Local Area Superintendent Partnership with Baylor University Receives Statewide Recognition

March 26, 2014

(Top) Jon Engelhardt of Baylor, George Kazanas of Midway ISD, Kevin Houchin of McGregor ISD, Wes Holt of Connally ISD and Don Hancock of Bosqueville ISD. (Bottom) Faulkner of China Spring ISD, Sandra Talbert of Lorena ISD, Bonny Cain of Waco ISD and Kenneth Hall of Crawford ISD.

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Contact: Tonya B. Lewis, 254-710-4656

WACO, Texas (March 26, 2014) — The Greater Waco Area Superintendents (GWAS) group, a partnership organized by Baylor University’s School of Education, was recently recognized as an “Exemplary K-12 Partnership” by the Center for Research, Evaluation and Advancement of Teacher Education (CREATE).
The recognition is part of a program called “Quest for Quality,” which is designed to recognize and highlight exceptional quality in university-based teacher preparation in Texas. “Quest for Quality” is a collaboration between CREATE and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
“The Quest for Quality recognition for K-12 partnerships is designed to highlight exceptional partnership efforts that link universities, teachers, K-12 schools and communities that work together to improve learning for all children,” said Jon Engelhardt, dean of Baylor’s School of Education. “This distinction gives public acknowledgement for the high quality efforts these educational leaders expend working together and the accomplishments they have realized on behalf of the greater Waco community.”

The GWAS, founded in 2007, provides a network and united presence for Greater Waco preK-12 school district superintendents that not only serves as an advisory council for Baylor’s School of Education, advising the dean on matters relevant to Baylor pre-service professional education programs, but leverages joint resources for the betterment of K-12 public education and stronger community support for public schools.

“Waco is fortunate to have a dedicated set of leaders across our local school districts. They are strong superintendents who work together, complementing each other’s strengths and understand the importance of collaborating to address the significant challenges facing public education in our communities,” Engelhardt said.
Some of the GWAS joint efforts that led to this recognition include adopting a joint vision statement for K-12 public education in Waco, joining forces on cross-district initiatives such as the Greater Waco Advanced Manufacturing Academy that allow students to pursue academic-vocational goals, and orchestrating the ten ISD governing boards to adopt common legislative priorities and long-range plans to influence legislative action in support of public education.
GWAS group members include: Superintendents Don Hancock of Bosqueville ISD, Marc Faulkner of China Spring ISD, Wes Holt of Connally ISD, Kenneth Hall of Crawford ISD, Sharon Shields of LaVega ISD, Sandra Talbert of Lorena ISD, Kevin Houchin of McGregor ISD, George Kazanas of Midway ISD, Michael Hope of Robinson ISD, Bonny Cain of Waco ISD and Jon Engelhardt, Dean of Baylor’s School of Education.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.


Founded in 1919, the Baylor School of Education (SOE) prepares leaders through four departments in two broad program areas, Professional/Teacher Education and Health Education. Leadership preparation begins in undergraduate programs, continues through master’s level work, and culminates in both Ed.D. and Ph.D. programs. The SOE impacts the world as students participate in faculty-guided fieldwork, service learning, and community-focused research in local and global contexts. The school shapes the future by mentoring the whole person, developing an understanding of theory and practice, and encouraging responsiveness to one’s calling.