When David Cantley asked me to write about him for the autobiography on which he was working, it took me about three seconds to say, “Yes.” I consider him to be one of the most extraordinary people I have ever met and felt honored to be able to share my thoughts with others.
In The History of Lake Worth High School, I wrote this about his two decades as principal, “Without his guidance, the school might very well have been shut down.” I believed that strongly then, and I still believe it as strongly today.
In May of 1980, Cantley became Lake Worth High’s fifth principal during the 1979-80 school year. He took charge of a school that had deteriorated tremendously in the quarter-century since my class had graduated. The campus was overcrowded, and plagued with disorder. White students were fleeing, and academics were lagging.
The first thing he did was restore discipline. After that, he instituted magnet programs to arrest the white flight. Finally, he spearheaded efforts to get the campus rebuilt and enlarged. By the time he retired in 1999, the school was a model for how things should be done in secondary education.
Along the way, he worked to help the less fortunate achieve an education. He had known hard times as a youngster, and he never forgot his roots. He was instrumental in founding the flea market held beneath I-95 that provided scholarships, school supplies and other aid to those in need.
The year he retired, he was a key figure in organizing the Lake Worth High School Alumni Foundation and Lake Worth Dollars for Scholars. The latter has distributed over $1 million in scholarships as of 2017.
I can’t say anything about David Cantley before his Lake Worth High years, because I didn’t know him then. But this book fills in the gaps and gives me a better feel about how he became the outstanding man he is.
William E. “Bill” McGoun, Ph.D.