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One of the most fortunate occurrences in my professional career was working for a superintendent, Charles Bradberry, whose passion was finding talented teachers and administrators. As an assistant principal in my mid-20s, I learned so much from him about creating a culture of hiring excellence and providing the tools for our entire district to invest heavily in finding the most talented, mission-driven employees to serve our students.

I learned early that it is a far better investment in time to find the right people to hire than it is to hire the wrong person quickly and then exhaust yourself trying to manage them. Just one toxic employee can suck the energy out of the entire operation, not to mention the damage done to a child’s educational experience. Those lessons helped me immensely through my career in every role I filled. No organization can exceed the quality of the people who work in it.

A key to any career success I have had — some would say the only thing I have done right — is to surround myself and the organizations I serve with incredible talent. I believe in it so much that my dissertation research focused on this very topic.

To hire talent, though, you need to have a large, quality applicant pool. And in order to have a large applicant pool: You have to have a pipeline of folks coming into the profession; you have to be smart about the selection process; you have to train folks once they are hired with high-quality professional development that promotes career-long learning; you have to create a dynamic organizational culture and systems that helps retain them; and you have to compensate them fairly and competitively.

At TASA, it is my privilege to work with some amazing people who are totally invested in supporting Texas’ school leaders. Two of those people — Ann Halstead and Marita Rogers — were recently honored in INSIGHT, our membership journal. What a blessing they have been to TASA members for the 70 years that they collectively served our organization. In many ways, they have been the heart and soul of our team, and their departure is bittersweet for all of us who love them. My wish for them is a happy and long retirement with a deep understanding of how much we appreciate their unending devotion.

I encourage you to take a look at the feature on Ann and Marita (pages 13-23), and while you’re there, meet the rest of our small but mighty TASA staff (pages 25-30), who are always available to support our members. Our Executive Superintendents (pages 32-33) are an important extension of that staff. These highly regarded former superintendents are experts on public school leadership and serve as our members’ “go-to” on matters related to public school leadership, career pathways, and the transformation of Texas public education.

As school administrators, you are wise to focus on your people and organizational culture, especially now, when there is a shortage of applicants. I continue to hear inspiring stories about how superintendents are hiring and supporting their teams in innovative ways in spite of the challenges. Thank you for honoring and celebrating your people. I know that each of your schools has people like Ann and Marita who quietly go about making huge differences in the lives of others. For all of those extraordinary people doing such critical work in spite of the challenges and rhetoric we face, I give a heartfelt thanks. And that includes you.

-TASA Executive Director Kevin Brown, Ed.D.