Celebrating 60 years: From teacher to coach to principal, Supt. Henry Scott continues DISD legacy

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
DISD and city officials surprise DISD Superintendent Henry Scott and celebrate his 60 years with the district in late May. Scott started work in Denison in 1961 and has been its superintendent for 28 years.

For decades, Henry Scott has been involved with preparing and readying the students of Denison for the rest of their lives. From his time in the classroom to his tenure in administration, including his current 28 year run as the district's superintendent, he has  helped shape the future of countless youth across multiple generations.

Now, that career is entering its seventh decade.

During his time with the district, Scott has served as a teacher, coach, school leader and principal and finally in district administration. 

"It doesn't feel like it has been that long," Scott said this week. "I remember the first time that I walked into the classroom, which will be 60 years ago — 1961. The past 60 years has gone by very very fast.

"Looking back at my time in Denison, and the various jobs I've had, it just feels like a short period of time and reminds me how short a lifetime really is."

Scott started his teaching career in 1959 when he was brought on board to teach and coach in the west-Texas town of Lamesa. At the time, Scott didn't initially plan for a career in education and instead planned to go to graduate school to study geography. In hindsight, this was the better career decision, he said.

Scott initially got a call from the superintendent of Lamesa who asked him if he would be interested in coaching baseball. While not initially convinced, Scott took a trip to visit the city and found himself immediately drawn into it.

Denison's superintendent Dr. Henry Scott (right) introduces new head football coach and athletic director Brent Whitson. Whitson spend the past 10 years at South Grand Prairie.

"We talked, he offered me a job and I signed a contract," he said. "It was the best thing I've ever done in my life because it was a great opportunity for me to work in education."

Scott came to Denison in 1961 where he taught in the middle school as a history teacher and  coach. He made the transition to Denison High School two years later and taught there for an additional seven years.

Scott started to make the transition to administration in 1970 when he became the vice principal of DHS before transitioning to the principal role. In total, Scott served at DHS for 18 years.

"Once you leave the classroom and move onto administration, it isn't the same relationship you have with the students and staff," he said.

The decision to go onto administration was partially a financial one, with Scott adding that he wanted to better provide for his family. Still, he said it was a difficult decision to leave the classroom and teacher roles.

"I thought to myself and asked if I saw myself coaching and teaching at 55," he said, noting he was about 32 at the time. "It was then I decided to take this opportunity and take advantage of it."

Despite this,  Scott still sometimes meets with some of his original students. Gary Hale, who was in his first class in Denison, regularly helps bring together former athletes from Denison for weekly coffee. Scott occasionally comes to the event, Hale said.

"I've never heard any of my classmates or teammates say anything beyond that he meant the world to us," he said.

The timing of Hale's class allowed both student and coach to transition to high school at about the same time.

"When coach came here, I was in the eighth grade," he said. "He has become a part of the family and he grew up and followed us on to high school."

In 1981, Scott became the assistant superintendent of the district and served in this capacity for 12 years. Finally, in 1993, Scott was promoted to superintendent of schools for DISD — a role he has to this day.

"You have an opportunity to affect a larger number of students than you do when you are working as a teacher-coach," Scott said about his transition to admin. "Hopefully, I have an impact on 4,800 students, but I also have an impact on the staff."

Looking back at his career,  Scott said he was most proud of his work in growing the district and helping bring additional resources for future generations. This includes several bond issues that the district successfully passed, including work on the elementary schools in 1997 and the high school bond issue more than a decade later. More recently, Scott said he was proud to have played a part in passing bonds for work at Mayes and Hyde Park Elementary Schools.

As his career nears its end, Scott said he will likely be the second-longest running superintendent. Scott said he doesn't expect to break the record of 35 years. Instead, he plans to finish the upcoming school year before making a decision.

Even after he leaves, Scott's influence will continue through the many teachers and administrators that he has helped mentor and develop over the decades. Among those leaders is Assistant Superintendent David Kirkbride, who has worked in the district for 15 years, including six years directly with Scott.

"He will come in and sit and I will realize I am just soaking up experience and wisdom from a very unique person," Kirkbride said.

One of the more striking memories that Kirkbride has of Scott is during his interview for the principal position at Terrell Elementary. While many of the other interviewers were asking about qualifications, Kirkbride said Scott focused more on him as a person.

"One of the only questions he asked in that interview was because he wanted to know about me. He wanted to know about David Kirkbride, the person," he said.

Scott has always had the ability to surround himself with qualified people who he then trusts to handle each of the issues without the need of micromanaging. 

"He trusts them to do their job and allows them to do their job," he said