Last Thursday afternoon proved an emotion-charged day for Shelby, AL's retiring School of Technology principal Phyllis French.
...French has been principal at the SOT since 2000.
A reception was held in her
honor last week at the school.In attendance were school officials, community leaders, family and friends.
And to French's surprise, a new garden at the school was dedicated in her
The engraving on a stone plaque at the garden, which included painted stones and a birdbath with a statue, reads, "This garden is dedicated to the honor of Phyllis French
in gratitude for the vision, courage and leadership she
brought to this campus from 2000 to 2005."French received her education specialist degree from the University of Montevallo.She taught what was then called home economics at Thompson Middle School and family and consumer science at Thompson High School for 11 years.
"I called Phyllis
into my office.I said, 'I want you out to the School of Technology
until further notice.' She
said, 'Yes, sir.'"
Major said French
had many successes and improved programs.
Headrick noted that enrollment at the school increased from 289 students to 513 students and called that a tribute to French
..."Nearing closure at the end of the 1999-2000 school year, SOT became the 'phoenix that rose from the ashes' as Phyllis French took flight at SOT's new principal during the summer of 2000."French
used a collaborative team approach to gather teachers and staff to promote shared responsibility.
boosted teacher morale from an all-time low to an inspiring high by leading us as a team to believe in ourselves in ways we never thought possible."French
led staff, students and community volunteers to paint, clean, decorate and restructure departments and to landscape the previously decaying campus.
solicited financial aid to add state-of-the-art technology and equipment to academic classrooms and technical departments.In relentless pursuit of turning a dream into a reality, Mrs. French persuaded the county to construct a student and visitor parking area on the barren front lawn.She
set academic goals that were not only reached but also surpassed," the statement said.
now houses three schools within one campus with two full-time counselors."And, "The Career Technical Programs have expanded from eight to now offering 13 diverse fields for certification."
But, "Much more interestingly, Mrs. French
has added additional tutoring services for academic remediation classes, a health class and night school that services all eight county high school's failing seniors.
continues to recruit business sponsors.Inspiring school recognition, Mrs. French has led our faculty and staff to achieve SAC accreditation in 2003-2004.
Just recently, during spring 2005, SOT
has been honored as one of Alabama's CLAS Banner Schools.Obviously, that's why she
is, without a doubt, the "wind beneath our wings."
Following the presentation, French
actual retirement date would be June 29.
"At first I was excited, then I got teary-eyed," she
husband retired seven years ago and the two were looking forward to doing some things together.
"I've never regretted one day being in education … I've loved coming to work."She
said teachers, students and their parents have embraced her
.Student Ashley Pearce said of French, "She's kind of like a mom to everyone because she cares so much.
...Career Academy Students at the SOT
have also expressed appreciation for French