The Rotary Club heard from new Duncan Public Schools superintendent Tom Deighan as he explained something Duncan seems to forget — Duncan is the model for others in the state.
“I always wonder how to start these sorts of things. As it turns out, today I had a meeting with my staff and I pulled out some ‘memorabilia’ that I had not seen in years,” he said. “Until last night I hadn’t seen this in years — this is me … in third grade… stain on my shirt, a brush hadn’t seen my hair. I remember that day because suddenly I was self-conscious, it’s picture day, my hair’s a mess, my shirt is stained. And this is now the only picture I have of my school days.”
Deighan said he shared the picture to give the teachers and staff a focus on why they do the jobs they do every year.
“I am the youngest of seven. One of two who graduated high school, the other dropped out. Dad died when I was young,” he said. “My mom had all seven of us on her own, so she was tough and busy.”
His mom moved them around a lot he said, going to many different schools and finally ending up in Hinton where he met his wife, graduated, got married and became an educator because they are the ones that touched his life.
“That’s why I became an educator because I had men and women — it didn’t matter how dirty my shirt was or how messed up my hair was, I always had somebody at school who took care of me and loved me,” he said. “They were happy to see me and I wasn’t a very pleasant kid sometimes.”
The connection of education to career readiness was putting Duncan on the map, because it is the connection between community and education that can change lives.
“Everybody in the room can agree that education is one of the most important things,” he said.
According to Deighan, for many parents their dream for their kids is to have a job, be able to pay their way in the world and take care of their grandchildren.
“Education is important to everybody in the community so we get a whole group of (children) who don’t necessarily have the support of others — we have supported children and unsupported children” Deighan said. “I am going to go out on a limb and guess in here pretty much all your children are supported. Not with just what they have … but I’m talking about that they have somebody come home every night and ask them ‘What’s your home work?’ ‘ What happen today?’ ‘What’s going on?’”
Duncan’s demographics have changed over the years and now there are more children on free and reduced lunch than not according to Deighan.
“As the community changes how to do we make sure that group of unsupported children are cared for?” he asked. “How does a community come together and wrap it’s arms around those kids, that’s my question. I can see Duncan is a special place because since I’ve been here I can see … there’s such a love here. What I am here to say is you (Duncan) are the model on how to wrap your arms around children because what’s happened with Lesa Hefner, and iCAP (Individual Career Assessment Plan) and legislation has been inspired by Duncan. That’s how you wrap your arms around children.”
Which is one of the main reasons Deighan said he took the job.
“It has just been the best blessing I’ve experienced in a long time, my wife is extremely happy,” he said. “The cool thing about all this is … this is just the right sized community. I didn’t take this job as a career step, it really attracted me as a community where I can finish my career and retire, I have anywhere from 10 to 15 years and I don’t want to ‘move up.”