Region III's executive director to retire (w/ video)
Jan. 20, 2014 at 7:01 p.m.
Updated Jan. 19, 2014 at 7:20 p.m.
Julius D. Cano inherited his love for education from his father.
The Victoria native will bid his post adieu as the executive director of the Region III Education Service Center on Friday with a retirement effective Jan. 31.
Cano, 65, strummed his guitar last Friday evening during a jam session with his band, Touch of Gold.
His bandmates at the practice - Martin Cano, 69; Greg Cummings, 48; and Michael Cano, 44 - said they are looking forward to spending more time with Cano, their lead singer and guitarist.
"They should have named one of the new schools after him," Cummings said. "After him, his dad ... his whole family."
His father, Martin L. Cano, a former Victoria school district board trustee, inspired his passion for education, he said.
During his time spent working at the education center, Cano said he was proud to receive the same award his father received for his years of service to the community - the Greater Victoria Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's Don Martin De Leon Spirit of Excellence Award.
"My father was my main impetus for getting into education," Cano said. "He did it because he valued education and felt he had a commitment to the community to serve."
Cano's father founded Cano Electric in 1946 and served 17 years on the VISD school board.
After Cano graduated from Victoria High School in 1966, he enrolled at Victoria College and then went to dental technician school.
He wasn't sure about what he wanted to do, so he decided to get technical training and earn some money before going to a four-year university.
Much of his time as a dental technician was not spent interacting with others, Cano said.
"I found out that I'm the kind of person that needed to work around other people," Cano said. "So I enrolled back into Victoria College and then later transferred to Sam Houston State University as a junior."
Sam Houston State University was a much smaller campus in 1969, Cano said.
"I learned to play guitar on the weekends there," Cano said. "Everyone else would go home, so that's what I would do instead."
His teaching career began in Bloomington, where Cano taught Texas history, physical education, American history and coached at the junior high level.
There, Cano played his first concert at his principal's request.
"It was at the Bloomington gym for a local fundraiser," Cano said. "I played a couple of songs, including 'Cotton Fields' by Creedence Clearwater Revival."
George Mayer used to work with Cano at Bloomington Junior High School as math teacher.
"He was a lot of fun to work with; he was popular with the kids," Mayer said. "He was full of jokes and fun, but he was really serious in the classroom."
After Bloomington, Cano began working for the education center in 1976.
Education centers across the state were developed by the state legislature initially as media centers and then expanded to assist schools in reducing administrative costs and improving student performance, Cano said.
"We purchase the materials and then send them out to the schools," Cano said. "We also helped them improve student performance."
For a smaller district like the Nursery school district, the education center helps administrators manage district finances; for larger districts such as the Victoria school district, the center serves as a resource for curriculum and teacher training needs.
Nursery Superintendent Suzanne Bell said she first worked with Cano in 1995 at the education center. Two year later, she became Nursery's superintendent.
"He has certainly helped us out tremendously as the executive director," Bell said. "He's a smart man and has always been an advocate for our district."
Victoria Superintendent Robert Jaklich said Cano is one of the best educators he's worked with in his 32 years in education.
"Dr. Cano is one of the greatest people I know," Jaklich said. "He was one of the first to reach out and introduce himself to me when I moved here."
The Region III Education Service Center serves 39 school districts across 11 counties.
Cano was promoted to the education center's executive director in 1987.
In 2005, the education center became the first education entity in the state to achieve the International Organization for Standardization certification, or ISO 9001:2000, for its work to streamline business and education, Cano said.
It was one of his proudest moments as the education center's director, Cano said.
"We couldn't have done it without the people here," Cano said. "It's all about the customer."
Jim Haley, Cuero school district superintendent, said Cano was instrumental in getting the bandwidth necessary for the district's iPad initiative.
"He has been wonderful to work with and was very supportive of me as a new superintendent in the area," Haley said. "He's was always receptive to new ideas."
Patty Shafer, Cano's successor, begins work Feb. 1.
"She will be leading a great organization," Cano said. "She'll be serving the best group of educators in the state."