Arizona Republic
August 1, 2007


 Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) August 1, 2007
Author: Georgann Yara, Special for The Republic Estimated printed pages: 2

Then-Thew Elementary School principal Cindy Denton took the school in four years from an underperforming to a performing-plus ranking.

It was a quick turnaround time for any campus, let alone a school with a number of bilingual students and where 90 percent of its 600 students qualify for free or reduced lunch.

Denton will draw upon those experiences in her new job as the Tempe Elementary School District's director of school leadership, a supervisory position over district principals.

Acknowledging a significant role in Thew's improvement does not come easy to Denton, who was administrator at the district office working with Title 9 schools before heading to Thew.

"We were thrilled. It was all about a coordinated effort," she said. "It's not something you do by yourself. We received huge support."

When Denton moved to Thew, specific and consistent intervention programs were implemented, and teachers analyzed methods that would allow them to maximize every minute of the school day. More achievement data was shared with parents and the length of parent teacher conferences were extended according to need.

Denton has mixed feelings about leaving Thew.

"There was that bittersweet sorrow of leaving a place where we still had work to do. It was hard to walk away from there even though I knew I'd love it up here," she said.

Denton's strategy in her new job won't change much. She said she will continue to evaluate data from a broad angle and not just focus on test scores, and what is best for students remains the bottom line when it comes to making decisions.

Denton said schools that are doing well will be monitored to see if programs in place there may be used on other campuses.

"Data is huge. Is this good for student achievement? We ask this all the time," Denton said. "If you stand true to that and your integrity is intact at the end of the day, that's when you know."

Denton has been with Tempe Elementary since 1990, when she was a kindergarten teacher at Bustoz Elementary. She was a reading specialist at Evans Elementary before taking the administrative position at the district office.

A resident of Tempe, Denton is a native of Bloomington, Illinois, and has been married to husband David for 10 years. Her son, Jacob, is a third-grader at Broadmor Elementary.

In a school district where changing demographics, a high number of English Language Learners and a 68 percent free and reduced lunch rate can be considered obstacles, Denton refuses to be fazed.

"I didn't look at things as obstacles or challenges. ...My glass is usually half full and rarely half empty," she said.

CAPTION: Cindy Denton
Edition: Final Chaser
Section: Tempe Republic
Page: 3

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Record Number: pho172749270