Alumni transition at the top of Denton ISD

Jamie Wilson
('91, '99 M.Ed., '12 Ed.D.)

When Ray Braswell ('76, '77 M.Ed., '86 Ph.D.), former superintendent of Denton ISD and proud UNT alumnus, announced his retirement, there was one finalist named to succeed him: fellow alumnus Jamie Wilson ('91, '99 M.Ed., '12 Ed.D.), this year's Outstanding Doctoral Student in Educational Administration.

Dr. Wilson received his bachelor's and master's degree from UNT, completed his doctoral degree from the college this past May, and began his new position as superintendent of the Denton school district July 2.

"The feeling was surreal," says Wilson about the commencement ceremony. "It was public recognition of an incredible accomplishment for me and my family. I was proud for my dad who retired as a life-long teacher. Seeing him excited for me was a great feeling. We were proud together. My daughters, Makenzie,16, and Macie, 14, were so excited. It meant so much to me for them to be proud of their dad. It demonstrated to them the rewards of hard work. I was very humbled."

Working full time and earning a doctorate degree takes great time management, but Wilson says that "…most of all, it takes a loving and supporting family. This accomplishment would not have been possible without my wife Melanie ('91). At graduation, Dr. Rawlins, UNT's president said, 'If you see a turtle on top of a fence post, he did not get there by himself.' That is so true!"

Wilson's research focused on better predicting how a first semester college freshman becomes prepared for college with a goal of providing additional guidance for admission officers and K-12 educators.

After earning his third degree from the UNT College of Education, Wilson believes in the high quality education offered here. "The department is committed to supporting their students in all of their endeavors. If you work hard, the faculty will work just as hard, if not harder. My major professor, Dr. Jane Huffman, had just the right amount of push, yet flexibility, in guiding me through the process. She was truly a blessing, and I am proud to call her a colleague."

"The UNT College of Education is a great choice. The quality of the faculty is outstanding and the level of support students receive is unparalleled," he says.

"I am a second generation Mean Green Eagle, so UNT has been a part of my family since 1966," says Wilson. "UNT has provided the educational foundation for all members of my family. My dad, Jim "Tex" Wilson was a member of the UNT men's basketball program in the late 60's and a member of the Geezles. The Geezles recently donated Spiriki, the eagle statue at Apogee stadium, a symbol of their pride in UNT. North Texas provided the foundation for my life, for that I am very proud and thankful."

Wilson has been with Denton ISD for the past seven years. He was named assistant superintendent for academic programs for secondary schools in 2005 and was promoted to deputy superintendent in 2007.

"My new role is an extreme honor. I owe so much to those who supported me, pushed me, and believed in me. I am looking forward to serving the community of Denton as the Superintendent of Schools."

Looking ahead, Wilson sees a bright future for the district. "Engaging the community in all aspects of education will be our focus.  We have outstanding teachers who work with the best interest of students at heart. The most important thing we do as educational leaders is choose and train the very best teachers for our students."

"UNT will be a vital player in not only graduating outstanding teachers into the work force, but also providing training and research with our existing staff. We look forward to the continued growth and partnership."

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The College of Education is also proud to congratulate Dr. Ray Braswell on a remarkable career spanning 33 years with the district.

Braswell joined the Denton school district in 1979 as head athletic trainer at Denton High School. Throughout his career, he served as a science teacher, interim and associate superintendent, executive director of policy, planning and evaluation, executive director of research and development, director of secondary education, and as associate and assistant principal at Denton High.

"Ray Braswell has twice been nominated for superintendent of the year, and has finished in the top 5 each time," says Denton ISD School Board member Charles Stafford. "There are only a few of his contemporaries in the entire State of Texas who are as good at leading a school district as is Dr. Braswell. UNT and Denton can both be very proud of his accomplishments."

On the transition from Braswell to Wilson, Stafford says, "Under Dr. Wilson, we envision a very bright future, and thanks again to UNT for another outstanding graduate!"