Introductions were hardly needed for Walter Dansby, a well-known educator who grew up in Stop Six.
But today a coalition of black and Hispanic leaders held a welcome reception to for the new interim superintendent. The atmosphere was more of a family reunion with long-time friends, colleauges and supporters stopping by to offer up best wishes along with those who wanted to meet the new boss.
Campus monitor Elvin Bennett said in one fell swoop Dansby garnered a lot of confidence from staff when he canceled the annual convocation event, a back-to-school pep rally of sorts for school staff. He said many thought the event was too time-consuming when trying to get ready for school.
"That kind of action comes from within," Bennett said. "You can't move in off the street and know what the people need. You have to be able to consider your workforce as a whole. He did."
Many at the reception said they wanted Dansby to be named to the post permanently, though he wouldn't answer when asked if he wanted the job full-time. He was named interim last month after superintendent Melody Johnson announced her resignation.
"I'm excited about this," Dansby said. "It's one of the things I've always wanted to do."
Dansby did say it was time to stop criticizing Johnson's adminstration so that the district can move forward. The school board and some community members had long been split in their support of Johnson and some of her decisions.
Those in attendance seemed unified in what they wanted Dansby to focus on as he steps into the district's top spot -- improving struggling schools and getting more community involvement. The district expects 23 academically unacceptable schools when state ratings are released later this month.
Longtime school volunteer Eddie Griffin, who supported Johnson and Thomas Tocco before that, also noted that the community has to be willing to work with a superintendent even through differences.
"If you keep communication open, you can work through anything," Griffin said.
Junichi Lockett said Dunbar High School graduates such as himself can't help but feel some pride with Dansby, who graduated from the east side school in 1969. Lockett once taught at A.M. Pate Elementary and now is in the Everman school district, though he said he still does consulting work with Fort Worth.
"It makes a difference because you can't help but get a sense of hope and pride because he came up from the same community to accomplish all he has," Lockett said.