By AUSTIN ASHBY, Staff Reporter ¦
Dennis Sarine has been committed to serving the community and its students since his mind was changed in high school.
“I was not on a college readiness track. I was actually on a vocational program and had the opportunity but made some poor choices,” Sarine, the chair of education and early child development, said.
Sarine said that thanks to good mentors, he found out that school was more than school.
“It was connection and relationship and that teachers give mentorship and advocacy and put a student under their wing when they need it.”
“There’s book learning then there’s street learning so, I’d say I am well rounded. A lot of the things I learned I learned the hard way,” he said.
Sarine said many teachers know they will end up working in education from a very young age. “The fact that I work in education is a shocker to me,” he said.
“I was not on a track to be a teacher but I had two high school teachers that bonded with me and cared about me,” Sarine said. “They cared about me showing up to class and cared about me being a part of everything.”
After high school, Sarine dug ditches for a summer and realized that was hard work. He then had the opportunity to move from North Dallas to Canyon, Texas, where he attended West Texas A&M University.
“Through relationships at WT, having great mentors showed me there was a lot of opportunity that I had no clue existed,” Sarine said. “I didn’t want to go back to what I thought was the norm.”
After graduating, Sarine went on to lead the Amarillo Head Start program, which helps at risk children and their families.
“The Head Start Program works with the most at risk children within the community so, I would say your lowest 10 percent socioeconomically plus other factors,” Sarine said. “Not only are we working with that child, we are working with that family.
Sarine said that when a family would hit an obstacle, he would challenge them to bring that problem to the program to find a solution. This is how he became familiar with AC
“They will say, ‘I want to get my certificate in welding.’ I was able to work with AC and get them into that,” Sarine said. This relationship with AC ultimately led Sarine to apply for a job at the college.
Sarine also has a degree in assisted technology applications, which led to him getting a national certificate in playground inspection.
Sarine said being a nationally certified playground inspector makes him look at playgrounds in a different way. He said that when his children are playing, he will find things not up to code and let the school know.
“They’ll say ‘who are you?’ I’ll reply, ‘I’m Dennis, nationally certified playground safety inspector. Here’s my badge,’” Sarine said.
Sarine’s co-workers have glowing praise for him.
“He serves all the time,” Pam Jackson, an advising associate, said. “He always puts others before himself.”
Danette White, an administrative assistant in the disAbility program added that Sarine goes above and beyond for his students.