Sunday Conversation: Conroe ISD Superintendent Dr. Don Stockton
Dr. Don Stockton has been the tireless leader of the Conroe Independent School District for the last 15 years. Over his tenure as superintendent he has shaken the hands of 50,000 graduates, seen the kindness of his students in response to a community crisis and has helped shaped the direction of the district. Stockton has not only been an educator, but also a proud father to his daughter, Brooke. At the end of the 2017-2018 school year, Stockton will step down and retire to spend more time with his wife, Kara.
Why did you choose a career in education?
Stockton: I had a great experience in school and had great teachers and great coaches, and I wanted to be that person and work with young people.
What have been some of your greatest achievements as a superintendent?
Stockton: I’m completing my 15th year as superintendent and, by far, the thing I’m most proud of is that I have shook over 50,000 hands at graduation during that 15 years. And that is what schools are all about-preparing kids to graduate and for the rest of their lives. So that’s what I take the most pride in.
Tell me about the school district’s response to Hurricane Harvey.
Stockton: The school district itself did not have any major damage, which was great for our facilities. Our response collectively, I think, was amazing. Our students were so involved in helping neighbors and helping even people they didn’t know deal with Hurricane Harvey.
We had several shelters in place, the biggest one being at The Woodlands College Park High School, and we had food drives. We had one large donation drive on a Friday of that week after the hurricane and we used both stadiums-Woodforest Bank Stadium and Warhead Stadium-and we collected donations for the food band, and the food bank said it was the largest drive they’d ever had. So that was very beneficial. Our schools have all done drives for various things from food to clothing to blankets, so I think we’ve seen the caring nature of people, especially in our school district.
There have been recent incidents of social media bullying. How have you handled that as an administrator?
Stockton: We do not tolerate bullying in our school district. Over my tenures in the school district, bullying forms have changed. Now social media is prevalent with everyone so it’s a never ending battle that we fight. We take a strong stand against it and do everything we can to eliminate bullying because nobody wants to be bullied. No one wants their children to be bullied. Everybody should have a bully-free environment.
The school has spent millions of dollars retrofitting the buses. Tell me a little about that and why it’s important to the district.
Stockton: We went through a whole process where we retrofitted them for emissions. Over the years we’ve retrofitted our buses for both emissions that come from our buses and also for air conditioning. We think both of those things are very important not only for the environment inside the bus but for the environment outside the bus.
How do you manage the stress that comes from dealing with frustrated parents, overworked teachers and transportation issues?
Stockton: Everybody deals with stress differently. I exercise in the morning and that keeps me physically healthy and it helps me relax. I try to keep things in perspective and value everybody’s input and not get too off center any which way. I just try to keep pretty level in all things I do.
How do you manage a balance between personal and work life?
Stockton: It’s hard to be the superintendent and have much of a personal life because you’re always the superintendent. So whenever I go out, regardless of it’s the weekend or whatever, I’m the superintendent. So you have to embrace that lifestyle and that’s what I’ve done over the years. Again, I’ve tried exercise and to take some time away when I can, but you really don’t get much time away as superintendent. But if you embrace the job then it all works out.
How did you meet your wife?
Stockton: I was teaching at Travis Junior High School, and she walked into the workroom. It was in the middle of the year and it was her first day and she walked into the workroom... It was love at first sight.
We dated the next day. I met her on Feb. 9 and spring break started March 8. I wanted to get married over spring break but she said it’s way too early. She said “what would people think” and I said I don’t care what people think. So she made me wait until July. And we’ve been married 30 years.
What is one of your proudest moments as a parent?
Stockton: I’m very proud of my daughter, and there’s not really one moment I’m most proud of. I’m proud of who she is and what she’s become in life and the kind of person she is. She graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in English and she has a Masters degree from North Texas in library science. She’s married to a wonderful young man and they’re a great couple. But I’m most proud of who she is, not of any one thing she accomplished.
Why have you decided to retire and what are your future plans?
Stockton: There’s really not one reason I decided to retire. The time is right. I’ve had a long career in Conroe and in education. And my wife is retired and we both have our health. It’s just time.
I don’t have any plans at this time. My wife and I will travel a little bit and I’ll probably get some rest and then see what the rest of my life leads.
Any piece of advice for your successor?
Stockton: Most of life is about relationships. My advice would be develop relationships, and when you develop relationships people work together and things get done for the greater good.
Any other words to the community before you retire?
Stockton: I would just say thank you. It’s been a great 32 years. The community’s been wonderful to me, very supportive in everything that I’ve done and it’s just been a blessing in my life.