By Nancy Price
Greenwood Superintendent Dr. Kent DeKoninck has recently been named 2020 Indiana Superintendent of the Year by the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents.
DeKoninck, who retires on at the end of the year, has been a fixture in Greenwood Community Schools for the past eight years. Under his leadership, the district welcomed a new middle school building; since then, ILEARN and ISTEP test scores have risen from being in the top 40 percent to the top 15 percent. As well, beginning salaries for teachers have increased by 30 percent.
“Great leaders do two things well – create relationships and get results,” said Todd Garrison, Greenwood High School superintendent. “Dr. DeKoninck is always present. Students know him, they speak to him and they feel comfortable sharing information with him.”
“Dr. DeKoninck inspires me to be invested in everyone I work with,” said Greenwood High School junior Andrew Jones. “My favorite memory of Dr. DeKoninck is when he invited me to participate in the groundbreaking of the new middle school. He asked me to represent the first eighth-grade class in the new building and I had a lot of fun with him as we dug the first hole for the construction of the new school. Every time I see him, he is always very open to me and asks me questions that actually show he cares about me.”
DeKoninck’s open communication extends to staff and parents as well. “Dr. DeKoninck knows each and every teacher and staff member and he’s approachable and listens to their concerns,” added Garrison. “The same could be said for parents. Dr. DeKoninck is visible, attends all events and reacts to parent concerns. He has created special relationships with all stakeholders and our corporation data indicates great improvement during his leadership. He represents our corporation with class and integrity.”
“As I look back on my career, I am so happy that I was fortunate enough to experience what I have experienced here,” DeKoninck said. “I wish every educator could have been able to walk in my shoes. I am a better husband, father, and educator for having served Greenwood. I’m most proud that this school community supports its students and educators. We have a collaborative culture that has been the foundation of our success together. What we have as a school community doesn’t happen everywhere; in fact, I would say we are the exception.”
DeKoninck set his sights on a career in education when he was in high school but nearly chose a different path after discouraging advice. “I knew I wanted to be a teacher and coach, but everyone said, ‘Don’t go into it because you will make no money.’ So, I went to get a business degree and realized even as I was getting it that I would go back to get my teaching degree,” he said.
A native of the Ft. Wayne, Ind. area, DeKoninck received his bachelor’s degrees and an AMS in school counseling at Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW), now known as Purdue University Fort Wayne (PFW). He attended Indiana State University, where he received his Ph.D. He worked in administration with schools in Westfield, Carmel, Avon and Perry Township.
After retirement, DeKoninck plans to return to Ft. Wayne with his wife, Amanda and spend time with their daughters, Hillary, 28 and Morgan, 27 and a granddaughter born in July (a grandson will arrive in February of 2021). “I will stay involved in teaching classes at the college level in educational leadership,” he said. “I hope to formally mentor school leaders. I may also look into some nonprofit leadership opportunities. Most importantly, I want to be a busy grandpa.”
DeKoninck will be representing the state as he competes for National Superintendent of the Year.