• August 8, 2020

Canter starts school chief post in Iraan - Odessa American: Education

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Canter starts school chief post in Iraan

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Posted: Thursday, June 4, 2020 3:48 pm

It was instilled into her by her family who are mostly in public service. Recently, she’s taken that calling to Iraan-Sheffield ISD where she is taking on the job of superintendent.

Canter had been executive director of Special Education at ECISD.

Born in Odessa, her twin sister, Stacy Johnson, is an executive director of elementary leadership for the district. Canter grew up in Crowell and then returned to Odessa for high school.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s in educational leadership from University of Texas Permian Basin and a doctorate in educational leadership from Texas Tech University.

“… My parents had always pushed the importance of education and they really instilled that lifelong love for learning. I remember as a kiddo my mom way back in the day she would take us to the library we lived in the country, so it was a big deal to go into town and go to the library and so education was always a door to being able to achieve new things. It was just how I could then give back to other kids,” Canter said.

It was the same for her sister, Stacy, who just earned her doctorate.

“She couldn’t graduate so last Friday night. We threw our own graduation for her and I hooded her as the new doctor Stacy Johnson so we had our own home graduation (May 15),” Canter said.

She added that she always wanted to be an educator and Stacy, from the time she was in high school, knew she wanted to be a teacher.

“And I was so against the cliché of twins, oh you know they’re twins of course they’re going to do the same thing. And I went into college and was undecided … I guess it was after my first year I thought you know what forget it. That’s what I want to do and so I went down that road, but yeah nobody in our family had been teachers and so my sister and I were really the first to kind of go into that field,” Canter said.

Canter’s family is mainly nurses and firemen.

Iraan is Canter’s first school chief post. She has been a campus principal, assistant principal, served as director of testing and then took on accountability and later became executive director of special education.

She was familiar with the community and always liked the area, plus it’s close enough to Odessa that she can see her family.

Canter and her husband, Stephen, have three children. Her husband is from Jacksonville, just south of Tyler.

“The most important thing for me was a really strong educational system and Iraan has a history of excellence. That was something that was extremely attractive to us as a family. And we wanted to research that further and I came up for my interviews and met the board and came up the second time and was then later able to meet some of the team members and administrators here in Iraan. They have phenomenal and the people and the coworkers, I’m just extremely impressed not only with the community but just that camaraderie,” Canter said.

She added that the facilities are “phenomenal.”

“And the community has done a really great job of supporting the school to ensure that they have the best facilities that they can possibly have for their kids, so the physical structures are wonderful but also being able to really offer kids high quality high class world class education in a smaller environment, it’s really kind of unheard of and Iraan is excelling at that,” Canter added.

ECISD Deputy Superintendent Stephanie Howard was superintendent in Plains so Canter has been able to get advice from her and Superintendent Scott Muri.

“Stephanie has been extremely helpful and so if have questions about something, especially when it comes to recapture and school funding and things like that for small districts, she continues to be a wealth of information; and Dr. Muri as well. He’s been extremely helpful and supportive and just a great mentor. … I’ve been blessed to have a great working relationship with them, so moving into this role it kind of takes away the oh my goodness what am I going to do because I have some really intelligent hardworking people that I can call on for help,” Canter said.

She had a big-picture view of performance throughout the grades, understood the impact of graduation plans, college and career readiness and the accountability system when it came to the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test.

Special education was also kind of like running a small school district within a school district because special education has its own funding and it receives federal grants.

“… My background hadn’t traditionally been in special ed. I had a minor in psychology, but I didn’t have a lot of work other than my experience on campus with special education so what I did there was really found the smartest of the smart; surrounded myself with great people and they are phenomenal. Then we worked through and built systems and processes to ensure that not only were we checking off those compliance boxes, but they were taking it above and beyond to provide services for students. That’s kind of how the 18 plus program Transition to the Future came into play,” Canter said.

Transition to the Future helps students learn life skills to become more independent.

Canter said she has always wanted to be a superintendent.

“… My dad said and instilled in us from an early age if you’re going to complain about something then you get up and you go do something and that’s the same philosophy that I’ve had about education. We’re not complaining about it; we’re trying to work together to find better solutions for kids,” Canter said. “… As a teacher that was kind of my thought process. When I moved into administration, I (saw) teachers struggling. How can I help them in moving into that and the same thing as a principal.”

“I’ve always been drawn to service, so what it is that I can do to help answer and make things better? My job is to support the students and staff of Iraan to ensure that I assist with removing barriers so that they can really take off,” she added.

School board President Steve Garlock said trustees went through a lengthy process in its superintendent search. They used a search firm and had received about 30 applicants.

He said they brought three great candidates in for a second round of interviews, all of whom had great experience and knowledge that would have helped the district.

Speaking for himself, Garlock said the things that made Canter stand out were enthusiasm for her current job and eagerness to help all students.

“Dr. Canter talked about mentoring and coaching those around her to build a team. The understanding that sometimes a vision changes, or something you planned doesn’t work out and you have to change direction to achieve the goal, as well as her vast knowledge of the business of education. I feel she can elevate our students and staff. Both are great, but if you have accepted where we are currently at is good enough, then you have failed your students and staff. Our motto is ‘Excellence, every student, every classroom, everyday.’ The ISISD board feels strongly about this statement and we always want to be moving forward,” Garlock said.

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