In a front-page story written by staff writer Linda Starcher in Sunday’s edition of the Cleveland Daily Banner, we announced that the retiring Dr. Rick Denning, director of the Cleveland City School System, has been named the Southeast Regional “Superintendent of the Year.”
Dr. Denning’s retirement, which he announced Monday, is effective June 30, 2011.
The prestigious award has been made possible by the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS). Dr. Denning was nominated anonymously by his peers.
As a regional recipient, the long-time superintendent and educator will advance to a statewide competition, along with eight of his peers from across Tennessee. The state award will be announced this fall.
A nomination for this state honor is certainly an impressive achievement, but being named recipient of the Southeast Regional award is also an outstanding tribute to the longevity and commitment of this veteran educator. Too, it demonstrates the dedication Dr. Denning as shown to this noble profession, to his staff and faculty members, and most significantly to the students of the Cleveland City School System, to their parents and this community.
It is appropriate that state nominees are selected based on education, administrative experience, school system growth, professional development activities, community leadership and previous honors or awards. Certainly, Dr. Denning is high on the ladder of success in each of these categories.
Based on his reputation for inclusion and appreciation for jobs well done, it is unsurprising that Dr. Denning credited his regional award to the professional attitudes and commitment to education of his school system’s faculty, his administrative staff and to the entire city schools team. Likewise, he paid particular homage to members of the Cleveland Board of Education whom he described as being “strong, forward-looking school board members who are not afraid to ask for the best for our children.”
In an interview with our education reporter, Dr. Denning said he is especially proud of the school system’s construction and renovation projects — namely, the new Science Wing at Cleveland High School and the exhaustive remodeling at George R. Stuart Elementary School — which collectively have constituted a whopping $7 million commitment to the educational process.
The superintendent stresses these developments further point to the willingness of the Cleveland City Council and Bradley County Commission, and respective mayors for each, to keep education on the front-burner at all times.
A Cleveland resident since 1993, which is when he succeeded the late Dr. Donald P. Yates to this important post, Dr. Denning feels the same toward this community that so many long-timers feel; that is, he “loves” it. We join this likable educator in his assessment and we happen to agree with his comment, “If you ask me, it’s (Cleveland) the best place to live in the world and it’s a wonderful place to raise a family, as I have.”
Those who know Rick Denning know this. He lives and breathes education as evidenced by his four-decade tenure. He is a product of North Carolina where he began his career as an elementary school teacher. In only two years he was already an assistant principal in Fayetteville ... and the rest is education history.
We applaud Dr. Rick Denning and we thank him for all he has done for our schools, for our community and most importantly for our children!