BAXTER SPRINGS — Due to current Baxter Springs Public Schools Superintendent Dennis Burke seeking early retirement through KPERS and submitting his resignation to the school board effective June 1, 2014, the board named a new superintendent in their last meeting on Sept. 10. The board selected current Baxter Springs High School Principal David Pendergraft.
“He [Pendergraft] has done a great job. He has two years to learn from our current superintendent [Burke] about budgeting and curriculum. Having someone that was already part of our community was an asset,” Baxter Public Schools Board President DeAnne Binns said.
Pendergraft has sixteen years experience in education with three of those as Baxter Springs High School principal. He holds a bachelor of science degree from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, in education, and master of arts in education leadership from Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Oklahoma. The first thirteen years of Pendergraft’s career was split between a teacher and coach and as an administrator in Oklahoma. Before being named the high school principal in Baxter, Pendergraft was a principal at Will Rogers Middle School in Miami, Okla.
“I always thought that Mr. Pendergraft was a great principal. He always was encouraging and always had a smile on his face. He would joke around with the kids, but he knew when to shut it off and discipline when it was needed,” said a former student.
Pendergraft is excited about the opportunity and has been extremely pleased with the direction the school district has been headed in under the direction of Burke. It is Pendergraft’s vision to continue the work on the foundation Burke has laid down before him. While the superintendent job is looming, Pendergraft knows he still has a job to do as principal at BHS. He hopes to learn next summer from Burke as to more of the role he will need to take as superintendent and the duties the job will require of him.
“There are a few changes down the road still yet to be determined — intramurals may be added for Fifth graders as we see how the district grows,” said Pendergraft.
Pendergraft’s philosophy might be summed up by the quote he uses on the high school’s internet homepage.
“If we only put out a minimum effort we might get by in some situations, but in the long run we won’t fully develop the talents that lie within us,” said former UCLA Head Basketball Coach John Wooden.
“The Board was on board 100 percent with his selection,” said Binns.