Red Oak ISD was dealt a bittersweet card Tuesday afternoon when Dr. Michael Goddard was named the lone finalist for the superintendent position at Lovejoy ISD.

Goddard, who has spent the past two years as the superintendent at Red Oak ISD, was the first principal of Lovejoy High School when it opened in 2005, a position he kept until 2010.

The campus quickly excelled as it earned an "exemplary" status under the Texas Education Association assessment measures and won the prestigious UIL Love Star Cup in 2010.

Goddard then served as the assistant superintendent in Prosper ISD from 2010-17, overseeing business operations, human resources and curriculum and instruction, before his arrival to ROISD.

“I am so proud of the Red Oak ISD students, staff and community and the progress made over the past two years," Goddard told the Daily Light. "Red Oak ISD has reached new levels of achievement in every aspect. Collectively they all have embraced the 4 Talons of a Hawk and recognized that they are on a mission to grow into great young men and women after graduation."   He continued, "I can move onto a new adventure with confidence that Red Oak ISD is in a stronger place today. That will continue because of the Heart of the Hawks. I love them all and will miss them deeply. They will forever be a part of me. I’m proud that we brought such Hawk Pride to Red Oak ISD.” "Since 2017, Red Oak ISD has seen a rise in the positive district culture and an increase in academics and extra-curricular development," states a ROISD press release. "Students, staff, parents and the community have responded with excitement to the 4 Talons — prepared, GRIT, character, and service – as the mission of the district which supports the vision - Realizing Our Individual Students' Dreams (ROISD). The district strategic plan guides staff to prepare students to be college and career ready, but also ready for the world as future leaders and caring human beings."

While under the leadership of Goddard, the district earned District State Semi-Finalist in the HEB Excellence in Education Award, while also becoming the first Energy Bus certified school in Texas. Goddard was also recently named one of 12 finalists for National Superintendent of the Year through the National Association of School Superintendents.

A former Daily Light publication, "Profiles in Progress," analyzed Goddard from the perspective of his peers and recognized his outstanding efforts to change the culture of the district.

Goddard brought a districtwide movement of putting one's best foot forward by establishing the 4 Talons mantra for all students and staff.

"He's very hands-on, passionate, he's energetic, giving, loving and has the heart for servant leadership and not for professionals only but the students as well. You can tell that he's all about the kids," Donald T. Shields principal Shondra Jones previously told the Daily Light.

Numerous teachers and faculty agreed that Goddard brought a layer of positivity and noted his visibility was important for the community to see.

Now-former Red Oak High FFA teacher Jake Mullican mentioned Goddard's leadership extended support to all program in the district.

"He's very good at being out and about in the community as well as in the schools. It's not uncommon to run into him in the hallways, or he'll just stop into the classroom or the shop to check up on us," Mullican previously shared with the Daily Light.

Mullican, who has recently accepted a job in the CTE department at Waxahachie High School, also noted Goddard's stature as a former football player.

Yet, despite Goddard's towering stature, the little ones were rarely intimidated by his presence, as the superintendent regularly accentuates his large hands wearing Mikey Mouse gloves and is always ready for a high five.

Former student Lawrence Robinson previously praised Goddard to the Daily Light for his influence in establishing the Hawk Male Leadership club.

"He's very direct in trying to shape the culture," Robinson affirmed.

Dr. Joy Shaw, who was born in Red Oak and is a proud alumna of ROISD, has served as a trustee on the ROISD Board of Trustees for many years and was involved in the hiring of the district's superintendent.

Shaw said Goddard has always wanted to do what's best for the district and took into account everyone's concerns, perspectives and expectations before finding solutions.

"I think he's so positive with the staff," Shaw expressed. "He has really changed the morale of the staff at Red Oak ISD and that makes a big difference because when staff morale is up, the kids do better. So, that's a big plus."

Following the 21-day waiting period required by the state, the Lovejoy ISD Board of Trustees is expected to hire Goddard the last week of June.

Goddard will continue in his role as ROISD superintendent until that time. ROISD board members will discuss their options going forward to name an acting or interim superintendent.

Longtime and now-former Lovejoy ISD superintendent, Ted Moore, resigned in mid-February "amid allegations of 'inappropriate conduct' with 'adult victims,'" according to The Dallas Morning News.

The Morning News also reported that Moore and the Lovejoy ISD Board of Trustees have declined to comment any further on the undisclosed allegations. 

Dennis Womack, who currently serves as the LISD assistant superintendent for operations, has filled the role as the interim superintendent since Feb. 14.

Lovejoy ISD consists of six campuses with over 4,200 students. The district received an overall "A" on the 2017-18 report card from TEA. ROISD consists of seven schools with over 5,700 students.