Leander ISD announced Dripping Springs ISD superintendent Bruce Gearing was the lone finalist to replace outgoing Superintendent Dan Troxell during a special LISD Board of Trustees meeting held Thursday night.
"I'm humbled and incredibly excited to be here today ... I was not looking for a job when I got a call about this opportunity," Gearing said. "When I started looking more closely at Leander ISD, I quickly realized this was somewhere I wanted to come. What I saw was a community that loves and supports its public schools."
In an interview, Gearing said the rapid growth of the district – which plans to add a new school each year for the next few years to meet this growth – will likely be the biggest challenge he will face in the new position. He said it will take careful thought and planning to know what facilities and resources will be needed to meet this demand.
"Change is an opportunity to do something amazing. I challenge you to join me in this change," Gearing said.
When asked about recent concerns raised about racism and equity issues in the school district, Gearing said he brings real experiencing in dealing with these issues, ranging from growing up in South Africa – a country that has been divided by racism and apartheid policies in the past – to teaching an immensely diverse student population at inner-city London schools.
“My philosophy is that every child has the capability and the possibility of doing something. We have to focus on that. We have to make sure we understand exactly where they are and what their goals and then we have to get them where they’re going,” Gearing said. “If you focus on individual children, then those problems start to take care of themselves.”
Named the 2019 Region 13 Superintendent of the Year, Gearing has served Dripping Springs ISD for 12 years. Prior to that, he served as superintendent for Marshall ISD from 4 years and as assistant superintendent at Mount Pleasant ISD for 3 years. He also has one year of experience as a junior high principal and four years of experience as an elementary principal.
Gearing is a native of South Africa who started his career teaching science and math at the high school level, including three years at international schools. He became a United States citizen in 2010. He and his wife Aldine have four children.
He earned his doctorate degree from Texas A&M – Commerce, a master’s degree from Texas A&M – Texarkana and bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and chemistry from the University of Witwatersrand.
Community input from focus groups the district held indicated residents want the next superintendent to be a good listener, who can help the district maintain something of a small-town feel, who has experience in the classroom background, who is already in the district and knows its culture, someone who will set a high standard for excellence.
Troxell, the outgoing superintendent, announced his resignation in May after being offered a position with the Texas Association of School Boards. His final day will be July 31.
Texas law allows school districts to keep the name of candidates for the position of superintendent private, exempting the names of those under consideration from the Texas Public Information Act. By law, Leander ISD need name only a lone finalist for the position publicly.
After naming its finalist, state law requires the school board to wait 21 days before voting to hire the lone finalist.
Trustees began their search in May, hiring executive search firm Thompson & Horton. In June, the district collected information from the public through an online public survey and community focus groups, where members of the community were able to provide input on the search for a new superintendent. The public survey was open from June 6-13.
The school board conducted a first round of interviews from July 8-10 and a second round of interviews on July 16.