Power Supers
Published in

Power Supers

Dr. Tony Tipton | Lumberton ISD

I feel like I’ve always been involved in education. Starting school as a 5-year-old kindergarten student, working my way through high school and college, becoming a teacher, a coach and now a superintendent has been an amazing experience!

I wasn’t the strongest student in high school and cared more about sports and extra-curricular activities than studying. Ultimately, however, one of my teachers and coaches took a special interest in me and helped guide me to make better decisions about my future. I still consider him a friend today, and he forever changed the trajectory of my life.

He probably never imagined I would become an educator, but because of his inspiration, I knew I was going to become a teacher and coach. I was absolutely hooked on teaching after I got my first job in education. I couldn’t get enough of contributing to kids’ lives. My love of education and working with kids just grew from there. Even today as a superintendent, I consider myself a teacher, and I love facilitating leadership classes and community education.

I wanted to get better at being an educator and began reading everything I could get my hands on about relationships, coaching and leadership. Great teachers know how to coach kids, and great coaches know how to teach kids. I was extremely fortunate to have great teaching / coaching mentors throughout my career and learned a great deal in both positions.

After a while, I began to feel there was more I could do and more people I could help as an educator, which led me down the administrative route. As a young administrator, I got the leadership bug and again started reading everything I could about educational leadership. I loved helping others grow and fulfill their own potential.

Fortunately, I found fantastic mentors in the leadership world too. When I became an assistant principal, my principal poured into me in many ways. One of her favorite sayings still resonates strongly with me. She always said, “You can’t get away from yourself.” What she meant by that was we must be true to our beliefs. Our core values must guide us, and who you are will always show in our actions.

If we don’t know what we stand for, it’s more difficult to make the hard decisions administrators must make. By living her beliefs every day, she helped me clarify my core values (honesty, integrity, transparency, communication and service) and taught me to approach every problem with those as my foundation. I may not always know the right answer for every problem, but I filter each decision through my core values to ensure I’m staying true to who I am as a person and a leader.

When I was coaching in Beaumont, Texas, two wonderful things happened to me. I met my wife there, and we have been married for almost 25 years. The school where I worked competed in sports against Lumberton schools. That was my introduction to Lumberton ISD, and I have continued to follow the district throughout my career and always thought that it would be a nice place to work.

When the superintendent’s position came open, my family and I were immediately interested. During the interview process, the Board was transparent about their expectations and clearly communicated them. They wanted a servant leader, one who could build relationships and trust, and lead an amazing district to accomplish even greater things.

It was clear to me that our core values aligned, and I really wanted the opportunity. When I got called back for the second interview, I was extremely excited. I was completely open with them about who I was as a leader and what I stood for. I felt drawn to the Board’s vision of Lumberton ISD and thought it was a good fit for my family and me. Lumberton is indeed a special place.

People move to Lumberton for the quality of the community and the quality of the school system. Lumberton ISD is considered a fast-growth district, and the entire community is developing at a rapid pace. We have a hot housing market, many new developments, restaurants and retail, so it’s an attractive place for families.

Our original impression that Lumberton was special has proven to be true. My wife and I both work for the district and are the parents of a current Lumberton High School student. We live, shop, volunteer and pay taxes here. I can say unequivocally, Lumberton is a great place to be. Here are a few of the many reasons why Lumberton is special.

Community Pride

Our community is extremely proud of the school system. Everybody is proud to be a Raider. Our parents have high expectations for their children. Because of that, we have tremendous students, and Raider pride flows through everything we do. You can see it and feel it throughout the community.

We have fantastic extracurricular programs, including co-curricular, vocational ag, fine arts and athletics. This community loves its kids and has an old school kind of a feel. Many of our students go off to college and move back home to raise their families. That is something of which our community is very proud. Once a Raider … Always a Raider.

Strong Leadership

We are very fortunate to have an amazing school Board. Each elected Board member brings a rich history and pride to their role and selflessly serves the community.

Some of the Board members graduated from Lumberton schools while others moved here more recently. The Board is well vested in the community and represent a wide variety of district interests. We have parents of current students, spouses of employees, former educators and business owners represented on our Board.

They do a really good job of keeping their finger on the pulse of the district and work together to ensure we provide our students an excellent educational experience while carefully being good stewards of our taxpayers’ dollars.

They are here for the right reasons, and Lumberton is living proof that you can have a great school system, be fiscally responsible, take care of taxpayer dollars, get along well with each other and put out an awesome product — great kids with bright futures.

As superintendent, I have a front row seat to witness the sheer number of hours Board members gladly volunteer. We are so thankful for their volunteerism and for the dedication that they have.

Everyday Heroes

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not recognize the yeoman’s work that our teachers and staff put in daily to keep our district in awesome shape. The past few years have been hard, and no matter what role our employees are in, they have excelled. Our cafeteria workers, bus drivers, teachers, teaching assistants, administrators, maintenance, custodians, nurses and paraprofessionals are the real heroes in this whole thing.

Because of the pandemic, we are dealing with learning loss and social emotional issues that we’ve never seen before. Our teachers and other staff are gladly taking on different roles to meet the needs of our students.

Despite the challenges, we saw tremendous academic performance last year. We beat the state and the region in all areas of STAAR. Some of our students’ standardized assessment results were higher last year than they were in 2018–2019, so our staff and students have done an unbelievable job. I am honored to serve alongside these amazing people.

Always a Raider … It’s Our Superpower!

Dr. Tony Tipton serves the Lumberton ISD community as its superintendent of schools. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Stephen F. Austin State University, his Master’s Degree from University of Texas at Arlington, and his Doctoral Degree from Texas A&M University Commerce. He may be reached at matipton@lumbertonisd.org.



Superintendents have innumerable superpowers —mentoring and guiding aspirational leaders is one many of them share. Huckabee is “traveling” the state to visit with educational leaders and share their stories of fortitude, growth and inspiration in the hopes of uplifting others.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store