Longtime Austin school Principal Ron Beauford, whose education career spanned 36 years in Austin schools, died Feb. 18 of complications from a knee surgery. He was 82.
Beauford might best be known as launching the first International Baccalaureate program in Central Texas. The highly rigorous program began at Anderson High School in 1991 amid controversy after some objected to Beauford shifting other school money to the program and discontinuing more traditional honors courses in favor of IB classes. Beauford resigned over the program, prompting some parents and students to protest in demand for his return.
At that time, the American-Statesman reported that then-Superintendent Jim Hensley reassigned Beauford to an administrative position, the director of computer technology, but the school board eliminated the position from the 1992-93 district budget, district officials said at the time, prompting Beauford to file a grievance against the district. The grievance was dropped in October 1992 when an administrator assured Beauford that his wife, Gail, would be considered for an assistant principal position and Beauford’s issues with the district wouldn’t be held against her. She got the job.
The Austin school board on Monday will read a proclamation in honor of Beauford that calls him a visionary for championing the program, the only one in a high school in the Austin district, and a feature that continues to draw transfer students to the school.
“Under the visionary eyes of Mr. Beauford, Anderson High School’s International Baccalaureate Programme was established and has since thrived, bringing the highest academic challenges to children from throughout the district,” the proclamation reads.
Beauford began teaching in 1957 as a biology teacher and the dean of boys at Austin High School, where he won an outstanding teacher award. Eight years later, he became the assistant principal of then Murchison Junior High when the campus opened before becoming principal of the school for a year. Starting in 1973, he served nearly another decade as the principal of LBJ High School and received national recognition as one of the top principals in America. He spend another nine years at the helm of Anderson High, where he was named by Texas Monthly among the most highly rated government professionals.
Among his popular quotes, he would say, “I’m a high school principal, I do God’s work every day.”
While at LBJ High School, he and an assistant principal chased thieves in the school parking lot and chased them for a more than one mile to recover stolen CB radios. Another time, he received a letter of commendation from the Austin Police Department for his help in tracking down a local savings and loan robbery suspect. He wouldn’t tell a reporter how he helped because he said he might have an opportunity to use the technique again.
Beauford also was in the Air Force National Guard from 1957 to 1964.
He was an accomplished track and field athlete, but an injured knee kept him from competing — though he qualified for — the 1956 Olympics. He was inducted into Texas State University’s athletics Hall of Honor for football and track.