Max Simpson entered a specially called session of the Waxahachie ISD Board of Trustees on Tuesday just as he had for four decades before, albeit unaware of why his assistance would be needed with only one action item on the agenda.
The lone item in front of the trustees was to officially vote on the name of the ninth elementary school in Waxahachie ISD, commonly referred to as the North Grove campus before Tuesday.
Moments after board president Dusty Autrey announced the action item and the individual whose name was recommended to the board by a specially comprised committee of seven, Simpson put his hand over his face in shock.
Trustee Dr. Joe Langley ultimately made the motion to name the newest elementary campus Max Simpson Elementary, noting Simpson had made a significant impact on the district.
Trustee Kim Kriegel, who was hired by Simpson in 1985, had the honor to second the motion.
Before Autrey finalized the unanimous vote, he noted that Simpson hired both his parents in the 1970s.
The room filled with applause and a standing ovation from district administration and family.
Eventually, Simpson was the only one left standing and said, “To work 51 years in a profession and at the end of it have your body of work recognized for being substantial, valuable, enough that a school is named after you, I take it, it doesn’t get any better than that.”
Simpson mentioned he was involved in naming Oliver E. Clift Elementary, Howard Junior High, Margaret L. Felty Elementary, Finley Junior High, as well as the Ron Appleton Agriculture Center and the vocational school.
He particularly remembered Mark Felty and Robert Howard and more specifically, the joy in their faces.
“That was the highlight of being on the school board,” Simpson said.
Simpson graduated from Baylor University in 1956 with bachelor’s degrees in history and education. He later received a master’s degree in education from Baylor in 1958 and began teaching in Waco ISD later that year, serving as a teacher a principal there until 1967.
His nine-year stint in Waco was interrupted for one year that he spent teaching in Madrid, Spain.
Simpson then spent the next three years working for the Region XII Service Center in Waco, before moving to Waxahachie ISD in 1970 to serve as an assistant superintendent for the district.
"As a district administrator, Simpson played a vital role in Waxahachie ISD’s integration in 1970, when a new high school building was opened and Turner High School and Waxahachie High School were merged," reads a WISD issued press release.
Simpson retired as the assistant superintendent of personnel and instruction in 1991.
After his retirement, Simpson served as the director of Baylor University’s student teacher program for the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Simpson also served on the WISD Board of Trustees from 2004-2011. In 2013, he was named the outstanding educator recipient by the Waxahachie Ex-Students’ Association.
Simpson and his wife, Earlane, have three children, Shannon, Megan, and Chrisanna, and seven grandchildren, all of whom are graduates of Waxahachie ISD.
A committee of seven, created by Autrey, met twice before Tuesday and presented the nomination to the trustees.
The three WISD trustees on the naming committee include Autrey, Dr. Joe Langley and John Rogers. Autrey also selected Waxahachie Mayor Kevin Strength, Ron Appleton, who served WISD for 51 years, Navarro College employee and former trustee, David Lewis, and Alfred Mims, who was one of the longest-serving trustees.
Autrey noted during the called meeting that the board would pursue establishing solidified guidelines for naming future facilities in the board book since one does not currently exist.
The groundbreaking ceremony for Max Simpson Elementary, located in the North Grove subdivision at 460 Washington Ave., will take place at 9 a.m. May 10.