By Tracy Martin
The News Correspondent
CROSS ROADS–Leland Hand worked most of his career building the credentials to become a school district superintendent. His hard work has paid off and now just a couple weeks are between his official hiring by the Cross Roads School Board and the realization of his goal.
After graduating from East Texas Baptist University with a degree in history, his first job was teaching high school in Daingerfield (Morris County, north Texas). Soon afterward, Hand was hired as the men’s basketball coach at ET Baptist, but returned to public schools to become a high school teacher and basketball coach in Smith County.
Two more important decisions came when he accepted the job of principal at Campbell Elementary, and than as a junior high principal, near Abilene. Taking on the duties of superintendent requires a broad background and Hand wore all the hats necessary to be considered for the important position of leading the helm of an Independent School District.
What sealed the deal for Hand’s selection by the board of trustees from a field of 10 applicants was his major accomplishments at Winona High School (north of Tyler). He served as principal there the past seven years, in which the school enjoyed huge strides in both academics and athletics. It earned the Texas Education Agency designation of an “Exemplary” Campus for its 300 students.
Having surpassed all required credentials to lead Cross Roads ISD nothing on Hand’s resume can describe the enthusiasm in his voice about his new role. “It’s just so exciting, there have been opportunities to go to larger school districts, but I really value what can be done in a smaller district, building personal relationships, knowing students, teachers and parents,” he said.
Hand is already working with retiring Superintendent Clay Tompkins, so the transition should be smooth. Hand said he’s fortunate to have Tompkins as a resource, and he’s already meeting people, touring the school facilities and getting ready to take the reigns when Tompkins leaves in August.
Cross Roads ISD has about 600 students, 50 faculty members, three principals and a budget of five million dollars.
A former coach, Hand said he will support the athletics department, while helping teachers in any way he can. “I’ll look at what’s already in place and listen to the faculty to find successful approaches to academic growth and development of new and existing programs,” Hand said.
His wife, Natalie, is a school counselor in Smith County and recently received her doctorate degree in psychology. The couple has three children. A daughter Lynlee, who just got a job as a teacher in Houston and two boys, Brice, 15, and Brayden, 10.
As for making the move to the area, Hand says he loves small towns and communities and the family is looking at all their options.
Tompkins says he and the Board believe this is a great fit and says Cross Roads is very lucky to have Hand coming to the district.