Alexander ends tenure as school director

Published 9:13 am Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Photo by Brandon Hicks School Board

Yesterday marked a changing of the guard for the Elizabethton City School system.
Monday was superintendent Ed Alexander’s last day before he started his retirement. Alexander has spent his entire education career with the ECS.
He served as interim superintendent starting in 2006 and was named permanent superintendent in 2010. Before that, he was a principal and teacher at Elizabethton High School.
As Alexander worked to clear out his office and prepare for the next phase of his life, co-workers and friends looked back on his tenure with the ECS.
They described Alexander as a supportive supervisor, a champion of the school system and an administrator who led by example.
“It was a real joy to work with him,” Board of Education Chairwoman Rita Booher said. “He has a passion for the school system, for education, and he was fearless in leading the school system.”
Booher credited Alexander with the improvements made in the school system in the last eight years.
“I look at where we are now and where we started when he first became superintendent,” she said. “It is night and day, and he gets that credit.”
She listed among his accomplishments improvements in the system’s financial standing, test scores and graduation rate, as well as capital projects at each of the five schools.
“We have fantastic principals at each school,” she said. “We have one of the best school administrations in the state. We attract and keep good teachers. We are graduating students ready to move on into the world. We are living our mission statement.”
Booher also commended Alexander’s willingness to be the face of the school system in any situation.
“Good or bad, the buck stopped with him,” she said. “He is a rare person. He has big shoulders and thick skin. I think that is why he was so successful.”
“I am going to miss him terribly,” Booher continued. “I have spent my entire school board career with him by my side. His guidance made this job so much easier. I will miss him as a professional and as a friend. He was a rare superintendent to come along and we were fortunate to have him.”
ECS Administrative Assistant Clara Perkins described Monday as “bittersweet.”
“I have known Mr. Alexander since moving here in 1976,” Perkins said. “There are a lot of memories there. It is a bittersweet day for all of us that work with him and know him.”
Perkins said she always had a good working relationship with Alexander and found him to be a supportive leader.
“He would not ask us to anything he wouldn’t do himself,” she said. “His feelings for the school system, for education, shine through in his day to day actions.”
Assistant Superintendent Richard VanHuss agreed with Perkins that Alexander led by example.
“Whatever he asked us to do, we knew he had a reason for it,” VanHuss said. “He never asked us to champion his causes. He never asks someone to do something he was not willing to do himself.”
VanHuss said Alexander was a mentor for him, both professionally and personally.
He defended Alexander against what he felt were common public perceptions about the outgoing superintendent, such as he was a micro-manager and would not change his mind on issues.
“I don’t agree with that,” VanHuss said. “He is involved because he wants to know what is going on, but he is not making decisions for others. He lets the people who work for him do their job. If you came to work, and did your job, there was no one better to work for.”
Alexander had “conviction and passion” and always did “what was best for the system,” VanHuss said.
Alexander declined to talk extensively with the Star Monday. He said he was looking forward to his retirement to have time to spend with his grandchildren.

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