The Prosper Independent School District Administrative Services building was bustling Thursday afternoon with residents from the community coming to bid farewell to Assistant Superintendent Mike Goddard.
Green and silver balloons were attached to green and black tables with colorful cards, cookies and cakes. When someone wasn’t engrossed in conversation with Goddard, they could be found bent over the table with the cards, leaving a note with a favorite memory or good tidings for the assistant superintendent.
Earlier this month, Goddard announced he would be leaving the Prosper school district to accept a job in Red Oak as its superintendent. Goddard’s first day on the job was this past Tuesday.
PISD Superintendent Drew Watkins said he and Goddard have worked closely together as the school district rapidly expanded.
“Today we have 10,328 kids, I think,” Watkins said. “So seven years ago, we would have had less that 5,000, and about half as many campuses. So he has served on the operational side, he’s served on the curriculum and instruction side for awhile, and now he was back to the operational side, business side. So he’s had his fingers in everything with our growth. He’s been instrumental in helping us manage the 100 percent growth that we’ve had over the last five years.”
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Holly Ferguson said she and Goddard have worked in the same office for three years together, and that his leaving will leave a hole within the district.
“He’s such an inspirational person and he has such a way and gift of telling stories and connecting people and bringing them together,” Ferguson said. “That is going to be such a loss for us because he’s so charismatic and he’s a part of our culture, he’s a part of why it’s so great in Prosper ISD. I’m excited for Red Oak ISD that they’re going to get that, but I’m very sad for us. Because trying to find someone to fill his shoes is going to be next to impossible.”
Right now, she’s helping Watkins try to find the person to fill Goddard’s shoes. Watkins said the district has already posted the job and closed the posting, and will enter the interview process soon.
“He’s not going to be here through June, so since he’s going, we need to try to get someone in place as quickly as possible,” Watkins said.
Goddard’s influence on the district was apparent Thursday afternoon as folks young and old lined up to have some final moments with the assistant superintendent. It was something Watkins pointed out as he addressed the crowd that was gathered.
“To talk about the impact that Dr. Goddard has had on this district, and me, would be an understatement, in terms of anything I could say covering that time,” Watkins said. “… There’s nothing he hasn’t touched over the last seven years. And the best thing about Dr. Goddard is how he cares and sincerely, truly loves the people of the district. And it’s a great celebration of you that as assistant (superintendent), which is often a hidden job, is so beloved in our district. That means you invested with people and connected with them in a special way to where that will stay with them well beyond your time here in Prosper.”
Ferguson also stepped forward to present Goddard’s wife Dena with a basket full of goodies — including gum, chocolate and Tylenol — to help her as she assists her husband with his new job. She also gave a wrapped gift to Mike Goddard, which turned out to be a nameplate with the words “Mike Goddard, Superintendent” inscribed on it.
“Now I’m really freaking out,” Goddard said with a laugh as he opened it.
He began to talk about his time as a student attending Prosper ISD before getting choked up with emotion.
“I’m thankful for my mentor,” he managed to say about Watkins. “… We have a kindred spirit. … This district is incredible. I’ve learned a lot. … I’m just so thankful, because I consider this family. I don’t consider this a job, it’s a little weird. And that’s the hardest part, leaving you all. But I promise I’ll make you proud of what we’re doing. Red Oak is a different place. It’s got its challenges, but I’m excited about it. Dena’s excited about it, this is a step in faith for us both and I have enjoyed every single moment of my time in Prosper. This will always be a part of who we are and I’m just thankful for you all loving us back.”
Watkins mentioned that this was Goddard’s second stead in the district, after being a student and then working at another district before returning to Prosper. With a grin, he said he was hopeful of a trifecta someday of Goddard coming back.
“We wish you well in Red Oak; we know you’re going to do a phenomenal job,” he said. “They are not going to know what hit them.”