Trustee McNeely: Key to Leadership is Listening

School Board Recognition Month

Phil McNeely retired from Duncanville ISD in 2010 and is still regularly called ‘Coach.’ As the longest-tenured Duncanville High School basketball coach with 25 years, he has more than earned the title.

Mr. McNeely’s support of the school district never ended, it just shifted after his retirement. He successfully ran for the school board and has been a trustee ever since.

 “In just about every job you can work, it’s a people business and I think the [school] board is the same way,” Mr. McNeely said.

Mr. McNeely believes the best way to lead is by listening. By paying attention to what students, teachers, parents and community members are saying, he learns and is better positioned to support. He listens to the likes, dislikes, concerns and more from various district groups to make informed decisions.

“We just have to hire good people and get out of the way,” Mr. McNeely said. “You put people in a position to be successful, and you let them be successful.”

Mr. McNeely knows quite a bit about success. As the head boys basketball coach at Duncanville High School, he led three Duncanville High School Panther teams to state championship victories in 1991, 1999 and 2007.

His father, Clifton McNeely, was also a high school basketball coach and won four state championships. Mr. McNeely credits his father with teaching him the skills to navigate his lengthy coaching career. The support of the Duncanville community was also a factor.

“The city really stands behind the school,” Mr. McNeely said. “I’ve always felt because of Duncanville’s size and being a one high school town really makes a difference. The city and school district are so intertwined. Loyalties are to one system.”

Mr. McNeely’s loyalty to Duncanville extends to his family. His wife, Renee McNeely, is a retired teacher and school counselor for Duncanville ISD who previously served on the school board for six years. Their daughter, Kristin, attended Duncanville ISD schools for her entire K-12 school career. Phil and Renee McNeely have three grandkids, two girls and a newborn boy.

Through the years, Mr. McNeely has seen the school district change and appreciates the positive direction. Academics continue to be the focus with an emphasis on providing students plenty of career and extracurricular opportunities.
 
“It’s a fun time academically and athletically in Duncanville,” Mr. McNeely said. “And that’s the way it should be.”