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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 Randy Burks, one of those Inspiring Leaders.

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.”