RED OAK  – Sunday afternoon was filled with recognitions and remembrances of those who helped Red Oak ISD grow through the years and for those who participated in the development and planning of the new Donald T. Shields Elementary.

The district’s administration, board of trustees and staff were joined by many in the community for the new school’s dedication.

“A picture is worth a thousand words. This new facility is a picture of the commitment of growth committee and several other groups in making this school a reality,” board president John Hawkins said.

“The children are the reason we are here and thanks to the teachers who will use this as a tool to educate our children,” he said.  

Preceding Don Shields’ remarks was his daughter Karla Shields, who said, “When dad first told us we were leaving Oklahoma to come to Texas, we started a letter writing campaign to stay.

“After we got here, Dad introduced us to friends he had already made and showed us we can make new friends in Texas,” she said. “Indeed over the years we have made many new friendships that make Red Oak our home.”

During her address, Karla Shields told of her father’s fondness for talking and of his commitment to the bond program.

“I think he told everyone he saw that it was a much needed program,” she said. “I think they voted for it for no other reason than dad’s insistence.”

A veteran teacher, Brenda Bean, told of the family atmosphere that has always been at Shields, where she taught more than 30 years at the former campus.

“We are a family and will always be a family. We always cared about one another, both staff and students,” she said, telling parents, “I want you to be assured, they will get the best education, and they will be loved at Shields Elementary.”

Shields himself took the podium to standing applause before recognizing his son and daughter and their families, and recognizing the military commitment of his two grandsons. He also introduced his wife and her family members before telling several short humorous stories about his early days in the district.

“My secretary was Marjorie Coffee,” he said. “We were the only two people in the administration office to run the whole district. Of course there were only 300 students in the district then.”

Of the district now, Shields said, “We are so blessed to have the leadership at this district to guide us.”

Among those in attendance were several people who had worked with Shields, including former Dallas County Commissioner Roy Orr and Grand Prairie Mayor Pro-Tem Ruthie Jackson.

Superintendent Scott Niven described his first encounter with Shields.

“I was in a meeting and he walked in the meeting introducing himself. I soon put two and two together – with a school with the same name – we started to talk and that lasted for about two hours,” Niven said, thanking Shields for his dedication and commitment to Red Oak.

The afternoon concluded with an open house of the facility while Shields and his family renewed old friendships and remembrances.