Dohn’s success is a result of the living legacy of our second Superintendent, Kenneth Furrier (1934-2015). Mr. Furrier’s time at Dohn spanned from 2004-2015. Two teachers remember him well.
James Lamping, chemistry teacher says, “Superintendent Furrier was a by-the-book guy. He was outspoken and feisty, and even in his later years, he had a keen mind.” With an extensive career in education, Kenneth Furrier gave credibility to Dohn as a charter school serving at-risk students.
In addition to academic excellence, Kenneth Furrier had superior fiscal management. During his eight years as Superintendent, he managed to pay off the mortgage at our Main Campus, 608 E. McMillan Street, Walnut Hills, and two lines of credit that the school had. “He took any money that was made and put it right back into the building,” Mr. Lamping says. Despite this fiscal acuity, as teachers, “we were never denied resources. “
I stay at Dohn, because, here, the student progress is amazing. As an analogy, we take students from the first floor to the 10th floor. We can see a bigger stride of progress with our Dohn students, and that is why I stay.
James Lamping, Chemistry Teacher
“I was interim principal for six months, and I followed his lead. He was extremely patient with the students.” People who know James Lamping know his excellence as a teacher, a colleague, and a leader. Lamping credits Mr. Furrier as the inspiration for becoming the teacher he is today.
“I realize that as a chemistry teacher, I can teach anywhere, and I have experience in other schools, teaching across a full spectrum of student needs, including advanced placement. I stay at Dohn, because, here, the student progress is amazing. As an analogy, we take students from the first floor to the 10th floor. We can see a bigger stride of progress with our Dohn students, and that is why I stay.”
Mr. Lamping shares that one of the joys of Mr. Furrier’s life was going to New York, visiting with friends and enjoying Broadway theatre and the opera. He would plan ahead, buying tickets a year in advance to ensure he was able to see the shows he wanted to see. Mr. Furrier was also a supporter of the opera in Cincinnati.
Despite being a cosmopolitan man, “He understood the struggles of Dohn students. He was attuned to their issues.” Lamping shares. “I learned my patience from him.”
Kenneth Furrier’s memorial stone, with his image etched on to it, is placed at the entrance of the front door at Dohn’s Main Campus. As James Lamping leaves school every day, he high five’s Kenneth Furrier’s memorial stone. “I always wake up wanting to come to work, and it is Kenneth Furrier’s inspirational leadership, his exemplary patience, his lasting legacy, that motivates me.”
Pieter Elmendorf is another teacher with a living memory of Kenneth Furrier’s effect on Dohn. He credits Mr. Furrier with breaking the cycle of failure for dropout students and opening the doorway to success.
Mr. Elmendorf and Mr. Furrier had a conversation one day on Einstein’s thinking about insanity: Doing the same thing repeatedly, and expecting different results.
Mr. Furrier listened to Mr. Elmendorf when he suggested Dohn go with computer learning, instead of the traditional classroom setting with the teacher at the front of the room. Dohn’s students had not been successful with this model in their previous schools, Elmendorf points out.
“We needed to reexamine how to teach so that our students would learn. In computer-based learning, the teacher is the only one who has to make a concession,” Mr. Elmendorf notes. This new model worked well for Dohn, he reports, with the added benefit of decreased disciplinary issues.
“We were lucky enough to have access to the Cincinnati Computer Cooperative so that we could buy refurbished computers.” That Kenneth Furrier was open-minded to computer-based education, Mr. Elmendorf says, “Allowed our students, especially those with special needs, to accelerate their learning.”
We needed to reexamine how to teach so that our students would learn. In computer-based learning, the teacher is the only one who has to make a concession…. This new model worked well for Dohn, with the added benefit of decreased disciplinary issues.
Pieter Elmendorf, Dohn Prep Teacher
“Kenneth Furrier was a kind and caring man. The focus of his life was in seeing the goodness of kids. They felt supported. He was a guiding light in how students should be treated,” Pieter Elmendorf adds.
Kenneth Furrier was more comfortable working with numbers than directly with students. However, his concern was always expressed with the question, “Are we doing enough to support the students?”
Mr. Elmendorf recognizes that Kenneth Furrier’s legacy at Dohn is reinforced and amplified with our current Director, Ramone Davenport. Both Mr. Lamping and Mr. Elmendorf comment on how well Mr. Furrier prepared Mr. Davenport to be his successor. Mr. Davenport remarks on that himself, in his school biography.
Superintendent Furrier established a gold standard for Dohn, and it guides us today:
- Support the student
- Increase the number of graduates
- Focus the students’ education on successful placement in life
Kenneth Furrier’s philosophy was rooted in the goodness of others. He strove for Dohn to educate each child to become a complete citizen, authentic to the Greek view of Education. “Book learning is a small part of education, and Kenneth Furrier knew this,” Mr. Elmendorf adds.
To those of us at Dohn who had not met Kenneth Furrier, his imprints of excellence and the inclusion of all are palpable. Kenneth Furrier’s legacy lives on at Dohn.