2022 Grand Marshal
Meet Our Grand Marshal Dr. Tom Henderson
Our Grand Marshal has been a resident of the Centerville-Washington Township community for over half a century and a community leader and guiding force for Centerville City Schools for more than 30 years. He leaves an indelible impression on thousands of children, parents, staff and colleagues on his retirement in August as Superintendent of Centerville City Schools. Dr. Tom Henderson’s career began as a social studies instructor and wrestling coach at West Carrollton Senior High, after graduating from the University of Dayton in 1980 with a M.S.T. in Education and a B.A. in Social Studies and Psychology.
His coaching was the natural extension of his time as MVP of the UD wrestling team. Tom started his ascent into administration after obtaining his Education Administration Certification from Wright State University in 1985 and becoming Secondary Unit Principal for Trotwood-Madison High School shortly thereafter. Four years later he was appointed Principal of Tower Heights Middle School where his influence on Centerville City Schools took root. For 12 years Tom’s focus was ensuring that his students had the skills and knowledge needed for a successful transition to high school. Obtaining a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership in 1994 contributed to his shifting focus to employee relations and becoming Director of Personnel in 2003.
Armed with his experience as teacher, principal and personnel director, Tom assumed the role of superintendent in 2009 where he has excelled for 13 years. Most notably, his tenure as superintendent occurred during an unprecedented time not just for education but for society in general. No one could have predicted that Tom’s beloved schools would be closed by state mandate on March 11, 2020 because of COVID-19. Or that the initial projection of only a four-week disruption would extend into almost two years. Tom’s leadership and perseverance steered the school district and his students through the pandemic with safety and security. Within five days of the shut-down, the 7895 students in Centerville City Schools had wireless hot spots and Chrome Books in hand if needed to continue learning remotely.
Once schools re-opened, district teachers were armed with multiple learning models, from in-person, to blended, to fully remote. Protocols for the 14 facilities in the district, with a total of 1,279,709 square feet, were drastically altered to meet health mandates. Not to mention the more than 120 buses running over 600 routes daily. Over 1,000 employees, along with students, parents and the community, relied on Tom to competently guide the district through the extraordinary challenge of COVID-19. To say he did not disappoint would be a drastic understatement. Outstanding educator and administrator are two qualities that distinguish Tom’s tenure as Superintendent of Centerville City Schools.
Another is his regard for his students, employees and the community he served. He never missed an opportunity to interact with his students in the classroom or at school functions. And he never shirked from serving on local and state committees to improve education, or from sharing his expertise and perspective with local leaders on community issues. “To successfully guide a district the size and quality of Centerville City Schools during normal times takes an exceptional leader,” says Mark Metzger, Americana Festival President. “To do so during a global pandemic, and maintain consistently high marks in academics, athletics and the arts, is extraordinary, to say the least.
Tom’s calm competence and unwavering dedication to the district and the community throughout his career, and especially during the pandemic, became a touchstone for all of us.” Tom has consistently risen to the challenge, not only in his 42-year career but in his personal life, competing in numerous marathons, triathlons, relays and 5K’s. In retirement, Tom plans to maintain his active lifestyle and spend more time with his family- wife MaryAnn, son Jon and daughter-in-law Fatemeh, son Michael and daughter-in-law Elise and his two grandchildren who affectionately call him “Doc”.
A man without ego, it took his grandson’s desire to ride in an Americana Festival Parade firetruck with his grandfather to convince Tom to accept the honor of Grand Marshal. Tom did not attend Centerville City Schools, graduating instead from Alter High School. But, “Tom’s an Elk”, as Metzger says, and thousands of other Elks will move on to successful careers and lives of their own because of Dr. Tom Henderson.