Demopolis Superintendent receives Outstanding Administrator in Literacy award

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Demopolis Superintendent Tony Willis recently received the Outstanding Administrator in Literacy award from the Alabama Literacy Association (ALA) at its recent fall conference. The ALA is an active group that is part of the International Literacy Association where they recognize a teacher of the year and they recognize a new teacher who is in their first three or five years of education.

Willis said that he was honored to receive the award, but stated that he is simply the leader “of a successful district.”

“As much as I am honored by and appreciate the award, I fully understand that that is simply that I’m the leader of a successful district. We’ve done a very good job. I have a team from our curriculum director and our individual principals at each school and our academic coaches, our literacy coaches, and most of all our classroom teachers,” said Willis. “They’re working hard. Our students are showing a lot of growth and [we are] confident that this award is as much about the district as it is any individual.”

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Willis said he was nominated by the literacy council, and was nominated by the ALA as a whole. He said he believes it because he has worked in many different parts of the state before taking the superintendent role at Demopolis.

“I’ve always been a part of the Literacy Association. I’ve typically attended their conferences and I’m aware of the work that’s being done,” said Willis. “I have recently initiated trying to develop a West Alabama Council. There is a literacy council in most regions of the state, but not in West Alabama. So I’ve spoken to the superintendents hear about us having one in West Alabama, it’s just to promote literacy.”

Willis said he wants to make sure that parents and the community know that literacy is not just a school thing. He wants the community to know that literacy “changes lives and changes family trees.”

“We want to try to do everything we can to promote literacy. Most teachers have come around in the last few years to realize that literacy is that foundational base on which all our other subjects hang. Without literacy, you’re going to struggle in science, math or history,” said Willis.

Willis said that if the root problem is literacy or reading skills, then it affects everything a person does.

“We at Demopolis have really embraced that. Our district understands that and education as a whole understands the value of literacy. We have taken some proactive steps and I’m just glad to be a part of it,” said Willis.

Willis expressed his appreciation to the board for their hard work and support for the school system.

“Our board does a very good job of putting our money where our mission is. And that is maximizing student learning and producing successful citizens,” said Willis. “By doing that we have academic coaches, we have intervention teachers, we have the things from a support standpoint that it takes to be successful. And our teachers do an amazing job with what we have and I am proud of the results we’re getting.”