Banquet to take place in honor of Dennis, songwriter Nicolle Galyon
Longtime state employee Dale Dennis is one of two Kansans being honored as a Kansan of the Year, the Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas recently announced.
Dennis is deputy commissioner of fiscal and administrative services for the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE).
“I’m humbled beyond words,” Dennis said. “I don’t consider myself in the same category as others who have been named a Kansan of the Year.”
Dennis and Nicolle Galyon, a singer/songwriter originally from Sterling, have been selected to receive the Kansan of the Year Awards. They join a long and storied list of other Kansans who have received the honor, such as former Gov. Bill Graves; Gale Sayers, who played football for the Kansas Jayhawks; country singer Martina McBride; former United States Sen. Bob Dole; and photographer Gordon Parks.
The Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas have been meeting for more than 100 years to recognize and preserve Kansas history and celebrate those individuals who have made contributions to the state, according to a news release from the organization.
Dennis grew up in Mapleton, where his father operated a gas station. He graduated from Blue Mound High School and received three degrees from Pittsburg State University – a bachelor’s degree in business education in 1959, a master’s in business education and school administration in 1966, and an education specialist degree in school administration in 1983.
Dennis has been serving Kansas’ students for 52 years. He joined KSDE as a state school finance administrator in 1967. Prior to joining the agency, Dennis was a teacher at the same high school where he graduated, Blue Mound, from 1959-1960 and 1961-1965, taking a step out of the classroom for one year to serve in the Army National Guard. He worked as a principal at La Cygne High School from 1965-1967.
Dennis has won numerous awards during his lifetime, including the Kansas Association of School Business Officials’ Distinguished Service Award, which the agency later named the Dale Dennis Distinguished Service Award.
In his years of service at KSDE, Dennis has served as an interim commissioner four times. Currently, he supervises the administration of about $5 billion in state and federal funds that flow through KSDE to unified school districts and nonpublic schools. He also serves as the liaison for KSDE and the Kansas State Board of Education to the Kansas Legislature and the governor.
Dennis and his wife, Laurie, have two sons, Darren and Damon, and three grandsons.
The two Kansans of the Year will be recognized Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, in Topeka at the Capitol Plaza Hotel. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit https://www.ksnativesonsanddaughters.org/.
“This whole deal is a complete shock to me,” Dennis said of the award. “But we never do anything alone. I’ve worked with a lot of great people over the years. They were loyal and very caring. I want people to remember that I cared, and I gave it all I had. I like to help. I like to make a difference in students’ lives.”
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