Byrd named new leader at ECHS

Published 2:21 pm Sunday, June 27, 2010

Stability and a proven track record are two of the qualities Escambia County Superintendent of Education Billy Hines believes best qualify Zickeyous Byrd for the task of leading Escambia County High School next school year.

School board members named Byrd, who has served as principal at Escambia County Middle School for five years, as the Blue Devils’ new leader during Thursday’s board meeting in Brewton.

“I believe Mr. Byrd will be a great asset to Escambia County High School,” Hines said. “His leadership capabilities and his ability to reach academic goals and the needs of the students are evident by the success he had at Escambia County Middle School.”

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Prior to Byrd taking over at ECMS in 2005, the school faced academic struggles and potential state takeover as a result of not meeting Adequate Yearly Progress, a statewide accountability system mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which requires each state to ensure that all schools and districts make AYP. In just one year under Byrd’s leadership, the school soared and met AYP and has continued to do so for the last five years.

“He has stability,” Hines said. “The parents, the teachers, the students and the citizens of Atmore know the abilities of Mr. Byrd. He has a proven track record. I feel very confident and sure that he is what we need at Escambia County High School.”

Byrd said that he is “humbled” by the opportunity to lead ECHS in a new direction and is ready to “get to work.” He credits his staff for the many successes at ECMS and is eager to enjoy accomplishments with his staff at the high school.

“I am proud of the achievements we made,” he said. “The first year we met all of our AYP goals and each year we have continued to move forward and have gone high and higher. I am also proud of the successes we have had with discipline, structure and most importantly academics, the morale and overall climate of the school.”

In addition to meeting AYP, Byrd spearheaded the implementation of gender-based classes, the model middle school, criterion reference tests, pacing guides, curriculum alignment and the development of Escambia County Preparatory School at ECMS.

Byrd’s transfer to the high school marked the second principal hiring in less than a month at Escambia County High School after Joseph Dean, who was hired as the school’s leader at the May school board meeting, resigned after only 10 days. The 38-year-old Butler County educator and Monroe County native who served as interim superintendent of education in Butler County last school year returned to Butler County following his resignation. Four days later, the Butler County School Board rescinded his resignation as principal of the Butler County Magnet School.

Byrd already had his finger on the pulse of ECHS Friday morning reviewing teacher vacancies that he will be tasked to fill in the next couple of weeks. He also has a strategy in place to turn ECHS around.

“I’ve got a transformation plan with strong accountability for the faculty, staff and students,” Byrd said. “They include Criteria and Reference Test (CRTs) as well as the reorganization of a schedule and studying the data to find out what areas need to be improved upon in regards to AYP.”

Byrd has an extensive educational background and many achievements. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in elementary school education in two years from Concordia College in Selma when he was only 19 years old. He continued his education at the University of South Alabama where he received his master’s in school administration in only a year and a half. He also has his educational specialist degree from USA. He is currently working towards his educational doctorate in educational administration and supervision with Walden University. He will graduate in December.

He began his educational career as a fifth grade teacher at Morningside Elementary School in Mobile where he taught for five years before becoming the title one facilitator at Mobile County Training Middle School in Prichard. After a year, he was named assistant principal where he stayed for two years before taking the job at ECMS.

Byrd will transfer to his new position effective July 1. He said he knows his work is cut out for him, but is up for the challenge.

“A lot of improvements have been made, but I do recognize that there are some areas that need to be further improved upon and addressed,” he said.

Byrd will continue to assist the staff at ECMS until a new principal is hired, Hines said. The 14-day job vacancy was posted Friday. A special board meeting will be held July 15 when Hines plans to make a recommendation to the board.

David Lanier was also hired as director and principal of the Escambia County Career Technical Center after serving as assistant principal at ECHS for two years. Sandra Reid, who has served as assistant principal at W.S. Neal Elementary School for the last three years, was hired as Flomaton Elementary School principal.

Zickeyous Byrd is now the principal of Escambia County High School. | File Photo