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TASA’s “Inspiring Leaders” tagline is not just a reminder of TASA’s commitment to leadership development; it describes our members themselves — school leaders who inspire others as they work to prepare future-ready students. Meet Michael Novotny, one of those Inspiring Leaders.

In Salado ISD, Michael Novotny has served as superintendent since 2011, after holding the office in Moulton ISD and previously working as a principal in Plano. In his 13 years in Salado, Novotny has found many reasons to be proud of staff and students in the district.

“I am exceptionally proud of the success of our students,” he says. “A few examples of our students’ success during my 13 years as superintendent include multiple UIL Lone Star Cup awards and state championships in UIL academics, filmmaking, speech/debate, and athletics. These accomplishments would not be possible without the support and hard work of our staff and school board members.”

Staff in SISD view Novotny as an inspirational leader, something that came into clear focus during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the superintendent stepped up to guide staff, students, and families through unprecedented times.

“Dr. Michael Novotny was an inspiration to our community and school district through his commitment to transparency, communication, and his integrity in making difficult choices,” says Ted Smith, principal of Salado Middle School.

“His collaboration with local health officials and the surrounding school districts increased the levels of communication between agencies that previously had minimal contact as well as helping us to navigate the unknown of teaching students during a pandemic. The transparency to share research and opinions on the solutions to mitigating COVID-19 in schools with a community that included a variety of stances on the correct actions to take was an inspiring display of both leadership and bravery.”

In the face of such challenges, Novotny turns to his own personal philosophy, to put in the hard work and make decisions based on what is best for SISD students, even if others might second-guess his choices.

“I have learned to not take it personally when someone disagrees with a decision I make — even when they don’t express their disagreement in a kind way. My drill sergeants during Army basic training and infantry school when I was younger probably also helped prepare me for this!”

Smith says the endurance Novotny displays in his work is inspiring to those around him, and qualifies him as an outstanding leader.

“Being present at school events, being responsive to questions, and the consistent level of energy he brings early in the morning and until late in the night sets him apart from other leaders. He inspires me to work harder each day and challenge myself to grow in both my personal and professional interests.”

Supporting other school administrators is also important to Novotny, who is dedicated to helping others by sharing his own experiences to benefit the state of education leadership across Texas.

“Working with and mentoring other administrators makes all of us better leaders. We should develop and implement a succession plan to prepare others for superintendent and other leadership positions. While doing this, we can learn from each other’s experiences, ideas, and perspectives.”

If you’d like to nominate an Inspiring Leader, email