Although Dr. Jon Buck Ford is well-known to parents and students at Blanco Middle School, he will be wearing a new hat this year as superintendent of the Blanco Independent School District, replacing Cliff Gardner, who resigned in June. A native of Port Neches, Texas, Ford received a Bachelor’s degree in Health and Physical Education from Lamar University in 1977 and a Master’s degree in School Administration in 1979. His first job was as a history, health, and career education teacher in Dayton, Texas, in 1977-78. In the 1978-79 school year, he divided his time as a history teacher and coach between two middle schools in Beaumont, Texas. From 1979 to 1988 he taught English and coached in Port Arthur at Stephen F. Austin School. He was hired as an assistant principal at Woodrow Wilson Middle School in Port Arthur in 1988 and worked there until 1996, when he made the move to the Texas Hill Country and became the principal of Blanco Middle School. His professional honors include VFW district #5 Educator of the Year in 2004, Outstanding Administrator of the Year for 2001-02, as voted by the Texas Counselors’ Association, Region V Middle School Assistant Principal of the Year for 1992, and the Good Apple Award for 1992, nominated by his school and given by the Port Arthur Board of Trustees for good work.
Dr. Ford is active in the Blanco community, serving as a member of Blanco Masonic Lodge 216 and Past Master for 2004-2005. He has participated in the annual Blanco Classic Car Show and the annual EMS Barbecue honoring Blanco County EMS, fire, law enforcement personnel, and clergy. Along with the Masons, he has helped with turkey dinners served to the Blanco community at Thanksgiving, highway clean-ups, community playground development at Yett Park, annual Masonic scholarships, Lamar Medal presentations, the Take Time to Read program, and sponsorship of and a ceremony honoring the 228th Mobile Army Hospital, based in San Antonio.
Dr. Ford lives in Blanco with his wife Carole, a registered nurse who has done hospice work at Hill Country Memorial Hospital in Fredericksburg. She is also a photographer whose photographs have appeared in the Blanco County News. They have three children—Lew, 32, who is currently playing baseball for a professional team in Japan; Shelby, 30, who attends a community college in Houston; and Christy Sharp, 34, a nursing student who lives in Austin. The Fords enjoy traveling, playing the piano, and watching movies and TV. Dr. Ford has two published books, one entitled Down Trails of Glory: The Story of Port Neches-Groves High School Football, published in 1994, and another entitled On the Wings of Eagles: The Story of Stephen F. Austin Football, 1979-1988, published in 1990. He also began running marathons three years ago, most recently competing at the Pacific Crest Marathon in Oregon. According to Ford, he decided, “If I don’t do it now, I never will.”
Ford has high goals for the district under his leadership, in fact to become what he calls “a model district,” so that other districts can come here to learn from BISD’s accomplishments. He would like to see the district “on the cutting edge,” one of the best 2A districts in the region. He cites the PAWS program at Blanco Middle School (Positive Actions With Students) as such a ground-breaking program. Asked what challenges he foresees in his new position, Ford says that he is “looking forward to the challenge of putting my touch as a leader at the district level.”
Following in Ford’s footsteps, Jesse Salazar assumed duties as principal of Blanco Middle School after his approval by the trustees of BISD at the end of July. A native of Leakey, Texas, Salazar is a graduate of Texas State University, where he majored in Exercise Sports Science, with a minor in Biology. After graduation, Salazar served four years in the U. S. Coast Guard, stationed in Florida, the Caribbean, and finally in the San Francisco area. He received a Master’s degree in Educational Administration at Sul Ross University. At Crystal City ISD, Salazar worked as the athletic coordinator for boys and girls at the junior high level. Before coming to Blanco this summer, Salazar worked for a year and a half as an assistant principal at Manor High School, along with current Blanco High School principal Dustin Barton.
Salazar says that he and his wife Alicia were drawn to the Blanco area because of the beautiful surroundings, similar to those he grew up with in Leakey. He also has enjoyed the friendliness of local people and the staff and students he has met so far in his new job. The strong tradition of success in the Blanco district was another reason for the move.
Salazar and his wife have two children—Lauren, five, who will begin kindergarten this fall; and Jesse Ray, a son, who will turn two in November. Salazar’s favorite leisure activities include spending time with his family, reading Western novels by authors like Louis L’Amour, and playing golf when he gets the chance.
Salazar lists his goals for the year as “continuing with the successes that have taken place here and working with students to develop high achievers throughout the year.” The end result, in his words, is “for students to acquire needed skills to be successful through the school year and in the years to come in preparation for college.” He feels that students should “learn how to learn” from strong, dedicated teachers, so that they become independent learners. In answer to a question about his Hispanic background, Salazar answered that coming from a lower socioeconomic background and developing a strong ethic will help him relate to students with similar backgrounds. He also feels that being bilingual will help him relate to parents and students whose native language is Spanish. He commends the hard work and dedication of Blanco Middle School staff and students for the “phenomenal job” of achieving Recognized Status on last year’s TAKS tests. Dr. Ford says of Salazar, “We are excited to have Mr. Salazar on board. Mr. Salazar comes to us highly recommended Manor ISD. He has a middle school background. He has hit the ground running, and he tells me he is looking forward to meeting our students and parents.