Brad Schnautz started his career in education in 2002 as a teacher and coach. Over the ensuing 20 years, he said he has worn many educational-themed hats, including being the deputy superintendent of Grapevine-Colleyville ISD for five years and this year, he starts his first as the superintendent of the district since being named the lone finalist in February.

Schnautz recently spoke with Community Impact about what attracted him to the district, what is on his to-do list and more.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in education?

I had a desire to positively impact the lives of young people and I felt like public education would be a great platform to do that. I’ve been very fortunate and blessed to hit different roles in public education that blessed me and gave me the opportunity to not only impact students’ lives but also the adults we serve and support. This is my calling; this is my mission field.

Explain your background as a superintendent?

This is my second superintendency. I was a superintendent in Lexington ISD prior to coming to GCISD. Throughout my leadership journey, I’ve had mentors who invested in me and really encouraged me to continue to ascend in educational leadership. I was a high school principal (in Magnolia ISD) from 2012 to 2015, we had a campus of around 2,000 students.

I became the superintendent in Lexington ISD in 2015 which only had 1,000 students. It wasn’t too big or overwhelming, but it was a new role so there was a lot to learn. The learning curve was not too steep, it was a good next step for me.

Why did you accept the GCISD superintendent position?

Prior to being named the superintendent [here], I was the deputy superintendent for five and a half years. When you serve somewhere and work with people for that long, you develop a love for the people, and you’re committed to the work.

I’m also a parent. We have four children. My oldest daughter graduated in 2021 from Grapevine High School and I have three children in our schools. I see the impact our schools have on all our students, including my own. We have an amazing school district, talented teachers and staff. When you realize you’re in a special place, you want to stay there.

What experience did you have prior to this position that proved beneficial?

I’m proud of the fact that I’ve served in many roles in public education. I started out as a classroom teacher—I taught math and was a coach for six years. Being a classroom teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal and superintendent helps me in my job because I’m able to relate to teachers, campus leaders and other auxiliary areas.

I love rolling up my sleeves and working with our people. I don’t feel like I’m a sit-in-the-office type of guy. I want to be serving the people and make it the best district it can be.

You were the deputy superintendent since 2017. How has that changed since becoming the superintendent?

Anything that was related to academics at our campuses and extracurricular, that was my lane. I had 10 direct reports and every day my job was focused on serving and supporting the work that takes place on the academic side. Now that I’ve transferred over to the superintendency, I oversee all of it. Instead of the 10 direct reports, I have six chiefs that report to me and the executive director of communications.

I don’t know everything about everything, I know a good bit about everything and that’s because I have an amazing team. I report to the board, I’m their lone employee. It’s been great not only working with them but also getting to know them as people. It’s been a good mesh and transition and I’m looking forward to the work ahead.

What attracted you to GCISD?

The high bar for standards and expectations. When you have high standards and expectations, that’s going to translate to success. We have students who achieve high academic levels such as Cannon Elementary students placing in top spots at robotics competition.

We have teachers who have high goals for our students and our students achieve at high levels. An example of this is Grapevine High School boys’ cross country team winning their third consecutive state championship.

As a father, it was important to me to know what kind of opportunities my kids would be introduced to and the experiences they would be afforded. I’ve seen the firsthand benefits that’s brought for my kids.

What are the top three things on your to-do list as the superintendent?

First is getting our strategic plan finalized and in place to lead us through our work in the next five years. Secondly, is making sure we maintain a balanced budget while looking for ways to increase employee compensation. Number three is increasing opportunities to recognize and support our employees and teachers. It’s important to me that our employees feel valued and appreciated.

What are the top three qualities you see in exceptional teachers?

They love their students, they’re passionate about what they teach, and their students are so excited to be in their class and they can’t wait to come back the next day. When you hear that from students, you know that the teacher is a rock star.

When you reflect on your childhood education, what are your favorite memories? Do you feel GCISD provides similar experiences?

I go back to three educators that impacted my life. The first was my second-grade teacher, Mrs. Anne Sanders, next was my seventh-grade teacher/coach Jamie Holder and the last, my high school baseball coach Harry Frances. God put them in my life at critical points. They helped me stay on the straight and narrow and realized my true potential when I might not have seen much.

When I see the work of our teachers, we have the next Mrs. Sanders, Coach Holder, Coach Frances for somebody. Students are ready to accomplish whatever they want when they graduate from here because we have amazing educators who poured into them.