The Tall Guy With the Bow Tie: Mansfield ISD Superintendent to Retire After Nearly 40 Years in Education

It's a lot tougher to correctly pronounce Dr. Jim Vaszauskas' last name than it is to spot him in a crowd.

He's the "tall guy with the bow tie," as his staff likes to say.

Those who've encountered "Dr. V" — as he's called by just about everyone in the Mansfield Independent School District — say it's not his height that makes him larger than life.

"He knows my name," said Chauntel Lodatto, a counselor at Asa Low Intermediate. "He knows everyone's name. He takes a personal interest in all of his employees, students, and parents."

"He's very kind," said Karen Marcucci, Mansfield ISD School Board President. "He'll make us macaroni & cheese and bring it over to the house so that we've got a nice home-cooked meal when it's too busy for me to do that."

The small-town basketball coach turned Regional Superintendent of the Year has been impacting lives through education for nearly 40 years.

It's why there were shock waves across the entire Mansfield community when he announced over the summer that we would retire on Feb. 5, 2020.

"I ran into him over the summer," said Bridgett Wigley, a choir teacher at Asa Low Intermediate. "And I gave him a big hug and I said we’re gonna miss you. Can I convince you please to stay?”

"I've never not worked," said Vaszauskas. "Since I was 9 years old, I've never not worked. I'm not the retiring type. But I have that voice in my head that's saying there's something else out there for you — I have a plan. So, I'm gonna pay attention and put myself in the position to hear and see what that is."

During his tenure, district test scores have soared, opportunities for students have expanded, and Forbes Magazine named Mansfield ISD as one of the Top 100 Places to Work in Texas.

He credits his employees for all that.

"I'm a part of a really good team," said Vaszauskas.      

But he says his proudest achievement is "the fact that we care for each other here."

As he fought a rare form of cancer back in 2015, Vaszauskas was inspired by his staff, who'd made special t-shirts to express their support for him.      

“I just thought that everybody that has cancer should feel that way — should feel that we’re supporting them," Vaszauskas said. "So, we started Colors for Caring.”

Now, the first Monday of each month, the entire district picks a color representing some form of cancer and wears it, often in support of a student, teacher, staff member, or parent battling the disease.

“Mansfield is a special place. It really, really is," Vaszauskas said. 

The district says it's only special because of people like Dr. V — and he leaves some big shoes to fill.

The search for his replacement is already underway. Marcucci says because he's leaving the district in such great shape, the job is attracting a lot of interest.

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