Dr. James Martin III

Dr. James Martin III is chosen as the new Pell City Superintendent by the Pell City Schools Board of Education last week. Photo by Amanda Pritchard

The Pell City School Board of Education selected Dr. James Martin III as the new Pell City School Superintendent from the five finalists that were interviewed the previous week.

“I am very excited about the decision our Board unanimously made tonight to hire Dr. James Martin as our next superintendent. This was a tough decision for several of us for personal reasons, due to having long standing personal relationships with several of the other candidates,” stated Pell City BOE President Laurie Mize Henderson. “These things are never easy, but ultimately the decision was based, at least for me, on Dr. Martin's extensive prior superintendent experience, the glowing recommendations we received from those within each system he has worked in and him best fitting what the citizens expressed they wanted in our new superintendent through their voluminous community input survey results.”

Dr. Martin is a School Improvement Specialist at Chattahoochee Flint Regional Education Service Agency in Georgia. He previously served as Superintendent at Harris County Schools and Chattahoochee County Schools in Georgia.

During his interview with the Board of Education, he stated that he has mentored new superintendents in his current position and would bring his previous 10 years of superintendent experience to Pell City.

“We would lay as much groundwork as early as possible and hit the ground running,” Martin said in reply to what he would do during the first few months if selected Superintendent. “The people of Pell City, staff, and students deserve a smooth transition.”

Dr. Martin also stated that he would use his experience to identify opportunities to grow through continuing community engagement by creating advisory groups with teachers, students, and getting feedback from the community to make sure school policies are helping.

The Pell City Board of Education sought the assistance of the Alabama Association of School Boards (AASB) to conduct the search. The AASB accepted applications, ran background checks, and conducted interviews of candidates before narrowing down the list to the top five, which they presented to the BOE for the final interviews, which were public. The AASB also received feedback from school employees, students, elected officials, and the community through surveys on what qualities they wanted to see in the new superintendent.

“I am proud that our community members, parents, teachers, administrators, students, elected officials responded to AASB [Alabama Association of School Boards] in unprecedented numbers to have their voices heard,” posted Henderson. “It is humbling to know that so many people took the time to provide their input into this very important decision. We listened and heard you. Great things are in store for the Pell City Schools. I know this in my heart, and I can not wait to begin working with Dr. Martin.”

Among the top qualities the community stated they wanted in a new superintendent were to communicate effectively, ensure safety and discipline, recruit and retain a staff that can effectively serve all students, and increase student achievement.

“Congratulations to Dr. James Martin from Georgia as the new Superintendent of Pell City Schools,” fellow finalist Greg Cobb, Leadership Support Specialist with the Alabama State Department of Education and Pell City resident, posted on his Facebook page. “I continue to pray for Pell City Schools and thank the school board for a process laced with integrity.”

The other five finalists included Dr. Matthew Hubbard, Sylacauga Board of Education Executive Director of Supporting Programs; Dr. Corey O’Neal, Principal of Duran South Junior High School in Pell City; and Dr. Tony Dowdy, Pell City High School Principal. Dowdy recently informed the BOE of his retirement as principal, which the board will have to vote to accept at the next board meeting.

The Pell City School Board president Henderson, along with board attorney Brandi Williams, are negotiating Martin’s contract and starting date.

“Students are the reason we do what we do – put students first and support our teachers,” said Dr. Martin. “I applied because I know it’s a good school system. I saw a lot of good things and you need to get out and tell that story.”

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