Nothing great is ever easy

I love quotes. They speak to me. They guide me. They inspire me.

June 17 was a monumental board meeting where the trustees voted unanimously to approve significant teacher salary increases at Lufkin ISD. Voting on a decision takes only a few minutes. Preparing, researching, crunching numbers after numbers, making executive decisions, presenting recommendations, while praying for guidance, takes countless hours, days and months.

Yet, after the exhilaration of the moment when I realized we all came together for the betterment of our teachers, other issues needed my attention. Needless to say, there was not much time to celebrate our big accomplishment. After the board meeting ended, I was working into the night when I received a text from someone in the community whom I admire greatly. The text message praised the board and administration for the teacher raises and ended with the words, “Keep up the good work.”

I responded to this community member that it was a lot of hard work but our teachers and students were worth it, and I received the following text back, “Nothing great is ever easy.”

I am not an emotional person, but I felt tears prick my eyes. It was an “Aha!” moment for me. Nothing great is ever easy. I immediately wrote that down. It’s not just a trivial quote but a mantra, a realization that hard work does pay off, but it’s still hard.

Throughout this past year, I’ve learned that change is not easy. My family and I have changed residence, my husband changed jobs and our children changed schools. I remember when the realization that we were moving to Lufkin became apparent. My daughter became uncertain about her future stability and wondered about and questioned everything including would she have any friends in Lufkin, would the teachers be nice in Lufkin, and how would her grandparents be able to attend her school events? At one point, my husband even chimed in with the question if our kids get sick, who will pick them up from school and who would be able to support us if we needed help?

After being in Lufkin for only a year, my family and I can’t imagine being anywhere else. Our daughter has met some great friends. Both of our kids had excellent teachers. My mother and father-in-law drove to Lufkin to attend Grandparents’ Day at Brandon Elementary. When my son became sick and had a prolonged seizure, we were immediately engulfed with support from EMS, Memorial Hospital, Dr. Fidone, Dr. Benitez, school personnel and community members. The change has not been easy for my family, but the joy that I see in my daughter as she grows as a leader, a learner and a dancer and the proximity to high quality health care services for my son, makes it great.

A year later, I am blessed and honored professionally to serve as superintendent of Lufkin ISD. The work that we are engaged in is the most challenging, the most demanding, and the most significant. Overcoming the challenge of securing raises for our teachers was not easy; however, I believe that having the best teachers who are the best paid is essential to having the best-prepared students. When the work gets hard, we must remember the words of one wise community member, “Nothing great is ever easy!”

Published by drgoffney

Dr. LaTonya Goffney was named Lufkin ISD Superintendent in 2013. A native of Coldspring, Dr. Goffney began her career as a language arts teacher in Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD. Additionally, she served as assistant principal and principal before serving as superintendent at Coldspring-Oakhurst for five years. Dr. Goffney earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and English, a Master of Education degree in administration, and a Doctorate of Education degree in Educational Leadership, all from Sam Houston State University. In her new role as Superintendent of Lufkin ISD, Dr. Goffney has focused on building community support. She has established an Education Foundation to enhance educational opportunities for all students through innovative teacher grants, a Strategic Planning group involving more than 100 community members and created a Hispanic advisory committee called the Nuestras Madres to connect with the Hispanic mothers in the district. She implemented the Panther Community Forums, which are quarterly meetings to address topics with the community and parents. Dr. Goffney began the Team Lufkin ISD Student Ambassadors, a high school student advisory group to the superintendent. Annually, she hosts Lufkin ISD Evento en Español to inform the Hispanic community of educational opportunities. Dr. Goffney was the recipient of the 2013 Distinguished Administrator of the Year Award selected by the faculty of Sam Houston State University College of Education. She was named as one of only 22 members of the 2012-2013 Class of Phi Delta Kappa International Emerging Leaders. The PDK Emerging Leaders program recognizes top educators from across the world. She currently serves on the following civic boards: Lufkin/Angelina County Chamber of Commerce, The Coalition, and Angelina County Economic Development. She is president-elect of the Texas Council of Women School Executives and was recently elected as recording secretary to the Texas Association of Black School Educators. Dr. Goffney also serves on the Executive Board of the Texas Association of School Administrators. Dr. Goffney is married to Joseph Goffney. They have two children, Joseph, Jr., 14, and Joslyn, 10. Dr. Goffney and her husband, Joseph, have co-authored a book titled All is Well as a tribute to their special needs son. Their story has been featured in several local magazines.

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