Athens ISD Superintendent Blake Stiles is passionate about the importance of public education in the lives of our children. Education is, he believes, the great equalizer among students of differing races, heritages and socio-economic statuses.
“We must do everything we can to help all of our students develop a set of tools that will allow them to be successful, contributing citizens once they graduate from Athens ISD,” said Mr. Stiles. “We owe them no less than that.”
Mr. Stiles came to Athens in 2011, after being recruited to fill the position of assistant superintendent/human resources director. Prior to that he spent eight years at Howe (Texas) High School, where he served two years as assistant principal and another six as principal. Mr. Stiles spent several years as a classroom teacher and coach, in districts ranging from 2A to 5A, before moving into administrative work.
The AISD board of trustee selected Mr. Stiles in 2012 to replace the outgoing superintendent. “He’s exceeded our expectations,” said School Board President Robert Risko. “We’ve been able to make improvements on facilities … and we’ve seen improvements in the classroom. …He’s also a man of high integrity. Will he do the right thing when nobody’s looking? Yes.”
At Mr. Stiles’ instigation, a diverse group of AISD employees and community members gathered in 2014 to produce a districtwide strategic plan for improvement in each of the district’s critical areas. In 2015, the community voted to pass a $59.9 million bond to fund construction and renovation projects across the district.
“There can be no standing still,” said Mr. Stiles. “If we don’t continually push for improvement, then we’re losing ground. So we keep pushing.”
Mr. Stiles and his wife, Claudia — the principal at South Athens Elementary — have two children in Athens ISD: Taylor, a ninth-grader, and Jaxson, a fifth-grader.
Mr. Stiles earned his bachelor of science degree in education from Northeastern State University in Oklahoma (his home state) and a master of education administration and supervision degree at the University of Houston. He is working on his doctoral dissertation.
“I love that my wife works in this district and my kids are in school here,” said Mr. Stiles. “It feels like home, and we’re a part of the community.”