Ronnie Devall – A True Pioneer in the Central Community

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By DeeDee Dupree

    There are many definitions for the word Pioneer. I describe it as someone who is the first to open or prepare a way; someone who paves the way for development and advancement. Mr. Devall truly embodies this term. He is a well-respected leader of the Central Community.

    Ronnie Devall started out his journey as simply a Central High School student. He wasn’t completely sure where his path would lead him; however he knew he wanted to be an educator and a high school coach. He wanted to set a positive example for student athletes, by following the example his own Coach had demonstrated at CHS. Ronnie graduated in 1966 then returned to Central High School as a teacher and basketball coach in 1989. His goal was to encourage each student to set goals for themselves, work hard, be prepared and above all, strive to succeed.

    His own children are graduates from Central Schools. He has taught them many of the same core values he tried to instill in his athletes. Good sportsmanship and quality behavior is an asset on and off the court. When asked how he defined sportsmanship, he replied, “Respect for yourself, your team, your coach and the other team you are playing against. I believe that good sportsmanship starts at home with the parents. It then falls on the coach’s shoulders to reinforce respect for the players and consequences if their conduct reflects negatively. I realize high school sports have become more competitive than ever. The intensity pushes the kids to perform well. Not only that, the way it is now, coaches feel the pressure, if they don’t win, they won’t have a job. Of course that is going to be felt by the student athletes. I would like to see changes made in that area.  Putting two schools against each other, with so much pressure, it is no surprise when anger, and sometimes violence erupts. However, the coaches need to strive to win, but not at any cost. Above all, the safety of the athletes, as well as their dignity and reputation, should always be in the forefront. Sportsmanship is something that is taught. Coaches and parents need to remember that.”

    In 1995 Ronnie Devall became the Principal of Central High School. “I was honored to be chosen for the position. Central has grown so much over the years. I was blessed beyond measure to have a wonderful staff and administration during my years as Principal. This school’s success, then and now, is a combination of many efforts, starting from the janitor, most certainly the teachers, coaches, Principal, assistant principals, students etc. It is a group effort and it shows!”

    He believes Central High School, as well as the Central community differs from other schools and areas in the remarkable volunteerism put forth by everyone. The community support is a big reason the schools here are as effective as they are. It is demonstrated day after day by the staff, faculty, parents, students, and churches. It takes everyone involved to have a school system do as well as Central has. “I am proud of the work I did in getting the school on the right track, and I am proud of the leadership that is currently in place doing an outstanding job,” he stated humbly.

    In 2007, Ronnie became the Assistant Superintendant to the Central Community School System. He could not say enough nice things about efforts put forth by the School system and especially the Superintendant, Mike Faulk. “He is one of the most hard-working individuals I have ever met. His commitment to see Central flourish is incredible. It was a pleasure working with him.”

    In 2009, this longtime educator, coach and administrator in the Central Community decided to retire. He has certainly had a career to be proud of and paved the way for many traditions to be followed and utilized to keep the Central Schools growing and exceeding expectations. Although he said he has enjoyed his retirement, the one thing he misses the most is the kids. “I miss watching students mature, prepare and succeed. I miss the people, the administration staff and everyone that was involved in my day to day.” Ronnie certainly hasn’t pulled up a chair on the front porch and relaxed each day in his retirement.  He is the chairman for the Central Community Assistance Foundation. The praiseworthy organization helps students in the Central community receive food, clothing, tutoring and shelter for those that have been displaced.

Q & A:

    What are your thoughts on bullying? 
I think it happens more than we can imagine. I feel it is the schools responsibility to have quick, concise and unwavering consequences for any student found bullying another. I encourage any student being bullied to step forward. It needs to be addressed immediately. There should be zero tolerance for it.

    What do you think about uniforms in public schools? 
I think all schools should have uniforms. By having a clear dress code, it removes many distractions. It also helps the faculty quickly identify who is a student and who isn’t. It prevents non-students from walking around the school unnoticed. I rallied for it back in 2000 and I am glad it has been a guideline that has been enforced throughout the years.

    What are your thoughts on the most recent fights regarding football teams?
I think each and every day coaches should reinforce the guidelines of being on the team. They need to stress that returning violence with violence isn’t the answer. It shows the athlete is more of a man by demonstrating self-control and respect for their coach, themselves and their team. If each coach, from every school, would let their players know that if you throw the first punch, regardless of the circumstances, you are no longer a part of the team, I feel we would see a huge decrease in fighting among these young men. I believe in being fair, but these guidelines need to be followed and discipline needs to be automatic. We want our kids to feel safe. There is no room for fighting on the field or on the court.


    What is some advice you would like to share with students of the Central Community?  
Prepare yourself; work hard at succeeding and the end result will be positive.

    What do you feel has made Central the extraordinary school it is today?
Participation for one, and keeping prayer alive in and out of the school. I’ve always stressed the importance of prayer on a daily basis. I am proud to have been an educator at CHS. I’m proud of Central’s test scores and that we have created an environment that students can succeed in. Our students are incredible people, and as a whole, living up to their potential. I am glad to have been a part of this success from the very beginning. I am hopeful that we will only continue to get better. There is wonderful leadership in place and they are doing a great job.

    Mr. Devall demonstrated strength in teaching, coaching, and leading in the Central Community. As a graduating senior, he never could have predicted how his career would have turned out. He is humbled by his own success and pleased with what he sees happening in the community. With continued community support, volunteerism and exceptional student participation, Central students will not only meet all the academic goals set, they will exceed them— beyond all of our expectations.

    In hearing about Mr. Devall’s career, it is apparent he was a hard-working, firm, fair and consistent educator. He truly strived to make Central a better place in his years of service. He is quick to share the community’s success with the dedicated educators that work tirelessly for our children. I am a proud parent of a CHS student and personally feel blessed knowing that educators such as Mr. Devall care so much about our kids and work so hard to improve the community we all hold dear.

    Thank you, Mr. Devall, for leading by example with positive actions and good sportsmanship throughout your career as an educator and coach.

1 Comment

  1. Tonya

    November 3, 2011 at 11:06 am

    I love this article. Mr. Devall is a great man. Very well written, I’ve enjoyed these articles about Central’s leaders both in education and church leaders. I like the direction the paper is headed. More “PEOPLE” stories. Love to see more! Tonya T.

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