New day at ECHS

Published 11:01 pm Saturday, August 7, 2010

School bells across Escambia County will begin ringing Monday morning as the new school year officially begins.

The school board made many personnel changes over the course of the summer, but none more talked about in the Atmore area than the new administration taking over at Escambia County High School. Among those include former Escambia County Middle School principal Zickeyous Byrd who sets his sights on guiding the school to academic excellence, as demonstrated during his tenure at ECMS.

Although a lofty challenge, its one Byrd is ready to take on full force.

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“I am up for the challenge,” he said. “We’re going to restructure the school by changing the mindset of everyone. We are going to have high expectations and we are going to make our students live up to those expectations. We know that change is often difficult for everyone, but change is needed. I am confident that with those changes the students will live up to them and that they will soon realize why they needed to be made.”

Joining Byrd is former ECMS teacher and coach Dale Jones, who is known for his discipline, as he tackles his first administrative role.

“I’m looking forward to working with the faculty, staff, students and the Atmore community to help Mr. Byrd implement his new vision for the high school,” Jones said.

Also taking on her first administrative role is former ECHS teacher and coach Sarah Watkins.

“I’m ready for the challenges that lie ahead,” she said. “We know that there is a lot that will need to be done, but we are all dedicated to ensuring that ECHS becomes the best school it can be.”

Byrd said having Jones and Watkins by his side is instrumental as he takes on those challenges.

“I am excited about them,” he said. “Both of them possess different talents and we are definitely going to utilize those talents to make the school a wonderful place to be.”

As for the first day of school, Byrd has planned an assembly for the entire staff and student body.

“We are going to explain the new procedures and then we are going to review those procedures all day,” he said. “We are also going to go over the expectations and inform them of the challenges ahead and how we expect to meet those challenges.”

Byrd said he believes the top challenge is introducing them “back to my expectations,” of working hard and being accountable for their actions.

As for the entire school systems first day of school, Escambia County School Superintendent Billy Hines said no major changes in curriculum are occurring this year, however, one new system will make getting messages of importance to parents less troublesome.

“We implemented the ‘Instant Notification System’ during the last three months of school last year,” Hines said. “We are expanding that system and will be using it more for the coming school year.”

Hines said the program would give administrators throughout the county an opportunity to inform parents about school cancellations, special meetings, or other last-minute announcements.

On the enrollment side of things for the county system, Hines said the numbers are holding steady with little change at any level.

“All of our schools are pretty much the same as last year with our enrollment numbers,” Hines said.

Hines said state enrollment numbers are counted beginning the Tuesday after Labor Day.

New Escambia County High School principal Zickeyous Byrd, center, and his newly hired administrative staff, from left, assistant principals Dale Jones and Sarah Watkins are ready for the challenges that await them. | Photo by Adam Prestridge