The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Globe Life

July 26, 2009

Destry rides again: New Pittsburg superintendent doesn't fit traditional mold

By Andra Bryan Stefanoni

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Destry Brown does some of his best administrative work in the saddle of a Yamaha motorcycle out on the open road.

“My most creative time is when I’m riding,” said the new superintendent of the Pittsburg school district. “I guess it’s my idea factory, where I do my problem solving and play through all scenarios.”

Brown last week worked his way through a stack of about 30 handwritten birthday greetings to district employees whose birthdays are in August. In the Frontenac school district, where Brown spent the past three years, such a task meant addressing just a few cards each month for the staff of about 50. In Pittsburg, the staff totals 500, which means the possibility of writer’s cramp.

“I believe in personal relationships. The bedrock of the whole district is the people, and it’s important that I value every person in it,” he said of the effort.

Assistant Superintendent Cory Gibson said Brown doesn’t fit into the standard administrative mold.

“He is not a stereotypical suit-and-tie superintendent, but much more of a laid back and ‘let’s have fun’ kind of guy,” Gibson said. “In our directors’ meetings he begins the meeting by asking each person what they have done to make someone’s day.”

Brown said his life has been enriched by the people he has met along the way. That includes young people, whom he misses getting to know in a classroom setting.

Formerly an elementary teacher, Brown started his interest in education as a 14-year-old, growing up in Fort Scott, when he volunteered to be one of the youngest Little League coaches in history.

“I guess my core values are totally about kids, and have been for most of my life,” he said.

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