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One of the best Olympic traditions is the passing of the torch from one person to another, starting in Olympia, Greece, and continuing for hundreds of miles as the flame is carried to its ultimate destination — the lighting of the official Olympic cauldron in the opening ceremony. This is usually done in dramatic fashion, as the flame represents the hopes and aspirations of the Olympics themselves,“the endeavor for protection and struggle for victory.”

For the past 32 years, our torchbearer has been TASA Executive Director Johnny Veselka, along with an engaged TASA membership. Johnny’s wisdom, vision, dedication, character and political acumen have served our organization and public education exceptionally well. He has seen many incredible results in his tenure, but his legacy will not be fully realized for decades to come. Johnny’s impact, like that of all great leaders, will live on through each of us and the work we do together in the future.

The future that we seek was clearly laid out in 2008 in Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas. Since that time, that visioning document has provided the groundwork for the transformation of our Texas public schools. Now, in 2018, we have launched the TASA Strategic Framework. Developed collaboratively by TASA members from every type of district in Texas, it gives us clear direction on how we will work toward fulfilling our vision. As we approach TASA’s centennial year in 2025, we will focus our efforts in three areas: professional learning, member engagement and advocacy.

Just as the Olympic flame reminds us of the purpose of the games, the TASA vision and TASA Strategic Framework serve as symbols of who we are and what we want to achieve. They also tie us to our history as an organization and to those who so nobly served our profession before us. As Johnny retires, it is important for the rest of us to step up, to serve and to lead. For TASA and public education to continue to be successful, each of us has to do our part in carrying the torch for our leg of this long journey.

On July 1, it will be my great honor to accept the torch from Johnny and serve alongside you as your new executive director. Together we will enter a new chapter in our organization’s history, and we will do so with a strong foundation built on Johnny’s leadership, your incredible support, and the work of a talented and dedicated staff.

We have a clear mission, an aspirational vision, and a framework that will guide us into the future we we want for TASA and Texas public schools. If we work closely together and pour our hearts and souls into our work and organization, we will be able to confidently pass the torch to the next generation. The legacy of those before us, as well as the hopes and dreams of 5.4 million public schoolchildren in Texas, depend on us.

-TASA Executive Director Kevin Brown, Ed.D.