Superintendent earns doctorate in education

Carolina Astrain By Carolina Astrain

June 29, 2013 at 1:29 a.m.
Updated June 30, 2013 at 1:30 a.m.

Robert A. Jaklich

Robert A. Jaklich

He took no time off, worked through weekends and woke up hours before sunrise to complete on time his doctoral dissertation.

Victoria school district Superintendent Robert A. Jaklich, 55, earned his education doctorate in educational administration this spring from the University of Texas at Austin.

"It's a great program recognized as the best in the nation," Jaklich said. "I'm honored to get my doctorate from such a fine university."

His dissertation research topic was titled, "Pre-K Education as a Possible Solution to Lessen the Problem of Disproportionality."

In his study, Jaklich took samples of Hispanic and black students who were identified as special needs by the third grade.

The variable in the study was whether those students received an early childhood education before entering kindergarten.

He took samples from two urban school districts in the state for the analysis.

"Although the numbers are small, there's clearly evidence to see that pre-K matters," Jaklich said.

His dissertation will be published on the University of Texas' website in a few months, he said.

Pat Pringle, a former University of Houston-Victoria professor, was on the committee that gave Jaklich the green light on his dissertation after reading the first three chapters.

"Pre-K is on the forefront of the legislature," Pringle said. "It's important to look at minority students as they become a bigger part of the state. That was the strength of his study."

Starting this fall, the Victoria school district will undergo changes in its early education curriculum.

F.W. Gross Montessori Elementary School will do away with its Montessori curriculum, which incorporated mixed-age classrooms, and align with the rest of the VISD pre-kindergarten campuses by using an early childhood curriculum known as DLM.

Previously, the district followed an early childhood curriculum called Curiosity Corner.

DLM has a strong focus on team building, numeracy and literacy, said Jaklich. "It's about building relationships and confidence that will later be reflected in our business community."

In addition, the district is planning Minnow Camp, a weeklong orientation for pre-kindergarten students and their parents to attend before classes start Aug. 26.

"This is really going to pay dividends for the community and schools," Jaklich said. "We want to build a solid bridge between our parents and students."

Typed on the first few pages of his dissertation is Jaklich's dedication of his work to his mother for her sacrifices and love.

"My mother raised my brother and me all by herself," Jaklich said. "It was never a question whether we'd get a good education."

He missed the commencement ceremony in May to receive his doctorate degree in person because he was at a Victoria school board meeting.

But the achievement didn't go unrecognized. The school board presented Jaklich with a red basketball jersey to congratulate him on his new degree.

The number 23 was printed on the back as an homage to his number at St. Catherine's High School, a private school in Racine, Wis., where Jaklich attended on a basketball scholarship.

Monday will be his one-year anniversary as the VISD superintendent.

Previously, Jaklich served the Harlandale school district in San Antonio, which he left after a school board member leaked to the public a part of his superintendent review, which is allowed to be kept confidential by Texas education law.

Fred Garza, HISD executive director of human resources, worked as an assistant principal under Jaklich at Kingsborough Middle School in the late 1990s.

"I've been amazed at that man since I met him," Garza said. "He's like an energizer bunny; he never stops."

In protest of Jaklich's resignation from Harlandale, supporters wore shirts with, "Please stay Bobby J!" at his sendoff party last summer, Garza said. "The emotion in the room was so intense."

After his most recent superintendent evaluation, Jaklich received a 6-percent pay raise and one-year contract extension.

He earns $251,220 a year and works under a four-year contract.

"I want to serve as a role model for my staff and inspire them to go sharpen their skill set through staff development," Jaklich said. "If we're asking that of them, then absolutely I should ask it of myself."



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