A. Marcus Nelson, chief executive of Laredo ISD, was named Superintendent of the Year (SOTY) by the Texas Association of School Boards on Sept. 26 at the TASA/TASB Convention in Dallas. He was selected for the award from a group of state finalists that included Jon Wunderlich, Weimar ISD, Region 3; Danny Taylor, Burkburnett ISD, Region 9; Michael McFarland, Lancaster ISD, Region 10; and Mark Eads, San Marcos CISD, Region 13.
Serving approximately 25,000 students, Nelson has led Laredo ISD for five years and has 19 years of experience in education administration. The state selection committee noted that Nelson has taken a proactive approach to enhancing his skill set to meet the diverse opportunities for growth of the students, staff, and community, as evidenced by his collaborative bilingual efforts. While facing a multitude of challenges, it was noted that he continues to exude a positive outlook for the students of his district. In addition, the committees cited his belief that education is the great equalizer. He feels kids deserve the opportunity to learn, with a goal that all children in Texas have the same competitive advantages to succeed.
Earlier in the selection process, the committee cited a 76 percent bond rate approval in Laredo ISD and that the district moved its bond rating from A to AA in five years. Also noted was the district’s push for a rigorous curriculum, an emphasis on communication with parents, and a relationship with the community college to create a PreK-16 partnership. Nelson earned his bachelor’s degree at Abilene Christian University and master’s and doctorate degrees at Texas A&M University—Commerce. He was the SOTY regional winner in Region 1.
During the final round of interviews for the award, the state selection committee focused on such issues as school safety, ethical leadership, successful teamwork, innovative practices, staff evaluation processes, and advocacy for public education. In the first round, superintendents expressed their views about the long-term success of public schools, implementation of House Bill (HB) 5 and recommendations for the next legislative session, staff morale and maintenance of district health, program and student success, and the superintendent’s role as a leader for students, staff, and community.
SOTY candidates are chosen for their dedication to improving educational quality, board/superintendent relations, student achievement, and commitment to public support and involvement in education. Superintendents are nominated by their local school boards. District nominees are submitted to a regional selection committee that forwards that nominee to the state selection committee. Nelson received an award and a Superintendent of the Year ring from Balfour, program underwriter. State finalists also received an award from Balfour.
Regional winners nominated by the regional selection committees are Chad Kelly, Taft ISD, Region 2; HD Chambers, Alief ISD, Region 4; Mary Huckabay, Hull-Daisetta ISD, Region 5; Thomas Wallis, Bryan ISD, Region 6; Stan Surratt, Lindale ISD, Region 7; Judy Pollan, Pittsburg ISD, Region 8; Karen Rue, Northwest ISD, Region 11; James “Buck” Gilcrease, Hillsboro ISD, Region 12; Heath Burns, Abilene ISD, Region 14; Ron Cline, Paint Rock ISD, Region 15; Rod Schroder, Amarillo ISD, Region 16; Elbert Wuthrich, Whiteface CISD, Region 17; and Jeff Cottrill, Knippa ISD, Region 20.