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Remembering Chip Zullinger – with renewed commitment, not sadness

2014 April 3
by HISD Communications

His given name at birth 63 years ago was Sidney, but nobody called him anything but “Chip.” We also called him friend, mentor, a true gentleman, a champion for all children, a man of integrity, a great cook, approachable, colorful, genuinely kind, funny, and passionate.

Sidney "Chip" Zullinger

Chip Zullinger, our chief elementary school officer, died Tuesday following a heart attack.

I knew him over the years as a leader of school districts, both rural and urban, and as a creative force in project-based learning. I couldn’t wait to make him part of Team HISD four years ago. Chip had the daunting job of connecting with 147 school communities educating more than 100,000 of our children. Stop to consider that scope for just a few seconds.

Yet in this rough-and-tumble, high-pressure environment of budgets, mandates, and metrics, Chip never lost sight of the children and those educators who supported them.

Some of the pain of Chip’s passing has been eased by reading the comments on our website today:

“He was at Park Place Elementary on Monday and he was very radiant. He always had such a sweet spirit with a beautiful smile! Everyone always had such positive things to say about him. He was a great leader and will be missed by many.”

Chip was a true gentleman, passionate about student achievement, and doing what is best for kids. Losing him creates a huge void in the hearts of many people here in HISD.”

“He was a great man and always had children’s best interest at the forefront. I learned much from him and will continue to do my best to make him proud. This is a terrible loss.”

Chip was an amazing man – a true leader, a passionate educator, a great storyteller, and a warm and caring colleague.”

There’s one thing I hope you’ll consider to honor Chip’s life: Let us each rededicate ourselves to his high expectations for every one of our students to learn and succeed.

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