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Talladega City superintendent search: More information on the 10 finalists

Talladega City Schools Central Office teaser

The Central Office for Talladega City Schools.

The 10 finalists who will be interviewed for the Talladega City Schools Superintendent bring a wide range of skills and experience to bear on the position.

The complete resumes were not available to the public when the list of nominees was approved Tuesday night, but the board’s attorneys have provided redacted copies with more information available.

—Talladega High School Principal Dr. Darius Williams is probably the most familiar of the 10 finalists to Talladega residents. In addition to his tenure at THS, which began in 2014, Williams has also been an assistant principal in the Sylacauga system and been a teacher with administrative duties in Pell City. He has also served as an adjunct professor at Talladega College. He graduated from THS.

In his mission statement, Williams said, “It is my mission to ensure that students are equipped for success in the next stages of their life by improving the quality of instruction, increasing student motivation and forming partnerships with stakeholders.”

—Dr. Quentin J. Lee is another familiar face from his work with the county schools. He has been the principal at Childersburg High School since 2017, and was principal at Talladega County Central High School for three years before that. He has also been an assistant principal at Childersburg Middle School and band director at TCCHS.

He lead the initiative “to improve proficiency amongst the students and close the achievement gap” in 2016, which lead to CHS being removed from the failing schools list, but remains best known for the “Can’t Touch This” video that went viral last year. The video was designed to “help schools navigate back to in person learning on campus safely.”

—Dr. Victoria K. Reese has never worked directly in either Talladega system, but does have a connection nonetheless. Reese is an adjunct professor at Troy University, where she works under the direct supervision of Dr. Trellys Riley, who worked as an administrator in the city system in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Reese als teaches fourth grade in the Birmingham City System and worked as an assistant principal in Jefferson County until May 2020 and in Crenshaw County before that.

She describes herself as “a transformational leader with a desire to serve Talladega City Schools as its superintendent and is fully committed to the continual growth of its consumers and community. A lifelong educator and advocate who has a true passion for within a progressive organization and is unapologetically committed to meeting the educational needs of its diverse population of students and educators throughout the district in order that each stakeholder might be marketable not only locally but worldwide.”

—Yolanda W. McCants, EdS, has been the school improvement specialist for the Anniston City School system since 2013. This position encompasses a wide range of responsibilities, including assessment coordination, counselor liaison, attendance officer and accreditation, among others. She also serves as interim superintendent designee, meaning she assumed district responsibilities when the interim superintendent was not present. She has not, and did not claim to, interim superintendent, as previously reported.

She also worked as an elementary school principal and teacher in the Anniston system.

Among her major accomplishments are improving the graduation rate from 58 percent to 86 percent in a three year period, creating STEM Pathways from elementary to high school and improved community relationships through an after school fine arts and Lego robotics program.

—Dr. Charla Brenta-Spurlin DeLeo has been an administrator in the Clay County school system since 2013, where her responsibilities include “director of special education, Section 504, gifted curriculum, response to instruction, Alabama College and Career Ready Standards, Alabama Reading Initiative, Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative, counseling and guidance, nursing and health, library/media and textbooks.”

She has also written grants and provided training for other education professionals.

In 2005 and 2006, she created and coached a dance team at Lineville High School that performed at school functions and at football and basketball games.

—Dr. Lee A. Hicks was the superintendent of the Troy City Schools from 2011-20, and as assistant principal and principal at Prattville High School before that.

He says that during his tenure as superintendent, he increased graduation from 66 percent to 92 percent, increased student performance to get schools of the state school improvement list, increased advanced placement and dual enrollment programs, got a bond issue approved and “promoted and grew fine arts, culinary, foreign language and career preparation programs at every school.”

—Dr. Gloria Goode Boutte has worked for the state Department of Education since last year as an expert reviewer for the grade 9-12 standards/curriculum guide. Before that, she was an educational consultant for the Youth Development Center in Opelika and worked as a business education instructor in Moss Point, Mississippi and as a principal in Mobile County.

Her goals are “to remain a passionate and committed professional, adding onto my vast diversity of experiences in education, to provide access to scholars in various educational settings that will ensure they receive pathways to equally exceptional education programs across all districts; to passionately take calculated risks to resolve complex conflict issues efficiently utilize critical thinking skills and lead innovative and student concentrated initiatives; to remain an effective leader for other educators, with a proactive plan and vision aimed at the development of the relationship between the school, community and parental support that can cooperatively heighten academic achievement.”

—Elgin L. Dixon, EdS, was the superintendent of the Twigg County School system in Jeffersonville, Ga., from 2013 until his retirement last year. Among other accomplishments, he supervised the initiative to raise his district’s graduation rate from 46 percent to 95.7 percent in five years. The rate is currently 86 percent. He also moved all the district’s schools off the state’s need for improvement list and moved the district as a whole out of a fiscal deficit. Before that, he had a long history with the Dublin, Ga., system.

“My philosophy of education is a simple one in part that it revolves around the students who are served by a public school system," he said in his mission statement. I believe that all students are capable of learning, even though all students do not have the same learning styles, nor do they have the same intrinsic motivation. Public education is a challenging arena that is in constant change. A successful administrator will recognize the importance of developing professional learning communities and the necessity of providing meaningful professional development so that faculty and staff can stay abreast of the ever changing world of education …”

—Dr. Monica Henson is the interim superintendent in Northwood, N.H. Before that, she worked as deputy superintendent of schools for the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice and as an executive consultant to Greater Atlanta Charter Consultants. She was also superintendent and CEO of Georgia Online Academy, Inc.before that.

She describes herself as a “highly accomplished and focused leader with proven competencies in achieving outstanding staff performance and academic improvement…(she) establishes and monitors district improvement plans to ensure success metrics are achieved (and) spearheads the development of cross-functional teams to achieve program objectives…(She is) recognized by her peers , colleagues, senior leadership, state policy makers and national influencers for tenacity and ability to gracefully handle the dynamics of the educational environment in the age of accountability.”

—Making an even longer trip would be the final applicant, Michelle L. Jones, who is Chief of Staff for the Department of Defense Educational Activity Pacific South District, which oversees 13 elementary, middle and high schools serving 7,000 military connected students in Okinawa. In the past, she has also served as a principal at an elementary school in South Korea as well as other positions in Okinawa. She has also taught college courses in early education in Texas and Maryland.

In her resume, she cites “over 26 years of educational excellence, including 11 years specialized experience in supervisory/administrative, management experience in school administration, including knowledge of school and district improvement.”

She also refers to “outstanding successes with stakeholder engagement groups, including parents, taxpayers and local civic leaders …”