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Kennedale
Thursday, June 30, 2022

A transformative figure at KISD

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Kennedale ISD lost an important individual in its history last week with the passing of G.D. Cockerham, Superintendent of Schools, 1986 ? 1993. {{more: continue …}}
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Many may not even recognize the name and certainly not know of his contribution. He assumed the superintendency just as quietly as he left it.
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determination .. sharpeness in intellect … shrewdness in judgement
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He was a soft spoken, unassuming individual that belied a determination, a sharpness in intellect and a shrewdness in judgment that served him well as superintendent. He came to the office on the heels of the 1986 retirement of J.W. Teague, another legendary figure in school district history.?
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Teague was credited with saving a financially strapped school district that had just barely avoided a complete shutdown. Teague?s mantra was never spend a penny when you can save it. This was just what the district needed at the time to recover financially. However, over the years, he allowed the school district to accumulated one of highest fund-balances (percentage wise) in the state of Texas and Teaque was loathe to spend any of it.
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At the time Kennedale had one of the lowest rates of pay for staff in Tarrant County, a high dropout rate and a very low percentage of students enrolling in college or other type of post high school education. Some of the test scores ranked Kennedale near the bottom for the area and classroom teachers had gone years with little to spend on classroom supplies or educational material.

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This is when TEA stepped in to demand that Kennedale spend down its fund balance to recommended levels. Whether it was the cause or just one of many things that was happening with education at the time. Mr. Teague decided to retire. The KISD School Board under Board President Bobby Platt, appointed G.D. Cockerham, who was serving as assistant superintendent, to acting superintendent and after a brief search, hired him as the superintendent.
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a teacher’s superintendent …?
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One of his first acts as superintendent, was to take money from the fund balance ? money that the state was threatening to take away by cutting Kennedale?s state annual allotment – dividing it up and giving it to each classroom teacher for classroom supplies and educational materials. Over the next several years, he built up salaries and wages to be more competitive with area districts. He hired teachers and administrators who would help the district begin the climb from near the bottom in academic performance to the recognized status that Kennedale enjoys today.?
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In his public school teaching career, Cockerham, had been a classroom teacher, one that had not come up through the coaching ranks. He felt that the teachers were the heart of the school district. He was a teachers? superintendent and sought their input from the beginning. For the first time, staff was encouraged to attend school board meetings. Teacher committees were often formed to give reports directly to the school board and not filtered through administration. A monthly staff newsletter was started to keep employee up to date on school board actions.?
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He also felt strongly that the public should be kept informed. He stepped outside of the norm and called Star-Telegram reporters and local news to tell them of pending board action and supply information on those actions. And with the encouragement from Board President Platt, he started a quarterly newsletter that was mailed to all taxpayers in the district.
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He actively promoted women into the administrative ranks which formerly had been all male. He hired Kennedale?s first director of technology as computers were just becoming a force in public schools.

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Kennedale ISD was on an upward curve and has never looked back.
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Thank you Mr. Cockerham.

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