ECMS hires new leader

Published 8:10 am Tuesday, May 3, 2005

By By Lee Weyhrich
Zickeyous Byrd will take over as the new principal at Escambia County Middle School on June 1, just 29 days before current principal Herbert Payne retires.
"He is going to move to Atmore and he will come on board June 1," School Board Administrative Assistant Gwen Walton said. "Mr. Payne is retiring June 30 and this will be a time job training and cross training. Both will be on payroll this month plus he can get trained some and find out the inner workings of the school from Mr. Payne."
According to Walton, Byrd was the most qualified and enthusiastic person for the job.
"It was a committee that selected him," Walton said. "In the initial letter that was sent to candidates they were told they'd have to come in prepared to discuss some things they would do to reorganize the school. He was at a school in Mobile that was under the same circumstances as Escambia Middle has now. There were nine people on the committee and he received the committee's recommendation."
Byrd is currently serving as an assistant principal in Mobile at Mobile County Training School where he has worked for six years.
"I was referred to Atmore by a friend and he told me about how wonderful the school system was and I became interested in it," Byrd said. "I actually rode up there and decided to see for myself. I came from a rural area and I was reared in rural schools and coming to Mobile I just missed that atmosphere and I wanted to get back to it. I am definitely looking forward to coming to Atmore and I am looking forward to working with the staff of the school the parents and the students."
Mobile Training has faced problems similar to those at ECMS.
"He's a young man, highly intelligent, highly motivated," Superintendent Melvin "Buck" Powell said. "He has some ideas he hopes will help with test scores."
Byrd is so well-loved in Mobile that the school board actually asked Powell if they could keep Byrd where he was.
"I talked to Dr. Dodge (Mobile Schools Superintendent) and he wanted to keep him," Powell said. "He had experience in administration and we feel like he's the man for the job to get that school in the clear."
Getting ECMS to clear status is Byrd's No. 1 priority.
"I feel that those problems can definitely be overcome with work," Byrd said. "I have researched based strategies that I plan to implement in the school that I feel will address the needs of all of the children in the school. My mission is to come in and work with the teachers and to show them that together we can do whatever it takes to address the needs of the children. We have had a lot of successes here (at Mobile). I am going to do whatever it takes to get the score up in the middle school. Escambia Middle will be a successful, high-achieving middle school."

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