In July 2021, TASA launched the Executive Superintendent program, which was designed to provide TASA members with access to an extensive and diverse cadre of experienced former superintendents — TASA Executive Superintendents — with an array of combined expertise. The program combines the previous superintendent-in-residence and member services representative programs. Through the program, TASA members have access to 10 executive superintendents, each dedicated to serving administrators in two ESC regions. These executive superintendents serve as an extension of TASA staff and are on hand to support TASA members in a variety of ways, with an emphasis on helping new superintendents navigate the role. As seasoned administrators, these superintendents are able to listen and provide support based on their own experiences. Below we introduce you to the TASA Executive Superintendent for ESC Regions 5 and 7, Mary Ann Whiteker.
Mary Ann Whiteker began her professional career in 1973 as a first grade teacher in Corrigan ISD. She spent a total of 44 years working in public education before retiring as superintendent of Hudson ISD, a post she held for 23 years — an outstanding stint for an administrator.
Whiteker began her career in a classroom, but moved into administration due to an interest in curriculum. She says that when she was a teacher, curriculum was largely set by the state, and handed down to districts. In a small district such as Corrigan, there were no curriculum teams at that time who could understand and explain the curriculum or guide teachers through what was essentially a broad framework.
In the district, Whiteker worked to understand the handed-down curriculum and interpret it for other teachers at her grade level. She was able to make the curriculum easier to understand and more usable for her colleagues, something that piqued her interest in the process. The superintendent recognized the value of the work she was doing and asked Whiteker to assume the role of elementary curriculum director, a new position at the time in Corrigan.
From there, Whiteker was hired by Hudson ISD to serve as curriculum director before moving into the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction position and finally the superintendency in 1995.
When she moved to Hudson ISD, Whiteker was invited to attend numerous conferences with the district superintendent, including TASA’s Midwinter Conference. At that event, she became familiar with the organization and realized how much an administrator could gain from a network of experienced colleagues, especially when that administrator came from a small district with a small staff.
Whiteker made use of TASA’s networking and training opportunities and then stepped up to serve on several committees. She also served as legislative chair for TASA, but she says the greatest impact on her career came from working on the visioning committee.
“That redirected my philosophy, the direction I wanted to go, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that our education system should be revamped to move to quality education rather than playing the testing accountability game that was destructive to so many children.”
Following her retirement, Whiteker continued her work in forwarding public education in Texas by serving as a TASA superintendent-in-residence. Now, as an executive superintendent, she supports administrators in regions 5 and 7. Through that work, she attends monthly study groups or meetings in those areas, to connect with the superintendents in those areas and let them know that TASA is there to help.
Whiteker says of all of TASA’s offerings, she finds the networking and training opportunities to be the greatest benefit to members, though she also points to the governance staff and their work to keep administrators informed and encourage involvement so they can stay proactive in what’s going on at the state level.
With decades of experience at her back, Whiteker reminds superintendents that while forward momentum is a must, it’s important to learn from the past.
“I think it’s very important that you never forget where you came from,” she says. “A lot of times, historical perspectives can help you in developing the direction you want to go.”
Find contact information for all 10 TASA Executive Superintendents.