Who Cooks the Best Steak in Texas?

Author: Shelli Stegall Assistant Superintendent, Hico ISD

Wait…when NC said “choice of topic is all yours,” did he really mean it? I mean, given the choice, SS is ALWAYS going to choose food!

Those who serve in a rural community truly understand the value of school/community relations. As Hico ISD embarks on the PTECH (P20) journey, the impact and importance of our positive community relations is becoming more and more evident.

In my 17 years in Hico, I have served under leaders who set an extremely high standard for community service. Their examples have inspired a culture of service throughout our staff and our students. Whether it’s the Billy the Kid Film Festival, handing out groceries at the local food bank, the Gravel Locos Gravel Race or the Old Settlers’ Reunion, everyone in Hico knows that if in need, call the school. Hico ISD will make it happen.

On the 3rd Saturday in May (yes, MAY – the busiest month of the school year!) more than five thousand people congregate in downtown Hico for the Original Steak Cookoff. It is the largest of many events our city hosts. It takes hundreds of volunteers and a majority of those volunteers are Hico ISD students and staff. Since the first cookoff in 2004, the Hico ISD superintendent has served on the Board almost every year. I was recently informed that being named Superintendent of Hico ISD automatically makes me the chairman of the board! Knowing that I am responsible for such an incredible event has consumed my thoughts over the past month. (Hence, the first thing that popped into my head when invited to contribute to the blog.)

Although it may seem as though I am using this blog post to shamelessly plug the Cookoff and sell more tickets, (www.texassteakcookoff.comif you’re interested), I promise it’s more than that. It’s about realizing what an important role our schools play in our rural communities and how much they depend on us to contribute to the success of our small towns.

Hico ISD’s willingness to serve in this way has developed a relationship with our community that reaps rewards far outweighing the energy and effort required to serve. In the past few months since we have begun our P-TECH planning, I have had multiple meetings with city, business, and organizational leaders in Hico. Every single meeting has been met with, “What do you need from us? How can we be a part of this plan? We will do anything necessary to help ensure the success of our students.” I truly believe this is due to the fact that our district has selflessly served our community for decades. They recognize the efforts of our students and staff. In fact, in 3 of the past 7 years, the Hico Citizen of the Year Award has been awarded to a Hico ISD employee and in 2012, the entireHico ISD was given the honor. In addition, a large portion of proceeds from our community events are donated to Hico ISD organizations. This speaks volumes about the impact our students and staff have had on the community. It is a tremendous partnership!

As we all embark on this P-TECH journey, I encourage every school leader to find ways –  no matter how difficult they seem or how inconvenient the timing – to serve your community. The time and energy you put into it now, will develop relationships of trust and collaboration that will reap many benefits in the future.

And if you’re still wondering who cooks the best steak in Texas, come see us in Hico on May 21st and find out for yourself. You will witness this school/community partnership in action!

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