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June 2016 Member Spotlight - Dr. Michael Hinojosa

Dr. Gonzalo S. La Cava
Dallas Independent School District, Dallas, Texas

Career Highlights & Education: I have spent more than 35 years in public education as a teacher, coach, campus and district level administrator. Twenty-one of those years have been as a superintendent/chief executive officer in six school systems.  I have been in small, large, rural, suburban and urban systems helping to improve student achievement.  I take pride in having built high performing teams in each of those systems.  I am very proud that more than 25 individuals who have worked with me have become superintendents. 

What I like best about my job: The fact that a free public education is a great equalizer and a ‘game changer’ for students.  Getting a great education can break the cycle of poverty and give every student an equal life’s chance.  The days are never dull, and the opportunities to make a difference are limitless. 
The best advice I’ve ever received: That as a superintendent, it is not about me.  My role is to work with the board, the staff, and the community.  If I can keep all three of those groups moving in the same positive direction, then great opportunities can be created for students.  If I only have two of the groups, then all I can do is survive.  To thrive I must find a way to work with all of those diverse, key stakeholder groups.

Advice you would give a new superintendent or school system leader: You have to do you, but it is not about you!  You need to listen before you take action.  You must have an organized, coherent entry plan that will allow you to interact with the major stakeholders previously mentioned in an authentic manner.  You must be visible, approachable, and likeable with your board, staff, and community.  Once you earn their trust, then they will assist you in helping your students succeed in life.

If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: With my wife playing golf on a beautiful golf course or attending a major league baseball matinee game.

People would be surprised to know that: That I am an introvert and painfully shy.

One thing I wish more people knew about ALAS: The amazing energy and passion of the membership.  Every time I am around members of the board, staff, consultants, partners and general membership, I get rejuvenated to continue to strive for excellence con Ganas!