My Why - Dennis Depcik, CCSD21 Parent

February 13, 2024

Topic: My Why

If you haven’t had the opportunity to meet Buffalo Grove resident Dennis Depcik yet, you’re missing out on knowing a local renaissance man – a cultured, compassionate and open-minded person who has worn many hats during his long, rich life. Some might remember him as the former associate executive director of OMNI, a behavioral health organization serving communities in Illinois. Some might remember him as a former case worker and program director at the Department of Children and Family Services. Some might know him from his military days as an army officer, delivering classified material throughout western Europe during the Vietnam War while stationed in Heideleberg, Germany. Locals will see him at the weekly Buffalo Grove Rotary Club meeting, which he’s been attending regularly for 32 years. Some might remember his days at Quigley High School, studying to be a priest, or later at Loyola University where he earned his master’s degree in social work. And then others might know him as an author, who published a romantic book of love letters called Wouldn’t It Be Something. But for us, CCSD21 knows him as a father of four children who went through the district in the late 1970s, 80s and into the early 90s, enrolling in our schools so his children could receive a quality education. 

“I was hired with OMNI in 1979 and wanted my children to attend a quality school district. After doing some research prior to our move, District 21 came highly recommended, especially for its special education programs and its focus on mainstreaming. We wanted our oldest child, Mike, who was nine at the time and blind, to have the most complete experience possible and to be included in all school activities. We never regretted our decision to move to District 21. All of its staff (not just the special ed teachers) were attentive to Mike’s special needs and fully involved him in all class functions. He even participated in a class project, helping layout the front page of a newspaper. His teacher, along with Mike’s mother, cut out columns with a tracing wheel so Mike could feel the document,” said Depcik. While his son, Mike, received some special services for his blindness, he spent the majority of his days sitting next to other students in the general education population – and he flourished. Mike went on to graduate from Buffalo Grove H.S. and attended Milwaukee Area Technical College. Depcik’s other three children also did well: one is a school nurse, the other a registered dietician/health worker and the youngest a high school math teacher. All owe their success to the strong foundation provided by District 21. 

While his children were thriving through the district’s education system, Depcik was launching an innovative child abuse intervention program at OMNI. The program model works directly with families in their homes to ensure child safety and meet the multiple needs of parents and other family members. It addresses the factors leading to abuse or neglect, keeping children safe while maintaining an intact family and preventing unnecessary foster care. At the time, this program approach was revolutionary and helped reduce many incidents of abuse in the northwest suburban area. “Many families are under a great deal of stress that could lead to abuse or neglect. Given the proper resources and needed support, they can face their challenges far more successfully,” said Depcik. 

Retired now for almost 20 years, Depcik spends his time with his three children and seven grandchildren (Mike has since passed away as has Maggie, his wife). He likes to golf and enjoys photography and writing. In fact, he’s working on a second book of short stories about his family and coping with grief. 

Depcik says he’s been very blessed throughout his life and accepts his two greatests losses, the death of his wife and son. “I don’t feel bad for what I lost; I feel glad for what I had,” he states. 

For this renaissance man, he continues to move forward and accomplish what he puts his mind towards.