Educator’s ‘laser focus’ helps him secure Lewisville ISD superintendent’s post

By ADAM SCHRADER
Published in The Dallas Morning News on April 30, 2015

First, let’s set the scene. It’s last Monday night. The Lewisville ISD Board of Trustees meeting room fills
with more than 200 people attending a special meeting. On the agenda is an announcement about who
will become the next superintendent of schools.
Vernell Gregg, former Lewisville ISD board president, sits in the front row — across the aisle from the
Chief Operations Officer and Interim Superintendent Kevin Rogers.
“I hope it’s Kevin Rogers,” she says with a laugh. “If it’s not Kevin Rogers, I’m going to throw something
at the board.”
School board president Trisha Sheffield calls the meeting to order. After a brief closed session, the
trustees return and the room quiets. Sheffield announces that Rogers, a hometown guy, has been
named to replace Stephen Waddell as superintendent.
“We had some fabulous candidates,” Sheffield says. “It was a great process to just see the caliber and
quality of candidates that we had the option to choose from, and then really know that Dr. Rogers was
the right person to move forward with strategic design and all the great things that are going on in our
campuses and in our classroom.”
As the board unanimously approves the motion, everyone in the room is standing, cheering loudly.
“They put you through the wringer and that’s what Lewisville ISD deserves,” Rogers said during a speech
after the announcement. “I look out and see parents I’ve known for 29 years, teachers I’ve worked with,
administrators. Together we can continue the great things this district is known for.”
Becoming superintendent
Rogers, 55, beat out more than 99 applicants from 30 states. He was selected because of his proven
track of inclusiveness, district spokeswoman Karen Permetti said.
“[He] has a record of bringing new ideas and seeking all stakeholders in the implementation process of
whatever those initiatives or ideas are,” she said. “That was really what raised the level of his
candidacy.”
Rogers also stood out from the crowd because of his “laser focus” and record of accomplishment on
closing the academic achievement gap between white students and minority students, district officials
said. In a press release, they recognized his knowledge and support of LISD’s Strategic Design initiative,
the district’s road map to the future.
“Strategic Design remained at the forefront of the Board’s decision-making process,” they wrote. “Going
backward or stopping the progress that has been made was never an option.”

Mike Bowden, the regional manager for the United Educators Association, a union-like teachers’ group,
praised the selection of Rogers as smart and logical.
“Nobody else is doing this redevelopment process like Lewisville ISD is. It would be a very difficult
transition for someone from outside,” he said. “And Dr. Rogers is a phenomenal person to work with, so
this is a very exciting time for Lewisville.”
Rogers has worked for three LISD superintendents: Clayton Downing, Jerry Roy and Stephen Waddell,
who started the Strategic Design process, he said.
“[Waddell’s] point was that if we don’t do something different, then public education in the future will
become obsolete, and we cannot become obsolete. Strategic Design is a big deal to the board and
rightfully so,” Rogers said. “Every parent wants to make sure that we provide the utmost number of
opportunities for their child. Our community had incredible input into the Strategic Design process,
unmatched to anything LISD had ever done.”
Rogers said Strategic Design is about transforming education, and his passion for that is a little personal.
“My youngest son went to high school with two high school credits before he even walked in the door,
graduated high school a half a year early, but hated school. Hated it,” he said. “Now, I’ll be honest with
you, I’m a little more simplistic. It’s not about some grand idea — it means we’ve got to change,
classroom by classroom by classroom.”
Rogers’ contract is set to be approved May 18 with his first day as LISD’s superintendent on May 19. By
law, there is a 21-day waiting period before the board can approve a candidate’s contract.
Moving through the district
Rogers, from Wichita Falls, earned his bachelor’s degree and doctorate from the University of North
Texas, and his master’s degree from Texas Woman’s University.
Lewisville ISD hired him in 1986 as a science teacher at Hedrick Middle School and the now-closed
Milliken Middle School before promoting him to principal of Arbor Creek Middle School. Eventually, he
became the principal of Marcus High School, on the western side of the district.
Rogers led Marcus for 15 years. Then-superintendent Roy promoted him to the district level as assistant
superintendent for secondary education in 2008. After Roy’s retirement and Waddell’s appointment in
2011, some cabinet positions were streamlined and eliminated. But Waddell kept Rogers as chief
operations officer. When Waddell announced his retirement in December, the school board named
Rogers interim superintendent.
Rogers got into education to teach. He said he still misses the classroom. So for the past four years, he
has taught master’s and doctoral classes at UNT as an adjunct professor. While he enjoyed teaching the
principals and assistant superintendents trying to get their master’s and doctoral degrees, he said he’ll
probably be too busy to teach in the near future.

Rogers also serves as board chairman for PediPlace, a nonprofit health care facility for children. His wife,
Bridget, works for LISD. Matt Rogers, his younger son, lives in Colorado and Shane Rogers, his older son,
is a teacher and coach at Marcus.
“I was the principal when both of my sons were in high school,” Rogers said. “I’ll be honest with you,
one of my sons really liked that and one of them really hated it.”
Rogers said Shane has impressed him, not just because he’s his son, but because of his accomplishments
as a young teacher and a coach. But he’s proud of both of his sons, he said.
“I hope that he’ll continue to work hard to be the best teacher he can and touch children’s lives,” he
said. “That’s really what it’s about. For most of us, it’s the calling we got in this profession for.”
The LISD student population was 13,000 when Rogers first started working in the district nearly 30 years
ago. The number has since jumped to almost 53,000.
According to the Texas Education Agency, Lewisville ISD has more than 6,500 staff members teaching
52,698 students at its 69 campuses in 13 cities. Of these students, 25,239 were white (47.9 percent),
4,963 were African-American (9.4 percent), 14,490 were Hispanic (27.5 percent), 232 were American
Indian (0.4 percent), 6,153 were Asian (11.7 percent), 37 were Pacific Islander (0.1 percent) and 1,584
identified as two or more races (3 percent). There were 16,258 students labeled as economically
disadvantaged and 16,026 as at-risk.
Rogers said he wants to improve how the district serves its disadvantaged students, an initiative he’s
taken on since serving as principal at Marcus.
In that role, he found ways to distribute resources to LISD schools that were not as financially fortunate,
he said.
“I had access to funds and was able to provide some things,” he said. “So I think it’s important just to
understand that this is certainly more than just one person, whether you are a teacher, principal or
superintendent.”
Last school year, there were 7,762 students enrolled in bilingual education, 8,344 enrolled in career and
technical education, 5,052 enrolled in special education and 5,324 enrolled in gifted and talented
education.
“That’s not only English language learners, but that’s some of our kids that are economically
disadvantaged students,” he said. “That percentage continues to increase. There are a lot of kids that
are struggling and a lot of families that are struggling.”
Rogers said the district needs to find ways to better serve every student, including immigrant groups
such as the Chin, an ethnic group from Myanmar in Southeast Asia.
“We know we are the second-largest refugee area for Chin students and we’ve got to find ways to serve
those kids and enhance other opportunities,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll have the opportunity to expand

our career center options, and we’re looking at what other things we can do to create opportunities for
all students.”
While it can often be difficult for an organization’s top dog to interact with lower-level employees,
Rogers said he doesn’t have that problem.
“I think what happens is some people forget where they came from or who the most important people
of the organization are,” he said. “In my opinion, the most important people in the organization are
teachers that work every day in those classrooms because they’re the ones who can touch the lives of
the kids.”
Rogers said that the first thing he’ll tackle as new superintendent of schools is hire for the leadership
team. Quentin Burnett, CFO, and Penny Reddell, associate superintendent for learning and teaching, are
retiring.
Additionally, Permetti will be leaving the district to spend time with her children. Rogers will also have
to find a new chief operating officer.
Rogers said he’s in good health and has no plans to retire — at least for the next six or seven years.
“I’d like to work at least 10 more years. What I’ve tried to do all my years in LISD is work extremely
hard,” he said. “I’ve tried to make sure no one feels like they’re outworking Dr. Rogers and that won’t
change.”
Lewisville/Flower Mound editor Adam Schrader can be reached at 214-773-8188 and @schrader_adam
on Twitter.

Advertisements