Baylor grad builds legacy of caring at DFW-area school district
Throughout the Mansfield Independent School District, Superintendent Jim Vaszauskas, BSEd ’80, is known simply as “Dr. V.” That’s in part because his last name is challenging to both spell and pronounce — but it’s a nickname that adds a personal touch to a leader who not only led the district to top academic ratings but, according to Mansfield staff and families, built “a district that teaches people how to care.”
Vaszauskas — a Baylor alum, cancer survivor, former coach, and longtime educator — recently announced he will retire in 2020 after 37 years in education, including the last 10 at MISD. The community’s reaction to his retirement showed just what it means when we say Baylor educates servant-leaders:
When MISD families and staff members reflect on Vaszauskas’ impact, it’s not his 2017 regional superintendent of the year award they talk about, or the Forbes recognition of Mansfield ISD as one of the top 100 places to work in Texas. It’s his own personal battle with cancer, and the fruit of his caring, that stands out.
Dr. V twice battled a rare form of cancer, an experience he used to better care for the students and families in his district also facing disease. Colors for Caring has become a Mansfield ISD tradition, a day each month where students and teachers wear colors that represent a cancer that has impacted their family. The tradition has allowed students to feel recognized and cared for as they face the challenges that come from seeing a loved one battle cancer.
That care for students is summarized best by 2017 Masnsfield ISD graduate Thaddeus Turner, who was stunned to see his district’s superintendent walking into his hospital room to check up on him. “I was immediately motivated,” Turner recalls. “After the hospital visit, Dr. V came to visit numerous times. He didn’t just come and visit me, but he brought my favorite snack every single time. He asked questions not about me as a student, but getting to know me as an individual.”
“Dr. V” is a Baylor Bear through and through. He and his wife, Cindy (BBA ’81, MBA ’82), met at Baylor, and one of their three children (Chris, BS ’12) is also a Baylor grad. He’s also often seen wearing a Baylor lanyard (as in the photo above).
Sic ’em (and happy retirement), Dr. Vaszauskas!