Navigating via our strategic plan of action

I was 22 years old when I took my first flight, so it was very important to me that my daughter experience flying at an earlier age. Joslyn’s first flight, which was to Philadelphia for a family vacation, will forever be embedded into my memory. The clouds were thick and it seriously looked like we were flying into masses of cotton as we ascended into the air. As the evening approached, it was dark and we could hardly see anything out the window but clouds. I will never forget Joslyn’s profound question as she stared out the window, “How do the pilots fly the plane when they can’t see?”

For all intents and purposes, the pilots were flying blind, per se. They were seeing the same “nothingness” that Joslyn and I were seeing. However, they were charged with the task of navigating a plane full of hundreds of people through limited visibility.

I was both amazed and thankful at how they could perform such a feat with absolute precision. By faith, three pilots guided a 30-ton piece of metal through a dark sky filled with thick clouds. The pilots trusted the guidance from the air traffic controllers on the ground, and relied on other pilots to do their jobs, to safely guide the plane.

As educators, we work to prepare our students for a future that does not yet exist and quite possibly for careers and jobs that have not been created yet. Sometimes, it may seem like we are flying blind, but I am confident that we are equipped for the task.

To Joslyn and me, it appeared that the pilots were flying blind, but in reality they were relying on their training, their experiences, their knowledge, the technology in their hands and a voice on the ground that gave them their flight course.

Although the teachers are the pilots of the classroom and the students are the passengers, there is a huge support system in place to help students become successful. Parents, community members and all district staff share in the work to get all of our students from where they are to where they need to go.

More than 100 members of Team Lufkin ISD stakeholders met last year and participated in a strategic planning process that started with the school board members creating a mission, vision and belief statements for Lufkin ISD. As a result of their hard work, we are not flying blind but navigating with a strategic plan of action.
We are all working together toward a common goal of accomplishing our mission, which is to educate and equip all students for success through exceptional learning experiences.

It’s been said that faith and fear are very similar because they both are rooted in the unknown. The difference is that with faith, there is hope. We are very hopeful for a bright future for our students, and we want to share with you our vision, mission and the state of our district at our upcoming Panther Community Forum at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Tom Jack Lucas auditorium at the Lufkin High School. The sky is the limit for our students at Lufkin ISD.

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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