The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

July 10, 2013

Holladay settles in as first-time superintendent

— Trey Holladay’s to-do list was a little more hectic than normal this summer after being named as superintendent of Athens City Schools in May.

Holladay, 48, the former principal at Oxford High School and director of alternative programs and athletics for Oxford City Schools, was hired May 22 to lead the city school system after Dr. Orman Bridges retired as superintendent July 1.

The new superintendent, who will earn $126,000 annually after being paid a $120,000 salary in Oxford, spent June preparing to sell his Oxford home and moving his wife, Deborah, and daughter Mary Kate, 16, to Athens.

The Holladays, who celebrated their 26th wedding anniversary on June 26, also have a son, Will, who attends Auburn University. The college sweethearts plan to rent a home in Athens and are considering buying a fixer-upper in one of the city’s historical districts.

“My wife and I met at Athens State, and she’s the love of my life and my best friend. My wife, son and daughter are the focus of my life,” said Holladay during an interview Wednesday in his office, which had a desk already covered in paperwork and half-empty shelves after he began his full-time tenure on July 1.

Holladay also spent two weeks in June shadowing Bridges as he transitioned from spending 26 years as a teacher, coach or school-level administrator to being a first-time chief executive officer of a school system.

“Dr. Bridges was gracious enough to wait until I started so I could fill some openings in the Central Office and the principal vacancy at Athens Elementary,” said Holladay, who named Scott Sutton to lead AES and will hire in the coming weeks one person as director of personnel, transportation and public information, and hire a student services coordinator.

He said his immediate priorities are to fill those positions, upgrade technology equipment provided to staff and students and revamp the system’s alterative program.

Holladay said injecting the alternative program with “new flavor” to serve students with mitigating circumstances, in addition to students sent to Eagle Academy for disciplinary reasons, is a key factor in boosting graduation rates.

“It’s a huge factor in graduating students. (In Oxford) we had a high of 97 percent in graduation rate within the past seven years, and last year the rate was 91 percent,” he said. “Eight years ago, it was 85 percent, and we made good strides in the system to improve.”

Holladay said he prefers a servant-leader style of leadership, and plans to spend the first six months of his tenure learning as much as possible about the school system and its employees.

“My philosophy of servant leadership is a combined effect of how I was raised, personal beliefs of being a Christian and what I have learned,” said Holladay, whose hobbies include renovating homes with his wife, hunting and fishing.

“In order to lead, you have to be able to serve the people you lead, and I have to be willing to do anything I ask of others. This is important for buy-in by the employees and the community.”

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