Skip to content

Alumni Spotlight—Five Questions with IPS Alums: Dancy Durell Looks Back at How District Made a Difference in His Life

Indianapolis Public Schools is proud of our graduates and their diverse, inspiring journeys. We have created the IPS Alumni Spotlight to celebrate our former students and showcase their experiences, accomplishments, and personal interests. We believe that every graduate has a unique path, and we can all learn from their journeys.

IPS recently asked Dr. Dancy Durell, a 2003 graduate of Arsenal Technical High School and an Indianapolis native, about his journey that began in the state’s largest school district.

After graduation, Dancy earned bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and biology degrees at IUPUI and continued to a post-baccalaureate program at the University of California San Francisco to focus on dental school entry. He then earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the Indiana University School of Dentistry. Today, he operates Durell Dentistry, a comprehensive dental care facility in Indianapolis.

Q—How did your experiences at IPS shape your educational foundation and career aspirations?

A—My experiences in IPS taught me the importance of relationships and how to treat people. Relationships help me in my college education through networking, study groups, and note sharing. A second-grade career fair at school 90 where a dentist came and talked to us, started my career aspirations. Those aspirations were confirmed at Tech through a dental assisting health professions program. Currently, relationships and the treatment of people are key skills used in how I interact with my patients.

Q—Can you share memorable moments or teachers who had a significant impact on your time at IPS?

A—Mrs. Moss-Nursing instructor. Taught me about bedside manners. She would explain that a clinician’s approach to patients helps shape the light in which he or she is viewed by them. Even though she taught nursing, she was very involved in my health profession early years which eventually led to being a doctor.

Q—How has your education at IPS influenced your personal and professional development since graduating?

A—Since graduating, I have learned about various other high school experiences through people who went to non-IPS schools. I have gained the ability to navigate working with what I have. This life skill has transformed my professional and personal life by understanding that all that glitters isn’t gold. In a recent conversation with a colleague, she mentioned that her high had college professors as teachers and made-to-order breakfast and lunch. That blew my mind thinking about my experiences, but eased my mind knowing that the outcome was equals within our profession years later.

Q—What specific skills or knowledge gained at IPS have proven most valuable in your current life or career?

A—1. Asking the questions I had. For years I would be too scared to talk aloud in class, and I realized that it only increased my lack of subject material understanding. 2. Teamwork. I played football, basketball, track, chess, swimming, wrestling, cross country, and baseball throughout my IPS career.

Q—What challenges did you face during your time at IPS, and how did overcoming them contribute to your personal growth?

A—One of the struggles that I saw at IPS was not having like-minded peers. Often I would miss out on information being presented due to disruptive students. The way that I overcame this was through intense meetings after class hours with instructors to ensure my understanding of the material. That solution helped create a model for how I achieved and flourished throughout college.