Aledo superintendent Don Daniel always knew he wanted to be in education.
First as a teacher and coach, he moved his way up the system, before taking office as the Aledo superintendent more than a decade ago.
May 31 will be his official last day, and a retirement and appreciation reception will be held in his honor May 17 at 4:30 p.m.
“I’ve always had a passion for education,” Daniel said. “These have been the best 12 years of my career.
“I’ve been surrounded by great people, and there were times where I had to stop and count my blessings because I felt like I had the perfect situation.”
That feeling of closeness and a positive attitude runs rampant around the district offices.
“The past 12 years have been absolutely great, and the moral has improved so much under his leadership,” said Ann Grace, Daniel’s assistant. “He and his family have been so supportive and we’ve all become each other’s family. I just can’t say enough about him.”
Grace, a graduate of Aledo High School, has been in the district for 17 years, working alongside Daniel for the last 12.
“Most superintendents last about two or three years and usually don’t stay in one spot for too long, but I’m glad he did,” she said. “He has taken us from the brink and back and we’ve grown and prospered into what we are now.”
Daniel arrived in Aledo after serving as assistant superintendent for Crowley ISD. At that time, the district was in a bleak financial state and academics needed to be improved upon, he said.
“The student performance was good, but our sub groups were far below average and we had some work to do,” Daniel said. “The new high school was also being constructed and it was underfunded.”
In response, Daniel and his staff went to the state, coming up with a two-year financial plan for recovery. They were able to regain their footing in just a year.
“We had a $165,000 fund balance at the time, compared to our current fund balance of $13 million,” he said. “It was a good way to lose weight, but I wouldn’t recommend it.”
While the things he has accomplished in his 12 years at Aledo may be abundant, Daniel’s humble and children-first attitude show just how invested he has been.
“He’s here for the kids,” Grace said. “That’s what he wakes up and thinks about.”
On top of maintaining a healthy budget for Aledo ISD, the district has also grown in enrollment numbers, increasing by 60 percent over the last decade, a figure Daniel says is because of his staff.
“I’m very fortunate to have had such a great staff,” he said. “You can have all types of ideas, strategies and improvements, but without implementing them, none of that would make a difference.
The credit goes to the staff who provide the implementation and I’m the one who takes responsibility.”
While he is still a little anxious at relinquishing control and responsibility to someone else, Daniel looks forward to pursuing things on his off time.
“I’ll spend time with the family and hopefully play a little more golf,” he said. “And of course there’s more time for more yard work to do.”
Daniel will also travel next door as an ambassador at the Ballpark in Arlington, meeting people and answering questions, as well as getting to see some good baseball games.