March 2016 Inspired2Educate Winner

Dr. Kenneth Border
Superintendent, Shallowater ISD
Shallowater, Texas

As a first generation college student and graduate, I had to overcome numerous obstacles. First of all, post-secondary education wasn’t something that was discussed in my household at all. My mother graduated high school, and my father dropped out in 8thgrade. Neither of them saw value in an education beyond high school.

To begin a life of difficulties, my parents divorced when I was five years old, and I lived with my mother who made a wage but not a living wage. To compound matters, my father passed away when I was twelve years old. As a student, there were many times when I didn’t have a meal outside of free breakfast and lunch at school. At the mere age of 15, I moved out of my house and lived in my car for approximately two months. While being homeless, I attended school due to it being the only means for me in overcoming the “mold” that had been established for me and my family. After two months of living in my car, I moved in with my baseball sponsor. I finally had some normalcy in my life.

During my senior year in high school, I had an amazing English 4 teacher, Sharon Spears. Mrs. Spears was an above average English teacher, but she was beyond expectations as a “life” teacher for me. She taught me that I had value and worth. She taught me that I wasn’t stupid and that I had the potential to go to college. She also created a sense of responsibility for me with her. I didn’t desire to disappoint Mrs. Spears. As a result, I began seeing myself doing something with my life beyond a high school diploma. She assisted me in turning in college applications, taking the ACT, and submitting financial aid information. Needless to say, in August of 1992, I became a college student in spite of my mother passing away two weeks before I started this venture.

Twenty-four years later, I have a bachelor’s degree in English, a Master’s degree in Education Administration and a Doctorate degree in Education Administration (K-12). I have been to two leadership institutes at Harvard University, and I currently serve as the Superintendent of Schools for Shallowater ISD.

What did Sharon Spears teach me? She taught me that there was someone who saw my capabilities, but more importantly she taught me to see my own capabilities and possible achievements. My greatest achievement is my own family. My wife who is a stay at home mother which is the toughest of all jobs, my two young children, and I all have benefitted from one lady, Sharon Spears, believing in me and showing me what I could and can accomplish.