Dell McMullen, superintendent of the Department of Defense Domestic Elementary and Secondary Schools for the Georgia and Alabama District, received in March the National Excellence in Education Award from AdvancED, an international accreditation program.
Nominated by her colleagues for her leadership and devotion to Fort Benning schools during the past 15 years, McMullen said she is humbled by the recognition.
“It was wonderful,” she said. “It really was. I feel so honored. I also want to make it clear that any time a person is given this award it’s a result of a lot of people working together over a period of years. Our teachers and our principals and all of our employees work together as a team, and I am daily amazed at the innovative things that they’ll try to do for our students.”
McMullen began her career with the Department of Defense Education Activity in 1987. That year, she was named principal of Frank R. Loyd Elementary School. Before that, she worked for 15 years as a teacher and administrator in the Muscogee County School District.
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McMullen has been the superintendent of the DoDEA’s Department of Defense Domestic Elementary and Secondary School for the Georgia and Alabama District since 2003, when the district reorganized. Before the consolidation, McMullen was the superintendent at Fort Benning from 1994 through the 2003-2004 school year.
Though she called the consolidation a good move, McMullen said it has posed a unique challenge for her as she endeavors to remain a hands-on leader. Because of her determination to frequent the 11 schools she oversees in two states on four military installations — two of which are Army posts and two of which are Air Forces bases — she inevitably spends a lot of time on the road. The districts are several hours apart, she said, making it difficult to pop in to each school as often as she would like.
“It is challenging just to be on site,” she said. “However, it’s really exciting. The consolidation really has worked.”
McMullen said she believes the secret to her longevity and success in this career is directly related to her passion for seeking dynamic learning opportunities for all children, military and civilian. And she just loves her job.
“I love working with people,” McMullen said. “I’m blessed to work with people who are very supportive of me and our school system. Year after year, I’ve been very fortunate to receive just fantastic support. Every day is just another opportunity to start over. That’s how I look at it. I really do. I look at each new day as a chance to do it better.”
McMullen earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Columbus State University, her specialist in education from Georgia State University and her doctorate in education from Auburn University.
She was inducted into Columbus State University’s Educator Hall of Fame, received the Mayor’s Award for Community Leadership and is a graduate of Leadership Columbus.
McMullen was named a Girl Scouts Woman of Achievement, participated in the Army Community of Excellence (ACOE) awards program at the Pentagon and received the Commander’s Award for Civilian Service.
McMullen is also a member of Columbus State University’s Board of Trustees, Military Civilian Council, Rotary Club and the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
She accepted her award in March during the 2009 AdvancED Conference in Chicago.