Texarkana, Arkansas-Texas – Sunday, August 26, 1973
As a Texas Senior High School assistant principal for four years. Dan Haskins stationed himself among the students of the high school helping them in any way he could. As the new principal of the school he plans to continue to do so.
“Doing a job like this involves many things other than administrative task,” said Haskins. “You have to deal with the students. They are the most important thing at a school and not the paper work.” He said he plans to spend as much of the school day as possible with the students. However, his paper work and other necessary duties will not be ignored as he intends to handle them properly also. “I will take care of the paper work after school if need be so that I can be free to assist students.”
Haskins’ title change was made Tuesday night when former principal John Moore was named assistant superintendent of the Texarkana, Tex., Independent School District. The Texas High School administrative staff, now consist of Haskins as principal, with Den Swearingen and Allen Nance as assistant principals. Swearingen acted as assistant principal at the school with Haskins and this will be Nance’s first year with the system.
“I feel fortunate in having these two good men here and functioning,” Haskins said.
As the first black man principal of one of the city’s two major high schools, Haskins stated, “I believe the citizens of Texarkana are more concerned with the quality of education rather than if I am black or white. Texarkana has reached a point of objectivity and the people do not think it is paramount as to what color I am. Color is not the issue but the quality of education is. The position is a challenge but I have confidence in the fact that I can do the job. With the cooperation of citizens, I will be successful.”
When Dr. G. W. Thompson, the first black to serve on the TISD School Board, was elected, “it was the first clear indication that the mood of Texarkana had changed,” said Haskins. “People are willing to support a man who has quality and something to offer.”
A native of Texarkana, Haskins is a graduate of Dunbar High School. He was awarded his B.S. degree in math from Tillotson College at Austin where he attended on a football scholarship. He did his graduate work at the University of Texas, Prairie View A&M University and Lamar Tech in Beaumont, Tex. His M.S. degree in education administration was earned at East Texas State University.
He began his teaching career at Belton, Tex., where he acted as a classroom instructor and football coach. In 1960 he moved to Mt. Pleasant, Tex., as head football coach. Then in 1965 he returned to Texarkana as head coach at Dunbar High School.
With the integration of schools, he moved to Texas High in 1968 where he served as an assistant football coach and math teacher as he had done at previous schools. Racial unrest erupted at the high school with black students charging that they were not equally represented in the school’s administration. Haskins was asked to join the administrative staff and began his job as assistant principal in January 1970.
“Hopefully racial riots are a thing of the past. If students are left along, they get along together just fine. It is usually influence from elsewhere that causes problems,” commented Haskins. “These problems become racial when the conflict involves a black and white rather than people seeing them as just two people.
Looking ahead, Haskins said he expects the same problems as former principal Moore had. “I am not anticipating any problems just because I am black. But I am not naïve enough to believe that everyone, black or white, is happy to see me in this position,” he said.
Commenting on the student body and the educational system Haskins said, “We have reached a point that every student feels that this is his school because it is the only one he has known. They no longer say yours but ours.
I plan to continue the many new programs that we now have. We must try to create programs that will challenge the modern student and hold his interest. Since the student spends more waking hours at school, we should make it the most pleasant place for him to be. The cooperation between the home and school is of the ultimate importance and I would like to invite parents to come out and visit us and see what we are doing.”