McMath Middle School
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Large, Enthusiastic Crowd Celebrates Sharon Cox at Building Dedication
In a beautiful outdoor setting underneath a sun-drenched sky, 250 guests celebrated the building dedication ceremony for the Sharon Cox Communications Center, a center named for a former journalist and state education advocate. Those on hand included district dignitaries, former employees and colleagues, and professional peers of the building's namesake.
Denton ISD Board of Trustees President Doug Chadwick started the event off with a warm welcome message and thanked the attendees for being on hand to honor Mrs. Cox. He was followed in remarks by Dr. Jamie Wilson, superintendent of schools, who told a few anecdotes from his time working alongside Mrs. Cox as his director of communications.
Todd Camp, marketing and communications manager at American Airlines Credit Union, shared his admiration and being mentored by Mrs. Cox as a young journalist upon graduation from TCU. WFAA Daybreak Anchor Marc Istook credited Mrs. Cox for giving him career focus and direction after she introduced him to the newspaper series “Class Acts” in which she served as an editor while at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in the early nineties.
Retired superintendent of schools, Dr. Ray Braswell, then shared a very influential tenure with Mrs. Cox. Dr. Braswell hired Mrs. Cox for the position in 1999. During her time in the district, Mrs. Cox was a one-person operation that was responsible for not only communicating the programs and successes of the district to families but also making sure the needs of those same families she supported were being met.
Dr. Braswell spoke of the various programs created by Mrs. Cox, not just for parents, but she also brought unique measures to get various stakeholders (grandparents, business leaders, district employees, etc.) involved in supporting public education and helping families whenever they needed assistance. Many of these programs have been adopted by school districts across the state and still flourish today.
He also credited Mrs. Cox for being instrumental in helping the district keep up with growth, helping pass five bond elections, and guiding the Board of Trustees to a pair of Top 5 Texas Honor Board recognitions. Many colleagues, several of whom were on hand, continue to seek her advice and counsel on political campaigns, public engagement, and program implementation today.
Perhaps the proudest moment from his time with Mrs. Cox was her creation of the Grandparents in Public Schools (GIPS) Task Force, which promoted grandparent volunteers to mentor students at Denton ISD schools. The program has nearly doubled in members since its inception more than twenty years ago. Denton ISD's GIPS program is just one of the many initiatives created by Mrs. Cox to be recognized by both local and national public education organizations and has been copied by many other districts in the state of Texas.
Dr. Braswell became emotional when speaking about Mrs. Cox’s ability to manage all of the demands of her job and balance her family responsibilities while raising three children.
Jackie Jackson, executive director of Denton Public School Foundation (DPSF), talked about her time working first as Mrs. Cox's secretary for a brief stint, followed by their time working together in the community on behalf of the district.
Former Denton ISD communications director, Mario Zavala, Jr., relayed his affection for Mrs. Cox as a mentor and colleague when hired by the district and then was tabbed as her replacement when she retired in 2015.
The honoree then took the stage and thanked those in attendance as well as those who took the time to speak on her behalf. She also announced a ten-thousand-dollar scholarship from her family in honor of her children which will be given to multiple Denton ISD students for years to come.
“I’ve always been proud to be a part of Denton ISD – as a parent and as an educator – because the district is extremely supportive of students and all of their educational endeavors. Communications and community relations are vital to the success of each student as we continue to bridge the communications gap from the child’s home to the classroom and school,” said Sharon Cox. “From grandparents in our mentoring programs to volunteers donating thousands of hours to help our students succeed, as well as hundreds of advocates helping to support and pass every bond election in the past two decades. The district’s success is exemplified through the hard work of the district’s past and current staff, administrators, and board members.”
Current Denton ISD Chief Communications Officer, Julie Zwahr, closed the ceremony by mentioning the time she’s known Mrs. Cox and her many fond memories of their interactions together, which date to when Mrs. Zwahr was a high school student and Mrs. Cox was the editor for her town’s local newspaper, The Arlington Citizen’s Journal.
Mrs. Cox has more than 40 years of service in news reporting/editing, school communications, and school media relations in North Texas. Her career culminated with a 15-year stint as Director of Communications and Community Relations in Denton ISD. She served as state president of both the Texas School Public Relations Association (TSPRA) and the Texas Association of Partners in Education (TAPE).
In 2014, TSPRA awarded Mrs. Cox with the organization’s “Professional Achievement Award,” an honor bestowed upon exceptional professionals for their cumulative body of work.