Longtime Meyersville superintendent retiring
Feb. 16, 2012 at 5:01 p.m.
Updated Feb. 16, 2012 at 8:17 p.m.
Laura Whitson, dapperly clad in a pinstriped business suit, settled into a chair in her office at the Meyersville school district.
With retirement looming after 25 years as superintendent and principal in the kindergarten through eighth grade school system in rural DeWitt County, Whitson said it is simply time to go.
"It's a good time to let someone else come in. I want to check some things off my bucket list," she said.
Whitson, who turned 60 at the end of January, said she wants to spend more time with family and friends.
"I also love to travel and try different restaurants," she said.
Whitson came to Meyersville in 1987 after starting her career in education at the Eula school district in Clyde where she taught special education, elementary education and was the elementary school principal.
She later also spent time in the Region 14 Education Service Center and in the Liberty Hill school district.
"I always wanted to be a teacher from the time I was a little girl," said Whitson, who also worked in administration from the outset of her career.
Whitson is proud of the academic status the Meyersville school district has achieved under her tutelage.
"We have been rated an exemplary school district for several years," she said, referring to the state's academic rating system. "We always want academic improvement. We want every student to reach his or her potential."
Her successes and leadership at Meyersville haven't gone unnoticed by her DeWitt County peers.
Cuero school district Superintendent Henry Lind is among those who admire Whitson.
"Laura is a fine human being, dedicated to the school and students she has served for many years," Lind said. "I will always value her expertise and knowledge of the superintendency. She will be missed by many in the coming years.
"I trust that she will also show us that there is life after many years of being a superintendent. I wish her well," he said.
Nordheim school district Superintendent Sonya Little said she considers Whitson a role model.
"I have had the opportunity to work with Laura Whitson during the past seven years. When you are new to a position like the superintendency, it is valuable to have veteran administrators like Ms. Whitson to look to for guidance and support," said Little.
Whitson's high expectations of students and staff and "common-sensical"' leadership style have kept Meyersville ISD at the top for many years, Little said.
"I would like congratulate Laura in her retirement and for her years of exemplary service to Meyersville. I thank her for being such a strong role model for me and other women educators," said Little.
Whitson said being a woman has not been a factor in her ability to lead the school district.
"Twenty-five years ago, the school board wasn't sure they wanted a woman at first, but they changed their mind," she said. "It was such a good match, I wasn't sure if it was real or not."
Obert Sagebiel, who has been on the Meyersville school board since Whitson was hired, also praised the youngest of five brothers and sisters who hails from the tiny town of Samnorwood, about 100 miles east of Amarillo.
"She has done a lot of good for our school," he said. "I think she just liked it here and stayed. Continuity is good.
"We have been fortunate over the years, our board has been cohesive and worked with her," Sagebiel said.
Whitson, too, knows a good working relationship with the school board is essential to success and job stability.
"Every board member I have worked with has wanted to maintain a good school and do what is right for the students. That's so important," she said.
And it's the students who Whitson will miss most when she departs at the end of June.
"I have a lot of contact with the students, unlike many administrators," said Whitson, who has been known to take a turn as a substitute school bus driver.
"The ones today, I know most of their grandparents who were the parents of the students when I first got here," she said.
Sagebiel agrees that Whitson and the Meyersville students are close.
"Laura has no children of her own and these are her children," she said. "She has done everything she could in her capacity to provide them a good school district.
"This has been not as much a job as her life."