John Schumacher is the new Superintendent of the Gonzales Intermediate School District (ISD), and it appears that the school district made a smart decision to hire him as he brings a lifetime of teaching and administrative experience to the position.
“I’ve spent over 18 years in Texas teaching, coaching and being in administration,” Schumacher said in his office last week. “I was in Mason the last three years and I was really proud of what we accomplished there. We won a pair of state football championships, and I am even more proud that we won the UIL Lone Star Cup for athletic and academic achievement.
“I hope we can bring that same level of sustained success to Gonzales. Afterall, it is all about doing right by and for the kids.”’
Schumacher has been in education for decades. Before his stint in Mason, he spent 2 ½ years in Johnson City and the previous 11 ½ years before that at Marble Falls.
“I’ve been blessed,” Schumacher said. “I have taught everywhere from kindergarten on up to coaching athletics and then an administrator. I’ve had good people working with all along the way, so it’s easier to accomplish great things when you have a good team behind you.”
Schumacher, who was only in his first week on the job when interviewed by the Gonzales Inquirer, had praise for his predecessor Dr. Kim Strozier and for many of the staff people he has met in Gonzales.
‘’I applaud what Kim has done and started here, and I have found that there are some really quality people in the ISD,” he said. “I am excited to find the talent here so we can move toward building a common vision at all levels of our system.”
Schumacher says his management style may be a little different than others, a style that he describes as “situational-servant leadership.”
“I know that people like to talk about the way they have always done things in the past, or the way we do things, but I want that to change,” he said. “While there is value in reflection, my question to the staff, the board and the students is going to be, ‘Where do we go from here?’ I want to know how we are going to get where we want to go. It means changing the culture, but it is the way that has worked for me in the past.”
During his first week on the job, he spent a lot of time meeting with the administration, staff and the board. He moved a few people into different roles at the administration office and had to deal with the nurse-texting situation in his first day on the job.
“It’s unfortunate, but we’ll let the judicial process handle this from now on,” Schumacher said. “It’s time to focus on the future direction of our schools, staff and children.”
Schumacher came to Texas from the state of Wyoming where he grew up as the oldest of six boys. He attended Rawlins High School, then went on to do his undergraduate work at the University of Wyoming. After he was graduated, he got a job teaching at Laramie Senior High School, and became a basketball coach there.
He likes to point out that a basketball team that he inherited early in his career had lost 88 consecutive games. He jokes that he continued the losing streak, but points out that even in the first year as the losing streak grew, he changed the system and culture of the team so that they could have success later on — which they did.
Schumacher later got his master’s degree from Montana State and was a strength coach on the 1986-87 University of Wyoming Hall of Fame basketball team that was coached by Jim Brandenburg. Later, he earned his superintendent certificate from Texas Tech.
Schumacher said he has a number of goals, and he wants to start working on them right away. The first is to a create a connection between the community and the schools.
“We need our residents to come out and support our kids—whether it’s band, athletics, the debate team—whatever. In Mason, the entire community traveled to away games.”
He also wants to create a culture of excellence where the community, the staff and everyone is committed to supporting the kids.
“I can’t commend the folks here enough—they’ve jumped right in and I give them credit for being willing to change to accomplish our goals.”
Schumacher also said he wants to establish a collaborative culture, with a growth-mindset focus.
“We have to have a common purpose. Intellectually, socially and spiritually,” he said. “We need us to create an environment where challenge, support and nurture each other, and be dynamic in decision making.”
Schumacher has sold his house in Marble Falls and is moving to Gonzales with his wife Kathy, who was also an educator.