Welcome Home Dr. Goddard
Newly hired Lovejoy ISD Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Michael Goddard, described this career decision as one of coming home. He grew up in this area, graduated from Allen High School in 1989, and was the first principal of Lovejoy High School. After leaving Lovejoy in 2010, he was the Assistant Superintendent at Prosper ISD for seven years, and most recently, he was the Superintendent at Red Oak ISD for the last two-and-a-half years. He said, “I’ve always kept in touch with Lovejoy. I’ve always had a part of me that was a part of Lovejoy.” He said, “I knew the good, bad and indifferent.” He describes his phone as being “on turbo” when the superintendent job became available as several friends contacted him about the opportunity. Goddard said, “My wife and I looked at each other and said this (LISD) is really where we want to be. This is home. My parents live up here, my nephews go to Lovejoy, my brother is up here, my wife’s identical twin lives in Allen. In many ways this was a no-brainer. I really wanted to pursue it.” He said he was one of the very first people to apply for the position.
Because of the deep roots he already had established in the Lovejoy community, Goddard said, “I knew what I was getting into. I knew there would require a healing time, a time of building culture and excitement back up around what we’re about at Lovejoy. I knew we could do that, we’re in the process of doing that right now. We hit the ground running. I didn’t have to do a lot of studying about the origins of the high school, because I created it. Now the challenges are to make sure we didn’t stay too comfortable in the time I’ve been gone. How do we best serve our kids today versus nine or ten years ago? We need to do a constant review of why we do things and how to improve. I knew I could do that as well.”
Before Lovejoy High School was opened, Goddard was hired as the principal in 2005. He said, “We toured several different secondary programs all around the nation to see what we did and didn’t want to do. We had the unique opportunity to create a secondary program from scratch.” He laughingly describes an occasion when he thought he had all of his ducks in a row, “We got to a big event and all of the dignitaries were there, everyone from Lucas, Fairview and Allen were all in the gym. We started the National Anthem on a CD player because we didn’t have a band yet. We all had our hands over our hearts, and I had forgotten to order a flag for the wall.” He said when he walks the hallways of the high school today, “There are stories in every corner.” There were 166 students in the first graduating class in 2010. Goddard said, “They are my own kids. They were some of the first to call or text me to congratulate me and tell me how excited they were for me to be back home. A lot of those kids who were boyfriend/girlfriend in high school, I’ve gotten ordained to do their wedding. I’ve been a part of different things, like the birth of their kids. That’s the family part that I think makes Lovejoy so unique, we invest in the kids’ lives.”
He feels his time working in Prosper and Red Oak ISD allowed him to return to Lovejoy ISD with fresh eyes, “I wouldn’t have changed the last nine years for anything. It’s a significant advantage for me. It changed my perspective on a lot of things. It also helped me understand that kids are kids and if you love on them, lift the level of expectation, provide them the right kind of support…they’ll rise to that level. That’s exciting for me.” During the past nine years, he has learned more about school finance, the operational and maintenance side of schools, building programs, fiscal responsibility and the importance of having a clear mission and unified vision. “People can do amazing things when all are aiming towards the same thing.”
Since day one, he has been reconnecting and connecting with Lovejoy families. He said, “Those who follow me on social media see that we’ve been all over the place. We’ve been with student groups, teachers and staff.” He has engaged with local city officials, house representatives, senators and held a pastors’ luncheon. “I haven’t had a lot of vacation time, but for me, when you love what you do it feels like you’re not working. I feel like this isn’t a job, it’s a mission for me. I find my joy and energy from what I do for a living.”
Goddard will continue to connect with people inside and outside of LISD, “You probably won’t see a superintendent more involved than I am. I’ll be present at a lot of the events, engaged in their lives. On social media, you’ll see I take a lot of selfies, but not by myself. I want to promote what’s going on. Most every morning, you’ll see me out opening car doors at the campuses. I wear Mickey hands, Disney pens, crazy socks, finding ways to engage. I’ll speak at city council meetings, at the rotary club and at Heritage Ranch clubs. I like being out and about in the community. When you’re proud of something, it’s easy to talk about. I want to engage as many people as I can in the lives of our kids. I’ll be in classrooms and in the hallways. It’s rare that you’ll find me sitting in my office, because this isn’t where it happens. I can’t wait to get to work every day. It gives me a change to truly endorse and be a part of this special place.”
He describes one of his goals, “My goal is that everyone here in the administration building is supporting our principals and assistant principals at a level that they feel filled so that they can support the teachers to a level where they can impact the students. I teasingly tell the students, ‘You know what my job is as a superintendent? I’ve got one job; I need to make that person smile.’ (I point at their teacher.) ‘If they’re not smiling, you let me know and we’ll do something different.’ When kids tell me their teacher isn’t smiling, I stop by and visit with them. We’re not so big that we can’t know each other’s names, family members’ names, dogs’ names, everything else. Getting involved in people’s lives, that’s what life is all about.” There are 4,300 students enrolled at LISD for the 2019 – 20 school year.
When Goddard describes Lovejoy, he says, “It is an incredible community of people who connect and are really comprehensive about making what is best for our kids happen. It’s one of the most unique places I’ve been a part of. We don’t have a ton of industry or a lot of commercial, but people are very centered around what happens at the school. The support level here is unbelievable.”
Photos provided by Lovejoy ISD