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Honor fitting for Stephens

We’d like to offer our congratulations to Dennis E. Stephens, who is retiring as the Denton school district’s assistant superintendent of human resources at the end of the month after 41 years with the district.

We’d also like to commend the Denton school board for voting 7-0 on Tuesday to rename the school district’s Central Services Building to honor Stephens.

Stephens, who has overseen the hiring of more than 3,000 employees, was surprised with the news that the building on Locust Street would soon bear his name at a retirement reception Thursday.

Board President Mia Price said trustees were pleased to rename the Central Services Building as the Dennis E. Stephens Administration Building and hope that all who enter the building will see his name and remember the dedication and professionalism he exhibited throughout his tenure.

On Thursday, a large banner reading “Thank You Dennis for 41 Years of Great Service” greeted those who entered.

In addition to helping many a staff member find a home and pursue careers with the Denton district, Stephens also had an opportunity to help shape young lives during his long career.

He joined the school district in 1972 as a math teacher at Strickland Middle School and as the years passed, he also served as a middle school counselor, attendance and safety coordinator, personnel director and executive director of human resources.

Officials estimated that more than 200 people attended Thursday’s reception, and Stephens wiped away tears as he received a standing ovation.

Sharon Cox, a school district spokeswoman, said that since Stephens announced his retirement last spring, residents have submitted 750 signatures and numerous letters, e-mail petitions and handwritten notes to recommend naming a building in his honor.

A line of people stretched nearly to the administration building’s front entrance as guests waited to sign a guestbook and write notes of well wishes for Stephens.

Stephens was a “consummate professional,” said Superintendent Jamie Wilson.

“He had an innate ability to really understand the importance of all our employees to the lives of our students, and he made it his personal mission to recruit and retain teachers, quality teachers that had our students’ best interest at heart.”

As Wilson said, Stephens played a key role with the district, and we join his friends, associates and former students in thanking him for many years of dedicated service, and we wish him well as he prepares to begin retirement.