TPS Proud isn’t just a catchphrase for Dr. Romules Durant. In everything he says and does – and wears – Dr. Durant shows the pride he has in his hometown’s schools, the vision of excellence he has for the TPS district and the belief he has in the students and teachers to achieve that standard.
A native of East Toledo, Dr. Durant couldn’t be prouder of being a graduate of two Toledo institutions: Waite High School and the University of Toledo. He was an outstanding football player at both, attending the university on a football scholarship and earning four varsity letters. He twice received the Jon Binder Award at UT, given to a player who exemplifies “true heart and courage.”
Dr. Durant received three degrees from the University of Toledo: a Bachelor of Education degree in 1998, a Master’s of Education degree in 2002 and a Doctorate Degree in Educational Administration and Supervision in 2007. His doctoral dissertation, “The Collective Factor of Social Oppression and Urban Poverty on the Achievement of Black Students,” was considered for Dissertation of the Year.
Employed by TPS since 1999, Dr. Durant has been a teacher, administrator and assistant superintendent. When he was 20, he wrote out a career plan that saw him as a school district superintendent by the age of 37. He achieved that goal in December, 2013, when he was named the 30th Superintendent of TPS and was given a five-year contract.
In the short time Dr. Durant has been superintendent, Toledo Public Schools has received two major federal grants: an $8.1 million grant to run a large portion of the Head Start program in Lucas County and a $3.8 million grant, part of a national program called Pathways to Prosperity that focuses on making students career-ready through rigorous academic and career-focused curriculum.
Key to the successful Head Start bid was the collaborative approach among community members and the commitment from Dr. Durant to provide a quality program led by teachers with a strong background in early childhood development.
The Pathways to Prosperity grant will focus on programming associated with energy, manufacturing and electronics and will be available to students who attend Toledo Technology Academy and Bowsher, Start, Waite and Woodward high schools.
One more new feature for the 2014-2015 school year is the opening of the Jones Leadership Academy, a new school where girls and boys are being taught separately and then brought together for certain events. The curriculum emphasizes leadership, entrepreneurship and service to the community. Central to the school’s mission is the requirement that all students join Young Men of Excellence or Young Women of Excellence, student leadership groups founded in Toledo Publics Schools by Dr. Durant.
As if all of that wasn't enough for his first year, Dr. Durant and his team oversaw the successful passage of Issue 1, an operating levy that will bring in more than $13 million to the district each year for five years - the first new money since 2001. As interim superintendent in 2013, Dr. Durant led the successful campaign for the passage of a levy renewal.
Prior to being named superintendent, Dr. Durant played a crucial role in creating the district’s multi-year TPS Transformation Plan that aimed to increase community partnerships, broaden educational opportunities for students and establish neighborhood schools. He is passionate about collecting and analyzing test scores and other student information to increase state performance ratings. Yearly, Dr. Durant meets in New York with other professional educators from across the country to help devise plans for the U.S. Department of Education.
One of Dr. Durant’s proudest achievements is founding the Young Men of Excellence and the Young Women of Excellence mentoring groups for TPS students. The members of the two organizations are very involved in their communities through numerous service projects. The two groups have grown to 900 members.
Dr. Durant is on the executive board of the National Principals Leadership Institute (also serving as a national coach) and is on the executive board of the Ohio 8 Coalition and of Partners in Education. He is a member of the board of directors of the Council of the Great City Schools, and serves on the executive boards of After-School All-Stars Ohio, Aspire, the City of Toledo Board of Community Relations and the United Way of Greater Toledo. He is a former trustee of the Economic Opportunity Planning Association and is one of the youngest members of the Rotary Club of Toledo.
The co-chair of the nationally-recognized teacher peer review program called The Toledo Plan, Dr. Durant is also involved in the Urban Leadership Institute’s development program, designed to develop future instructional leaders.
It is as TPS superintendent that Dr. Durant is making his true mark. He developed a new mission and vision statement, both designed to reinforce the idea of always putting the students first -- by creating an atmosphere of excellence with an emphasis on technology and accountability -- so all students can be college or career ready. TPS Proud is not just a catchphrase.
With such an outstanding career, it is no wonder that Dr. Durant has received a number of awards. His latest comes from Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, Alpha Xi Lambda Chapter, which has chosen him as the recipient of the 2015 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major Award. The award recognizes the persion or organization that is doing exemplary work for residents in Toledo, which is representative of the ideas espoused by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. Durant was chosen because he is "a tireless advocate and spokesperson for people in the Toledo community."
Other prestigious honors include:
- Induction into the Distinguished Waite Alumni Hall of Fame, the Morrison R. Waite Athletic Hall of Fame and the Birmingham Hall of Fame.
- Being named a Distinguished Citizen by the state of Ohio.
- Receiving the President’s Award from the Area Office on Aging for his efforts on behalf of senior citizens- - Receiving the Emerging Leader Award by the African American Legacy Project and the Freedom Fund Award from the Toledo Branch of the NAACP.
- Earning the NAACP’s Youth Award for his work with the Student African American Brotherhood group. His SAAB mentor group was twice nationally recognized as SAAB Chapter of the Year and he was honored with the Outstanding SAAB Advisor Award.
- Being recognized with the 20 Under 40 Leadership Award and the Calla Lily Educator’s Award from the National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa.
- Receiving the Community Image Award from the Perry Burroughs Democratic Women’s Club and being honored for his work with the North End Community Beautification Project.
While his honors are many, Dr. Durant has never lost sight of the fact that he has the same goal for today’s TPS students as he had for himself: to rise up from modest means to achieve success first in school and then in life.
You can follow Dr. Durant on Twitter at @romules_
UPDATED ON NOVEMBER 17, 2014