The Baylor University School of Education honored two alumni with awards in conjunction with the School’s yearlong Centennial celebration during 2019.
Current or former students, faculty, staff and SOE partners submitted nominations for the Centennial Outstanding Alumni and Outstanding Young Alumni Awards, choosing educators whose work makes significant, observable changes in the lives of others and exemplifies the Christian mission and practices of the SOE. The honorees were recognized Sept. 27 at a banquet for donors and scholarship recipients.
Baylor graduate and Waco native Robert Duron, EdD ’00, received the School of Education’s Centennial Outstanding Alumni Award, and Ashley Minton, BSEd ’07, MSEd ’08, received the Centennial Outstanding Young Alumni Award.
Duron has 32 years of public education experience and has held significant leadership roles. He is currently the Associate Executive Director of Governance Services for the Texas Association of School Boards, which provides training, consulting services, productivity tools, research, and direct support to school districts and school board members. Previously, Duron served as superintendent of the San Antonio and Socorro (El Paso) Independent School Districts and then as Deputy Commissioner for Finance and Administration for the Texas Education Agency.
Minton, a native of Jacksonville, Texas, is the new principal of Canyon Ranch Elementary School in Coppell ISD, which opened its doors August 14, 2019. She earned her BSEd in Elementary Education with a specialization in Gifted and Talented education. After graduation, she immediately began work on her master’s in Educational Psychology, also at Baylor, graduating in 2008.
Robert Duron, EdD ’00
Having grown up a block away from Baylor’s Floyd Casey Stadium, Duron said he never dreamed he would earn a degree from Baylor. The son of factory laborers who valued education, he said his journey is proof that God worked through others — and Baylor — to make his success possible.
“I am truly humbled and honored to receive the prestigious Centennial Outstanding Alumnus Award for Baylor’s School of Education,” Duron said. “As I reflect on my years in education and the significance of this award, I am reminded that this opportunity is only possible because of the many people that supported me through my educational journey and career.”
Growing up, education was a core value in his home and family culture, Duron said. “While both of my parents labored in factories, they continually stressed the importance of education and the opportunities it could afford my siblings and me,” he said. “They emphasized that failure in school was not an option, but rather an opportunity to learn and grow. My two older sisters, both life-long educators, served as roles models for me and provided me with guidance, tough competition, and a resilient spirit.”
Duron earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Texas A&M Commerce before earning an EdD at Baylor in Educational Administration. He began his career as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, and principal in districts across Texas and then served as assistant superintendent in Clear Creek ISD in League City for six years before becoming a superintendent.
Baylor’s Dr. John E. Wilson, Clinical Professor and Program Director for the Doctor of Education in K-12 Educational Leadership, said he had the privilege of hiring Duron as his assistant superintendent when he worked as superintendent of Clear Creek ISD.
“He enrolled at Baylor in the doctoral program, where my role now is to inspire young people to go out and become executive leaders in K-12 schools, to get them fired up and excited,” Wilson said. “When you look at all the things he’s done, when you look at the big picture, Robert has really had an incredible career.”
Duron said countless people influenced his career pathway, but few more than his mentor, Wilson. “He is undoubtedly a gifted leader and served as a steady mentor for me as I progressed,” Duron said.
Duron also credited his parents and his public school experience for much of his success. “I am especially proud of the education I received from the Waco Independent School District,” he said. “While I had many wonderful teachers and administrators that would shape my life, there were two “champions” that saw my potential and future success long before I did. Jean Reagan-Lessman, my English teacher, was the reason I fell in love with reading, and Bobby Jacobs served as a great role model and coach for me. Both of these individuals had very high expectations, and they set the standard for what it means to be a great teacher and leader. They inspired my decision to become a life-long educator.”
Duron is married to Dr. Jodi Duron, superintendent of Elgin Independent School District. Jodi Duron earned her BSEd, MSEd, and EdD degrees from Baylor. “She leads with style and grace that makes me proud every day,” her husband said. They have two children.
Ashley Minton, BSEd ’07, MSEd ’08
Minton said she has known since her teen years that Baylor was the place for her. “My dad went to Baylor Law School,” she said. “In high school, I only applied to Baylor and knew that it was where I was supposed to be. I have had season tickets to the Baylor football games for the past few years, and I enjoy any excuse to make a trip to Waco.”
“I feel honored and humbled to represent the School of Education,” Minton said. “So many great educators are making a difference in the lives of kids because of the great beginnings they had at Baylor. I will forever be thankful for my time at Baylor and the people I met there that will remain some of my greatest mentors and friends.”
Dr. Krystal Goree, director of the SOE Office of Professional Practice, knew Minton as an undergraduate and was touched by her energy, positivity and love. “Ashley Minton is, without a doubt, one of the most dedicated and impressive young educators with whom I have had the pleasure to work during my career,” Goree said. “Her contributions to the profession are amazing, but not surprising.”
Minton has served Coppell ISD for 12 years, first as an elementary math and science teacher and later as a district math instructional coach. Prior to being named principal of Canyon Ranch, she was the assistant principal of Richard J. Lee Elementary School. She has designed and facilitated numerous professional development experiences for educators in her school district, in the state, and nationally that focus on topics including technology, mathematics, problem-solving, vocabulary, assessment strategies, and innovative scheduling.
“She is a team player, a collaborator, a good listener, and one who is always willing and eager to contribute,” Goree said.
Minton enjoys being an aunt to her nieces and nephews. “I am single and do not have any kids of my own, but I enjoy being an aunt and love my nieces and nephews like they are my own,” she said. “I may have been known to teach them to “Sic ‘em.”
Minton is an active member of her church where she works in the fourth- and fifth-grade ministry. During trips to Zambia, she worked with young people as a teacher and mentored practicing teachers and administrators. She also mentors underprivileged children and families in west Dallas.
“I still credit my time at Baylor for having a major influence on where I am now,” she said. “In my time in the School of Education, I had the privilege to be mentored by Dr. Krys Goree and Dr. Susan Johnsen. They taught me so much about our wonderful profession and challenged me to be the best educator I could be. I left feeling prepared to take on my own classroom, and they have continued to support me over the years. I have since been able to hire Baylor graduates to work at my campus, and it has been a joy to have that connection with these educators and to see how well prepared they are.”
ABOUT BAYLOR SCHOOL OF EDUCATION
For more than 100 years Baylor educators have carried the mission and practices of the School of Education to classrooms and beyond as teachers, superintendents, psychologists, health education professionals, academics/scholars and more. With more than 50 full-time faculty members, the school’s growing research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation, while graduate programs culminating in both the Ed.D. and Ph.D. prepare outstanding leaders, teachers and clinicians through an intentional blend of theory and practice.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.