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Powell excited to face new challenges

By By RYAN CARTER
Advance Publisher
That's how Melvin "Buck" Powell described the public reaction to his appointment as superintendent of schools.
Powell did say that taking the new position is bitter-sweet though.
He has been principal at Rachel Patterson for the past several years. Prior to that, he was a coach and an assisitant principal at Escambia County High School.
Powell said one of his priorities will be finding his replacement at Rachel Patterson.
He plans to look for someone with elementary school experience.
In looking at the challenges that lay ahead of him, Powell said improving test scores must be a priority. He said test scores are how schools are judged.
He attributed the good attendance record at Rachel Patterson to their ability to create such an environment. He said as superintendent he will work to instill that objective in principals.
Powell said as superintendent he will share ideas with all of the schools in an effort to discover ways to continue to improve them.
When asked if he will maintain many of the programs implemented by current superintendent Dr. Margaret Breland-Bradley, Powell said he plans to evaluate all of the programs and if they are sucessful they will be maintained.
He said programs with low participation are not a good use of our resources.
Powell said it boils down to what is best for the children by encouraging them to stretch their imagination and offer enrichment programs.
Regarding school uniforms, ####Powell is a supporter.
Addressing other concerns, Powell mentioned that a group of students in the Nokomis area could possibly be added to the enrollment in Atmore schools.
Powell said school officals will have to see if bus service is available in that area and if not it will be provided. To accomodate approximately 40 new students, Powell said a new teacher would not be necessary because the additional students would most likely be spread over several grades.
In discussing his priorties, Powell mentioned that he would continue to have professional development programs for teachers.
When asked what he would change, Powell said a close look at block scheduling is needed.
Powell said subjects such as math and English need to be taught on a continuous basis.
Powell is a believer in giving students a good foundation by combining phonics, whole language and reading.
Powell is excited about the pre-K program awarded to Escambia County.
Looking to the future, Powell said he expected that in the next 20 years a four year-old program would be mandatory.
As superintendent, Powell said it will be important to show people you are concerned about the children.
Powell described himself as a hard worker. "When I go to school, I work," he said. "I put 100% into it. I love it, working with children. I've dedicated myself to working with children."
He said as principal he has been custodian, nurse, father and doctor to his students.