A leader and friend: Dr. Kristi Sayers honored for lengthy career in education

By EMILY SPARACINO / Staff Writer

NORTH SHELBY – She said she wasn’t going to cry, but the tears came anyway as Dr. Kristi Sayers spoke to current and former colleagues at her retirement party in the Oak Mountain High School library on Tuesday, Aug. 24.

“The best years of my life and my teaching career have been at Oak Mountain High School,” said Sayers, who served as the school’s principal for the last seven years. “That’s as a teacher and an administrator, and that’s because of the people in this room. You are truly wonderful, and you impact kids every day.”

After 32 years in education, Sayers ended her career with a heartfelt send-off from other administrators, teachers, family members and friends, several of whom shared tributes and humorous anecdotes.

OMHS English teacher Marissa Rath reflected on getting to know Sayers when she came to OMHS to teach English before moving on to serve as an assistant principal at Pelham High School.

“She wasn’t there but a semester, and then she took a position with the district level,” Rath said. “After she spent a little bit of time in professional development and a little bit of time in curriculum, she came back to us, and she came back as our principal. From the very beginning, Kristi’s goal was to make us bigger and better, and she did.”

Rath described Sayers as a voracious reader and a competitive person.

“She’s constantly looking for ways to improve herself,” Rath said. “She strives to be a winner in everything that she does.”

Rath recalled giving Sayers a jar filled with sand and seashells when she went to Pelham “so that she would never forget us here in paradise.”

Rath said Sayers asked her if she could give the jar to her son, Will Sayers, a first-year science teacher and soccer coach at Shelby County High School.

Michelle Hall, who worked with Sayers at the Shelby County Schools Central Office, and Sandy Evers, an assistant principal at OMHS, spoke about Sayers’s ability to be both a leader and friend.

“You don’t find a person like her who can be your boss but that on the same hand you can say she is a friend,” Evers said. “I can say that about Dr. Sayers. I know she has my back at all times, and yet at the same time, she led me in the right direction in so many of my administration roles.”

Michael Zauchin, OMHS’s choir director, talked about Sayers’s influence on him when he was in high school.

“You have led me in so many ways,” Zauchin said, “As a teacher, as a leader, as a person. I’m going to miss you terribly.”

Zauchin then asked Sayers to come out to the school’s atrium, where choir students sang “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.”

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Sayers said. “I can honestly say that my job has been easy because of the people in this room. Everything that we have ever done or accomplished at Oak Mountain High School is because we did it as a team. I will never forget you.”