EDMOND — On July 1, Debbie Bendick will end a four-year run as Edmond Memorial High School principal. She's been named executive director of secondary education for Edmond Public Schools.
As principal, she left a profound impression on students, parents and faculty, her co-workers said.
“Dr. Bendick is one of the hardest-working and most dedicated professionals I have ever worked with,” said Memorial library media director Jennifer Babb. “Doing what's best for the students has always been her No. 1 goal.”
Bendick, 62, takes that mission to the administration office where she replaces Jason Brown. Susan Parks-Schlepp, spokeswoman for Edmond Schools, said Brown accepted an administrative post in Norman. A successor to Bendick has not been named.
“I will miss my daily interactions with students, but I am eager to use what I've learned as a teacher and administrator to enhance the work of Edmond's site leaders,” Bendick said.
Bendick has nearly two decades of experience with Edmond schools. She arrived in 1994 as assistant principal at Summit Middle School and then was an assistant at Sequoyah and Memorial. In 2000, she became the first principal at the new Cheyenne Middle School. During that tenure, Cheyenne was awarded the prestigious National Blue Ribbon School status.
In the fall of 2009 she became principal at Memorial, where she stressed leading through giving or servant leadership. One of the instructors coming over from Cheyenne to Memorial was Natalie Murray, a history instructor and head volleyball coach.
“Debbie is one of the most incredible leaders I've ever known. I adore her,” Murray said. “She sets high expectations of herself and her staff.”
The principal's job for Bendick wasn't a 40-hour-a-week undertaking. Murray said Bendick went to nearly every arts performance or sporting event, including most of the volleyball games.
“The players really appreciated it,” she said. “There are thousands of students at Memorial and she made an effort to know most of them.”
She did get to know the Cordeiro family and they said they will never forget her.
“Dr. Bendick will do whatever she needs to in order to help her students,” said incoming senior Rachel Cordeiro. “She helps us reach our full potential.”
Rachel's mom, Jody, remembers meeting Bendick. It was during Rachel's freshman orientation.
“She ended up visiting with us for more than 30 minutes, telling us all about the history of EMHS,” she recalled. “Our family will definitely miss Dr. Bendick but we are so happy for her and wish her the best.”
Mark Cordeiro, an incoming sophomore, agreed.
“Dr. Bendick is just an all-around great principal. She'd go out of her way to make you feel welcomed,” he said.
Vote of confidence
She probably would have remained principal at Memorial, but Superintendent David Goin asked her to join the administrative team.
“Dr. Bendick comes into this position having served quite successfully as a principal at both middle and high school levels,” Goin said. “I am confident that Dr. Bendick will employ that same degree of expertise and passion in the district level leadership of executive director of secondary education.”
She looks forward to the mission.
“As director, I will work with the middle and high school principals to seek solutions for the many difficult challenges they face,” she said. “I will also work with the assistant principals and counselors.”
Bendick grew up in Oklahoma City and received her bachelor's degree in English education from the University of Central Oklahoma in 1973. She taught school across the nation, following her husband in Air Force assignments.
She came back to Oklahoma in 1992 and taught at Bishop McGuinness in Oklahoma City.
“Working with teens has been absolutely exhilarating,” she said. “Their spontaneity, zest, honesty, curiosity and creativity combine to create an environment more lively than anyone outside of education could imagine.”
Working with teens has been absolutely exhilarating. Their spontaneity, zest, honesty, curiosity and creativity combine to create an environment more lively than anyone outside of education could imagine.”
Incoming executive director of secondary education for Edmond Public Schools