Winfield’s Morford named DHS principal
David Morford thought he would eventually pursue a career near his wife's family in Overland Park -- a plan he had in mind a few years down the road instead of a few weeks.
Morford, De Soto High School's new principal, will join the staff after a four-year tenure as Winfield High School's principal and athletic director. Morford, who has a background in more than just education, said yes to the offer on shorter-than-usual notice because of late resignations of the previous De Soto administrators.
"My life has just changed in a heartbeat here," he said. "When it came, I certainly couldn't pass it up."
Morford's interim contract, to be approved at De Soto USD 232 Board of Education's regular meeting Tuesday, will be for one year with the possibility of renewal.
Superintendent Sharon Zoellner said the hiring process happened quickly but that she thought Morford was the right candidate for a permanent spot at the high school.
"We are extremely pleased he's chosen our school district to come and work," Zoellner said. "He is anxious to be with our district for a long time, and we hope that works out."
Morford said he looked forward to starting his new job.
"I'm very excited," he said. "This has happened really quickly, but there's nothing but good things you hear about the De Soto school district and De Soto schools."
Morford grew up in DeLand, Fla., and first came to Kansas on a football scholarship to Bethel College in Newton.
The school added him to its sports hall of fame in 2003, reporting that Morford -- the starting center -- overcame serious injuries to rack up a long list of school records and national honors in the sport, including First Team Kodak All-American College Division and Honorable Mention Associated Press Little All-American.
Morford, who graduated from Bethel in 1981, admitted to being "alright" when asked about his athletic abilities but instead talked more about his experience off the field.
Morford began his education career as a classroom teacher and coach at Chase and Lyons high schools. His classes included psychology, physical education and health. He coached and assisted in football, wrestling, basketball and track.
In a 12-year hiatus from education, Morford worked in man agement at an elevator manufacturing plant in Arkansas City. He said the job, which included international travel and exposure to "the corporate side of the world," was great, but he always wanted to get back into education.
When a teaching and coaching opportunity came up at Winfield Middle School, Morford took it. From there, he moved up to the high school, where he was athletic director for two years before becoming principal, too.
Morford said he hoped to move in and keep things at the previously well-led De Soto High School going in the same positive direction. The smaller number of students would be nice, too, he said.
"I want to get to know the kids," he said. "I want to be actively involved with the kids. To me, that's very important."
Morford said he also heard great things about the school's staff, which he thought was important.
"That's what education is all about -- working with good people to help kids," he said.
Debbie Lynn resigned as De Soto's principal June 8 to move to Dallas with her husband, who recently accepted a job there. In addition to needing a change of pace, the two also wanted to be closer to family, she said.
Associate principal Tony Collins resigned the same day, also citing personal reasons. The timing was coincidental, Lynn said.
With less time than usual for De Soto to find new administrators for the upcoming year, Zoellner said she wasn't sure how numerous responses for the job openings would be.
However, Zoellner said the district received 41 applications for the principal's position. That number was narrowed to three, who were interviewed June 29 by a team including several district teachers and parents, she said.
The associate principal vacancy is posted on the district's Web site with a deadline of July 19. Zoellner said the district was also contacting internal candidates who were qualified for the position.
Morford would also be involved in choosing the new associate principal, Zoellner said.
Morford's wife, Laura, teaches social science at Winfield Middle School. Morford said Laura would stay in Winfield this year while his stepdaughter, Eryn, completed her senior year at Winfield High School.
Morford's son, Noah, will be a junior at Kansas State University next year, where he is a running back for the football team. His stepson, Bryant, attends technical school in Tulsa.
Morford received his undergraduate degree in health, physical education and recreation at Bethel. He holds a master's in sports and athletic administration from Wichita State University and received his school administration certification at Baker University's Wichita campus.