By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) – Calling it “the honor of a lifetime,” Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg is stepping down after 10 years of leading the state’s largest school district.

Tom Boasberg (credit: CBS)

Boasberg says he wants to spend more time as a dad. His oldest daughter graduated from high school this year. He says it made him stop and think.

“I have two younger ones in 8th and 10th grade, and just felt now was the right time.”

(credit: CBS)

He says the district is in a “strong place.” When he took over as superintendent, enrollment was plummeting and the drop out rate soaring.

Today, DPS is the fastest growing urban school district in the country and has cut its drop out rate in half. But, Boasberg says it is the graduation rate of minority students he’s most proud of.

“This year we had over twice as many Latino and African American students graduate from DPS and go to college.” He says he attributes that to the employees in the district. “No curriculum… matters as much as our people.”

(credit: CBS)

And he has held them to high standards, taking heat for closing dozens of low performing schools and opening new schools, many of them charters. DPS has gone from the lowest to the highest performing district among its peers.

“When I hear concerns criticisms I know it comes from a place of deep passion and care, and I share that passion.”

CBS4’s Shaun Boyd interviews Tom Boasberg. (credit: CBS)

He says if he had to it do over he would open up more about his passion and values early on in his tenure.

“I’m an introvert by nature. It really was a hard journey to be open and vulnerable.” But leaving, he says, is bittersweet. “This work is incredibly mission-driven work. It’s work I care about very, very deeply and my heart and soul is in this work.”

His advise to his successor? Innovate.

(credit: CBS)

“Changing the status quo is not always easy, but it is incredibly important with progress that we’ve made, we’ve got a lot work do.”

School Board President Anne Rowe says the board will be deciding over the next few weeks whether to hire within or launch a search for a new superintendent. She says she will be looking for someone to build on the progress Boasberg has made.

A lengthy statement from Boasberg is posted on the school district’s website.

Shaun Boyd is CBS4’s political specialist. She’s a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.

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