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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Enid’s Super Supers

April 23rd, 1635 A.D. — Boston, Massachusetts established the first public school in America. Created in the shadow of the Free Grammar School of Boston, England, the Boston Latin School in Boston, Massachusetts was a boys-only college preparatory. Serving as a secondary school in English settlements of The New World, it was led by Puritanical Settler and Schoolmaster Philemon Pormont. The name does easily suggest one of the areas of study, but the Bostin Latin School taught young men attending daily lessons in both Latin and Greek, while focusing on the humanities. While we have come a long way from that first school, our area schools still have many common elements, some new faces this year, but the same smiling children excited for their first day. With that in mind, we got to know three area superintendents while preparing for the new school year.

Chisholm Public School Superintendent – Dr. Dudley Darrow

True born-and-bred-football-playing-Oklahoman, Dudley Darrow was born in April of 1978 to two teacher parents in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Moving to his eventual hometown of Shattuck, he graduated from SHS in 1997. He played high school football, followed by some time at NAIA at Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva, where he considered himself a “role player” as a tight end. “I adore football, I revere it. I would play it to death if I could. I love the team concept of eleven guys doing their job—doing their job effectively—and, the product it produces.” His time on the field gave him a euphoric sense of comradery, but it was the level of commitment and preparation needed to win championships that re-affirmed the values and principles he maintained throughout most of his life. “We won a national championship in 1999 [at NWOSU]. Getting to be a part of that was special, but the hard work that goes into it—all of those weights you lift, all those sprints and running—to be able to go out and be successful with your teammates that have experienced that with you, it’s just awesome. It wasn’t just Saturdays. You had to train all year for those 10, 11, 12 Saturdays. That’s why I love football.” 

Dudley received his undergraduate degree from NWOSU in 2002, before marrying his college sweetheart, Megan Dippel who is a Dentist at Dental Arts in Downtown Enid. They have two children who will be attending Chisholm in the fall. He earned a Master’s degree from UCO in 2005. Feeling happy with his positions as football coach and math teacher for Enid High for over a decade, Dudley was surprised when Enid High School Head Principal, Jim Beierschmitt, approached him about becoming the new Assistant Principal for EHS. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Darrow’s rigid work ethic as a football coach, in conjunction with his affable personality as a high school math teacher and family man, was about to open his career to a whole new trajectory.

His career in EHS administration wasn’t always as calm and collected as Dudley’s demeanor might suggest. Mentioning the importance of supporting his teaching staff during the teacher walkout of 2018, Dr. Darrow shares his experience demonstrating at the Oklahoma capitol alongside his fellow teaching colleagues, and how they repaid this honor when covid-19 created difficulties for him as principal. As proctors were needed for ACT testing, teachers volunteered at the drop of a hat for their leader who always did the same for them. The struggles changed over time, as he advanced from teacher & coach to Assistant Principal, to Head Principal, to Assistant Superintendent. Albeit, the goal always remained the same: practice what you preach, stay consistent and always work hard. The same life philosophies that brought him success on the football field actively framed his leadership style; and, his successes in moving up the administrative ladder are indicative of the quality of conviction he holds for his own values. “Sometimes…when you’re a coach and a teacher, you can see it immediately—that day, or in that week. You get in leadership, such as principal or assistant superintendent, or this new role [as CPS Superintendent], you implement policies and procedures and you don’t see the benefits for a while—it just takes time, you’ve got to build it.” Some of his proudest moments at Enid High are bringing secure vestibules to ensure a more locked-down facility, as well as adjustments to the bell & lunch schedules. All of this success led to Dudley tackling the objectives and adversity plaguing his final years at EPS during the Covid pandemic. “It was so hard to get traction. It was difficult to take three steps forward and two steps back for a while…but, we got through it. June 18th, it was a Thursday night. Probably my proudest moment as High school principal was getting those kids graduated.

In May 2022, the same month he received the offer from Chisholm Public Schools, he graduated from OSU with a doctorate in Educational Leadership. Although the new frontier of North Enid seemed like a daunting new reality at first, Darrow’s pragmatic mind decided to grab life by the horns (natch) and move his family towards this new opportunity. With his son entering 9th grade and his daughter entering 5th grade in the upcoming school year, the establishment of their family’s identity within a new culture at Chisholm initially felt light-years away—especially from the comforts of being Plainsmen for 17 years. Ultimately, he decided to leave Enid Public Schools, to expand his educational pasture. With an easier-than-expected transition over the summer so far, The Darrows quickly found a welcoming home among the Longhorns. “Loyalty is a big thing to me, so I want people to know I’m 100% invested.”

On being asked who influenced him, Darrow said, “My mom and dad, being educators, instilled a lot of respect in me. My parents were also devout Christians, and I try to emulate that, as well. I think being a good Christian person, like my parents, and an educator, are very much parallel.” Donny and Carol Darrow joined Dudley in May 2022 to watch their son receive his doctoral degree from OSU, “It was very fulfilling for my parents to be educators and to see their son continue it…how much my coaches meant to me, and trying to emulate that for somebody else. That’s really what I got into education for—the teaching and coaching aspect. I had no idea they would move my way up, but God puts you where he wants you.”

You don’t need to walk down the hall and tell everyone you’re the boss. They’ll know,” Dudley says with a chuckle. “I had a student contact me about a reference for a job in Maryland; and, it’s just really good to have that feeling—that people remember you…You form relationships; and, ultimately, it’s extremely fulfilling.”

WANT TO KNOW MORE? LISTEN TO DR. DARROW PODCAST WITH ENID MONTHLY HERE: https://anchor.fm/robert-r-faulk/episodes/Episode-21-Dr–Dudley-Darrow-e1ltuoq

Enid Public Schools Superintendent – Dr. Darrell Floyd

At the beginning of the sixties in November of 1961, Dr. Darrell Floyd was born to Dean and Nancy Floyd in Andrews, Texas. Although Andrews is around the Odessa/Midland area, his father was born in Cement, Oklahoma, where he grew up until beginning work as a roughneck, driller, and toolpusher in the oilfields of West Texas. His mother, Nancy, worked in Andrews Independent School district (where she was recently recognized for 50 years of service) in school cafeterias around Andrews. Darrell shares two children, Tyler and Brittany, with his ex-wife, Dr. Cheryl Floyd.

He attended Andrews ISD for his primary and secondary education, before receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in 1985 from Texas Tech University. Among his favorite activities as a child were participating in sports, music, and furthering his academics. Education was always an important aspect of Darrell’s life, and he attributes this love to four specific teachers/coaches within his academic career. Now in her 80s, 1st-grade teacher, Mrs. Cleta Garms, who still receives an email from Dr. Floyd every year on her birthday in August. Along with Mrs. Garms, his 7th-grade coach Jim Evans, senior honors English Teacher Mrs. Dorothy Davis, and his varsity head baseball, Joe Ray Halsey all left impressions that would help graft his future philosophies in education as an administrator. Active with athletics and band through his student-tenure at Andrews ISD, his most special memory from high school was a band trip to perform at Disneyland in California.

Initially starting as a teacher and coach, and foreseeing this as his ultimate career path, Dr. Floyd was taken out of the classroom and brought into the administration office by several supervisors who saw something special in him. As a teacher and baseball coach in Odessa, Texas during the period of the famed book-turned-movie-turned-tv series, “Friday Night Lights”, he references actively living in the same vicinity to finish his master’s degree and administrative certification. In 1990, he completed his Master’s degree from the University of Texas-Permian Basin, with his Doctorate from Texas A&M University-Commerce being awarded in 1995. From there, he moved to Waco, Texas for a position as Middle School Assistant Principal; followed by, Junior High Principal at Pewitt CISD in Omaha-Naples, Texas; then, proceeding to High School Principal in Queen City, Texas (near Texarkana) and Castleberry ISD (NW Ft. Worth). Becoming Superintendent was a new jump in expectations, but Darrell was more than ready to learn his way to the top. He became Superintendent in Linden, Texas from 1997-2000, and described the experiences he encountered as simply learning lessons. Darrell states, “My first year as superintendent, I was very green.  I didn’t know what I didn’t know.  But I asked a lot of questions, absorbed everything I could, made mistakes, and learned from them.” Following his “green years” in Linden, he moved to Stephenville, Texas with his newly acquired sense of self-assurance from his years of practical knowledge and training. Being in school leadership for Stephenville from 2000-2014, his skills increased, and he was beginning to find his own administrative philosophy, “Over the years, I became a good planner, organizer, motivator, coordinator, and evaluator.  Each of those skills, combined with the three Non-Negotiables that I live by as an administrator, have served me well,” he notes. “My three Non-Negotiables are:  1) always keep the students’ best interest at heart at all times, 2) be professional at all times, and 3) as problems arise, follow the chain of command in solving those problems.”

Chosen as Dr. Shawn Hime’s replacement for EPS in 2014, Dr. Floyd brought his tenets of Non-Negotiables to Enid, where they would become a part of the Plainsmen philosophy. “I just finished my 8th year here in Enid, and I can honestly say that EPS has some of the hardest working faculty/staff members that I have ever worked with.” Enid has seen a boom in early childhood programs over the past decade, and Dr. Floyd has supported that growth from the start, by placing trust and guidance into those who are assets to EPS, “Enid Public Schools has been a leader in the field of early childhood education for many years.  Folks like long-time school board member Willa Jo Fowler and Early Childhood Director Christine “Chris” Smith have led the way. Our partnership with the community, businesses, benefactors/donors, and parents have all greatly benefitted students…and will continue to do so for many years.”

Through his eight years with EPS, his leadership helped local students and staff navigate the rough waters of Covid’s unexpected storms, and Floyd became integral in finding talent within the hiring pool of EPS to promote within Enid Schools’ chain of command, “their work ethic and expertise constantly amaze me, and I thank them all for doing what is best for kids daily…Covid was something that none of us had ever been through or dealt with.  I just finished my 36th year in education, and nothing I had done had fully prepared me for dealing with Covid.” In 2021, the school board for EPS unanimously voted to extend Dr. Floyd’s contract for an additional three years through the Year 2024. Although the unprecedented battle with Covid-19 brought on times of questioning and uncertainty for us all—especially for public school educators and administrators—it also brought opportunities to rise above. Dr. Floyd finishes, “I’d like to say a great big THANK YOU to all of our community members, voters, and taxpayers for so generously supporting our efforts to improve facilities and educational programs for students districtwide…I am honored to serve as the Superintendent of Enid Public Schools”

WANT TO KNOW MORE? LISTEN TO DR. FLOYD PODCAST WITH ENID MONTHLY HERE: https://anchor.fm/robert-r-faulk/episodes/Episode-5-Dr–Darrell-Floyd-e1aafg8

Oklahoma Bible Academy Headmaster – Andy Wilkins

Andrew “Andy” Wilkins was born in Mustang, OK, and graduated from Mustang High in 1999. Enjoying basketball and the general nature of competition, he found a way to continue the game from high school into college, where he attended and played at Oklahoma Baptist University. During his college years in Shawnee, he began a job as a youth pastor, where he eventually met his wife, Sarah, through the church. While she was attending OU and he was attending OBU, they found love with one another in their shared relationship with God. Sarah grew up in McLoud, OK, and coinciding with Andy’s schooling experience in Mustang, easy options for a Christian education weren’t really available. The revelation Andy had, while attending Oklahoma Baptist University, revolutionized his ideas of incorporating Christian ideals and scripture into the classroom.

Eager about his newly acquired career path, and feeling confident about his purpose in life, he sought to complete his Master’s Degree in Christian Education from Dallas Seminary. Upon graduating from seminary school, the Wilkins moved to Enid, OK 14 years ago to work at Emmanuel Baptist Church. Sarah does part-time ministry work at Emmanuel, as well as being a mother and caregiver to their three daughters, Remey (8th grade at OBA), Miriam (5th grade at Emmanuel), and Damaris (2nd grade at Emmanuel). In his free time, he spends the day at Emmanuel Baptist with the children’s ministry and youth ministry, as well as leadership coaching. His family became the new owners of a fixer-upper in Indian Hills recently, and he enjoys the time spent making this new house into their home.

After experiencing the personal benefits of Christian education, he quickly found himself becoming a conduit for providing this experience to as many students as possible. Growing up in Mustang and McLoud Public Schools, Andy and his wife feel thankful their children will have a Christian Education—one they both would have enthusiastically accepted in their youth. Andy said, “Really understanding how our Christian faith influences all of our life, and not just part of our life. A big turning point for me was our faith is not just a part of us. The bible teaches that our faith becomes integrated into all of us, and is the most important thing for all of us—for each part of us…I became really convicted and convinced to do education as a believer. It’s the truth of God, who he is, and what he said about his creation. He gets to define what is good, and true, praiseworthy, and important. He gets to define who we are as his creation.”

During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, when many other districts were racing to figure out the best solutions to a novel problem, students and faculty at OBA found themselves spacing out a lot more to retain a level of normalcy. Serving approximately 250 students, the conditions around OBA offered a much different experience from public schools. Though following CDC guidelines and monitoring the ever-sliding scale around Covid safety, the small number of students enrolled made it easier to fight outbreaks of the illness, “Here at OBA, we are blessed with a lot of square footage. The generations prior invested in great facilities, so the biggest key to our success in moving school along at a regular pace over the last two years, was we could spread everyone out—where everyone was 6 feet apart, which they said was the safest thing to do.”

This fall 2022, OBA is launching new academic services to cater to even more students within the local Enid community. The new academic service, called Discovery Academic Support Programs, includes Cognitive Therapy for students with learning differences in a therapy specifically coined as “discovery therapy.” “Instead of an educational-outcome-focus, it’s more of a focus of ‘how do we get the brain to actually develop’ in those with learning differences,” he explained. Some of the current staff are receiving specialized training for these additional support programs, with Mr. Wilkins’ anticipating providing more resources to even more people, especially those with learning differences. Hosting a fast-paced and rigorous college preparatory curriculum, Senior ACT Scores have been in the top 10 for the State of Oklahoma in 2020 and 2021. Hoping to expand their outreach on who will be able to benefit from the educational options provided, and all on the same Trojan campus, OBA is proud to host a wide spectrum of diverse socio-economic backgrounds. With many financial options and scholarships available, he reiterates the accessibility of admission to Oklahoma Bible Academy for anyone interested in a faith-based education for grades 6-12.

Andy Wilkins gleams with pride, as he describes the philosophy of the 3 stools he’s tried to incorporate into Oklahoma Bible Academy’s philosophical daily practices, “Three stools…There are three legs to a stool when raising a child: home, church, and school. If all are united in what they’re teaching, then the kid will have a good foundation to stand on.” The importance of integrating religious beliefs into the class curriculum means more to Mr. Wilkins than the worldly knowledge students gain from studying textbooks, and this philosophy brings an equal focus between home life, church life, and school life. “We have a lot of tools we can use because of our faith. We rest in God’s control; we can talk about that. We can pray with our students. We can talk about how our faith provides us strength and encouragement that comes from God, not from the things changing in the world.” Since state tax dollars are not used in funding the operations of private schools, the implementation of religious scripture, symbolism and prayer in the classroom is common. State-approved academic curriculums manage to level out an even playing field in terms of educational standards, but private school students are continually reinforced with the importance of their faith throughout daily life. Andy has made efforts to conceptualize within OBA’s culture how Christian beliefs should influence all aspects of life, every day of the week—not just on Sunday. The experience of an educational environment among other devout Christians, while at OBU, gave Mr. Wilkins a renewed love for his religion. His original love for Christ became his life’s work and passion; and, from this passion, he forged existential goals into providing Christian Education among fellow brethren. Having known the two worlds of public and private education himself, he feels honored to uphold his religious beliefs in an academic capacity, “The social dynamic when there’s a unity of ultimate beliefs and ultimate truths…it can help the social community work out well.”

WANT TO KNOW MORE? LISTEN TO HEADMASTER WILKINS’ PODCAST WITH ENID MONTHLY HERE: https://anchor.fm/robert-r-faulk/episodes/Episode-19-Andy-Wilkins-e1lc0os

Abby Greyhttps://www.abbygreyimagery.com
Having started a fascination with photography, writing, & art during my youth, these interests quickly developed into a life-long passion after spending multiple years working with Pamela Gilbreath on the Waller Junior High yearbook staff. The expertise acquired during those formative years from a skilled artist helped curate my lust for a creative future--eventually blossoming into a prospective career during my college years. After completing specialized training and study in Portrait/Editorial Photography and Creative Writing with my degree in the Arts, I launched my professional career as a correspondent in August 2016 for numerous local publications, as well as attaining the role of Project Coordinator, Lead Photographer, & Writer for Ekids Magazine.

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