In spring of 2013, PROACT Search assisted the Tucson Unified School District with their superintendent search. The district named Dr. H.T. Sanchez as the sole finalist in June of 2013. Dr. Sanchez has been in Tucson for nearly two years, and is making great progress with the district.
Before moving to Arizona, Dr. Sanchez had 15 years of experience in public education with students of all ages. In addition to serving as an Elementary, Middle, and High School Principal, Dr. Sanchez was the Bilingual/ESL Services Director and Instructional Support Services Director for the Tyler Independent School District. After his time in Tyler, he moved to Ector County ISD to serve as the Special Population Assistant Superintendent, and was promoted shortly thereafter to Chief of Staff. In March of 2013, Dr. Sanchez was appointed interim superintendent following the resignation of Ector County ISD’s leader.
In addition to his extensive experience in public education, Dr. Sanchez was an adjunct professor at Texas A&M University-Commerce teaching graduate level school law and doctoral level ethics and philosophy.
Dr. Sanchez was inspired to get involved in education at a young age, when he worked very closely with his friends in middle and high school who were English Language Learners. Through his time in school, he really saw that when kids are given the opportunities and the tools they need, they really can succeed. He was motivated and goal-oriented from a young age, and the good work he has done in districts allowed him to quickly move up the ranks in public education and gave him great opportunities to impact children at the highest levels of school leadership.
Since Dr. Sanchez arrived in Tucson, the district has made student achievement gains across the board. At the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, the Arizona Department of Education released school letter grades, showing that several of the TUSD schools had leapt forward. In December of this past year, the district received the Common Ground Award for its 5-Year Strategic Plan, an award that recognizes projects that include successful collaboration for the overall benefit of the community. TUSD also stood out this past year for having the first governing board in the nation to declare the district immigrant-friendly. Dr. Sanchez was able to bring the resolution to the Board by pledging to help all students pursue a higher education, regardless of immigration status. But Dr. Sanchez’s achievements have not come easily. His greatest challenge, he says, was working with the district to develop their award-winning strategic plan. By expertly balancing inclusiveness with practicality, Tucson USD distilled the views of over 400 critical stakeholders into a practical and comprehensive 5-year action plan for the first time in the district’s rich history.
By thinking ahead and laying the groundwork for great things to come, it is clear that Dr. Sanchez has a vision. And it is this trait, he says, that will make one most successful as the leader of a school system. While short-term goals should be set, and celebrated when achieved, the best leaders are always thinking of the future generations of students and how they, too are entitled to a superior education. Similarly, acting as a change-agent and replacing harmful cultural norms with healthy ones, always thinking of the future, are signs of top leaders in education. True to his values, Dr. Sanchez continues to dig in to the work he is doing in Tucson, and is excited to see the results of the plans that he helped create.