One hundred and eight years of experience: CCSD bids farewell to Principals Ashcroft, Henke, and Williams
Principals Dee Ashcroft, Bob Henke, and Terry Williams retire this year, after careers in Cache County for 45 years, 32 years, and 31 years, respectively. Their impact over the years on students, families, teachers, and staff is immeasurable. We wish them the very best in their next adventures and well-deserved retirement.
Principal Dee Ashcroft
Greenville Elementary Principal Dee Ashcroft has been with the district longer than any other CCSD employee. With his retirement commencing at the end of the 2018-19 school year, he will have an astonishing 45 years working in education.
Ashcroft worked 15 years as a teacher before investing another 30 years as an administrator. In 1989, while teaching psychology, sociology, parenthood education, and also serving as a student body advisor at Mountain Crest High School, the Superintendent invited him to apply for an administrative position. Since a position was open at Mountain Crest, Ashcroft assumed he might fill that vacancy, but instead was assigned to be the principal at North Park Elementary. Ashcroft was caught off guard. "I had not been in an elementary school since I was a student at River Heights Elementary,” he admitted. It turned out to be a great experience for him. Over the course of 30 years as an administrator, 16 of those years were spent in elementary schools. “I learned things at the elementary school that I would have never learned had I not left the high school,” Ashcroft explained. During the course of his career, Ashcroft was a principal at North Park Elementary, Greenville Elementary, and Sky View High School. He returned for a second time to Greenville Elementary to finish his last years as a principal.
As an educator and administrator, Ashcroft developed a deep love for his students. He described his motivating passions: leadership, service, and treating the people at his schools like family. “First, leadership gives you an opportunity to serve. Serve your students, teachers, parents, and the communities your students come from. Second, effective schools should run like a family. We love the kids. Part of loving them means to want what is best for them, to have some boundaries, and high expectations.” Ashcroft continued, “I love to see students grow academically, physically, socially, and to celebrate their accomplishments with them.”
Ashcroft considers his school’s teachers, staff, students, and parents to be like family. His hope is that when anyone walks into the school, they feel like they are home. This environment has built long-lasting relationships for Ashcroft. After doing the math, Ashcroft claims to have worked with 16,000 students and hundreds of teachers. “Many of the students at Greenville tell me I taught their grandma or grandpa,” he shared. This doesn’t surprise Ashcroft, as he knows some of his former students are 62 years old.
Colleagues describe Ashcroft as a thoughtful, inspiring, trustworthy, and approachable mentor. Stacey Pugh, a 4th-grade teacher at Greenville said of Ashcroft, “Dee is a very caring person. He always puts the needs of people over scores or statistics. He taught us that the students would not care how much we know until they knew how much we care.” Nena Copeland, another 4th-grade teacher at Greenville, added, “He inspires greatness and trust by treating his staff like they are great and trustworthy. We work hard because he treats us like he knows we can achieve greatness.” Ashcroft is the kind of administrator that works alongside his faulty and staff. He does every job at the school--from vacuuming the carpet, stocking shelves, to conversing with everyone--which has resulted in a sense of value that is felt throughout the school.
“We will miss Dee greatly at our school. He was a huge asset to the school and the district,” said Pugh. Co-worker Copeland agreed, “I am grateful to be mentored by such an amazing individual. He has given me a great example to follow in my career and in my life. I am a better person because of him.”
Principal Bob Henke
After 18 years as a teacher and 14 years in administration, Ridgeline High School’s Principal, Bob Henke, is retiring. It has been a privilege for his colleagues and students to have worked and grown alongside such an outstanding leader.
Over the course of his career, Henke taught physical education, Spanish, English, and ESL at Mountain Crest and Sky View High Schools. He also coached cross-country and track. Henke’s desire to become an administrator sparked after he had the opportunity to direct the summer migrant and after-school programs for at-risk students at Bridgerland Technical College. “I found that I enjoyed supporting teachers and striving to help them improve and be successful,” remarked Henke. He worked briefly as an assistant principal at Logan High School before returning to Mountain Crest where he worked as an administrator for ten years. When Ridgeline High School was announced, he spent a year preparing the new school and has now spent three years as Ridgeline's first principal.
Henke’s time spent as an administrator has been dedicated to his students. “I love the students and seeing them learn,” said Henke. “They have an energy and enthusiasm which is contagious.” He has also focused much of his attention on professional development for his staff. “I’m most passionate about helping teachers improve their teaching abilities, which, in turn, helps students improve their performance. I enjoy coaching teachers and constantly looking for ways to improve what we’re doing,” he explained.
Cindy Lundskog, Ridgeline High School’s secretary, has had the opportunity to work alongside Principal Henke for many years. In her position, she has observed Henke in action. “He is a natural leader,” said Lundskog. “He strives for excellence, and by doing so, encourages all those around him to do the same.” Lundskog described Henke as having a good sense of humor and being able to focus on the positive side of every circumstance. “All of these things have made it a privilege to work with him over the years,” she shared.
Henke has a deep love for his family, children, and grandchildren. He and his wife enjoy traveling around the country and will be taking their next trip to Mexico as a mission president and wife, for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He will be taking his passion for helping others succeed with him to Mexico and will use this time in his life to continue to learn and grow.
Principal Terry Williams
You could say that Terry Williams’ 31-year career in education has come full circle: he completed his student teaching at North Cache Middle School, the same school from which he is now retiring. Williams first taught social studies for 21 years before advancing to become an administrator. He worked as an assistant principal at Mountain Crest High School and then moved to North Cache, where he has been the principal for four years. He has spent his entire life in schools in some configuration or another: first as a student, then a teacher, and now an administrator.
Key to Williams’ success as an educator is his belief that the best way to help others develop an appreciation and love for education is to focus on the individual. “My fondest memories are of the time spent working one on one with students, and the relationships built along the way,” he shared.
Because of his experience in many different educational facets, Williams hopes to pass along what he has learned as a teacher and as an administrator. For him, it all comes back to what can best help the students. “One of the most important things that teachers and schools can pass on is the love of learning and the quest for students to be lifelong learners,” shared Williams. He attributes his passion for education to his core belief that education is the most important commodity that any society can offer its citizens.
Cindy Parkinson, who just completed her first year as North Cache’s assistant principal, attributes her smooth transition into administration to working with Williams. “The selfish side of me would have loved to have more years working with Terry so that I could continue to learn from his expertise,” said Parkinson. “He is calm, reassuring, and looks for the positive in all people and in any situation.”
According to Parkinson, many other district administrators have commented that when they are considering how to handle student discipline, they often decide to go with the “Terry Method,” which is to be non-reactive, caring, and ultimately to have students walk out of the principal’s office having learned from their mistakes while still feeling positive about themselves.
“After a long and dedicated career as both a classroom teacher and administrator, I’m truly happy for him and believe he deserves to ride off into the sunset with his wife, Randy, as they become world travelers,” shared Parkinson. “He will be greatly missed.”
Williams and his wife plan to travel across the world following their retirements. Among their travels, they will be visiting Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, the Phillippines, Vietnam, and India.