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From student to superintendent, meet Roland Toscano
East Central ISD Superintendent Roland Toscano
East Central Independent School District has a new superintendent. Former East Central High School Principal Roland Toscano was selected for the job, and after a short conversation with him recently, it is easy to understand why he was the board of trustees’ No. 1 choice.
Toscano is completely invested in the East Central Independent School District, far more than many know. He is a product of the district, and is a proud graduate of the East Central High School class of 1991. He continued his education by earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and then began his educational career in 1997 as part of the district.
Many may find it interesting, though, that becoming the superintendent wasn’t a goal Toscano set early in his career.
“My only goal was to be fully committed to education, and as an educator,” he said.
Still, throughout his career at East Central, the administrative positions presented themselves, and Toscano took advantage of the opportunities that came along. Over the years he continued to pursue his own education, and earned various certifications along the way. He describes former Superintendent Gary Patterson as a true mentor to him, and said Patterson always encouraged him to reach for more.
As for leading the district he has known and loved for so many years, Toscano is enthusiastic.
“I’m very excited about the possibilities for the district,” he said. “The unknown is stimulating.”
He admits the role of superintendent is different, though not a complete departure from his duties and years of experience as a principal.
“It’s just on a much larger scale,” he said.
Toscano believes his greatest strengths lie in people leadership, empathy, and in his ability to adapt to those who need to be led. He believes the best leaders are adaptable and firm -- yet still have the ability to remain compassionate.
“I think I’m at my best when I am adapting to a changing situation,” he said.
There are sure to be plenty of those scenarios in his future.
As for his future goals, Toscano is determined to be completely focused on adapting the school system to the changing economy. He is also going to work hard to combat the negative perspective of public schools in general. He understands the need to address these issues, and to remain accountable to the citizens.
“It is being said that public schools aren’t safe -- aren’t effective, but that’s not true,” he said. “We need to tell our story and get the word out.”
Toscano is an energetic and enthusiastic person. His positive attitude and can-do spirit radiate when he speaks. But Toscano can also “walk the walk,” and has been described as a “blue-collar guy with a white-collar mind.” The new superintendent embraces such a label, and believes a person needs to work hard and smart to succeed.
He has worked hard since he was 16, and held jobs such as a custodian and farm hand. He also washed trucks, sold shoes, and worked as both a bartender and a waiter. He did landscaping for a time, and even worked for Pace picante, where he sorted peppers.
Toscano comes by his work ethic honestly, and credits his parents for a strong upbringing. His parents are from the Rio Grande Valley, and Toscano said they started with nothing. His father joined the Air Force and proudly served his country for years. Toscano grew up learning the importance of family involvement, selflessness, and discipline.
“You do what you are supposed to do -- no excuses,” he said. “And you trust in your gut and instincts, because those feelings are based on your values.”
Toscano began his own family more than two decades ago when he met his wife of 20 years, Bonnie, while attending East Central High School. The couple have three children. The eldest, Dustin, is currently studying biology and playing football at Hardin-Simmons University. Daughter Francine is preparing for her senior year at East Central, and serves as a colonel on the school’s dance team. Their youngest, Tyson, is heading into the third grade at John Glenn Elementary. The family also shares the house with a dog named Duke and a frisky calico cat.
When he isn’t busy with East Central matters, Toscano has a number of interests that keep him going. In addition to his love of running and blooming interest in endurance sports, Toscano also enjoys spending time in the outdoors, and “tinkering” with carpentry projects. He enjoys reading, and is “into three to five books at any given time.” Seth Godin, Ken Robinson, Dan Pink, and Dave Ramsey are among his favorite authors, and he also listens to a number of different podcasts.
So as Toscano transitions into his new position at East Central ISD, he is sure to work both hard and smart. He will also work hard to instill these values in the students of East Central.
“Education is not all it takes to succeed. You also have to work hard,” Toscano said. “That’s why I am such a big supporter of extracurricular activities. Kids need to work hard and challenge themselves.
“That is what we have to do to prepare kids,” he added. “Reading, writing, and arithmetic is not enough!”
•1997: Heritage Middle School, teacher and coach
•2001: ECHS, teacher and coach
•2005: ECHS Assistant Principal
•2007: Heritage Principal
•2008: ECHS Principal
•2014: ECISD Superintendent
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