Forney Independent School District (ISD) Superintendent of Schools, Suzanne McWilliams informed the Forney ISD Board of Trustees that she plans to retire from public education at the end of the 2017-2018 school year.
Mrs. McWilliams informed the Board of Trustees of her plans during the January 2018 regular monthly board meeting held on Monday, Jan. 8, 2018. “It has been my pleasure to have had the opportunity to serve Forney ISD as Superintendent of Schools since June 2014”, McWilliams said.
“After much thought and prayer, my family and I have decided that the time has come for me to retire from public education. Throughout my lifetime, God has granted me many blessings. One of the greatest of those has been directing my path to Forney ISD.”
McWilliams first joined Forney ISD in 2010 as the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction. She was named the Deputy Superintendent for the District in 2011 before being named the Superintendent of Schools in 2013.
During her tenure as superintendent with Forney ISD, the District has experienced a great deal of academic success and educational advancements. While serving the District as Deputy Superintendent, McWilliams coordinated a strategic plan with parents, students, teachers, staff members, board members and the community to develop a structured set of goals to lead Forney ISD into the future. The result of this collaboration was Forney Focus, a set of six goals adopted by the Forney ISD Board of Trustees in 2016, that have become the pillars of the District’s operational structure that has led to a great deal of success and achievement by both students and the District as a whole.
During McWilliams’ tenure as superintendent, the financial stability of the District has strengthened to include a fund balance of more than 23 million dollars, which is more than three months of operating expenses as recommended by the Texas Education Agency, (TEA). In addition, the District has been paying off long-term debt through annual refinancing while maintaining one of the lowest tax rates in Kaufman County and other surrounding fast growth school districts.
Under her administration, the District has adopted a ten year facilities plan to prepare for growth that includes transitioning to an intermediate educational model and consolidating early education programs into one building. This plan will provide space for more than 1,200 additional students district-wide without raising taxes for stakeholders.
Since being named Superintendent of Schools, Forney ISD has developed several programs to enhance and advance the educational progress for all students. The District implemented the Synergy Program where students work side-by-side with district administrators creating lessons and designing a Future Ready Curriculum for all students. In addition, the District has implemented brain based learning; implemented innovative plans, programs and atmospheres to create a culture of excellence in the classroom and developed plans for continued improvement for such programs as Special Populations, English Language Learners and Advanced Academics.
The District also developed and implemented a new higher education partnership that has produced an increase in dual credit student participation by more than 60 percent. In 2016, the District began implementing a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM).
Forney ISD continues to be one of the leaders in technology across the state by providing a Chromebook for every child in the 4th through 12th grade and integrating technology into classrooms through the learning management system, Canvas. During the 2017-2018 school year, the District implemented a kindergarten through 8th grade digital learning curriculum and implemented Canvas and other technologies into the kindergarten through 3rd grade classrooms.
McWilliams was also instrumental in helping the District partner together with the City of Forney, the local business community and other community organizations to prepare for future growth. New business partnerships to support career programs and provide expertise, resources and certifications were implemented to expand the career opportunities for students. These programs include internships and work related experiences in areas such as electrical engineering, culinary arts and business.
McWilliams has more than 37 years of experience in the field of education beginning her career as a first, third, fifth grade and physical education teacher at Canton Elementary School in the Canton Independent School District in 1980. She moved into education administration in 1990 as the Assistant Principal of J.E. Rhodes Elementary School in the Van Independent School District before becoming the Principal at Van Intermediate School in 1992.
In 1998, McWilliams moved into central administration with Van ISD. During her 12 years in central administration, she was the Executive Director of Human Resources, the Technology Director, and the District’s Supervisor of Principals and the Special Programs department. Prior to joining Forney ISD in 2010, McWilliams was the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction in Van ISD.
McWilliams received her bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Texas at Tyler and earned a Master’s in Education from Texas A&M Commerce. She holds teaching certifications in Elementary Art and Elementary Self Contained and has completed the Mid-Management Certification and the Superintendent Certification. McWilliams is a State Board Member of the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development and is a Certified Education Foundation Executive.
“I want to thank the Board of Trustees for giving me the opportunity to lead such a great school district and for all the love and support this community has shown me over the years,” McWilliams stated. “My tenure at Forney ISD will always hold a special place in my heart and I wish nothing but the best for Forney ISD now and in the future.”
The Forney ISD Board of Trustees approved a motion at the January board meeting to conduct a superintendent search internally and hope to have a finalist named for the position before the end of the 2017-2018 school year.