Vickers named Superintendent

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 16, 2007

DEMOPOLIS &045; In less than an hour last night, members of the board of education had their man confirmed for the next superintendent of Demopolis City Schools.

Hillcrest Middle School principal Lawrence Wayne Vickers will be introduced at 1 p.m. today as the new superintendent. Vickers, who lives in Tuscaloosa, accepted the job after a phone call from Superintendent Dr. Wesley Hill.

Reached Thursday night at his home in Tuscaloosa, Vickers said he was excited to be moving to a place he said he has kept up with throughout the years.

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In fact, Vickers said he once interviewed for a principalship here. His wife, Pam, also visited Demopolis when she worked for what was then Gulf States Paper.

Board members said one of the main attractions they had to Vickers was how he spoke of becoming involved with the community.

Vickers and his wife have two children, Jordan, 9, and Will, 5.

Board chairman Gary Holeman called Vickers and &8220;innovator&8221; because of his success &8220;mining data and using it to build stronger schools.&8221; Holeman also pointed out that Vickers had &8220;broad experience being a principal at all levels.&8221;

During his interview Tuesday night, Vickers told the board that his experience as an administrator at all levels has helped him become adept at analyzing data and interpretation. He said that data-interpretation is crucial to providing feedback to schools and teachers and to developing a strategic plan for the school system.

Vickers explained that he has had a strategic plan in past systems in which he has worked. He said having such a plan in place allows a system to align resources to meet the goals of the board and the community.

Vickers told the board that this would allow for a better understanding by everyone involved in what the system is trying to attain. He also said the way he is perceived by the community would impact the outcome of the system’s goals.

Out of 13 applicants, the board chose eight candidates to interview. Among those interviewed were two local principals, Dr. Isaac Espy and Dr. Tony Speegle. Board members said they felt choosing someone from outside the district would not cause any hard feelings among local candidates or those who might have supported them.

Board member Jim Stanford said the board was impressed with all the applicants. In the end, he said the board &8220;had to pick the best candidate who walked through the door.&8221;

Stanford also praised the work of Dr. Neil Hyche, a former Tuscaloosa County superintendent who now consults with districts across the state.

Last night’s decision closes out a process that began in November when the board began taking applications for the position. Interviews were held on four nights over two a three-week span. They concluded Wednesday night, after which the board decided to meet last night to begin the discussion process. In the end, the board voted unanimously to offer the position to Vickers after quickly coming to an agreement.

Hill, who moved here from Georgia, is retiring after 27 years as superintendent. He is only the second principal to lead the system since 1966. Hill succeeded Dr. A.A. Knight, who served for 14 years.