Pelham City Schools recognizes 10th anniversary at BOE meeting

Published 12:12 am Wednesday, February 7, 2024

By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer 

PELHAM – A regularly scheduled Pelham Board of Education meeting was the site of a special night of honors and recognition as the Pelham BOE celebrated Panther Pride and welcomed former Superintendent Dr. Scott Coefield who spoke on the system’s 10th anniversary.

Following the Superintendent’s Art Show and a ceremony for the Pelham City Schools’ teachers and support persons of the year, Pelham Park Middle School also served as the host for the Pelham BOE meeting, which was held at the school rather than the PCS Central Office.

At the forefront of the meeting, the board awarded a long list of both students and teachers during its Panther Pride event, that presented students and teachers with awards and certificates of achievement.

Among that list were the following recognitions for the following achievements:

Perfect score on the Alabama Comprehensive Assessment Program (ACAP) ELA section during the 2022-2023 school year

  •  Destiney Waweru, Pelham Ridge Elementary School
  •  Braelyn Hammett, Pelham Ridge Elementary School

Perfect score on the ACAP math section during the 2022-2023 school year

  •  Connor Klinglesmith, Pelham Oaks Elementary School
  •  David Sanders, Pelham Park Middle School

Perfect score on Access

  •  Joy Li, Pelham Ridge Elementary
  •  Allison Martinez-Garcia, Pelham Oaks Elementary
  •  Michael Rodriguez, Pelham Oaks Elementary

Teachers receiving national board certification

  •  Emily Driver, Pelham High School

Students selected for All-State Sports

  •  Will Felton, football, Pelham High School
  •  Camryn McMinn, volleyball, Pelham High School
  •  Kylee Hester, volleyball, Pelham High School
  •  Londyn Wynn, volleyball, Pelham High School

Students selected as a member of the 2024 Alabama All-State Choir

  •  Elizabeth Foret, Pelham High School
  •  Madison McCugh, her teacher, was also recognized for the success.


Jacksonville State University Writers Bowl

Pelham High School Team: 1st Place Team – Poetry Competition, 2nd Place Overall

  •  Caroline Otis
  •  Alex Pettway
  •  Alex Adams
  •  Owen Jarvis
  •  Gracie Lewis
  •  Amanda Orr
  •  Tonya Hatch, their teacher, was also recognized for the success of the team.


Trumbauer High School Theatre Festival

2nd Place in the state for Classical Theatre Category

  •  Jashan Grewal
  •  Miranda Pierce

2nd Place in the state for Comedic Monologue Category

  •  Emily Ropog

Superior in the state for Comedic Monologue Category

  •  Alex Pettway
  •  Melissa Bailey, their teacher, was also recognized for the success.


Following the recognition of achievements, the school board proceeded throughout its meeting agenda with the approval of four out-of-state trips, two for the Pelham High School Winter Guard to attend competitions in March, one for the PHS Baseball Team to play in the IMG National Classic Tournament in Florida and the fourth for the Pelham High school Choir to attend the Trills and Thrills Six Flags Over Georgia Music Festival on May 4.

The board also approved a number of renovation and construction projects that included the partial reroofing of Pelham High School by Roofing Solutions, LLC at an approved cost of $330,300 and the installation of a new sidewalk and canopy for Pelham Oaks Elementary School by Williford Orman Construction, LLC at an approved cost of $121,386.

While discussing a number of upcoming projects, Assistant Superintendent Floyd Collins commented that the sidewalk and canopy project was moving ahead of schedule and was set to begin work within the next week.

“This is the first time in a very long time that we’ve had a project start before schedule,” Collins said. “We have a 90-day completion timeline for this project so the sooner they can get started the better. We are very excited to get the kids out of the inclement weather while loading the buses.”

The board also approved a bid from Williford Orman Construction, LLC for a fine arts addition and renovation at Pelham High School related to upgrades to the culinary lab and an outdoor cooking addition that will total $459,872.

A new position for the board was also approved in the way of establishing the post of central office staff accountant. Now that the post has been approved, the process for posting the available position and interviewing applied candidates will begin.

Pelham Oaks Elementary is also set to receive their new playground in the third week of February according to Collins and students will utilize the playing field and the gymnasium for recreation during the construction.

“Students will not be in school on that Monday, Feb. 19, which will give the contractors an opportunity to work with minimal disruptions and (they will also work) through the weekend,” Collins said.

Collins also announced that $30,000 in savings related to the culinary lab upgrades at PHS were achieved thanks to the value engineering and selection of alternative and comparable refrigerator and freezer units set for the space.

Following Collin’s updates, Superintendent Dr. Chuck Ledbetter ceded the floor to his predecessor Dr. Scott Coefield who addressed the audience and the board with his reflections on Pelham City Schools reaching its 10th anniversary.

In his comments, Coefield recognized and thanked the early and strong continuing support from Mayor Gary Waters and the City Councils that have been in place since the system’s founding. Specifically, he credited their work and support of establishing the permanent one-cent sales tax that supports Pelham’s schools.

“What it does is allow this board and the superintendents in the future to really plan for the future,” Coefield said. “I really give credit to the council for making decisions that have helped this school board.”

Coefield also lent credit to the members of the current school board, and those of the past, for their ability to work and listen to one another all for the betterment of the school system.

That quality was specifically cited by him as one of the primary ways the school system continued to succeed and grow during the COVID-19 pandemic, and credited their ability to work together in ways that included the development of new benchmarks and metrics related to easing schools back to normalcy following the pandemic’s lockdowns.

“I can’t tell you how many people across the state copied what we were doing.”

Rather than give himself credit, Coefield instead assigned much of the system’s success to the important individuals that were hired as part of the rapid selection process that took place during the district’s founding and the careful selection, addition and development of the staff that has occurred in the years since.

“One of the reasons that I retired is that I knew that this staff no longer needed me,” Coefield said. “They were ready, and I felt fully confident that they could do the job. It makes me proud that you all are doing so well.”

Coefield also recognized the sheer level of growth that has taken place not only within the district but throughout the city of Pelham since the school district’s founding.

“I remember the doubt that was out there about Pelham,” Coefield said. “When I was in the running to take the job, I had people in this area who said ‘Scott are you sure that you want to go to Pelham? Have you driven up and down Highway 31 and seen the businesses that are closing?’ It’s amazing when you ride up and down now and see the explosion of all of the good things that are happening.”

He further recalled that when the district first formed, the facilities were far behind even what he had seen in his rural community. An issue he likened to the county’s struggle with rapidly onset growth at the time.

From the start of the district, which saw private citizens taking loans to support school programs and struggles with maintaining internet access in its first days, to the now successful system with two new elementary schools and a renovated high school he estimates has now received $10-15 million in upgrades, Coefield once again gave the credit to the staff and the city as a whole.

“Beyond our wildest dreams, I never really expected us to move this fast with our facilities,” he said. “Of course, a lot of it is due to the funding coming from the city and how well the city is doing with their finances.”

Following Coefield’s address, Ledbetter took an opportunity to credit his predecessor in the leadup to acknowledging the month of January as School Board Appreciation Month.

“A lot of people think of Dr. Coefield as a numbers guy and a structure guy, but let me say this, the thing that he did here that I think is the most impressive is he created a culture that is the Pelham way,” Ledbetter said. “He created the Pelham family—he cultivated it and it grew and gave people room to grow and that’s who we are. That didn’t happen by accident, that happened with guidance.”

In speaking directly to the board, who would all then go on to discuss how thankful they are to represent and play a role in leading Pelham City Schools, Ledbetter thanked each one personally.

“We appreciate your service,” Ledbetter said. “We appreciate the heart you have for our schools.”