Don Fallin and Dr. Aaron Boyce named 2024 Alumni of the Year

2024 Alumni of the Year

The Panola College Alumni Association is proud to announce Don Fallin as its Alumnus of the Year and Dr. Aaron Boyce as its Young Alumnus of the Year, with both recipients scheduled to speak at the May 9 commencement ceremonies.

“The Alumni of the Year awards recognize individuals who have distinguished themselves in their careers and have made significant contributions to their communities,” said Heath Kruebbe, Alumni Association chair. “We are very proud to honor Don Fallin and Dr. Aaron Boyce this year, and are looking forward to welcoming them back to campus in May.”

Don Fallin, who attended Panola College from 1977 to 1979 and was part of the cheerleading squad, is currently the superintendent at Tenaha ISD. His career in education began in the classrooms of several East Texas public school districts, including Carthage, Shelbyville, and Tenaha, where he taught English and coached football and basketball from 1980 to 1993.

In the fall of 1993, Fallin moved to the administrative ranks and served as the high school principal at Beckville ISD for seven years. During his time at Beckville, he was recognized by the Region VII Education Service Center as Principal of the Year in 1997-1998.

Following his time at Beckville, Fallin led Gladewater High School as principal for five years, until he made the ultimate move in 2005 to become the superintendent at Tenaha ISD. From 2005 until his first retirement in 2012, he was truly a pioneer in educational leadership, seeing enrollment boom during his tenure as superintendent, passing a bond that constructed one of the most recognizable high schools in East Texas, along with a special events center that would rival some colleges.

Fallin sincerely cared for his staff and saw the need to recognize those who were excelling in the classroom by using performance-based pay raises long before the State of Texas put in place official programs and grants that we are now familiar with. Because of this innovative and creative incentive plan, Tenaha ISD saw state assessment scores rise from well below expectations to over 90% in every tested subject area before his retirement. Additionally, he brought dual credit programs to both Beckville and Gladewater before high schools typically had them.

In 2012, Fallin made the decision to retire and moved to Lubbock with his wife Debbie. It wasn’t long before East Texas called him home to Tyler, where he and Debbie now reside. This time, however, it was not education calling, it was his favorite title of “Papa” that would consume his evenings and weekends, spending them with his two grandsons, Crosby and Lincoln.

However, in 2022, Tenaha ISD would come calling one last time. Fallin has spent the last two years working to rebuild a culture of excellence that was the cornerstone of his first tenure.

As Fallin leaves in December to return his focus to family, Kent Fallin and wife Megan, Kelly Fallin, and his wife Debbie, he can rest assured that he has left a remarkable legacy in not only Tenaha, but all across East Texas.

Fallin recalls fond memories of traveling with the cheerleading squad to the National Championship basketball tournament and seeing the girls win not only one, but two championships. He vividly remembers the final seconds of those games and seasons that led them to victory.

Additionally, Fallin attributes his passion for education and desire to make a difference in schools to the incredible professors he had while attending Panola College. His interactions with Mrs. Gullette, Dr. Foss, Mr. Scott, and Mr. Bill O’Neal had more of a lasting impact on his life than they could ever know. He recalls how O’Neal brought U.S. History to life with his engaging lessons, complete with people dressed as characters or events they were studying. The compassion, energy, and kindness those professors demonstrated truly changed the course of his future and modeled the type of educator he has strived to be throughout his career.

“I often found myself wondering why or how someone could continue to care and provide opportunities for students like himself, who were not always easy to handle; however, looking back, I only remember that they never gave up on me,” said Fallin. “It was because of these individuals that I left Panola College with no question as to what I would pursue in the future.”

Dr. Aaron Boyce, who was raised in Carthage and graduated from Carthage High School in 2003 and attended Panola College from 2003 to 2006, is currently a forensic psychologist at The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD, where he conducts forensic evaluations for the Harris County criminal courts.

While at Panola College, Dr. Boyce studied music and earned an associate degree. After graduating from the College, he attended Texas A&M University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2008. He earned a master’s degree in counseling at Stephen F. Austin State University in 2010, and a Ph.D. in school psychology at the University of Houston in 2015. He completed his pre-doctoral internship in Omaha, Neb. at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Dr. Boyce is a licensed psychologist and licensed specialist in school psychology. He has been employed in a variety of settings, including hospitals, community mental health agencies, and school districts.

Dr. Boyce currently resides in Cypress, Texas, and is happily married to his high school sweetheart, Lisa. He has a 5-year-old daughter, Aria, who will be completing kindergarten soon. In his free time, he enjoys reading, playing video games, painting, singing, playing guitar at church, and playing Dungeons and Dragons.

“My favorite memories of my time at Panola College was spending time in the band hall or choir room, learning how to use music software with Mr. McGowan or singing tenor parts for an upcoming choir production,” said Dr. Boyce. “I also have fond memories at the Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) building, playing pool, eating meals, and studying with friends.”

Kruebbe will present Fallin and Dr. Boyce with individual awards on May 9 at the spring commencement ceremonies.