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Colorado Principal Named Cluster Director

Dennis W. Dearden of Grand Junction, Colo., was named as the new Cluster I director by the Fairfax County School Board Thursday, April 24. He replaces Joan Wilcox, who retires in May.

Dearden, who begin his career in 1974 as a social studies teacher and basketball coach for the Des Moines [Iowa] Public School District, is currently the principal at Central High School in Grand Junction. His appointment as cluster director is effective July 1 and he will receive an annual salary of $110,397.

"The thing that struck me was his understanding and emphasis on the importance of how kids are learning," said Nancy Sprague, Fairfax County Public Schools' chief academic officer and a member of the selection committee. "Also his broad range of experience. He's been a principal at both the high-school and middle-school level. He was very thoughtful in his answers."

Dearden's resume lists experience as a principal, assistant principal, activities director, social-studies teacher, special-education teacher, college assistant professor and basketball coach.

He holds a master's of science in education and a bachelor of arts as a physical education major.

Wilcox has been Cluster I director, which includes the Herndon, Langley and McLean pyramids, since the position was created a little over three years ago. She chose May 30 to retire, she said, because she had a family wedding to attend the first week of June. Wilcox is the second director to retire since directors replaced the area coordinators. Thomas "Mike" Engley, Cluster VI director, retired in December.