Dothan, Ala.-- Becky Birdsong, Donny Bynum, Dennis Coe, Lesa Knowles, Tim Pitchford, and Tim Wilder have several things in common. They are all current or former area school superintendents and are alumni of Wallace Community College.
Some members of this elite group have been in their positions for several years, but two are new to their responsibilities. Lesa Knowles, superintendent of Henry County Schools, and Becky Birdsong, Geneva County Schools, assumed their positions within the past year (Knowles served as interim beginning in December 2011). Dennis Coe was superintendent of Henry County Schools before Knowles and is now a division director with the Office of Support Programs at the Alabama State Department of Education.
Knowles, who was active in archery and tennis while at Wallace Community College, considers herself "an avid supporter of Wallace College and the role it plays in our community." After attending WCC, Knowles transferred to Troy University, where she received a bachelor's and master's degree in Elementary Education, a master's degree in Educational Leadership, and an Education Specialist degree in Educational Leadership. After thirty years' experience as an elementary teacher, reading coach and assistant principal, she assumed her position as superintendent of Henry County Schools this month. "Our school system has an excellent relationship with Wallace College, and we have many students participating in dual enrollment. I have personal experience with my own children attending Wallace College and receiving an excellent foundation for their post-secondary education," said Knowles.
Birdsong also found that Wallace was a great place to start an education. "Wallace Community College was a wonderful place to begin my education after high school. It provided a safe environment for me to make the transition from being a high school student to that of a college student. When I transferred to a 4-year university, I felt prepared for the course work required to obtain my degree," she noted. Birdsong was active in Phi Theta Kappa at WCC and transferred to the University of Montevallo where she received a bachelor's degree in Education. She earned a master's in Elementary Education from Troy University, and later earned a certification in Administration from Troy. In 2011, she earned an Education Specialist degree from Troy in Educational Leadership. After 14 years of teaching, Birdsong entered administration as principal at Geneva County Elementary in Hartford. She became superintendent of Geneva County Schools in July 2012.
Donny Bynum, superintendent of Dale County Schools, enjoyed basketball as a student at Wallace Community College, and played under Coach Johnny Oppert. Bynum continued playing basketball after transferring to the University of Montevallo. After graduating from Troy State University with a bachelor's in Physical Education, Bynum held several roles in education, including teaching, coaching, administration, and education specialist with the Alabama State Department of Education. He is beginning his fifth year as superintendent of Dale County Schools. "WCC gave me an opportunity to grow as an individual and was an excellent jump start to my professional career. Without a doubt, WCC plays a vital role in our community." Bynum also serves on the School Superintendents of Alabama Board of Directors (president for district 3).
"Wallace College was a great transition between small town, Houston County High School, and Auburn University and prepared me for the challenges I faced in education," said Tim Pitchford, superintendent of Houston County Schools. After spending two years at WCC, Pitchford attended Auburn University and received a bachelor's in Education and a master's from Troy University. He served Houston County High School as a teacher, coach, athletic director, assistant principal, and principal. Pitchford is serving his third term as superintendent of Houston County Schools.
Tim Wilder, superintendent of Dothan City Schools, played for a state baseball championship with the Wallace Govs. He received a bachelor's in Communication from Georgia Southern University, a master's in Educational Leadership from Florida State University, and is currently working on his Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, also from Florida State University. Wilder was appointed superintendent of Dothan City Schools in 2011. Previously, he was elected superintendent of schools for Gulf County, Florida, making him the youngest serving superintendent in the state. Wilder has spoken in many states about leadership, teacher morale, minority student achievement, and small/rural districts and their role in education. Wilder, whose alma mater is Port St. Joe High School in Florida, elected to attend Wallace Community College in Dothan. "Attending Wallace Dothan was the best decision I ever made," Wilder said, commenting on his choice. "Small class sizes, caring and dedicated educators, classy people, and the wonderful town of Dothan made my experience one I will never forget."
"We are so proud that these very accomplished professionals got their start at Wallace Community College," said Linda C. Young, WCC president. "We are grateful for their support and advocacy." The group attended a recent district superintendents' meeting at the Enterprise Service Center. The meeting is an opportunity to better serve their students by sharing common and unique experiences. The challenges of each district are in the expert hands of educators who have obtained a level of achievement that began, for each of them, with Wallace Community College.
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