There, the seven-member board selected Dyar by unanimous vote to be its next superintendent. The decision followed a morning of interviews with five candidates for the job and an executive session where board members made the final decision.
“I think any two or three of the candidates could have helped us dream our dreams,” board member Phillip Murphy said. “I could have picked any one of the five, but when it got down to one or two, the majority of the board felt Joe would help us get there.”
The search began earlier this year when the system’s current superintendent, Judy Stiefel, announced she would be retiring Jan. 1. Dyar will take over upon her departure.
“It’s been almost overwhelming from the beginning of the interview ever since I got the call after I was named,” Dyar said. “I wanted this job. I felt like I could do this job, and when I got this job I was so excited.”
Dyar is a product of the Calhoun County school system, a 1984 graduate of Weaver High School. In 1990 he made the transition from role of student to educator when he began teaching and coaching in Saks; it was that year he earned a bachelors degree in physical education from Jacksonville State University with a minor in biology.
Within six years he advanced to serve as the assistant principal of the middle school there and has served as an administrator in county schools ever since.
By 2000 Dyar also earned two masters degrees and one more advanced degree in education.
He said he planned to rise to the top of the system from earliest stages of his career.
“It’s been a goal and a dream of mine,” Dyar, 45, said. “I’m a product of Calhoun County and I’m proud of who I am.”
He was the first of the five candidates to settle into the interviewees’ chair before the board Thursday at Saks Community Center. Board members asked him and the other candidates about community relations, curriculum and fiscal management before a crowd of about 50 people, mostly teachers and administrators from the system.
The interviewees talked about supporting teachers, the system’s potential and advancing it to the next level. All of the candidates have experience as administrators in area schools, and two are currently serving as assistant superintendents in other school systems in the state.
“There was real substance in their answers,” said board Chairman Tom Young. “There was a lot of wheat and not a lot of chaff.”
The resumes of Dyar and Oxford High School Principal Trey Holladay, also a candidate for the position, mirrored each another. Both began as educators and as coaches and rose to serve as assistant principals less than a decade after beginning their careers.
By the same token, Rita Wright, associate superintendent of Montgomery County Schools, and Karen Winn, assistant superintendent of Lee County Schools had careers that followed similar paths. Both have long-term experience in Calhoun County and are leaders at other systems.
Sarah McClure, the only other candidate currently working in the Calhoun County School System as a principal, stood alone in her experience. She has been educating students since 1970.
Dyar’s resume may not have been the most extensive of the candidates, but the school board selected him assured that he was ready for the position, Young said.
“He knocked the ball out of the park during his interview and that was the consensus of the board today,” Young said.
Star staff writer Laura Johnson: 256-235-3544.