Editor’s Note: From now until Jan 1, 2013, I plan to write a piece here daily on DaddyClaxton.com to say thank you to someone I know for the recognized or unrecognized contributions they have made to my life, that of my family, friends or the general public. Some will be controversial no doubt, like today’s, but “lightning-rods of society” wouldn’t be such if they didn’t ruffle a feather or two along the way. In days gone by, I’ve ruffled a few feathers, too, and it’s not easy in those times when you feel like you’re all alone. 

Thank You, Shirley Ison-Newsome

If you don’t know anything about Shirley Ison-Newsome, she’s now a former administrator in the Dallas Independent School District where I had the pleasure to work from August 2001 until September 2007. In that time, I got to know a little bit about Shirley, even got invited to her amazing staff Christmas party feasts a time or two, and came to appreciate what she has done for the schoolchildren of Dallas over what now is the end of her 37-year career.

Shirley Ison-Newsome, from DallasNews.com

New leadership and changes in the district, as well as some things she may or may not have done to follow policy have made her the attention of the news media of late and now she is leaving the district. I’m not about to get into all of that.

But what I do want to say to Shirley and to those who might be trying to surround her like sharks in the water where they smell blood, is that you should also step back and reflect on the things this woman has done to make a difference in public education for children in South Dallas, a part of town once described to me by a long-time TV investigative reporter’s dad–“South Dallas is kinda like your ass.  You don’t touch it unless you absolutely have to.”

But this is where Shirley has thrived for many years and has made a difference.

In 2005, when students at J.J. Rhoads Elementary School in South Dallas found that bag of drug money in the park next to the school, Shirley was very worried about the safety of the kids in that school and worked with me, DISD Police, Dallas Police and others to ensure that the situation was handled and the school kids were kept safe.

When the threat of a pandemic from the Bird Flu virus was the darling of the mainstream media, I sat through meetings next to Shirley where we discussed contingency plans for if such a disaster were ever to come to pass. She was calm headed, thorough and ready to do whatever it took to make sure the children of Dallas were kept safe.

There are dozens of other stories I could tell, but won’t. That’s not the purpose here.

The purpose is to say thanks to someone who has given 37 years of their life to help give children born needing a helping hand, an extra lift to help them get out of South Dallas and make something of their lives. It’s a hard part of town and anytime someone gets out, Shirley has no doubt had a hand in that over the past four decades.

And that is why I begin this series today with just a short word of thanks to Shirley Ison-Newsome.

Come back and see who is featured tomorrow.

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