to School Summit next week. We placed a police officer at every campus long before the state-mandated this and have added additional counselors at the secondary level to address the needs of our students. This clearly shows the priorities of our leadership team and board when it comes to the district’s budget. Our Culture of Respect, the upcoming Culture Creed, and the passage of the 2022 bond; there are so many important accomplishments that have set an incredibly strong foundation for our district.  Additionally, our “net promoter score” on the most recent districtwide survey conducted by K-12 Insight was the highest of any of the 1,100 plus school districts they work with, confirming what we all already knew; MISD is an outstanding place to work and educate children.

With so many great things happening in our district, it was beyond challenging to make the decision to leave. I have been incredibly fortunate with public and private leadership as part of my background, to get many inquiries about potential job opportunities. It has been very easy to say no to new opportunities over the last several years, as I love who I work for and who I work with. However, this particular opportunity was different. I will be the new CEO of an organization called Teachers of Tomorrow, the largest alternative education company in the nation, which also provides professional development to teachers during their lifecycle in education. While many of us were certified in traditional university programs, the supply of teachers from those programs continues to decline as the demand for educators grows. Alternative certification has the opportunity to fill part of that vacuum, but it must be quality and aligned to the needs of all students. I believe the current teacher shortage across the United States, which continues to get worse, is the most significant challenge facing public education today. No other initiative matters unless we ensure that every classroom has a highly prepared, quality teacher. In this new role, I will have an opportunity to make a positive mark on this issue. I will also have the chance to use this platform to advocate for this amazing profession. I intend to do just that.

I am so grateful to the MISD board for all of the support and trust they have placed in me. I believe they deserve to be recognized as the Texas School Board of the Year; an award they are in contention for. I celebrate the district leadership team, both members of my senior cabinet, and our principals. These individuals work tirelessly to ensure our staff and students are being supported; they are true servant leaders. To all of our valued employees, I thank each and every one of you. As I visit classrooms, transportation centers, cafeterias and departments across the district I am always energized by the commitment, passion and dedication demonstrated daily by our staff. It is the reason, despite challenging funding from the state, MISD is well on its way to becoming the “premier” school district in the state of Texas.

Whoever becomes the next superintendent is going to realize what a special place Montgomery is. During this time of transition, I could not be more proud that the board selected Dr. Amy Busby to serve as interim superintendent. When I arrived at MISD, I quickly promoted her to senior leadership and have seen her take on tremendous challenges with strong core values and passion to do the right thing. Please support her, and our board, as they lead the district through the difficulties that will inevitably come, as they do to all school districts This continues to be a challenging time for public education; what makes MISD strong is our collaboration and focus on meeting the needs of all students. That unity makes it almost impossible for outside naysayers to take root in our district as they have in so many others, and that must continue.

So, again, let me express my sincere appreciation and respect for this district, its leadership and its amazing employees. I could not be prouder of what has been accomplished over the last several years and know the future is so bright for MISD.

With respect and gratitude,