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Meet the Board of Trustees

Mrs. Jackie Butler 

Mrs. Jackie Butler

Elected a trustee in 2012, Jackie Butler feels honored to be part of the governing body of Grayson College. She wants to help develop, implement and continue policies that empowers GC to carry out its mission of student success and community building. 

“Grayson College is an asset to our communities, providing education and cultural opportunities for everyone,” she said. “I’m glad to be part of it.”

Mrs. Butler earned both a bachelor of science and master of science from Texas A&M University. She is a member of the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society and Phi Kappa Phi. A resident of Denison, she and her husband, Dale, have two children and six grandchildren. They are members of United Methodist Church in Denison. Mrs. Butler has made several presentations on behalf of the programs and services of the college. Mrs. Butler was elected in 2012, 2016, 2022, and is up for re-election in 2028.

Dr. Debbie Barnes-Plyler

Dr. Debbie Barnes-Plyler

It’s not surprising that veteran educator, Dr. Debbie Barnes-Plyler, considers education to be THE critical component that empowers people to achieve their goals and improve their quality of life.  As a Grayson College trustee since 2012, she thinks GC makes a difference every day in the lives of students and in the community. 

A Pottsboro resident, Dr. Plyler has earned three degrees, including: a bachelor of business administration in business education from the University of North Texas in Denton; a master of education in business education from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant; and a doctorate in information science from UNT. She has received numerous honors and awards related to faculty and administration positions at SOSU, University of Texas at San Antonio, and Grayson College. 

“The faculty, administration and staff at Grayson College are very dedicated to student success,” said Barnes-Plyler. “I want to support their efforts by representing the community and focusing on GC’s mission to help students succeed and make our community an even greater place to live, learn and serve.” Dr. Plyler was elected in 2012, 2018, and is up for re-election in 2024

Mrs. Paula Cavender

Mrs. Jackie ButlerPaula Cavender has more than 26 years of experience as an educator, eighteen of those as an administrator where she most recently served as Director of Academic Dual Credit at Grayson College. She managed and grew the Dual Credit program to over 1,200 students each semester.

Paula and her husband, Shane, both attended Grayson College, and their two children attended before continuing to a university. One is a nurse and the other is a high school agricultural science teacher. Paula and her husband own a successful soil excavation and land development company and raise registered Angus cattle at their ranch east of Howe.

“As a lifetime Grayson County resident and former educator, I am aware of the momentum Grayson College has achieved by implementing programs that focus on student success,” said Cavender. “I want to support the college by building and shaping policy that encourages the implementation of practices that contribute to success for all students in our service area and beyond.” Mrs. Cavender was appointed to fill a vacancy of the board in August 2022 and elected to serve a two-year term in November 2022. She is up for re-election in 2024.

Mr. Ronnie Cole

Mr. Ronnie ColeRonnie Cole’s interest in the success of students and Grayson College was the stimulus in his service on the Board. “I want to see Grayson College continue to grow and be the premier source for affordable higher education in the region,” he said.

A long-time leader in the area, the Denison resident has experienced Grayson College from many angles: as a scholarship athlete in the College’s opening year, as an employee, and now as a chair on the Board of Trustees. He has served as the Mayor of Denison (1983-1988), and was named the East Texan of the Year by the East Texas Chamber of Commerce in 1987. Mr. Cole’s experiences with the college and those as a student at Sam Houston State University and Texas A&M University provide him with a range of ideas. Mr. Cole earned his Associate’s degree from Grayson College, Bachelor’s of Business Administration from Sam Houston State University, and a Master’s degree in Education Administration from Texas A&M University.

Mr. Cole, a Realtor with Paragon Realtors, also serves on the Board of Directors at Texoma Medical Center in Denison. He and his wife Rita are active in Waples Memorial United Methodist Church in Denison, where he sings in the choir and teaches an adult Sunday School class.  Mr. Cole was elected in 2012, 2018 and is up for re-election in 2024.

Mr. Jared Johnson

Mr. Jared JohnsonJared Johnson’s background includes 23 years of experience in healthcare administration and 12 years as an elected official. He is now serving as the Community Market President at Simmons Bank. He said, “My unique experiences have allowed me to engage firsthand with meeting the needs of the community and large institutions. I look forward to serving the citizens of Grayson County in meeting the growing and changing demands of the local workforce while also ensuring we provide relevant and cost-effective pathways for students working toward their degrees.”

A summa cum laude graduate of Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Jared was recently profiled as an “Outstanding Southeastern Alumni” by the university. In 2012, he was elected as the youngest mayor in Denison’s history and was re-elected to a second term in 2015. He received the Community Leader Award of Excellence at the Denison Development Alliance’s economic summit in 2018. He was also recognized by Texoma Marketing and Media Group as a recipient of the “Top Forty under Forty” designation.

Mr. Johnson was appointed to fill a vacancy on the board in August 2022 and elected to serve a six-year term in November 2022. He will be up for re-election in 2028.

Dr. John Spies

John SpiesAs a retired Superintendent and Texas educator for 40 years, Dr. John Spies believes his experience gives him a unique perspective concerning students’ needs. He retired from the position of Superintendent of Schools for Van Alstyne ISD in 2017 and began work as an educational consultant the same year.

“I am looking for ways to use my experience to serve the community,” Dr. Spies said. “Listening to needs is the most important way to support students. ”Dr. Spies is currently the President of the Van Alstyne Education Foundation. The organization raises over $150,000 per year to offer student scholarships and teacher grants. He also serves on the City of Van Alstyne’s Planning and Zoning Commission giving him great perspective on the growth coming to the county.

His background includes expertise for both large and small school districts in curriculum development, curriculum implementation, creation of multiple technology advances, personnel (campus & central office), budget development, financial management, board and district communication, plus facilities construction and planning. His wife is a social media expert for a local real estate firm. Dr. Spies was appointed May 10, 2019 to fill the vacant position previously held by Ralph T. Jones. He was elected serve a six-year term in November 2020, with the election occurring in November 2026.

Mr. Terrence Steele

Mr. Terrance Steele

Steele moved to Sherman in 1996 after serving in the United States Air Force. Noticing a digital divide, especially among minority children in the community, he formed a non-profit named Nehemiah Community Development Corporation.

Steele has been elected to the Sherman City Council four times and has served on many non-profit boards in the area including - Junior Achievement, Juvenile Alternatives, Sherman Education Foundation, Grayson Health Department Board, Four Rivers Outreach and TCOG.

Steele was appointed to the board in July 2020 and elected in November 2020. He serves as the board's representative on the Center for Workplace Learning Advisory Board.