Two Tales of Dedication
John Dunworth has held jobs ranging from education school president to 8th grade teacher to district superintendent. But until now, the former president of Vanderbilt University's Peabody College in Nashville, Tenn., had never drawn an annual salary of just $1, and he had never headed up a school with just 83 pupils.
Three months ago, Mr. Dunworth, 73, was mulling over projects he could take on during retirement. Then he read a newspaper story about tiny Munson Elementary School northeast of his home in Pensacola, Fla.
After years of considering whether to close the rural school, which had Santa Rosa County's highest per-pupil cost and lowest standardized-test scores, district officials settled on a one-year trial reprieve. The plan included cost-saving measures and a new faculty of four. It did not include an on-site principal.
Mr. Dunworth volunteered his services for a token salary of $1. "It was one of the easiest decisions I've ever made, really," said the new principal, who retired as head of the Santa Ana, Calif., school district in 1985.
These days, Mr. Dunworth puts in 11-hour workdays, including a nearly hourlong commute.
He's confident that Munson will stave off the threat of closing. In addition to great teachers and dedicated parents, he said, "the fact that we're small can be an asset."
Meanwhile, he calls the job "a joy. ... I'd recommend it to anyone who's qualified."
Some people live for their jobs. Robert Broomfield, the superintendent of the Raymond public schools outside of Lincoln, Neb., lives at his.
The district chief parked his trailer on the campus of one of his schools last month and is now calling it home.
"Time and availability is the major issue," he said. "The school board has wanted someone out here for years."
The rural district of 1,000 students has four schools spread over 200 square miles. Mr. Broomfield said his move to the grounds of Raymond Central Junior-Senior High School will be a big help to the district, because he can help keep an eye on things.
"I'll stay here as long as I think it's valuable," he said.
--BESS KELLER & ADRIENNE D. COLES