Joey Page is starting his first year as the superintendent of Austin Public Schools. However, this isn't his first time walking the hallways of the town's schools. Just over three decades ago, Page graduated from Austin High School. And although he didn't plan on coming back at the time, he says it's been an honor to step into a leadership role in his hometown.
The mustache alone should get the third one hired. Rollie Fingers would approve. https://t.co/KSY0YPQ0aL— Brian Todd (@PBbtodd) March 20, 2017
What year did you graduate from Austin High School?
There was a photo of you online in an Austin letterman jacket. Is that original, or did you get a new one when you became superintendent?
That was my original one. As I told the group on Monday, I was so glad it still fit! That's a good thing.
What was it that made you want to work in education?
I think back to my grandmother who ran a boarding house for gentlemen here in Austin. It instilled a sense of working with people and service. There was a lot of teaching involved with that, but it was a lot of service for people. So that was certainly a big inspiration.
Secondly, my teachers here (in Austin), from the first day of kindergarten to commencement. I was so fortunate to have so many impactful teachers and coaches in my life. Their inspiration and guidance just had a long-lasting impact on me.
Any one specifically that comes to mind?
There were so many. I think of my kindergarten teacher Ms. Winter and Ms. Schulz in fourth grade.
Funny thing about Miss Schulz -- she just sent me a card the other day and had the composite picture of our entire class. She still had it! She also had a roster of all the kids. That was a long time ago! And for her to have that, it definitely typified her, and being able to be part of her class for a year was certainly extraordinary.
I look at those two pieces: The teachers and the coaches that were part of my entire Austin experience. It's a great place to be from.
Do you still have family in town and friends that you went to school with?
I still have a lot of extended family in town, and friends. It's interesting you ask that question because I was just finishing a meeting and ran into a teacher here that I played little league baseball with. It was so funny because I hadn't seen him for so long.
In our move back to Austin, you certainly unpack and find some treasures. One that I found was a little league baseball scorecard from a game. The teacher that I ran into was the pitcher and I was the catcher. We hadn't talked for so many years.
That was pretty cool. There's a lot of those. And I think that's one of the fun things about coming back. It's an incredible honor, but it's also just very sweet with emotion and memories. That's one of the things that's been really exciting and fun about being back in town.
So, was it always in the back of your head that you wanted to come back to Austin, or did the opportunity just happen to present itself?
Thinking back to commencement on a really hot June night on Wescott Field in 1990, I never thought I would be coming back. That was not part of the plan. Austin was where I was from, not where I was going to end up.
So was getting back to Austin part of the plan? No. It wasn't. It was just the right place, right time and right decision. And I think that's one of the things that's made it so sweet.
So what do you see for the future of Austin Public Schools?
First and foremost, David Krenz did a remarkable job for many years here, and I'm very thankful to have such a great example to follow.
That's really what I've laid out within my entry plan: To listen to everyone critically about the work that happens here. I think taking the time to ask questions and understand where we are -- that's really where I'm starting from.
One of the key pieces of that is working alongside the school board and really asking those questions, with other groups too, such as: What might we look like in the future?
That means first learning and asking a lot of questions and then applying what we've learned. It takes a lot of time and a lot of patience, but a grounded approach to change is going to ensure that it succeeds.
Anyone who goes to your Twitter page or your Facebook page knows your mustache is pretty iconic at this point. So, how long has the Joey Page mustache been part of your persona?
In it's current form, probably five or six years. It's gone through iterations. It's kind of graduated, I would say, to what it is right now.
So how long have you had the mustache-clad "P" as your profile picture.
I think when I came to Byron (Page served as Superintendent of Byron Public Schools before moving to Austin). I don't have any great marketing experience, but I thought it would be fun.