John M. Martinez, Jr. Recognized as Texas Principal of the Year in Washington D. C.


Mr. John M. Martinez, Jr. was recognized by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) in Washington D.C. on September 23-26, 2018 as part of the NASSP 2018 Principal Institute.

Mr. Martinez, Principal at Mackenzie Middle School, Lubbock ISD, represented Texas in this national recognition program where principals representing the fifty states participated in professional development and advocacy training. As part of the institute, Mr. Martinez joined other Principals of the Year in visiting with congressmen at the United States Capitol. Mr. Martinez spent time with Senator John Cornyn, Senator Ted Cruz, and Congressman Jodey Arrington. With each legislator, Mr. Martinez shared his personal story which included both living in an inner-city public school and then moving to Alaska to live with his father who was in the military. He stated that his life was changed for the better because of two teachers; and to this day, he stays in touch with those teachers.

At the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP) 2018 Night of the Stars Heroes Dinner where the Texas Regional Principals of the Year were honored, one of Mr. Martinez’s teachers attended the award presentation with him at the invitation of Mr. Martinez who stated it seemed appropriate that the teacher should be present to observe the recognition.

After completing high school, Mr. Martinez served in the U. S. Air Force before finishing his college degree. His teaching career included positions in Merkel ISD, Abilene ISD, and Lubbock ISD as a lead-in to his principalship at Mackenzie Middle School.

As the principal at Mackenzie, Mr. Martinez is committed to meet the needs of all students and to create a culture of learning that includes opportunities for students to innovate, create, and have fun. He believes that middle school students need experiences that promote innovation, and students at Mackenzie Middle School can have these experiences by using the makerspace in the school library. He focuses on the value of post-high school education by allowing students three days to visit career and technical trade schools, community colleges, and four-year universities. He wants the students to have a visual representation of what lies ahead.

While visiting at the Capitol, Mr. Martinez was recorded in an interview with Congressman Arrington. This recording will be posted on Congressman Arrington’s website, and upon availability, TASSP will post the video on the TASSP website. The interview was packed with powerful responses to questions from Congressman Arrington as related to Mr. Martinez’s personal and professional journey.

Mr. Martinez was accompanied to Washington D. C. by his wife and two children, as well as Cindy Kirby, TASSP Associate Executive Director. Ms. Kirby states, “While observing Mr. Martinez talk with the congressmen, I swelled with pride as Mr. Martinez spoke about his passion for student success, his commitment to lead with post-high school education in mind, and his ability to embed innovation in the regular school day through the makerspace in the library and the instruction in the classrooms. TASSP and all of Texas are very proud of Mr. Martinez. He is an inspiring leader.”

Each year, the twenty regions of Texas select a high school and middle school principal of the year, as well as an assistant principal of the year. These sixty principals are recognized at the TASSP Summer Workshop in June. Upon completion of an application, the TASSP Principal Image Committee interviews the top finalists in all three categories and names the Texas Principal of the Year. The Texas Principal of the Year is then submitted to NASSP for national competition and recognition.

The date of the TASSP Night of the Stars Heroes Dinner for the 2018-19 Principals of the Year is Tuesday, June 11, 2019, at the Hilton Austin Hotel in downtown Austin, Texas. The event is open to the public. Tickets may be purchased online through TASSP. A ticket is required to attend.