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New Eugene superintendent says no ‘super big changes’ planned

Dawna Burrow brings energy and fiscal attentiveness with her to the position of Cole County R-5 Schools superintendent. This is her third school serving as a superintendent; the past seven years were spent at Dixon.

Dawna Burrow brings energy and fiscal attentiveness with her to the position of Cole County R-5 Schools superintendent. This is her third school serving as a superintendent; the past seven years were spent at Dixon. Photo by News Tribune.

EUGENE, Mo. — Dawna Burrow brings energy and fiscal attentiveness with her to the position of Cole County R-5 Schools superintendent.

This is her third school serving as a superintendent; the past seven years were spent at Dixon.

Her administrative career began as high school principal in the Southern Reynolds school district in Ellington after about 10 years as an advanced sciences classroom teacher.

She misses the day-to-day relationship-building with students.

But in a leadership role, she is satisfied to help guide their futures.

“Here, I make decisions that I couldn’t make, even as a principal,” Burrow said. “Every decision should be made for what’s best for students.

“I wish it always could be that simplistic.”

That is the advice she gives.

“My favorite saying is ‘if you treat every child who walks through the door as if they are your own children, then you didn’t make a mistake.’”

She brings along her husband Jeff, who will teach special education at the middle school and high school.

The move will put them closer to Fulton, where they hope to watch their son Damon play basketball. However, their son Korey may finish his high school career at Dixon, from where the couple commutes.

Becoming a parent helped Burrow become a better classroom teacher, she said.

“You see through different eyes; it’s not such an idealized world.”

Most parents respond well when their children are given as much respect and understanding as one would for his own children, Burrow observed.

“Right or wrong, parents are and should be a student’s best advocate,” she said.

However, the world this generation is growing up in is much different than 25 years ago.

“As educators, we’re going to have to change the way we do things,” Burrow said. “We will not reach students with chalk; it’s so archaic to them.

“We must become entertainers.”

Coming to the Eugene schools, Burrow said she is pleased with the steps already in place to incorporate technology into learning. As a safety advocate, she also was pleased with the improvements made to school security, including new cameras, sensors and door locks.

On her introductory tour of the school, Burrow said she was encouraged by fresh flowers on school grounds and how well-kept most of the property in the district looked.

“It shows they care about their school,” she said. “You can tell people take pride in what they have.”

Burrow expects to see that same character reflected in the student body.

She replaces Mark Blythe, who served 14 years as superintendent after six years as high school principal.

“I have no super big changes I want to make,” Burrow said.

Of the staff, she said “they are upbeat, fun and do their job well and it’s reflected in the internal workings of the school.

“This school has been cared for and taken care of.”

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