For more than three decades, Conroe ISD Superintendent Don Stockton has woken up five days a week at approximately 3:30 a.m. He checks emails, exercises in his home gym, takes oatmeal to-go and begins a day of meetings or campus visits.
On weekends, Stockton’s schedule is more or less the same—a superintendent’s job is 24/7, he said.
Stockton will retire June 1 after serving 34 years as an educator—32 years of which were in CISD and 15 of which he was superintendent. Stockton said he is proud to have shaken hands with more than 50,000 graduating seniors.
“I’ve known some people [in CISD]for 32 years,” he said. “That’s what I’m going to miss: the people. Not the position or the title—the title is irrelevant to me—but it’s the relationships that you have with people.”
A lifelong learner
Stockton grew up in the town of West Chicago, Illinois, as the youngest of three boys. In high school, Stockton was active in sports, playing football, basketball and running track.
Stockton said he did not realize education would be such a large portion of his life until his junior year at Purdue University, where he found that no career in his business degree plan sounded fulfilling. He quickly switched his major from business to education.
He taught for two years in Lafayette, Indiana, and got his master’s degree. Enticed by Texas’ warm weather, Stockton applied for teaching jobs in The Woodlands area after spending Christmas break 1985 with his brother.
Stockton’s CISD career began at Travis Junior High School in 1986 as a math teacher and coach. During his time at CISD he earned a midmanagement certification, a doctorate degree and held various administrative titles in CISD before becoming superintendent in 2003.
Stockton married fellow educator Kara Miles, a former science teacher at Travis Junior High who retired from CISD in 2016. Their daughter, Brooke, graduated from CISD in 2008.
“One of the things I’m most proud of is that my wife is such a great teacher,” he said. “It’s been a great partnership, and she has certainly taught me the importance of being a great teacher.”
Legacy of integrity
Former CISD board member Ann Snyder said she regards Stockton as a friend of approximately 25 years.
“If somebody had a challenge, he was there to help them work it out,” Snyder said. “He was approachable, but at the same time he had earned the respect not only of students but of the faculty and the community.”
Jean Stewart, who worked as deputy superintendent from 2003 until her retirement in 2011, said Stockton could often be found happily reading to classrooms, donning a silly hat or letting children swing from his arms.
Stewart said Stockton’s legacy of transparency and passion for CISD will transcend his tenure.
“He’s always truthful and honest, and he expects the same from everyone he works with,” Stewart said.
“That truly is his legacy for us: his integrity.” When he retires, Stockton said he plans to travel, relax with Kara and play with their two dogs. Aside from that—Stockton’s retirement is schedule-free.
“I’ve been so structured my adult life—especially the last 15 years—that I look forward to not having that structure,” he said. “So, I don’t know what that’s going to look like, but I’m really excited to figure it out.”