Retired educator inducted into Mesquite Grove of Honor

The Mesquite Rotary Club inducted former Mesquite ISD superintendent of schools Dr. James Terry into the Mesquite Rotary Grove of Honor at the site in DeBusk Park, adjacent to the Kidsquest playground, on May 28.  The club established this award in 1999 in order to provide a vehicle for honoring Mesquite citizens who have demonstrated a commitment to serving our community, an overall public spirit, and whose efforts have materially benefited our city and/or its people. Trees are planted at the site in honor of each inductee, and their names are added to the plaque at the site for all to see.

The club established this award in 1999 in order to provide a vehicle for honoring Mesquite citizens who have demonstrated a commitment to serving our community, an overall public spirit, and whose efforts have materially benefited our city and/or its people. Past honorees at the Rotary Grove of Honor include the late Dr. Jack Nelson, the late Len Gibbens, the late Dr. Ralph Poteet, Anne Poteet, Evelyn Williams, James Folks, Gary Bingham, the late Oran Bain, the late Briggs Todd, the late John Heiman, Sr., the late John Bass, the late Nancy Upton, Dr. James Griffin, Bennye Rice, David Belt, Dr. Byron McKnight, and Dwight Hawkins.

Terry served as superintendent of the Mesquite Independent School District, where he oversaw the education of more than 35,000 students.  In 1963, he graduated from East Texas State University. It was there that he met his future wife Fran Gilbert, and they married the same year he graduated.  At the start of his teaching career, he and Fran relocated to Mesquite as he joined the Dallas ISD for two years as a junior high math teacher. He moved to MISD in 1967 as a Mesquite High School math teacher. He found his home in MISD and continued a distinguished career, serving in several administrative roles.  These included being registrar at NMHS, principal at Agnew Middle School, secondary director, assistant superintendent, and deputy superintendent for 12 years before becoming the superintendent.

Terry is a life-long learner, receiving his bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees from East Texas State University (now Texas A&M Commerce).  He also attended the University of North Texas and the University of Florida.  After retirement from Mesquite ISD, he returned to his alma mater, Texas A&M-Commerce, and served as an assistant professor of educational leadership.

Terry has been recognized across the state as an exemplary leader in public education and an outstanding community leader. In 1989, he was named “Administrator of the Year” for the state of Texas, as recognized by the Association of Texas Professional Educators. And in 2004, he was the recipient of one of Texas’ most coveted education awards — the “Golden Deeds for Education Award,” as named by the Administrative Leadership Institute, which was co-sponsored by Texas A&M University Department of Educational Administration and the Texas Association of School Administrators. Terry served eight years on the legislative council for the University Interscholastic League, and served as its chairman in 2001. 

His contributions to the Mesquite community did not end with his retirement, and the tireless work and countless hours generously given of his time and Fran’s have been numerous.  He has been an active member of the MISD Education Foundation, helping to deliver more than $2 million dollars to teachers and students in MISD.  Every Thursday for the last 14 years, he and Fran have delivered Meals On Wheels to those in need throughout our community.  He serves as a director for the Buddy Copeland Scholarship Fund, providing scholarships for those MISD athletes in need of financial assistance for college.  He served as co-chair of the 2015 Mesquite Street Bond Committee, and presently serves on the board of directors for the Mesquite Medical Center Management District.  He and Fran have completed the Mesquite Police Department Academy and serve as alumni members, supporting the Mesquite Police and the City of Mesquite.

Rotary International, a worldwide organization of business and professional leaders, was established in 1905. The clubs in the organization provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations and help build goodwill and peace.  The Mesquite Rotary Club was established in 1959, and meets at noon each Tuesday at the Dallas Athletic Club.  For more details on the group, visit their website at mesquitetxrotary.org.

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