ALMA — Superintendent David Woolly is retiring following 50 many years in schooling, all with the Alma School District.
Woolly grew up in a faculty, as his father was the superintendent for the Arkansas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Small Rock, and his mom was an elementary teacher in the Small Rock Faculty District.
“And because the Faculty for the Blind is a residential college serving the total condition, the superintendent experienced a residence on campus,” Woolly explained. “So I pretty much grew up in a college. I would get up in the morning at a school, go to college, appear house at night time and be at a faculty. My playmates when I was youthful were being the students at the University for the Blind, since that was my neighborhood.
“I failed to know there was any other way to get paid a living.”
Woolly, 72, attended the University of Arkansas to analyze audio instruction with the target of getting to be a band director. He explained when he graduated in 1972, Alma was the only one particular with a place open.
“Now it was not an appealing occupation,” he mentioned. “The band method listed here at this School District was not in great condition, and which is getting generous. But it was the only career I was made available, so I took it. I didn’t know regardless of whether I was likely to be in this article a calendar year or a thing else. I had no concept.”
Woolly claimed it just so took place a lady named Marsha started instructing at the faculty that exact same calendar year, and the two afterwards married and lifted their family members in Alma.
Woolly reported they always understood he’d finish up in administration, which he did in 1976 as the assistant principal for Alma Superior College. He is had a number of other positions given that then. He took the superintendent situation in 2011 soon after the dying of then-superintendent Charles Dyer.
Woolly mentioned he was preparing to retire at that time and be Ok with by no means having been superintendent, but he couldn’t stroll absent from the district just after Dyer died. He famous it really is unconventional to commit an entire profession working at one place, but Alma was the finest put to be.
“We were being carrying out excellent factors. We were being earning fantastic progress. We ended up constructing superb amenities. We had been knocking the best out in co-curricular courses throughout the board. We didn’t have any authentic challenges. It was just a enjoyable area to be. When you get correct down to it, that is what matters,” he mentioned.
Woolly reported more than his tenure, he is seen district services go from remaining canine to gold-plated buildings that could rival any district’s. He said Alma’s enrollment has far more than doubled to over 3,300 college students, which in change has authorized additional chances for extracurricular pursuits.
He reported it really is the obligation of a university district to offer higher-high-quality, co-curricular alternatives for each and every college student, regardless of what their desire is.
There are about 1,100 learners at the high university, and fewer than 10 are not in a important co-curricular plan, this kind of as soccer, softball, band or ROTC, he explained.
“A thing which is a massive software that is really energetic and will take a lot of their time, and teaches them time management, teamwork, grit, those people factors that make a big difference among a man or woman becoming thriving as an adult and not,” Woolly stated. “You will not master those factors in algebra course. Algebra is essential, but you really don’t understand those items in algebra class. You study those people items in co-curricular plans. So that is usually been a significant emphasis, just as critical to us as acquiring top high-quality instructors.”
“A great deal of children are in far more than a person. That is not unconventional at all. We have soccer players that are dancers, and all of that cross pollination is a major offer to us,” he added. “That is a further factor that we have worked hard at for without end. We by no means tell a pupil ‘You can’t do this mainly because you’re accomplishing that.’ We never do that. We do anything we can to make it attainable for them to do every thing they want to do, every little thing they want to check out.”
Mayor Jerry Martin said Woolly has helped children at a local community amount in quite a few means, and that it is been an absolute joy and satisfaction operating with him. He recalled in 2019, Woolly authorized the city to use the middle school creating to distribute shoes, apparel and college supplies, as nicely as give hair cuts and wellness checkups.
“Neither one always has the cash by on their own to do some of these assignments, so to be equipped to perform collectively, to be capable to have nicer amenities and just give our young children the applications that they need to be in a position to do well in daily life,” Martin said. “We have experienced excellent leadership with Mr. Woolly at the helm, and he is going to be tremendously missed.”
Woolly has also advocated for educational institutions at the state level by talking to legislators. The very best case in point is when he worked in a supporting role by exploring and presenting stats to legislators in the Jim DuPree v. Alma College District situation in 1983, he said.
The Arkansas Supreme Courtroom concluded in the situation state governing administration experienced constantly unsuccessful to offer the revenue and programs essential to provide a ideal schooling for all kids in Arkansas.
“It went a prolonged way towards equalizing funding, specifically for quickly growing districts,” Woolly recalled. “If we had misplaced that scenario we in all probability would not be sitting listed here currently, since we would be element of some other faculty district. We ended up about to die on the line financially, mainly because we ended up escalating in enrollment very speedily without having the money to retain up with what we experienced to do to teach people developing young children.”
Woolly mentioned all of his function starts off and finishes with college students in head. He stated that’s the influence he needs to leave in the Alma School District, irrespective of what situation an unique is doing work in.
Woolly stated that’s partly why he waived his regular salary this yr, following Alma hired Bryan Duffie as deputy superintendent last 12 months. Woolly is generating $12,000 this school year immediately after taking a income of $176,580 in the 2020-21 college yr, according to district economic documents.
Duffie formerly was superintendent for the Jacksonville North Pulaski University District.
“I desired it so that come July 1, when he gets to be superintendent, he hits the ground jogging and his mastering curve is currently at the rear of him, because I am still here,” Woolly explained. “So could we have afforded to shell out him and pay back me? Yeah, the district could’ve afforded that. I did not want to do that. I didn’t want the district to fork out those two top salaries in the district.”
“That speaks volumes to me,” Duffie stated. “He just enjoys Alma, enjoys this University District.”
Woolly explained he is retiring now since he preferred to leave when he nonetheless had the electricity and wellness to conclusion his vocation the way he commenced it: by performing with youngsters. He claimed he strategies to vacation the globe a bit, but he however wishes to volunteer for the Alma schools, function with the College of Arkansas advancement office and converse on education and learning to the Legislature.
“There is certainly no way for me to verbalize to you how a lot it means in this area,” he stated. “The thought’s crossed my head just lately, why now? Why this very long? It is what I wanted to do each day. It is the place I desired to be. I did not want to be someplace else accomplishing anything else. I needed to be in Alma Faculty District. It is not a occupation. It is been my everyday living.”
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