So far, the most difficult part of having an interim superintendent has been pronouncing his name.“I heard from eight to 10 people around the district who were trying to say and spell it correctly,” said district spokesman Richie Escovedo. “I said ‘Call him Dr. V.’”When Jim Vaszauskas was promoted from associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction to interim superintendent in February after Superintendent Bob Morrison left to take a job in Garland, the transition was almost seamless, said school board president Beth Light.But there were some phonetic challenges. Unless the staff was involved in curriculum, they probably didn’t know Vaszauskas, who was hired in the district in 2009, Escovedo said.“No one has ever gotten it right,” said Amy Rejcek, who has been administrative assistant in the superintendent’s office for four years. “When he first came here, I had Becky (Dodenhoff, his secretary) school me on how to say his name. Most people don’t attempt it at all. The brave ones start out Vashusususus.”The grandson of Lithuanian immigrants, Vaszauskas is used to people stumbling over his last name. Born and raised in Lamesa, Vaszauskas became an English teacher and basketball coach, but pronouncing his name was his students’ toughest test. For the record, Vaszauskas pronounces his name VUH shaws cuss.“Growing up, I was V,” he said. “When I was teaching, I was Mr. V. When I was coaching, I was Coach V. After I got my doctorate, I was Dr. V.“I honestly do like it,” he said of his abbreviated nickname.Some people didn’t even attempt his real surname.“I had been coaching in Brock for eight years when my wife called and asked to speak to Coach Vaszauskas,” he said. “They told her there was nobody by that name there. So she asked for Coach V, and they said ‘Oh, he’s right here.’”Even state politicians aren’t immune, he said.“Senator Wendy Davis butchered it pretty good during Mansfield Day in Austin,” Vaszauskas said. “ She wasn’t even in the same zip code. She apologized, she was very gracious.”But some people have no trouble with his lengthy last name.“Weatherford College has a recruiting pipeline to Lithuania,” he said. “They always have one or two players on the men’s and women’s basketball teams. I used to hire them to work summer basketball camps. They’re all 6-foot-4 or 6-foot-5.”And none of them have a problem saying his name. But students, staff and teachers in Mansfield seem to, so much that the district made a video, titled “Call Me Dr. V,” about the involved pronunciation of the interim superintendent’s name. Watch it at http://youtu.be/hVdV9QUrJJE.People might want to get used to his mottled moniker, though. Vaszauskas is applying to take over his post on a permanent basis. And he also has three sons, who will be spreading the family name. Of course, their friends all call them V, too, Vaszauskas said.
Amanda Rogers, 817-473-4451 Twitter: @AmandaRogersNM