This is my first column as president of NSBA. I want to recognize the difficult challenges we’ve encountered this year and acknowledge any losses we may have experienced. While school board members, teachers, school staff, and students have pivoted and readjusted, so have state school boards associations and NSBA.
NSBA’s amazing pandemic journey began with your support. I want to thank Beth Branham, past president, for leading us through a successful virtual executive director/CEO search. President Charlie Wilson then took the torch and led NSBA through an unprecedented and forward-focused year. With the board of directors and guidance from our new leader, Anna Maria Chávez, NSBA embarked on a transformation that led us to refocus who we are and what we do to better serve you, and, ultimately, our primary beneficiaries, our students.
Mine was a humble upbringing in a poor, rural, farming-ranching community in south Texas. My father died when I was 9. I have attempted to live my life in a way that honors my ancestors, my parents, and especially my mother, who forged ahead to support her three children. I have always had a deep sense of fulfilling a God-guided purpose in my life. I count my blessings every day and know that my work has not been a solitary journey, but one joined and supported by many individuals.
My life has been guided by this serenity prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. I have had the good fortune to have met people who have enriched every aspect of my life. I have been able to take advantage of life-shaping opportunities. The future of our communities, our states, and our nation depends on the education, formation, and development of our most precious future leaders: our young people, our students.
We must support our young people to stretch beyond their highest dreams, to maintain a curiosity for learning, to pursue professional and service opportunities in their field, and to prepare so that when the opportunity to “step up” presents itself, they will be ready. We also must be ready and continue to develop mindsets that see problems as opportunities and challenges to be solved, not as threats that require reliance on old deficit models, old thinking, yesterday’s dreams, and, least of all, cause to retreat.
I dedicated my career to educating and inspiring future generations, serving as a teacher, a school principal, a university professor, and chair of the department of urban education in educator preparation. I am humbled to continue my public service at the national level with an esteemed group of school board members and education leaders from across the federation. I will continue with the high expectations that I’ve put forward while serving my local community of Aldine ISD, the Texas Association of School Boards, and as president of NSBA. I commit to work tirelessly with the NSBA officers and board of directors, the executive director and CEO, along with the amazing NSBA staff, our partners and inspirational state school board leaders, and you, on behalf of the students.
Together we can bring our united and collective voices to the forefront. Together, we can, and we will make a difference with hard work and in pursuit of opportunities that today’s challenges provide.