Charles Dupre was still in grade school when his adoptive father gave up custody, sending him to foster care.
He spent much of his childhood in a group home near Springfield, Missouri before heading off to college and doesn’t want to look back. But that experience has long driven his passion for making a difference in the lives of children.
Dupre was born in Morocco and adopted by a U.S. couple on the day he was born. However, his adoptive mother died when he was 5, two years before he was sent to an orphanage.
He said those formative years, however, brought him hope, vision and an opportunity, all courtesy of the teachers he encountered in public schools.
“A lot of my journey, I feel, is formed by God’s plan for my life,” he said. “…That’s what a lot of my motivation is for wanting to make a difference as a leader in public schools.”
Dupre, who is heading into his seventh year as Fort Bend ISD’s superintendent, was recently named Region 4 Superintendent of the Year by the Texas Association of School Boards.
“Throughout Mr. Dupre’s six years as superintendent, Fort Bend ISD has developed a solid foundation for success, with a clear focus on educating the whole child,” FBISD Board President Jason Burdine said in a statement released by the district.
It’s a significant milestone but only the latest stop on Dupre’s long road to making an impact on lives in Fort Bend County. He previously served as FBISD’s internal auditor from 1995-98, its budget officer from 1998-2001 and its chief financial officer and associate superintendent from 2001-06.
Then, after serving as Pflugerville ISD’s superintendent from 2006-13, Dupre returned to FBISD.
“Education has always been in my heart,” said Dupre, who was president of his high school’s Future Teachers of America Club. “…Even when I was associate superintendent in Fort Bend, I always thought, ‘I would love to be superintendent of this district.’ Even after I left the district, it was always in the back of my mind that it would be amazing to be able to go back, never thinking it was really going to happen.”
Dupre attended Harding University in Arkansas to study education. But with earning power in mind, he switched his major to accounting.
“Teachers in 1984 were making $10,000 per year. Accountants were making about $25,000,” Dupre said. “As an orphan, I had no family system to rely on.”
Following graduation, Dupre began a career with Arthur Andersen Accounting and worked as an accountant in the energy industry. Though accounting was financially fruitful, he yearned to work in education. Dupre scratched that itch by teaching Sunday school and working with the community’s younger generation.
Then in the late 1980s, he went to graduate school to obtain a master’s degree in education at the University of Houston. But after a year and half there, his first child was born.
“I realized it was going to be difficult to reboot, so I decided to stay in accounting,” he said.
Little did he know that his journey was just beginning.
Dupre got his introduction to Fort Bend ISD while working for an energy company in 1995. The district needed CPAs, which paved the way for Dupre’s education journey to take flight. Later that year he began work that would take him through superintendents Don Hooper (1995-2002) and Betty Baitland (2002-07).
In 2003, at Baitland’s urging, Dupre completed his master’s degree nearly 15 years after he started.
“She approached me and said I needed to pursue the thought of being a superintendent,” Dupre said. “She knew I had the desire, but I didn’t know how to do that.”
Dupre said he needed a waiver from the Texas Education Agency to pursue that dream, because he was not a former teacher or principal.
Dupre then secured a deputy superintendent spot in Pflugerville ISD in 2006. Following the superintendent’s departure four months later, he served as interim superintendent before landing the job in a full-time capacity through 2013. But Fort Bend was always in his heart.
“Fort Bend has always been a family,” Dupre said. “I was here when the district had about 35,000 students – now we have more than twice that. I knew all the families, all the principals and teachers.
“When the opportunity arose and the recruiter called me – then called me a second time – my wife said, ‘You need to apply and see what God has to say about it.’”
Since 2013, Dupre has taken the opportunity and run with it, using his experiences to mold young minds. In Dupre’s mind, this is where he’s meant to be.
“I feel as though I’m picking up where I left off in many ways,” he said.