Always a Panther: Graduate Pursues Passion for Public Education Improvement

 

Charlies Gaines

 

Charles Gaines believes all students deserve a level playing field and equal access to a quality public education. A 2006 graduate of Duncanville High School, Gaines now serves as the Director of Government Relations for Raise Your Hand Texas.

The nonprofit, based in Austin, works to improve Texas’ public education system.  Mr. Gaines’ role involves affecting public education policy and serving as a direct liaison to state elected officials.

“I was one of 5.5 million students within Texas public education. If I, alongside my colleagues, can contribute to providing this generation the opportunity I had within Duncanville ISD, I would consider it a win.”

Mr. Gaines said he gained his appreciation for public school from his experience at Duncanville ISD where he played baseball, football, ran track and participated in the band program. 

“Duncanville ISD provided me with the academic, emotional and social readiness for a strong foundation,” Mr. Gaines said. “Ultimately, the friendships and general expectation for students to succeed were my favorite memories from Duncanville ISD. Whether academically, athletically or even socially, my best memories ironically came from overcoming the challenges of a typical student. Making a B or C instead of an A – you can do better. Missing a catch or misreading sheet music – you can do better. Having teachers, coaches, and counselors encourage me along the way made all of the difference during my time in Duncanville.”  

Mr. Gaines said his teachers developed and supported his desire to lead, including retired Duncanville High School counselor and former Duncanville ISD school board member Renee McNeely.

“Her guidance and encouragement in expecting leadership among my peers gave me the confidence to lead in other areas of my life for years following,” Mr. Gaines said.

Mr. Gaines said Algebra teacher Rick Griffin provided him with a high level of confidence in mathematics  through his teaching style and support. 

While earning his Bachelor of Science and Master of Business Administration degrees at Abilene Christian University, Mr. Gaines ran for student body president and won. He later ran for state representative and lost, but counts the experience as a meaningful way to listen to the challenges and desires of his neighbors.

"I was canvassing door-to-door and one person I met said he was a convicted felon," Mr. Gaines said. "He couldn't vote so I might as well go to the next door, he said. We talked anyway. I wanted to know his concerns. When we were done, he said, 'I can't vote for you, but I have three sons who can.'"

Mr. Gaines has poured his desire of improving his community into his civic efforts. He is a former commissioner for the Texas Commission of the Arts, a board member on the Ethics Review Commission for the City of Round Rock, a board member for the Round Rock Chamber of Commerce and a member of Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center’s board.

In the 15 years since he graduated from Duncanville High School, Mr. Gaines’ journey has taken him many places. But he holds fond memories of growing up and learning in the City of Champions.

“Duncanville ISD provided me with a perspective of service and competition,” Mr. Gaines said. I am incredibly thankful for all involved and look forward to Duncanville’s continued success. Go Panthers!”