Who will lead?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 17, 2007

DEMOPOLIS &045; The next superintendent of Demopolis City Schools could

come from within the district’s own ranks, as two principals are

among the first to apply.

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Superintendent Dr. Wesley Hill, who last year announced retirement

from leading the district, said nine people have completed the

application process. Hill would not release the names of any of the

candidates, but two district principals confirmed they have applied.

principal Dr. Isaac Espy said Tuesday.

In addition to Espy, U.S. Jones Elementary principal Dr. Tony Speegle

said he turned in his application earlier this month.

Since Hill’s announcement, both men were rumored to have been

interested in the position. A third principal &045; Clarence Jackson at

Demopolis Middle School &045; has also been mentioned as a possible in-

district candidate. Hill said Tuesday that Jackson has not applied.

Jackson did not return calls seeking comment.

Moving outside the district but staying close to home, two other

education leaders have been mentioned as possible candidates. Dr.

Hill said neither Marengo County Commissioner Ken Tucker or Marengo

County Superintendent Dr. Luke Hallmark have applied, though both men

are thought to have been mulling over the idea.

Hallmark, who said he did not want to comment on speculation, has

been praised for his work with a district that is largely rural and

does not have the same financial advantages as the Demopolis system.

Tucker said he has been approached by &8220;several school and community

leaders about seeking the position.&8221; The former Demopolis school

board member said he has yet to make up his mind about whether or not

he will apply.

Espy took road from T-Town to Demopolis

Espy, 44, was born in Chatom. He received a bachelor of science

degree in mathematics from the University of Alabama, from where he

received three other higher education degrees.

Espy received a masters of arts in education in 1992, an education

specialists degree in 1996 and a doctorate of education in education

administration in 1998.

Espy began his career as a math teacher at West End Christian Academy

in Tuscaloosa. After a year, he took over as the Saturday school

director at Central High School East in Tuscaloosa for eight years.

He then moved to the assistant principal position at Central High

School Summer School in Tuscaloosa for two years.

In 1995, Scottsboro City Schools named Espy as their athletics

director and assistant principal. He remained there until 1998, when

he took the principal position at Hubbertville School in Fayette County.

In 2005, Espy was named principal at Demopolis High School.

Speegle never traveled far from home

Speegle, 48, graduated Demopolis High School in 1976. He received a

bachelor of science degree in 1981 from the University of West

Alabama, from where he graduated with a masters in administration in

In 1996, he was awarded an education specialist degree from the

University of Montevallo. Eight years later, he finished his

doctorate of education at Samford University in 2004.

Speegle’s career began in his hometown as a coach and teacher at what

was then U.S. Jones Junior High in Demopolis. He spent three years

there before taking an assistant coach’s position at Florala High

School. One year later, Speegle moved to Selma High School as an

assistant football coach and teacher.

Speegle returned to Demopolis in 1988, working for a year as a high

school football coach before returning to the junior high program. In

1997, he was named assistant principal at U.S. Jones, which was still

a middle school at the time.

In 1998, Speegle took over as principal of U.S. Jones.

Board seeking outside consultation

The application process will remain open until Jan. 31, at which time

a Tuscaloosa consultant will review the applications and present a

slate of candidates for the school board to interview.

Hill said Dr. Neil Hyche, a former superintendent of Tuscaloosa City

Schools, and two other consultants have been hired to consult on the

search process. Interviews will begin once Hyche provides the board

with a slate.

The interview process, Hill said, will be open to the public.