Jim Martin was never a classroom teacher, but he dedicated his career to public education. An engineer by trade, Martin spent 30 years working for San Antonio area school districts, making sure children were educated in safe, durable, and energy-efficient schools.
The longtime San Antonio resident distinguished himself early in his career, soon after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin. In 1975, he was named Young Engineer of the Year by the Bexar County Chapter of the Texas Society of Professional Engineers.
After a few years of working for a private engineering firm, Martin went to work for North East ISD in 1978. In 1986, he briefly returned to private practice but soon realized public education was his calling. He joined Judson ISD as the District Engineer in 1987, and then was hired at Northside ISD in 1991, as the Director of Plant Maintenance and Operations. In 1995, he was promoted to lead the District's Facilities and Operations Department and oversee the District's now burgeoning construction program.
Throughout his nearly two decades with Northside ISD, Martin transformed the District's building practices, leading NISD to become one of the most reputable builders in San Antonio. He believed schools should be built to last with low maintenance costs but high expectations for students' academic achievement.
After Northside voters passed the 1998 bond issue, Martin expanded the Facilities and Operations Department to include in-house project managers and inspectors, which sped up the construction schedule and saved the District tens of thousands of dollars that previously went to outside consultants.
In addition, his personal integrity and transparent building and bidding policies earned him the respect of architects, contractors, and engineers across the region. It is a testament to his reputation that the first year the San Antonio chapter of Associated General Contractors ranked the performance of public agencies in San Antonio, NISD was No. 1. And soon after Martin retired, AGC established a scholarship fund in his name at Construction Careers Academy, NISD's newest magnet program.
By the time he retired from NISD as the Assistant Superintendent for Facilities and Operations in 2008, Martin had overseen the construction of more than 40 new schools and facilities as well as renovations and expansions at all schools throughout the District.
One of Martin's final projects at NISD was to push for construction of San Antonio's first official "green" school, to be built following the strict protocol established by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) guidelines. The Board of Trustees then honored Martin's commitment to the environment - and the entire Northside community - by naming that school after him.
Now that Martin is retired, he's focusing on his other passions - his church, his love of model trains, and his family, which includes wife Donna, also retired from NISD, and their children and grandchildren.