Bobby Ott of Temple ISD was named 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).
Ott, whose district is in Region 12, was selected for the prestigious award from a group of five state finalists that included Jenny McGown, Klein ISD, Region 4; Thurston Lamb, Henderson ISD, Region 7; Doug Killian, Pflugerville ISD, Region 13; and Scott Muri, Ector County ISD, Region 18.
In naming Ott as the winner of this year’s award, the eight-member selection committee commended his work in cultivating authentic connections with the children, families, and businesses in his district, which serves nearly 8,500 students across 15 campuses in the Central Texas region.
“As a committee of school board trustees from across the state, we all understand the hard work and commitment needed to be a successful public school superintendent,” said Dripping Springs ISD Trustee Mary Jane Hetrick, who chaired the TASB selection committee. “What we saw in all of these state finalists was a unique ability to turn challenges into opportunities with a relentless focus on improving the lives of their students through a quality education. We were all inspired by their accomplishments and just so grateful for everything they are doing on behalf of Texas public schoolchildren.”
Hetrick said the committee was particularly impressed with how Ott had partnered with businesses in the community to prepare students for life after graduation. In addition, they noted his work in inspiring a love of learning not just among the children enrolled in Temple ISD, but among parents and grandparents as well.
“He truly sees education as a way to transform lives, so his approach is about lifting up entire families,” Hetrick said. “He prioritizes a personalized learning experience for every student in the district through portfolio-based assessments and a local accountability system that reflects the needs of his community.”
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 SOTY winner receives a $5,000 check and a special ring, donated by Balfour. The finalists each receive $1,000, also given by Balfour.
In his remarks before an audience of thousands at the TASA-TASB Convention, Ott said he 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. He also thanked his family, his board, and his Temple ISD community for their support.
“It’s a place where diversity is given, inclusion is a deliberate choice, and our service is defined by compassion, love, and innovation, and I am so proud to be there,” he said. “You’re only as good as your team and in this case, we’re blessed to have the team that serves and governs Temple ISD.”
He noted that the greatest impact a superintendent can have is caring about each and every student. “The number one service you can provide your community, that everyone in your community should know about their superintendent,” he said, “is that you love their children. It’s that simple. If you love their children, you can bring people to the table.”
Over his 24-year career as an education leader, Ott has worked in military, rural, urban, suburban, and fast-growth districts. His previous positions include assistant and deputy superintendent within the school districts of Temple, Copperas Cove, and Killeen. He also served as an executive leader for both the Texas Education Agency and The University of Texas at Austin.
During Ott’s tenure as Temple ISD superintendent, the district has seen progress in closing student achievement gaps, particularly at the elementary level and among students receiving special education services, as well as English language learners. In May, he was also successful in leading the passage of a $164.8 million bond program in Temple ISD, the largest ever in the district.
Ott holds a doctorate in school administration from The University of Texas at Austin and completed both his master’s and undergraduate degree from Angelo State University.
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. 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.
Mildred Watkins, TASB Member Services Committee chair and La Vega ISD trustee; Mary Jane Hetrick, TASB Member Services Committee chair and Dripping Spings ISD trustee; Dr. Bobby Ott, 2022 Superintendent of the Year from Temple ISD; and Dan Posey, Temple ISD Board president recognized Ott as TASB’s Superintendent of the Year.