Dr. James Martin

Dr. James Martin

PELL CITY – The Pell City Board of Education voted unanimously to hire Dr. James Martin III of Smiths, Alabama, as the new superintendent of schools.

The vote came after Board President Laurie Mise Henderson asked if any of the other board members would like to recommend any of the five candidates the board interviewed last week.

Board member Joe Sawyer recommended the board consider Martin for the job. 

No other board member made any other recommendation after Henderson solicited other recommendations. 

It appeared Martin’s experience played a big part in the decision. 

Eldon Hall, the newest member of the board, said it was a difficult decision for him to make, but he believed the school system needed a seasoned superintendent for the days ahead. 

“I would support Mr. Sawyer’s recommendation of Mr. Martin,” Hall said. 

Martin was the only candidate who had served as a superintendent. 

He served from 2008-14 as the superintendent for Chattahoochee County Schools in Georgia and from 2014-18 as the superintendent for Harris County (Georgia) Schools. 

Board member Cecil Fomby said the process was a lot of work and has been hard on all of the board members. 

Two of the top five candidates were principals who work within the Pell City school system. 

Both Pell City High School Principal Dr. Anthony “Tony” Dowdy and Duran South Junior High School Principal Dr. Corey O’Neal had applied for the job and made it to the final five. 

Also considered were Gregory “Greg” Cobb, a leadership support specialist for the Alabama State Department of Education, and Dr. Matthew Hubbard, the executive director of supporting programs for the Sylacauga Board of Education. 

“I wish we could select all five, but that’s not possible,” Fomby said before the vote. “We have to select one candidate.”

About 50 people attended Thursday night’s board meeting at the Central Office. 

Henderson told those in the audience there was no doubt Martin had the most experience. She also pointed to surveys filled out by students, faculty members and the community as to what the community was looking for in the next superintendent.

“I believe Dr. Martin best fits the mold of what the community wanted,” Henderson said. 

She said the decision was difficult because Pell City had two great people (Dowdy and O’Neal) who also applied. 

Fomby made the official motion to hire Martin, and Sawyer offered a second.

Henderson, along with board attorney Brandi Williams, will negotiate Martin’s contract and starting date. 

Martin, who lives in southeast Alabama, started his career as a band director and has served as a middle school and high school principal. 

Currently, Martin is employed with the Chattahoochee Flint Regional Education Service Agency in Georgia as a school improvement specialist. 

Martin received his bachelor’s degree in music education at Auburn University, his master’s degree in education administration from Troy University and his doctorate in education leadership from Auburn University. 

Martin said he applied for the Pell City superintendent’s job twice. 

“When this position became available, I applied through the attorney-led search and again through the Alabama Association of School Boards search,” he said. 

“I know what it means to be a superintendent. When I became a superintendent for the first time, I realized there is no other job in a school system that can totally prepare you for this position.”

Martin told the board he will always try to do the right thing, even if the right thing is not the easiest path to take.

“What you will get in me is someone who will work tirelessly to promote, support and care for the children in Pell City,” Martin said. “Our children will always be a priority. I want to come to Pell City and be a part of this outstanding school system and great community.”