Senior staff writer
Before Kent DeKoninck was named to lead Greenwood Schools, he did not use Twitter as a major communication tool. Now the sixth-year superintendent tweets daily throughout the week, touting teacher and student achievements and acknowledging important community happenings. The School Board wanted him to become the face of Greenwood Schools and to create more transparency with the public about school matters.
“I try to highlight those events in our schools that are positive,” DeKoninck said. “I use Twitter to highlight something that is happening in the classroom, at athletic events or in Greenwood.” The superintendent also is a board member of the Greater Greenwood Chamber of Commerce and co-chair of Aspire Johnson County and Rotary and Sertoma clubs.
DeKoninck tweeted during the summer, for example: easier online access of athletic team schedules, Greater Greenwood Chamber as a finalist for Indiana Chamber of the Year, grand opening of the new Vista Outpatient Recovery Center, backpack distribution at Westwood Elementary, date and time of senior football photos, students honored at the Indiana University journalism institute, nieces playing softball at Grand Park, renovation of the Greenwood Justice Center and Pam Pagan earning first place in the Indiana State School Bus Rodeo.
“I’m involved and outgoing anyway because that’s part of my nature,” said DeKoninck, who served as a principal at Meridian Middle School and a personnel director for Perry Township Schools. “I make sure I’m in the schools every week in the classrooms to see the good things that are going on. … Obviously I get to know more students and parents – it’s all about building relationships.”
Each Friday morning, “Dr. D’s District Dialogue” is emailed to over 500 district administrators, faculty and staff. “It takes parents, kids, staff, community, businesses, the mayor, city government, everyone to make a good school system as well as a good community,” DeKoninck said.
“Greenwood is a really special place to live. I believe the community appreciates what we do.” His sense of Greenwood, 45,000 population, began when he talked with administrators, teachers, staff, and custodians during his first weeks as superintendent.
“People are really proud of the culture here,” he observed. “You really feel like you are in a small town here (because) there is a sense of belonging and being respected. We have a lot of former students who graduated from Greenwood who make darn sure their kids go here.” DeKoninck said more than 550 students have transferred into Greenwood schools, primarily because many of those parents seek a welcoming school where their children can blend in with the student body.
“Parents first and foremost want a school where their kids feel safe, where they belong and are cared for and are respected by their teachers – that’s what I see here after five years,” DeKoninck offered of his six schools, which serve more than 4,000 students. DeKoninck and his wife, Amanda, have two grown daughters, Hillary, who lives in Fort Wayne, and Morgan, who is a counselor with Beech Grove Schools.