Brian Bibb will walk across the graduation stage Friday (May 17) with his doctorate and superintendent's certification – and the keys to his new school district.
Bibb, who is graduating from the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership program, was hired last week as the superintendent of Petersburg ISD, a growing district northeast of Lubbock.
"Coming out of this program, my main goal was to become a public school superintendent," Bibb said. "I am blessed that the opportunity presented itself so quickly after completing my degree."
It's safe to say there are challenges in store as he assumes leadership of the rural, 300-student district that last year passed a $27 million bond to build a new school campus. But the newly appointed superintendent said he felt prepared thanks to the professors in the education leadership program at Texas Tech.
"I started with extremely low confidence, not much knowledge, and the professors embraced that," Bibb said. "They really poured into me everything they could to help me grow and help me gain the confidence to be able to do what it is I am going to do. Texas Tech is a university that really drives students to go on and achieve bigger and better things."
Bibb said he was drawn to the doctoral program at Texas Tech in 2016 because of its unique research focus and fully online format that let him continue working in his job at the time, as a principal at Seymour ISD, a small district near Wichita Falls.
Aligned with the core principles of the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED) national initiative, the three-year program caters to working administrators who are interested in implementing change in their local district. Students are required to identify and investigate a problem of practice as part of their dissertation, and it must be based on data from the school district where the student is working.
"That was appealing to me because I knew I would be doing research that would improve the district where I had been working as a principal," Bibb said.
Bibb's project examined college readiness at Seymour ISD. The study showed students were earning weak scores on college admissions tests. As a solution, the district offered professional development to its teachers to help them better craft rigorous, college-level lessons.
Joseph Claudet, an associate professor of educational leadership who chaired Bibb's dissertation committee, said the program's CPED alignment means students learn real-world executive leadership skills needed to enact meaningful instructional change and improvement in schools and school districts.
"Dr. Brian Bibb is an excellent example of one of our many successful graduates who has internalized these skills and is now ready to lead positive and enduring instructional improvement as a practicing school district superintendent," Claudet said.
Bibb was unanimously chosen from a 34-person applicant pool for the superintendency, said Chad Byrd, the Petersburg ISD school board president. As a smaller district, Petersburg ISD is seen as a training ground for rookie superintendents and draws a lot of interest from young, aspiring leaders, Byrd said.
"That lets us pick from the cream of the crop of the young leaders that are coming up but haven't had the chance to get that first job," Byrd added. "Brian is coming to us not only qualified on paper, but he's going to have the ability to take that education he received from Texas Tech and apply it to our school district in a positive way."
The superintendent job in Petersburg, about 30 miles from Lubbock, is a homecoming of sorts for Bibb.
He earned his bachelor's degree in exercise and sports sciences from Texas Tech and later did a stint as a teacher and baseball coach at nearby Abernathy ISD. With a mother who was a career elementary teacher and a father who was a former school band director, Bibb sought to combine his family legacy with a love of sports.
Bibb ultimately decided to leave coaching for school leadership roles so he could better support his family and have a chance to watch all his young children – a son and two daughters – play sports.
Having lived and worked in rural areas most of his life, he said he was happy to join Petersburg ISD and support rural youngsters he described as typically hardworking and driven to succeed.
"Petersburg ISD does everything based on data. They want to improve outcomes for their students. The community is extremely supportive of the school, and there's lots of pride there," Bibb said. "The more I found out about Petersburg during my job search, the more I realized I wanted to be a part of that and have my kids be in a school like that. I wanted to go in and help move that effort forward."