Dr. Martha Salazar-Zamora Wins 2023 Texas Superintendent of the Year Award
TOMBALL – For her visionary leadership and relentless pursuit of excellence, Tomball ISD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Martha Salazar-Zamora has received one of the highest honors for a Superintendent in the State of Texas, being named the 2023 Texas Superintendent of the Year (SOTY) by the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) in a special presentation at the annual convention hosted by TASB and the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA).
As the Region 4 Superintendent of the Year and State nominee for this year’s award, Dr. Salazar-Zamora was selected among 19 Regional Superintendents as a Top 5 State Finalist. From there, the five candidates were interviewed by a panel of school board members across the State, and evaluated on their work in improving student outcomes, developing a strong team-of-eight relationship, advocacy, and their ongoing commitment to innovation and leadership.
Dr. Salazar-Zamora becomes the first-ever Tomball ISD Superintendent to be named Texas Superintendent of the Year, and was selected for this prestigious award from a group of five finalists:
- Dr. Martha Salazar-Zamora, Tomball ISD, Region 4
- Wade Stanford, Westwood ISD, Region 7
- Jim F. Chadwell, Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD, Region 11
- Sheri Blakenship, Hereford ISD, Region 16
- Jose Lopez, Kermit ISD, Region 18
“The entire committee was so impressed by the candidates for this year’s Superintendent of the Year award,” said Kerrville ISD Trustee Rolinda Schmidt, who chaired the TASB selection committee. “As school board members, we understand the challenges involved in successfully leading a school district and it’s no small accomplishment to be a state finalist. It’s always so inspiring to hear about what these public education leaders are doing to advance student outcomes in their districts and to create learning and working environments where everyone has the opportunity to achieve.”
Schmidt said the committee was particularly impressed with Salazar-Zamora’s approach to finding creative and innovative solutions to ensure every child gets a quality education. “
We were all so impressed by Dr. Salazar-Zamora’s unmatched energy, enterprising spirit, and commitment to serving her students and community,” Schmidt said. “She is truly an advocate for her students and for creating opportunities for them to achieve their goals – whatever they may be.”
In Dr. Salazar-Zamora’s remarks before an audience of hundreds at the TASA | TASB Convention, Salazar-Zamora said she was honored to receive the award and commended all the regional winners and state finalists for their work on behalf of Texas public school children. She also thanked her family, board, and the entire Tomball ISD community. In winning the award, Dr. Salazar-Zamora becomes the first female Hispanic superintendent to earn the honor in the history of the Superintendent of the Year program.
“I’m so amazingly grateful to God to allow me this opportunity to serve the students in Tomball ISD,” she said. She commended all the superintendents at the event, as well as all educators, school board members, and leaders for their collective passion in helping students be successful, despite the challenges facing public education.
“It is not an easy time to be in public education today but together we can and will continue to fight for public education,” she said. “Together we will continue to make the difference that matters.”
SETTING THE STAGE
The selection of a Superintendent of the Year is the culmination of a nine-month process that begins in January when school boards across the state start to prepare their Superintendent nomination, which must be approved by resolution.
Tomball ISD Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution during the April 2023 Board Meeting to nominate Salazar-Zamora for Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) Superintendent of the Year for 2023 (SOTY).
“The Board of Trustees is thrilled to celebrate our very own Dr. Salazar-Zamora as Superintendent of the Year,” Tomball ISD School Board President Lee McLeod said. “To have Martha recognized as a standout among the 1,100 hardworking superintendents in Texas public education is remarkable. We could not be prouder!”
Recommended Superintendents are then interviewed by regional selection committees, with finalists from each Texas education service center (ESC) region being announced in June. Each ESC finalist is then brought forward for interviews by the state selection committee, which narrows the pool to five state finalists announced in August.
The naming of the Superintendent of the Year is a highlight of the annual TASA | TASB Convention, held each year in the fall to promote excellence in Texas public education.
“It is really saying something to stand out among this talented and dedicated group who are the superintendents of Texas public school districts,” said TASB Executive Director Dan Troxell. “We are honored to partner with TASA in hosting this event and being able to present the Superintendent of the Year Award recognizing outstanding leadership. The successful working relationship between school boards and their superintendents is at the heart of excellent student outcomes and strong governance in their districts. Everything we do at TASB is in support of the extraordinary work that superintendents and school boards do in service to their students.”
ABOUT OUR TEXAS SUPERINTENDENT OF THE YEAR
Dr. Salazar-Zamora brings over 36 years of experience in education and has served TISD as Superintendent of Schools since 2017. Prior to being named Superintendent, she worked as the District’s Chief Academic Officer for three years.
Recognized as a State Finalist for Texas Superintendent of the Year, Dr. Salazar-Zamora not only leads a fast-growth district, but one of the highest academic achieving districts in the State of Texas, all while maintaining strong financial management practices.
As the Team Tomball leader, Dr. Salazar-Zamora has elevated Tomball ISD into the Top Ranked School District in the Houston area, while also being honored as a 2023 H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards finalist in both Large School District and Outstanding School Board categories, the only school district in Texas recognized for one than one award.
Under Dr. Salazar-Zamora’s leadership, Tomball ISD continues to set the bar high with innovative programs and initiatives that are student-centered and intentional. Since 2017, she has led the implementation of Tomball Star Academy, the District’s early college high school, Tomball ISD’s Two-Way Dual Language Academy, the District’s first P-TECH focused on healthcare, a Pre-K Center for young learners, the state-of-the-art Tomball ISD Stadium and Event Center, along with the opening of several campuses and CTE programs which are in place to accommodate the fast growth and high-demand for young talent happening in the Tomball area.
Dr. Salazar-Zamora without a doubt has put Tomball ISD on the map as a pillar of excellence through leadership and a continuous drive for high achievement and innovation.
Whether it was implementing Strategic Plan 2025, or the passing of Bond 2021, Salazar-Zamora has been forced to make critical decisions that ultimately impact the future of Tomball ISD. She spearheaded the purchase of a commercial/industrial complex, valued at over $400 million today, for just $37.5 million to become a multi-purpose educational facility now named the Tomball Innovation Center, all while maintaining solid financial ratings.
Salazar-Zamora balances the pursuit of academic success and the management of student growth with fiscal responsibility. In fact, because of this, TISD is consistently recognized by TXSmartSchools as a coveted “Five Star'' District. Under her leadership, TISD has been committed to significantly higher standards in financial reporting and has received multiple awards for transparency, financial statement presentations and disclosures. Notably, a very small percentage of school districts throughout the state have received the high ratings in financial excellence that sets TISD apart.
In addition to strong finances, and in order to support high academic achievement, Salazar-Zamora is intentionally focused on the learning excitement within the school atmosphere, specifically related to the Professional Learning Community (PLC) process. Because of that focus, Tomball ISD is a Model PLC District by Solution Tree, only one of four districts in Texas and one of just 32 in the nation with that distinction. Also, 11 TISD campuses have been recognized as Model PLC campuses. In addition to the PLC process, TISD has implemented Great Expectations (GE), a strong character education program at all elementary and intermediate campuses with 11 earning the highest recognition as GE Model Schools.
Leading nearly 23,000 students and over 3,100 employees district-wide, Dr. Salazar-Zamora was named one of Houston’s Top 30 Influential Women this year and remains committed to the growth of public education and the impact it plays in our local community by serving her time on numerous boards. She currently is a member of the Texas Education Agency (TEA) Commissioner’s Cabinet, Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) President-Elect, President of Fast Growth School Coalition (FGSC), the Texas Representative on the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) Executive Committee, Vice President of The Council of Women School Executives (TCWSE), a member of the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) Tomball Board of Trustees, a Board Member for the Greater Tomball Area Chamber of Commerce, and Past President of Texas Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (TALAS).
Her representation and her ability to provide valuable insight by serving on these committees and executive boards has positively impacted Tomball ISD, the community of Tomball, and education as a whole.
Salazar-Zamora is a role model and a positive influence in public education, serving as the first female Superintendent of TISD and the first Hispanic Superintendent of Tomball ISD.
Sponsored by TASB and underwritten by Balfour, the SOTY program has recognized exemplary superintendents for excellence and achievement in educational leadership since 1984.
Candidates are chosen for their strong leadership skills, dedication to improving educational quality, ability to build effective employee relations, student performance, and commitment to public involvement in education. The district of the SOTY winner receives a $5,000 check and the superintendent is given a custom ring. The districts of each of the finalists receive $1,000, also given by Balfour.
ABOUT TOMBALL ISD
Tomball ISD educates students to become responsible, productive citizens by providing innovative, individually rigorous, and personally valuable educational experiences. Founded in 1908, Tomball ISD now encompasses 83 square miles in northwest Harris County and southwest Montgomery County, and is located approximately 30 miles from downtown Houston. The district currently educates over 22,000 students across 23 campuses.
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