In its 137 years of existence, the Dallas Independent School District has emerged as one of the country’s premiere educational institutions. Innovation, tenacity, vision and equity are key drivers that have distinguished Dallas ISD from other entities and enabled it to successfully educate millions of students. Throughout its storied history, numerous people have partnered and labored under the banner of Dallas ISD to leave an indelible mark on their generation.
No doubt, woven into the tapestry of the many educators, administrators, and professionals who have graced the halls of district schools and facilities is the Crowder family. Boasting a combined 94 years of service at Dallas ISD, Willie Crowder, Keisha Crowder-Davis, and Jonica Crowder-Lockwood have demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to impacting the lives of students and staff members alike.
Willie Crowder, a retired associate superintendent of Human Resources (currently known at Human Capital Management), began her tenure in Dallas ISD in 1970 – a year fraught with racial tension and social change, including the desegregation of Dallas schools. She began as a history teacher at Boude Storey Junior High School. As her career progressed, a passion for education and an ability to connect with students and parents paved the way for her to serve in numerous roles, including assistant principal, principal, minority recruiter, policy administrator, and associate superintendent.
Reaching a level of prominence and esteem in a district as large as Dallas ISD is no easy feat. It requires skill, hard work, and even late nights.
“You can’t be a clock watcher,” Mrs. Crowder said. “You work until the work is done”.
Both Keisha and Jonica, Willie’s daughters, can attest to that. They recall countless nights at their kitchen table watching their mother prepare lesson plans, manage master schedules, and review large policy binders, even while preparing dinner.
“We were raised like teachers,” Jonica said with a laugh. “We were students in the Willie Crowder Training School! Learning and teaching were so much a part of who we were that we played school – my dad installed a chalkboard and the neighborhood kids became students. That’s how we learned leadership.”
“All of our role models were educators – that’s all we saw,” Keisha said. “MBH was the standard of our family – ‘Make the Best Happen’.”
As the old saying goes: “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Willie’s example rubbed off on her daughters, and they are distinguished educators in their own right. Keisha and Jonica, both alums of Kimball High School, are Dallas ISD through and through. Keisha currently serves as executive director of Centralized Enrollment & Magnet Programs. Jonica is the esteemed principal of D.A. Hulcy STEAM Middle School.
Like their mother, they describe themselves as lifelong learners who are committed to making an impact on the community. They see Dallas ISD as the vehicle they choose to work with young people and assist parents.
“We are Dallas ISD proud,” Keisha declared with a smile. This is home.