7/25/2004 CISD's Top Pick: Denbow makes move to district leadership
|Don Denbow has been tapped to fill the
district's highest position. He has said he intends to carry on the work
started by retired Superintendent Dr. Jim Dickson, focusing on student
performance, staff accountability and fiscal management. Daily Sun
By JOAN SHERROUSE/Daily Sun Staff
For the second time in his life, Don Denbow is a first-round draft choice.
Thursday, the school board gave him a unanimous nod to take up where
recently-retired Superintendent Dr. Jim Dickson left off, acknowledging the
value of his 35-year career in education.
The first time came in 1967 when he was a senior at Southern Methodist
University, studying business finance and playing ball -- he was the Brooklyn
Dodgers' No. 1 pick.
"Then in 1969, I decided I wanted to be in education -- I wanted to be in a
position to work with kids and help kids," he said. "I left (professional
baseball) in July of that year, and fortunately got a job in Mesquite ISD as a
business teacher and football coach."
The next year, he moved on to a similar position in the Midland Lee school
system where he remained until 1974, then moved back to Corsicana where he
earned his certification as a special education teacher.
"I didn't anticipate coaching ... but on the first day back, the superintendent
said, 'Oh, by the way, I'm going to let you coach,' " Denbow said.
Within a couple of years, he became the head baseball coach, then began a
16-year tenure as head football coach in 1977 and eventually ended up as the
assistant athletic director.
"During that time, I was blessed to be associated with a tremendous number of
great athletes, their parents and good assistant coaches," he said.
It was at the end of the 1992 season when Denbow requested a more
academic-oriented position. Dickson, then in his first year as superintendent,
concurred, placing him as the director of University Interscholastic League
academics and athletics. In addition, he did counseling in health services
during that time, wrote the drug-free communities act grant and did grants for
the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.
"That gave me an opportunity to expand into some other areas," he said. "I
enjoyed every minute of every aspect of it, but I have a natural curiosity for
the academics and wanting to be involved in it."
Five years later, he moved up another notch on the leadership scale, accepting
the principalship at Corsicana High School, then he accepted the job of
assistant superintendent of accountability and administration in 2000.
Now, he has stepped into the district's top spot to face budget issues, a major
bond election and the beginning of a new school year.
He defines his leadership style as collaborative, one in which decisions are
based on input from people who deal with issues at the ground level on a
"They're going to have the best knowledge of what needs to be done, more so that
someone who's off in a remote site," Denbow said.
As for academics, his long-term goal for the district includes a focus on
student performance and accountability issues related to test scores.
"We want to focus our efforts, first of all, on making sure we're teaching the
essential knowledge and skills mandated by the state," he said. "Then, we need
to teach them in such a way that kids can be successful on their state
He added that presenting all exams in a TAKS format is one strategy he plans to
explore as a way of getting students accustomed to the way questions are phrased
on the state test.
"We want, first and foremost, for kids to gain the knowledge and also to be able
to accomplish the skills in the state curriculum," he said. "The program has to
be evaluated on how it stimulates critical thinking and teaches mastery of the
In the area of facility expansion and overall district administration, the new
superintendent wants to follow his predecessor's lead.
"First of all, we want to continue to be fiscally responsible -- to utilize our
resources in the very best way to improve student learning," he said. "We'll
work as a team to cover all the needs in the district and attend to the needs of
Joan Sherrouse may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reprinted with permission of the Corsicana Daily Sun
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