Additional Leadership Perspective article:
TPN: The Pitsco Network
DM: Danny Massey, Superintendent, Brazosport (TX) ISD
Introduction: Danny Massey has been an educator for 30 years, 28 of those in the Texas Gulf Coast school district of Brazosport, where he has served as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal, executive director, assistant superintendent, and, for the past four years, superintendent. Massey cites his love of the region and the opportunity to positively impact 12,400 students as the primary reasons for wanting to lead Brazosport ISD. The district has 19 school campuses in eight different municipalities, and they have been using Pitsco’s STREAM elementary solutions for more than a year.
TPN: What makes BISD unique or different from neighboring districts?
DM: We offer our students the opportunities of a large school district and the community and school pride of a small district. Our schools truly are the heartbeat of the communities. We have a large industrial base that provides an economic advantage and tremendous financial support of our schools. Our teacher salaries are in the top 5.5 percent of the state. We have numerous opportunities for our students in the form of advanced placement courses, dual credit, career and technical education, STEM, agriculture, business, and health science.
TPN: Tell me how your relationship with neighboring Sweeny ISD Superintendent Dr. Tory Hill started.
DM: Dr. Hill and I have grown very close. When he was a new superintendent and new to the area, I felt it important to make myself accessible to him. He would refer to me as a mentor, but I receive as much or more from him as he does from me. He is a really smart guy who cares deeply about public education and Sweeny ISD. We support each other in our work as superintendents. Through that support, our relationship has grown into a unique friendship as well. Both of our school districts benefit from our openness and continual collaboration.
TPN: How can you and Dr. Hill work together to ensure that your districts, as well as others in the region, benefit and contribute to business success?
DM: We have to make certain as public schools that our students are receiving a quality education with outstanding learning experiences. Business will support school districts when there is evidence of student success. It is our responsibility to ensure our students are ready for their futures.
TPN: Regions that invest in strengthening workforce development will be on the leading edge in 2030. What do you need to do as superintendent to position Brazosport for success well into the future?
DM: Industry partnerships and college partnerships are needed for our students to be workforce ready. Career exploration courses, leadership skills, and opportunities to earn industry-based certifications are all essential.
TPN: Explain the role that STREAM curriculum and experiences will play for students as young as K-5 as they develop lifelong skills, a new mind-set, and grit.
DM: We are fortunate to have STREAM labs in our elementary schools that teach students future-ready skills of collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity. Failure is an opportunity to learn, and students must also learn how to be a good teammate and work with others.
TPN: Which skills do you believe are most important to develop at the elementary level in preparation for more advanced study and learning in middle school, high school, and beyond?
DM: Literacy – it is critical for elementary students to learn to read. They must learn to read before they can read to learn! And performance is in direct proportion to how hard they work and try.
TPN: What have you observed personally in the Pitsco lab where students experience STREAM Missions and STEM Units?
DM: It’s their eagerness to learn and engage, how students are capable of learning so much more than we often give them credit for. Students are developing and using lifelong skills. I would highly recommend STREAM labs. Pitsco provides outstanding support.
TPN: What has BISD done to create environments where Gen Z students learn best – in a student-centered manner where they work in groups to design and problem-solve?
DM: We have digitized every aspect of our district. All our students have Chromebook tablets and can continue learning outside of school hours. We have also implemented blended-learning concepts where students’ experiences can be personalized and the pace altered.
TPN: If we don’t know what many of the jobs will be in 2030 because of rapid advancements in technology, what educational aims should be emphasized in K-12 education?
DM: Yes, we don’t know what jobs we are educating our students for, but we know what skills they will need. It’s the 4Cs – critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.
TPN: Employers say there’s a mismatch between what’s being taught and the skills their employees need. What have you done to improve dialogue with local business and industry leaders to ensure BISD is instilling the proper skills in the workforce for your region?
DM: We have great relationships with our industry partners. We meet regularly to ensure we are preparing our students for the workforce. We are in a unique area at a unique time where we have more than $40 billion of industrial growth. We are expanding and providing new career and technical education courses, certifications, and facilities each year.