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Saying goodbye to a great leader

Community leaders, well-wishers attend reception honoring retiring EISD Superintendent Mike Harper
For the last nine years, Mike Harper has been the navigator of the Ennis Independent School District (EISD) ship. During his tenure, as many of his coworkers and friends pointed out at a reception in his honor yesterday, he is leaving the district a much better place than when he came.
Harper was met with resounding praise at a farewell reception held Tuesday at the EISD Administrative Building for the exceptional work he has accomplished during his tenure as superintendent of schools.
Deputy Superintendent Bill Chapman reminded visitors the reason for Harper’s insistence on excellence was “always for the kids.” “What Mr. Harper does, it is always for the kids,” Chapman said.
Assistant superintendent Kathy Cikanek said, “Mr. Harper is a visionary and he set the bar high and expected a lot from both his staff and himself.”
Some speakers barely held back the tears as they sang Harper’s praises relating his accomplishments in the last nine years.
“He led with integrity and I thank him for his leadership and dignity,” said Principal Jan White.
Harper was given a gift basket in preparation for his retirement. Chapman said those retirement plans include an Alaskan cruise with his wife. In addition to the gift basket, Harper was presented with a plaque commemorating his exemplary work for the school district and a photo memory book Finance Director Lisa Fincher designed that chronicles his employment and includes dozens of humorous and touching notes from coworkers.
Harper was hired, by a unanimous decision from the school board, in 1997. He came to the district after serving as the superintendent for Mount Vernon ISD, a community he will now return to in retirement.
“We felt like this was a man called to be our superintendent,” said former EISD Board of Trustees President, Ivan Goodwin. “I’ll never regret the opportunity we had not only to work with him but to get to know him. Our kids have benefited greatly. There’s never been a greater guy in Texas education. He is a visionary leader.”
In the humble style for which Harper has become well known, he deflected much of the credit given him for the district’s accomplishments opting, instead, to pass along accolades and give credit to the administrative staff and teachers who work directly with the children every day.
“What I did well here was put good people in the right spots,” Harper said.

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Posted by on Nov 29 2006. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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