“It’s been an honor for me to serve the School System here,” Hathcock said Wednesday. “I consider this to be the highlight of my career, 39 years and counting.”
Hathcock was appointed Pell City School System superintendent in April 2002, almost 11 years ago.
Hathcock, 60, said he will officially offer his retirement request to the school board at its Jan. 22 meeting.
The veteran superintendent told school employees Wednesday morning, their first day back from the Christmas holidays. The employees gathered at the Pell City Center for the announcement.
“I wanted them all to hear it from me,” Hathcock said. “… I wanted to tell them personally how much I appreciated them, how proud I was of them, and I challenged them to stand up, fight and to defend their school system.”
Hathcock said once the board accepts his retirement request, it will advertise the vacant job opening for 30 days.
“At that point, it’s up to the board on how they want to proceed,” he said. “Hopefully they will make a decision soon.”
Hathcock said it is important for his successor to have a transition period.
“Our goal would have the new superintendent on the job July 1, who wouldn’t be behind the eight ball,” he said. “We expect a smooth, orderly transition, where nobody is rushed.”
Hathcock has served as a school superintendent for the past 18 years. Before coming to Pell City, he was elected as the Fayette County schools superintendent.
“This job is demanding, no question,” he said. “I’ve truly, truly been blessed with having good people working around me. I think that was the key to my success.”
Since Hathcock took the reins of the Pell City School System in 2002, and despite historic harsh economic times, the system has prospered and grown.
During his tenure, the system spent close to $35 million in construction, renovation and land purchases for future growth. The school system does not have any portable classrooms.
“There were 43 (portable classrooms) when I got here,” Hathcock said, adding, “I predict big-time growth, and I think we’re poised to accommodate it.”
The superintendent said he will remain in the Pell City community.
“That speaks volumes for Pell City,” he said. “When we came here, we didn’t know anybody. This is our home now.
“We still want to be a part of the community. This is our home, and we really enjoy it here. I bleed black and gold now,” Hathcock said.
In the past 11 years, the Pell City School System has enjoyed stability in the schools and at the central office.
“We’ve been able to attract good people and keep them here,” he said.
Hathcock said good employees have translated into a safe working environment for both teachers and students in a place where students are provided a good education while having fun.
“At the end of the day, the kids who graduated from Pell City can do whatever they want to do,” Hathcock said. “They are prepared.”
He said Pell City students are also afforded many opportunities in and out of the classroom, including athletics, JROTC, drama, theatre, band and a variety of student clubs.
“That is critical,” Hathcock said. “We wanted to give students as many opportunities as possible.”
The second year Hathcock served as superintendent, Pell City seniors received about $1 million in scholarship funds. Now it’s common for seniors to earn more than $5 million in scholarship funds each year.
“We want that to continue,” he said, adding that he doesn’t know of one school system that is perfect. “I do know this School System will continue to thrive and get better.”
Hathcock thanked past and present school board members he has served with.
“They allowed us to do our job,” he said. “It’s not like that everywhere.”
He said he is also proud of the outside financial support of the School System.
“We appreciate the support the city has given us during a difficult financial time,” he said. “I hope people will continue to support their School System.”
He said the system is and has always been accountable for all funds and invested money wisely for its students.
“It’s been a good run,” Hathcock said. “We’ve come a long way. … I’m glad to have been a part of it for more than a decade.”
Contact David Atchison at firstname.lastname@example.org.