PSHS Principal Retiring After 45 Years of Distinguished Service to Plano ISD
April 8, 2010
"Doyle Dean is My Homeboy" was the slogan emblazoned on t-shirts that his faculty and staff wore during one recent school year at Plano Senior High in appreciation of their longtime head principal. "What is a 'homeboy'?," Doyle puzzled to his office manager Bobbi Otto. She explained that the title is among the highest honors. It means he's "the man."
To the staff at Plano Senior High School and to thousands of Plano ISD students, parents and community members, this unique home boy "exemplifies a combination of experience and wisdom that have guided him through an incredibly successful career," summed up Superintendent of Schools Dr. Doug Otto. "Doyle serves as a role model for all of us." For his many years of service to Plano schools and upon his retirement this year, Doyle was honored at Plano ISD's 45th Annual Service & Retirement celebration on April 8 at Southfork Ranch.
Doyle was hired in 1964 to teach math. He is pictured with Bowman Middle School students, circa 1960s.
Raised on a farm near McKinney and a graduate of Prosper High School, Doyle dreamed of becoming a math teacher and following his lifelong goal. "I wanted to be the principal of a 'small' high school," he recalled. Instead, Doyle has spent more than 30 years shaking the hands of approximately 1,500 graduates each spring, confident that their experience at one of the largest and most prestigious high schools in the nation, Plano Senior High School, has prepared them for a lifetime of success.
A princi"pal" who is known for "being there" to talk to students around campus and who attends most campus events, Doyle said, "Students should feel that they have administrators and counselors who know them and who are approachable. They need to know that someone cares."
He recalled an incident this school year when he met a brand new student at the bus drop off area and wished him well each school morning. "Who are you?," the student asked. "You cannot be the principal of this school."
Doyle is pictured with students at a Bowman Middle School event in 1974.
Doyle's presence among students is legendary. In fact, several years ago, film club students made a videotape entitled The Principal of It All as a tribute to his availability and being present around campus each day.
'One of the best principals ever'
Doyle on the phone in his office, 1976.
Forty-five years ago, then Superintendent of Schools Dr. H. Wayne Hendrick made sure that Doyle stayed in Plano, coaxing him into foregoing a teaching position in Dallas for a job as a junior high school math instructor at Plano ISD's Cox School. "Dr. Hendrick called on a Sunday and said, 'I'll see you in my office after church, and we'll talk about your contract.' He offered me a little less money than Dallas, but I wanted to teach in Plano. So, he typed up the contract himself, right on the spot."
"Doyle Dean is probably one of the best high school principals ever," said Dr. Hendrick from his Plano home this week. "His nature...the respect of the kids and staff...It's so unusual in this day and age to never hear a complaint. I cannot remember ever getting a complaint about Doyle. It's almost unbelievable. His nature is such that, every day is a good day for Doyle."
In Dr. Hendrick's judgment, Doyle continually sought to make things better. "Whether it was having the best football team, band, academic ranking. He always sought to challenge students, and they all realized that the AP (Advanced Placement) program was there to challenge them, and they stepped up to the challenge. Everything Doyle did or offered, he wanted it to be the best. He's a good guy."
Doyle is pictured in 1983 with fellow assistant principal Larry Guinn and then PSHS Principal Sherman Millender.
Larry Guinn, retired student services executive director and former fellow assistant principal with Doyle at Plano Senior High, said, "Doyle is one of the most intelligent people I've ever known, but he doesn't flaunt it. He's a quiet leader. And, he's been a great friend, professionally and personally. When we worked together, those were just about the best years of my career."
"Doyle's very even-handed," noted Marilyn Brooks, also retired from the district after 40 years of distinguished service ("I'm jealous that he got in five more years than I did," she said.). "When he's been involved in any decision making, at the school or district level, he always puts the students first. Doyle is calm and a great captain of a ship. People know that they can trust him and depend upon him."
PSHS Graduate and College President Chris Howard with wife Barbara Noble and sons Cohen and Joshua
"As principal of PSHS and senior class president, respectively, Dr. Dean and I learned the 'Wildcat Way' of leading together over twenty years ago," said Dr. Chris Howard, PSHS graduate, Rhodes Scholar and current president of Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia. "We were both in the first year of the job, so to speak; however, he managed to stay in his for several decades while I moved on upon graduation. But I was fortunate to maintain a part of Dr. Dean's leadership ethos throughout a career in the military, business non-profit and higher education."
Chris continued, "Dr. Dean not only spoke of respecting others, encouraging disparate points of view, empathy and humility, he demonstrated these traits during his everyday interactions with others. He instilled in me a deep abiding respect for education as well as stressing the importance of fiscal responsibility, sound stewardship of resources and a self-deprecating sense of humor. I would never have risen to the rank of college president but for his mentorship, guidance and support."
'Hire the best, then stay out of their way'
Hiring the best teachers and then letting them do what they do best is part of Doyle's secret to success. "I've strived to do a good job of hiring people with the right academic background and passion for teaching. Give them a safe environment and the tools they need, then stay out of their way," he said.
Doyle is pictured with Karen Shepherd, Plano ISD, Region 10 and Texas Teacher of the Year in 2005.
"When I think of a leader, I think of Dr. Doyle Dean," said Science Department Chair Karen Shepherd. "He has lead our school through growth and change with a focus always on tradition. He is an inspiration for all who teach under his guidance. He gently leads, always innovates and inspires those around him to be part of the tradition known as Plano Senior High School."
"Of all the people I've worked for over the past 38 years," said Bobbi Otto, his office manager, "Doyle is by far the best. You cannot compare him to anybody. He's a wonderful manager - attentive but firm. Someone else could tell you 'No,' and they wouldn't accept it, but they'll accept it from Doyle."
Celebrating his 215 staff members is a priority for Doyle. On each of their birthdays, he hand-delivers a card and corsage or boutonniere thanks to a longtime partnership with Appletree Florist. On the card, in maroon font, is this statement: "You are an important member of our team, and the work you do for students is appreciated. I hope that you enjoy your special day. May the next year of your life be filled with joy and satisfaction."
Ditto to you, Dr. Dean. May your next years be filled with joy and satisfaction.
When the PTSA brought Doyle a prototype "paw" during his first year as principal, he asked, "Do you think people will know what to do with them?"
Dr. Dean and the Plano 'Mystique'
"What is the secret to the Plano mystique?," Doyle is asked many times.
"Hard work and talent," is his answer. "You can work hard but not have talent, and you can have talent but not work hard. When those two come together, that's when the mystique comes out."
Doyle at Texas Stadium before the 2008 state championship football game.
He said that "high expectations" and a "team spirit" start at the top and channel all through the staff, student body and school community. "We will do well. Our students will achieve," are the expectations, he said. "Ask any teacher or student here. If you're willing to work extra hours, study hard and learn to do things in a better way, the team wins."
Class of 2009 Statistics posted on his school's website are indicative of the continual success of graduating students from Plano Senior High School. With 97 percent of students continuing on to higher education, envious numbers of National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists, Advanced Placement test administration numbers and scores that rank among the top in the nation and stellar SAT and ACT college entrance exam scores, Dr. Dean's school has shone as a beacon of educational excellence for more than 40 years.
Doyle and Gail are pictured with daughters Shannon and Christa in 1981.
Gail, Shannon, Doyle and Christa are pictured at the Plano ISD Service & Retirement Awards ceremony April 8 at Southfork Ranch.
"Because of Doyle, our girls and our grandson, Plano Senior High School pride encompasses our home, and deep maroon blood flows through all of our veins. There are few places in the world that we have been where someone didn't come up to us because they knew 'Dr. Dean.' At Disney World during a parade, at the grocery store, the airport and in most every town we've visited, someone has called out excitedly, 'Dr. Dean!' They would come over and tell him hello and what they were doing, because they knew he was genuinely interested. They all feel like he knows them."
~Gail Dean, Doyle's wife and Haggard Middle School
"I loved being his 'little buddy' going places with him when I was little. I was always ready to go with my daddy to any and every event. I remember going to state soccer tournaments in Pflugerville and going to movies between the games. A few years later, I was fortunate to be a PSHS cheerleader at the State Girls Soccer Championship in Pflugerville. Today I enjoy watching the way my sons, Austin and Cuyler, look at Grandpa and hang on every word he says. He reads to them, plays ball with them and loves them." ~Shannon Dean Holloway, Doyle's daughter
(Doyle is pictured with grandsons Austin and Cuyler.)
Peyton, Cuyler and Austin will get to pal around with granddad more often now.
I enjoyed my time at Plano Senior High School when Dad was principal. It was a little like being the preacher's kid. But he was so well liked and respected by teachers and students that it was a really positive experience. I have no doubt that he will still be involved with the district after his upcoming retirement. After all, he has a closet full of maroon and white."
~Christa Dean, Doyle's daughter
"Doyle is one of my best friends. He has contributed so much to Plano ISD. His support of all programs is appreciated by many teachers and students. PSHS's excellence in academics and fine arts can largely be attributed to him. The same is true in his support of the athletic program. I am especially appreciative of his interest and belief in the importance of athletics. However, his sincere interest in the individual student may be his greatest strength. He's touched many lives in a positive manner over the years."
Tom Kimbrough, Executive Director of Facility Services
"Dr. Dean has set a high educational standard for the staff, and his leadership style and mentoring have allowed Plano Senior High School to be considered one of the premier schools in the nation. When Dr. Dean told the administrative team that he was retiring, one of the reasons that he gave was so that someone could come in and take Plano Senior High School to the next level. The person that follows this iconic leader will have huge shoes to fill and will have many giant hurdles as they try and maintain the high standards that Dr. Dean has set. I am truly blessed to have had the opportunity to work for such an outstanding educator and person."
~Doug Damewood, PSHS Assistant Principal
- Homeboy (n. Slang) -- A male friend or acquaintance from one's neighborhood or hometown (answers.com); a slang term meaning "friend" (wikipedia.org)