Yesterday, the family at Grand Prairie ISD, along with our family at The Commit Partnership and the educational community at large, suffered a tremendous loss in the passing of Superintendent Susan Hull following a tragic motorcycle accident in Arizona. Susan was doing what she loved, riding the open road with her husband Kent and close friends as she has done every summer.
She was just 60 years young, full of lots of ideas on how to continue to contribute further to the educational field when she was taken from all of us. Her passing hurts deeply for numerous reasons.
We respected Dr. Hull as a strong leader of educators, a third generation superintendent who signed every email “Is your vision big enough?” and continued to push the envelope and think outside the box about what was best for her students.
She was unafraid to make bold and innovative decisions on behalf of her “kiddos”, massively expanding in-district school choice with strong board support to give both her parents and their children tremendous options to find the best fit for their family. Single-gender, fine arts, leadership academies, talented and gifted, and even an International Baccalaureate partnership with Uplift Education were just a few of the choices offered. Susan deeply believed that family income and neighborhood shouldn’t limit one’s access to a quality, engaging education that created a love of learning.
Susan was also unafraid of data and liked digging into it with her team, regardless of the hard truths it might contain. She knew it represented the voice of her students and gave clear insights on where resources needed to be altered or actions changed. She was a lifelong learner, always willing to push herself and her team to get outside their comfort zone, encouraging continuous improvement across the district. As a result, it wasn’t surprising when she joined the organizing committee and founding cohort of the innovative Holdsworth Center, formed and supported by Charles Butt of HEB, to strengthen the leadership pipelines within public education across Texas.
In addition to her tremendous talents, we also treasured Susan as a friend. She was not afraid to be vulnerable or reflective, took joy in others’ success, and clearly loved and valued her leadership team. Even more visibly, she loved her students and took great pride in each child’s potential, whether it was the student blessed with ten college acceptances or the student who could rebuild anything with their hands at GPISD’s Dubiski Career High School. She believed strongly in the power of women as leaders, as briefly evidenced in this interview with a GPISD student.
The superintendent role is one of the most demanding and impactful jobs in America, requiring a vast array of skill sets -- instructional coach, inspirational leader, trusted financial steward and nimble politician to name just a few. It can also be a lonely position. The stress and demands can be high and the days can be long, but Susan served over 30 years leading five school districts, including 12 years at Grand Prairie ISD where she provided much needed stability and vision that led to strong student achievement growth that outpaced the state. A former Texas Superintendent of the Year, Susan took time to teach others the role as part of doctoral classes at Dallas Baptist University, passing on the wisdom she learned from both her father and grandfather who also served as school district leaders in Texas.
What we at Commit will most remember about Susan was her unabashed pride in being an educator and her joy in pushing the envelope on what was possible. She was unyielding in the conviction that every child in her community had tremendous talent, and that it was therefore incumbent upon all of us to do everything we could to support and unleash that potential. Our sincere hope is that her legacy of innovation and a “students first” mentality continues to serve as a role model for those whom she served, touched and led. Grand Prairie is a much better place because of Susan’s leadership, and we will dearly miss her.
Written by Todd Williams, Chairman & CEO, The Commit Partnership