LISD Board names Mark Estrada as lone finalist

LISD Board names Mark Estrada as lone finalist
Posted on 06/11/2018


Contact: Christina Courson, Public Information Officer

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Date:  June 11, 2018

LISD Board names Mark Estrada as lone finalist      Mark Estrada

The Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees named Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Mark Estrada as the lone finalist for superintendent of schools for Lockhart ISD. The Board voted unanimously to approve Estrada as the top pick to lead the fast-growth school district at a special called meeting Monday night.

“The Board is incredibly excited and proud to select Mr. Estrada as the new superintendent,” said LISD Board President Brenda Spillmann. “After seeing the impact of his leadership both in campuses and at the district level, we are confident he will continue to challenge all students and teachers to even higher levels of achievement.”

The announcement begins a 21-day waiting period, required by law, before the Board may formally hire Estrada as the superintendent.

“I am humbled by the opportunity to be selected to lead Lockhart ISD,” shared Estrada. “With the support of the Board of Trustees, parents, staff, and the community, the district will continue to work strategically to continue its upward trajectory, fueled by a culture of high expectations for every student and staff in Lockhart ISD.”

The Board originally set June 27 as the date to name a lone finalist. After completing interviews last week, the Board made the move to instead name a lone finalist at a special called meeting Monday night. “In reviewing 60 applicants and interviewing seven candidates,  it became very clear to the Board that Mr. Estrada is the best choice to lead Lockhart ISD into its next chapter,” explained Spillmann.

The Board selected Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) Executive Search Services in April to conduct the search for the district’s new leader after former Superintendent Susan K. Bohn announced she was named lone finalist at Aledo ISD. The search followed an aggressive timeline to ensure the hiring of the school district’s new superintendent prior to the upcoming school year.

Record of leadership and excellence

Estrada has been long-regarded as a rising star within the district, having assumed increasing responsibilities and leadership roles over the past six years in LISD. He initially joined the district as principal of Plum Creek Elementary in 2012. There, he initiated impressive “firsts” at the campus, including creating the first National Elementary Honor Society in Lockhart ISD at Plum Creek, inspiring other elementary schools to do so across the district, the first Lego League Robotics team in the district, and the first Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Chapter in LISD with an active membership of over 100 parents. Because of this initiative, as well as instructional improvements at the campus, Estrada was named an  Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) Emerging Leader, an international educational leadership organization with members in the hundreds of thousands.

In 2013, Estrada applied to and was selected for the The Principals’ Center at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, leading the way for two other LISD principals to participate in subsequent years. This opportunity was made possible by Raise Your Hand Texas, a foundation committed to reinventing public education for the 21st century.

Because of these successes, LISD tapped Estrada for principal of Lockhart Junior High School in 2014. In his two years leading the campus, he decreased student discipline by 60 percent, designed and implemented a new teacher induction and professional development program, which reduced new teacher turnover by 50 percent, increased middle school Algebra I participation by 20 percent while simultaneously increasing student performance, and launched the National Junior Honor Society at the campus.

In 2016, in addition to his role at LJHS, he served as principal at Lockhart High School’s ML Cisneros Freshman Campus until the district hired Luciano Castro into the role. That same year, LISD promoted Estrada to assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.

As an administrator at the district level and a member of the superintendent’s cabinet, he continued to build upon his record of continuous improvement and excellence by designing and implementing a comprehensive curriculum management plan guiding district-wide work regarding curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional development; proposing and securing district commitment to grow every student by 1.5 years in math and reading, resulting in double-digit growth in STAAR progress for 5th and 8th grade this spring; worked collaboratively with teachers, technology instructional mentors, and the technology department to lead the Lockhart ISD Visionary Instructional Plan (LISDVIP) to create and implement the “classroom of the future” today; secured $1.89 million in grants through The University of Texas at Austin GEAR UP program to increase postsecondary readiness and completion, and provided leadership and helped facilitate the process that led to state designation of LISD as a District of Innovation.

“As a Board, it is very exciting to us that the candidate best qualified is also someone from the community, allowing us to promote from within our ranks. Mr. Estrada’s leadership has made a tremendous and measurable difference in every role he has assumed while in Lockhart ISD, including recommending sound policies, creating efficient systems, and promoting innovation to fuel academic performance,” added Spillmann. “These results, in addition to his true and deep passion for student achievement and instructional excellence, ensure continued growth and success for all of our Lions.”

Leadership beyond the district

In addition to his contributions within LISD, Estrada participates as a leader in a number of statewide and national organizations including the Texas State University College of Education Advisory Board, E3 Alliance RaiseUP Texas Steering Committee, E3 Alliance Principles of Promise Steering Committee, Educational Leadership Magazine’s Reader’s Advisory Board, Edu-rise Board, Texas Associations of School Administrators, and Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development.

His articles about innovation in education have been featured in Education Week, and he has been invited as a guest speaker on BAM! Radio Network as an expert on a variety of educational issues.

“I am fortunate to have a strong and comprehensive network of innovative educational leaders to learn from and collaborate with on an ongoing basis,” noted Estrada. “Texas public schools provide incredible opportunities for Texas children, and in Lockhart, we know our opportunities are only limited by how far we are willing to venture.”

A family rooted in the community

Estrada and his wife of 15 years, Bethany, have four children-- Evan, Eli, Annemarie, and Benjamin. The two eldest sons, Evan and Eli, attend Navarro Elementary School, and Annemarie will begin pre-Kindergarten at Carver Early Education Center this fall. Benjamin cannot wait to become a Lockhart Lion like his older siblings.

His family enjoys the small-town community of Lockhart and participating in the fun annual events and traditions it offers.

Prior experience and education

Before joining LISD, Estrada worked as a teacher and coach, instructional administrator, and principal at Del Valle ISD.

He earned a Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science and Master of Education in Secondary Education at Texas State University in San Marcos.

Estrada is currently a doctoral candidate in the Cooperative Superintendency Program at The University of Texas at Austin, a competitive and highly-regarded program, consistently ranked in the top three nationally with Harvard University and Columbia University. He will complete the program in 2019.

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