Thanks in part to my baseball-obsessed father’s choice of our names, sports became a big part of my life. My middle name is Musial, after the famous Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals. I have two brothers, also with famous middle names: Stacy Mantle, after Mickey Mantle, and Scott Maris, after Roger Maris. I was extremely blessed with two great parents. My father, Ray James, certainly influenced me with his great love of sports, but also taught me great work habits at an early age. My mom, Jimmie, was the backbone of the family, there for all of us but certainly always there for me in every way. I played five different sports in high school, but excelled in baseball and played on a state championship team. Tennis was my other love and I dreamed of playing tennis at Tyler Junior College, which had long been known for its championship tennis teams.
TJC was so strong that I didn’t make the tennis team, so I took TJC’s Tennis Tech program, kept up my game and taught tennis part-time in the community. I also studied hard and graduated from TJC after two years. From there I went to Texas A&M Commerce, where I played tennis and majored in mathematics and kinesiology. Because of my solid start at TJC, I received my bachelor’s degree in 1. years at age 21.
My first job was as a math teacher at Fruitvale High School. Fruitvale was such a great place that I stayed there for 22 years – seven years as a math teacher/coach, seven as high school principal and then eight years as superintendent. My career was certainly blessed to have worked at Fruitvale ISD, but my biggest blessing was meeting my wife, Julie, who was working as a checker at the local grocery store. I wrote a check and she copied down my information and number. Picking up on my shy nature, she decided to call me and I am forever grateful. Julie cared for her handicapped brother and ill mother until she passed away, then finished college at TJC and A&M. She has been an outstanding elementary school teacher for the past 17 years.
Our oldest child, Ryan (actually, “Nolan Ryan Surratt”) attended TJC, too, and is now at A&M. Our 15-year-old daughter, Katie, will make us an all-TJC family as soon as she can take college courses.
In 2007, I was blessed to be named as the superintendent of Lindale ISD, and I have tried to help make a great school system even greater. TJC has played a big role in our successes. Because we have hired well-qualified teachers who not only are licensed to teach K–12 but also meet the qualifications to teach at the college level, we are able to offer courses in which students get credit toward both high school and college graduation at the same time. In fact, we offer more “dual credit” opportunities for our students than any other high school in Texas. Many of our high school graduates have already completed one or two years of college, giving them a great head start and saving their parents thousands of dollars.
If you want all the conversation you can handle, just ask about our students! One of our dual credit students recently won a national debate contest and won a $150,000 scholarship. A vocational student just won an $18,000 scholarship from the Ft. Worth Stock Show, and another student is being flown to Florida as a finalist for a full scholarship in culinary management.
“We’ve Got Talent” could be the theme in Lindale. Lindale ISD is a great school system, every campus is a recognized campus and our high school is only one of six 4-A campuses in the state to receive this high honor. Our band program has more than 700 members and was recently named as the “Distinguished Band Program” in the state of Texas. Our UIL academics teams are second to none, recently winning three consecutive state championships in UIL Academics and last year winning 4-A Regional and 3rd in State, beating quality schools such as Highland Park, Rockwall, Richardson and McKinney. I could go on and on about our great school system.
I am proud to be a TJC alum. My two years there are some of my fondest memories. TJC is a great partner with LISD and our community. This partnership contributes to making our schools the best in Texas.
- TJC Hero, Friend and Alumnus Stan M. Surratt, along with his wife, TJC Alumnus Julie, are both outstanding local educators. Among Stan Surratt’s many achievements as Lindale ISD Superintendent, he has created a scholarship partnership with TJC to enable Lindale’s academically gifted students, regardless of family resources, to be able to earn all the college credit for which they are eligible while in high school.