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St. Anthony principal to retire after 30 years as an educator

Education

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DelRay Davenport and his wife, Tamera, ride horses to say goodbye to the staff, students and their parents at the end of year celebration. | Courtesy Henry’s Fork Elementary.

ST. ANTHONY — After 33 years as an educator in Fremont County School District 215, it’s safe to say DelRay Davenport has seen and been part of it all.

Davenport is the principal at Henry’s Fork Elementary in St. Anthony, and he’ll be retiring June 12. In more than three decades of working in education, he’s bounced around from being a teacher at South Fremont High School to administrative positions at South Fremont Junior High, Lincoln Elementary, Teton Elementary and Central Elementary, which was renamed Henry’s Fork Elementary.

One of his first memories in education was working in a junior high building that was built during the Depression, and after his first year there, it was condemned. He remembers having to then move 600-plus students into an elementary school.

But an equally memorable part of his career is the way it’s coming to an end. He never imagined wrapping it all up amid a global pandemic.

“It’s been very unusual. You envision that you’ll be able to say goodbye to the students in at least a face-to-face way and gather with the faculty to celebrate like we usually do at the end of every school year, and we haven’t been able to do that,” he said.

The Rexburg native has always had a passion to serve other people. That desire led him to start his career at South Fremont High School — the same school he and his wife’s 10 children eventually graduated from — in 1987.

He taught English and Spanish for seven years before being asked to be a part-time assistant principal at South Fremont Junior High.

He remembers the superintendent at the time, Gary Larsen, giving him advice that he took to heart.

“You can either rule by fear (and) force the kids to do what you want them to do because they’re frightened of you, or you can rule by love and get them to do the same thing, but in a way that that they don’t resent you, that they don’t resent school and that they want to come to school,” he recalls Larsen saying.

Davenport said he focused on trying to develop relationships and set clear-cut rules that were based upon respecting one’s self, others and the school.

“I have known DelRay for many years working in the district with him, and he’s always been a constant for everyone because he’s always had a happy disposition, great smile (and) fun to be around,” current Henry’s Fork Elementary Vice-Principal Nancy Griffel said. “It’s been wonderful working with him. He’s been a great friend and mentor to me.”

As an administrator, Davenport said he knows there’s always going to be people who don’t like you because you are in charge of discipline. He’s taught many of his current students’ parents and some of their grandparents, and he hopes they’ve all felt he has respected and loved them.

Davenport isn’t sure what to expect as he begins a new chapter in his life, but one thing he’s certain about is that the past years he spent helping students grow has been a highlight of his life.

“It’s been a blessing, a pleasure to work with them,” Davenport said. “I will miss them, and I love them.”

Griffel will be replacing Davenport as the principal.

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