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In a few days, teachers and support staff will report for professional development, and barely a week later, students will arrive. People routinely ask me if we are ready, and I routinely answer, “Ready or not, they are coming!”
People also ask what my plan is, and my answer has remained constant: I do not have a plan for Duncan Public Schools, for the district already has a plan. We are entering the fourth year of our Strategic Initiative which has emerged as the undisputed exemplar for Oklahoma school districts. The Board, staff, and community have worked tirelessly on this, and you are leading the state.
Furthermore, Duncan Public Schools leads the state as one of the Governor’s STEM Communities and in establishing Career Pathways for your children. Many districts have followed Duncan’s lead, but none have created such unique partnerships, fostering a purposeful community involving students, staff, and organizations in myriad ways. The recent announcement of Lesa Hefner as Finalist for 2019 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year both affirms and validates this. She has accomplished what few educators in the nation have accomplished, connecting the classroom to business and industry in meaningful ways. She credits much of her success to her students and to the Duncan community for supporting the Pathways vision. Many DPS educators share Mrs. Hefner’s passion and excellence. I am so proud to work beside them all.
When the Board of Education blessed me with the opportunity to be superintendent of Duncan Public Schools, I was not hired to do a job. I was called to protect and nurture the children of this community. They commissioned me to support the men and women who serve your children daily, and they charged me with the district’s fiscal and operational management. Most of all, however, I have been entrusted with accelerating your ongoing tradition of excellence.
Consequently, I am acutely aware that I have a lot to learn about Duncan Public Schools in order to serve this community effectively. And by learning, I mean that I must L.O.V.E Duncan! L.O.V.E. stands for Listen, Observe, Validate, and Engage. The focus is simple: I must first Listen and Observe, seeking to Validate the people and best practices. In due time, I will Engage, but only after I have learned enough to responsibly build upon your sure foundation. I may be bald, but I wasn’t born yesterday, so I know that I’d better not mess up a good thing! Trust must be earned, and I am just humbled and appreciative for the opportunity.
Duncan is the undisputed crown jewel of Southwest Oklahoma, surrounded with sparkling lakes nestled in an emerald landscape. It is a destination; the ideal place to raise a family – large enough to afford opportunity, yet small enough to provide security. The central diamond is Duncan Public Schools, simultaneously reflecting and defining the community. Our school system is only as good as its community support, and if my superintendent’s instincts are correct, this community loves its schools. Just a few loving examples are Beautiful Day, One Duncan, Gabriel’s House, and of course, the Duncan Public Schools Foundation. There are too many to list here!
No community is perfect, neither are its educators or students, but this is one of the most loving school districts I have ever encountered. You have something special here, Duncan, and I am honored to be included. God willing, Renee and I will soon close on a house and be here full-time. Please keep your expectations low, however, because I have much more to learn than to offer at this point. Fortunately, we are all in the capable hands of DPS’ expert staff. I can only promise to L.O.V.E. Duncan for now – in reflection of the community I have experienced so far. God Bless, Tom Deighan.