Each summer, TASA ushers in new officers and Executive Committee members. For 2019-20, Greg Smith, superintendent of Clear Creek ISD, has stepped into the top position, taking the reins as TASA president. A TASA member for more than 30 years, Smith is ready to take the helm and navigate the group toward a new vision for public education in Texas.
“I have had the opportunity to work alongside Johnny Veselka and now Kevin Brown, two tremendous visionary leaders who have kept a great pulse on public education,” Smith says. Another experience that has helped him prepare to be TASA president was working alongside fellow members of the TASA 2025 Task Force during the past few years to develop the TASA Strategic Framework. He says that document, which lays out TASA’s aspirations and outlines the long-term strategies the association will use to reach them, largely focuses on three strategic areas.
The first of those is professional learning, a chief area he’d like to focus on during his time in the president’s seat.
“I think TASA, more than anything else, provides a foundation for all aspiring leaders in the state, and not just for superintendents, but also central office folks, principals and assistant principals as well,” Smith says. “I think there are many opportunities through TASA to build your personal and professional capacity.
”In his time as a TASA member and officer, Smith says he has learned from many of his peers and has benefited greatly from partnering with other administrators from across the state through various TASA learning opportunities. “My focus and my attention has been to embrace the diversity that Texas has to offer, and learn from each other along the way,” he says. “I think part of that is being able to take our experiences and share them with each other so that we establish a strong network of leaders throughout Texas.”
Smith says that advocacy is also a large part of the framework, something that seems to have paid off during the last election and recent legislative session. For him, it’s an important part of serving in a leadership role in any public school system.
“We have to have a voice in trying to make sure that we put our kids first and that we don’t settle for less,” Smith says. “By doing that, I believe we have an opportunity to sit at the table to make sure our legislative representatives are tuned into what makes democracy work.”
The final piece of the framework that Smith hopes to work toward is one that ties the whole vision together — member engagement. Whether through professional learning, networking or advocacy, Smith says that partnerships and mentorships are key to working toward TASA members’ shared goals.
“I think part of our job is to make sure that all of our members are engaged as diverse learners,” he says. “Engagement is such a powerful tool to increase the capacity for future leaders.”
From TASA groups such as the Future-Ready Superintendents Leadership Network (FRSLN) to partnerships with outside groups such as Raise Your Hand Texas, Smith says that taking advantage of learning opportunities is essential to moving toward a brighter future for Texas public education.
“If you can bring people of goodwill to the table, we can do anything we want,” he says. “We can make things happen and prepare our students for the future. I think when all is said and done, our future is indeed very bright.”