H.T. Sanchez views himself as a simple guy who prefers a T-shirt, jeans and cowboy boots to the suit and tie he's had to wear each day as interim superintendent of the Ector County Independent School District.

He likes to weld and fix up old cars on his 5-acre property on the edge of Odessa, Texas, a city where oil pumpjacks are as common as gas stations and residents live for high school football season.

His favorite restaurant is a small mom-and-pop Mexican cafe, where he makes jokes in Spanish with the restaurant's workers.

If someone glances at Sanchez's résumé, however, he'll probably see more than a simple man who would rather work with his hands than in an office.

Sanchez, who has a doctorate in education, has written numerous articles for scholarly journals, sat on an expert panel to discuss academic improvements for English-language learners and taught as an adjunct professor at Texas A&M University-Commerce.

He presented one of his scholarly articles at the University of Oxford in England, where he says he stood in the same room where Winston Churchill once did.

It'll likely take his hands-on work ethic and academic acumen to not only improve the Tucson Unified School District, but also to convince any doubters that he'll succeed in Tucson.

"In the end, if Tucson is meant to be, the myriad of failures and successes, I take them with me," he said last week before the TUSD board was scheduled to vote on his appointment.

Sanchez's supporters commonly describe the 38-year-old administrator as very intelligent and high-energy.

However, many of his detractors still feel the scars of a tenure that featured the ill-advised launch of numerous major new initiatives meant to improve the Ector County district, which led to stress and frustration among teachers, as well as a call for his resignation.

Some also question his commitment after switching jobs eight times in 15 years.

Sanchez is not deterred by the criticism, even as he has acknowledged his mistakes and expressed a willingness to learn from them.

"I'm aware that people think I've done a great job, an all right job and a horrible job," he said.

Sanchez doesn't appear to be fazed by adversity, after overcoming several obstacles throughout his childhood and career.

This includes working in the Texas oil fields as a teenager and overcoming his status as a special-education student to graduate among the top 10 students in his high school class, he said.

In Ector County, where Sanchez was chief of staff for most of the last three years before his appointment in March as interim superintendent, the district was on the verge of receiving state monitoring for its bilingual education program.

Sanchez says he's overcome struggles through hard work and collaboration with others.

He hopes to use those traits in Tucson.

"My job is to maximize the potential at the individual level," he said. "I think it's in Tucson, but the players haven't been brought to the stage."

Contact reporter Jamar Younger at jyounger@azstarnet.com or 573-4242. On Twitter: @JamarYounger