Don Burley, Director of Operations, Graham Local Schools

By Don Burley posted 10-14-2021 02:37 PM


How many years have you been in the school business profession?

I have been at Graham for 23 years. The last 13 as the director of operations. Before that, I was the network systems coordinator for the district.


What is your proudest career accomplishment?

My proudest accomplishment is every year when another batch of students graduates from Graham. I say that because we really try to focus on operations to say we set the stage for learning. When a school year is over and those students leave and become active members of our community and society, and we reflect and see that we helped the teachers by making sure the rooms were clean and safe, by getting students to school safely, made sure the technology worked and fed them. Every year when we can see that and see another group of students going off to new and big things, I really count that as my biggest accomplishment each year, because with my team we helped make that happen.


What do you feel is the most important part of your job?

I felt over the years, the most important part of my job is to bridge gaps between all of our operations departments so that we can work with some synergy, which removes barriers for our students and helps our administrators with their buildings. One of the most important things I feel is making sure that all of our non-certified and non-teaching staff feel valued and are recognized for their contributions to the mission and vision of our district. In my position, I can help build value that everyone's important. When people feel valued it helps the whole organization grow, and I think that's a huge part of my job.


What is something you feel makes your district unique?

Something I'm proud of that I think makes Graham unique is that we're a large district square mileage-wise, but we have been in such financial difficulties over the years that we have focused on savings through energy-saving projects focusing on shoring up our infrastructure so that it is a strong, but also cost-effective. We have a solar array at our elementary school and our middle school that was designed by students in conjunction with partners. It makes me feel excited to be a part of the Graham School District. It is a unique place and a special place for our community.


What is on the top of your professional bucket list?

I've always had a dream to finish my career in one place if possible. I'm in my 23rd year and I'm fairly young, so I know I have many years left, but being consistent and being a part of Graham Local Schools for my career would be something that I really would love to be able to do.

What is at the top of your personal bucket list?

I am blessed with two amazing boys and a spectacular wife, and one of the things that we are working on is we want to make sure that before my boys are married and have their own families, that we try to visit all 50 states.


What's your favorite TV show?

I am an NCIS guy. I like all of them.


What is your favorite food?

My favorite food, even though it's not as good for me, is macaroni and cheese. There's nothing better. I'm talking not necessarily even the homemade. I am a Kraft Macaroni and Cheese on the stove.

It’s comfort food for me that doesn't just remind me of being young, but it was the first thing I learned to cook.


If you were an office supply item, what would you be and why?

If I were an office supply item, I would be a binder clip. My hope is that what I do in our office and in our district is bringing people together, and the thing I like about binder clips is there are all different sizes.


How did you get involved with OASBO?

When I received my job as director of operations, I was put in charge of all our non-certified departments because we had to make some major budget cuts. This was during the economic downturn. So overnight I went from the tech guy to the direct supervisor of more than 100 employees and multiple departments. I was in over my head a little bit, and I was pointed to OASBO as it's the best resource.


What is your favorite part of OASBO?

I think my favorite part about being involved is doing presentations. I've presented a lot over time and it’s a great opportunity to share knowledge. You might feel like you're not the expert in something or that what you do or know seems normal, but sometimes what you can share is just what someone else needs.