Two principals will leave Phenix City Schools after this academic year.
Sharon Elder of Lakewood Elementary School will retire, and Shuvon Ray of Phenix City Elementary School will resign because her husband’s job is being transferred out of state, superintendent Randy Wilkes said Thursday.
The vacancies were posted last week, and applications are being accepted until March 31, Wilkes said. The superintendent said he hopes to recommend the successors at next month’s board meeting, scheduled for April 28.
Wilkes praised both principals.
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“Outstanding educators,” Wilkes told the Ledger-Enquirer. “Both of those did an outstanding job for us, and they will absolutely be missed.”
Elder, 59, has devoted her entire 26-year education career to the school system that educated her, so it will be “bittersweet” to leave, she said in a phone interview.
“I came through the district, and it has been good to me,” she said. “I’ve had good experiences all the way through. It is home.”
Also making the retirement choice tougher, Elder said, is her respect for Wilkes. He has boosted the system’s emphasis on the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and math, most evident by the $2.1 million Dyer Family STEM Center being constructed at Phenix City Intermediate School, the estimated $1.75 million to install a SmartLab in the seven elementary schools by next school year, the $750,000 over three years to equip students and teachers in grades 6-8 with iPad Airs and the $534,000 over three years to equip students and teachers in grades 9-12 with Google Chromebooks.
“I have worked with lots of different leaders, and we have a very innovative superintendent,” she said. “He has great ideas, and he’s just a ball of energy, so part of me says, ‘Gosh, I’d love to continue, but I have to weigh that against my family.”
Elder explained she is retiring this year to spend more time with her family, including her grandchildren, and more time at their place in the North Carolina mountains.
“It’s just time,” she said. “My husband has been retired for several years, and it’s just time. We’ve been married for 40 years, and it’s just time for us to have more time with each other.”
The 1975 Central High graduate was a homemaker in her early 30s when she pursued her own career in education, following her husband, Phil, retired from the positions of Russell County superintendent and Glenwood School headmaster.
Elder is in her second year as principal at Lakewood, where she also has been an assistant principal, instructional coach and teacher. She started teaching at the now-closed Central Elementary and was an instructional coach at Lakewood Primary. She earned a doctorate in reading education from Auburn University in 2006.
Ray wasn’t reached for comment.