Yvonne Katz (1986-1987)
Personal and Professional Context…
I was a brand new, one year old superintendent in the Harlandale ISD (HISD) when I became President of TCWSE in 1986. There were only a handful of women superintendents (supes) at that time and I was superintendent in one of the largest districts with over 15,000 students numbering at 88% Hispanic.
We had just started to implement HB 72(teacher/student testing, NO PASS/NO PLAY, etc.) as districts. Our HISD was the 25th poorest district out of over 1200 districts. We were part of the Edgewood vs. Kirby lawsuit for equality in school funding.
As the first woman supe in HISD, I moved from my 2000 square foot north side home to the south side of town and lived in an 800 square foot home. I walked to the corner and did my laundry each week in the E-Z Laundry mat for 7.5 years. I served on numerous boards in the city and was Chair of the Southside Chamber of Commerce for two years. During that time, I was the co-clinical professor with Dr. Victor Rodriguez of the SAISD as we designed and taught the first off-campus doctoral cohort program for Texas A & M (College Station). I also had been an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Additionally, I was the first president of the S.A. Educational Partnership, working in tandem with Mayors Henry Cisneros and Nelson Wolff to establish the partnership for low achieving high schools and offer scholarships to their students or priority in job placements.
Focus and Accomplishments…
Being the third president of this wonderfully strong group of women administrators, I was excited to help move our organization to statewide recognition and acceptance by the "good old boys" (GOBs).
We knew that the few women supes state wide needed a place to gather and "kick off their heels and let their hair down"! Remember, the GOBs went on hunting trips, golf outings, and fishing trips regularly sponsored by all sorts of vendors!
We enlisted the help of a few vendors to host our session in Austin just prior to the TASA and TCWSE summer conferences. The women supes came in for a half day, kicked off their heels, drank wine, and we shared all sorts of info about ourselves and the three things that we wanted to talk about professionally. I developed an official Agenda for the three key professional topics just in case any of their board members wanted to know where they were and what they were doing!
Another focus was developing local groups/units in the 20 service regions so that women who couldn't come to Austin because of professional/personal reasons could meet in smaller groups and begin to support each other. Of course, the Houston group (Region 4) really designed a strong organization with dues, officers, etc. Our San Antonio women wanted to have lunch twice a year with a good speaker. The El Paso group formed and had dues and a few officers. Other groups came together on a much looser basis with a woman super/assistant, supe in the area taking the lead to pull together women teachers, principals/assistant principals, and central office administrators.
We also provided a learning lab for the UT Fellows Program under the auspices of Dr. Nolan Estes. He would bring all of his students (men and women) to the meeting and they would be heard saying, "what a strong, technical meeting we conducted"! His brother, Dr. Dwain Estes, began bringing his doctoral classes from Baylor, also.
I've made some lasting friendships through TCWSE over these 30 years! We've helped each other through marriages, divorces, deaths of loved ones, babies, grandbabies, landing jobs, losing jobs, deaths of our members, etc. We remain resilient through all of these life traumas and joys with the support from each other!
One of my most favorite memories was our Mock Interviews for supes and principals. I was always on the interview team for the supe and played the "conservative, drab housewife" role! Of course, those terms next to my name are definitely oxymorons! But, I played my role to the hilt each year! I had quite a list of questions I could ask the candidates over the years! Then, it was my turn to be the supe candidate! I thought, "what if they don't choose me to be the supe?"! Those were very well received sessions because of the debriefing from a head hunter! Of course, he didn't like what I wore as the candidate, but I told him that I already had a supe's job and when I was interviewed for it, I DID wear my tailored, plain, superintendent's suit!!!
Future of TCWSE…
I was very pleased and excited to be a part of such a dynamic group of women! I loved having the male supes wonder "what we women were doing meeting as a group"! They have since gotten over that for the most part as we have been recognized as a part of TASA.
The organization is much needed currently, too. We must continue to support our new women leaders and help them get established in key leadership positions around the state. The Board structure allows for each region to be represented so that the word can get out more easily about local and state meetings.
I do not ever see a time when we would not need the organization since we provide sessions on professional as well as personal topics. Coming together annually provides the developing leaders an opportunity to meet the old "war horses" and be mentored by them at least for several days.