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by LaTonya Goffney

This article originally appeared in the fall 2023 issue of TASA INSIGHT. Dr. LaTonya Goffney is serving as TASA president for the 2023-24 year. Superintendent of Aldine ISD, Goffney has held the top office in the district since 2018. Prior to that, she served as superintendent of Lufkin ISD. In 2017, Goffney was named Texas Superintendent of the Year. She earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Sam Houston State University. Through her work in Aldine, Goffney has helped kick-start several new initiatives in the district, such as a pre-K pilot program, an Accelerating Campus Excellence model and new P-TECH and Leadership Academy campuses, designed to offer opportunities for students to earn college degrees and industry certifications after graduation.

As a leader in education, every day looks different. Priorities seem to shift depending on the time of the day or the news cycle. We’re constantly thinking about how to keep our schools safe; how to understand test scores against a new accountability system; how to recruit and retain the best educators and staff; and how to keep our teams motivated and excited to continue doing the work that needs to be accomplished.

At times, the only consistency is the promise of inconsistency. This is the job. The only constant is in the vision we have for more than 5 million of the students we support in the great state of Texas. Regardless of any circumstance, every decision, action, and response is made with their best interests and futures in mind. This especially hits home for me when I visit campuses on the first day of school and see students of all ages and different phases of their journey.

But before the school year even officially begins, we use that time to remind ourselves, and each other, of our responsibilities. We realign with our strategic plans and priorities. We ground ourselves in our mission and vision. And if we’ve done our job well, we’ll have communicated that vision to every district team member.

As your proud president, I leaned into TASA’s mission in my year’s visioning process: a mission to promote, provide and develop leaders who create and sustain student-centered schools and develop future-ready students. I focused specifically on the development of our leaders, because without exceptional leaders, student-centered schools and future-ready students are not realistic outcomes.

During our summer workshops, several speakers shared powerful stories that allowed for self-reflection and motivated us to keep doing the work, no matter what gets in the way. They really put things in perspective. We’re all going through something; all trying to find a solution, find balance, or find an answer. In the coming months, as schedules get busier and work becomes more challenging, I encourage you to reconnect with our shared vision and set clear goals for yourself by considering these questions:

  1. How does my day-to-day role contribute to the overall vision of TASA?
  2. How can I elevate the standards for myself, knowing that a better me leads to better student outcomes?
  3. How can I, as a leader, share my knowledge with educators with less experience?

It is through this intentional and collaborative approach that we move forward in the same direction each year.

In Aldine, we start each school year with a new hashtag that helps us stay connected and encompasses how we want to approach the year. This year, it’s #MyAldine, which represents not only our district’s stories and collaborations, but our sense of belonging and ownership. It represents the many voices and colors and sounds of our school community. #MyAldine is used in meetings, in social media, on our website … you name it. It’s a rallying theme for us. It has worked. I’ve overheard staff reminding students that they are part of Aldine.

So whether it’s a set of goals, hashtag, a theme song, or even a quote … find something to rally around that refills your tank when you’re running on fumes and reminds you that every day is a new opportunity to try again, and you are someone’s greatest hope.

Wanted: Your Leadership Perspective
If you’re an experienced school leader and TASA member with some leadership perspective to share, email Dacia Rivers with a short description of your proposed article, and we may publish it in a future issue of INSIGHT and/or on the TASA website.