FLORENCE — For Jimmy Shaw, being named the District 8 Superintendent of the Year isn’t an excuse to slow down.
Now in his third year as superintendent of Florence City Schools, Shaw stays busy visiting individual schools, meeting with staff, engaging the community, and connecting with the Alabama State Department of Education.
School systems across the state are divided into districts. The superintendents in each district vote each year to name one of their peers that district’s "Superintendent of the Year."
About a dozen other superintendents in District 8 voted to bestow that title upon Shaw this year, a “humbling” first for him.
But for Shaw, the award belongs to the whole team at Florence City Schools.
“I realized it’s kind of a team award,” he said. “Superintendents usually get the praise when something goes right, and they get the blame when something goes wrong, but I know that my team that I have here — the teachers here, the administrators here, staff — they make all this possible. They do all the work.”
As a “homegrown product” of Florence schools, the school system is close to Shaw’s heart. He has filled many roles in the district, including student, parent, teacher, administrator and assistant superintendent.
“This city and the school system mean a great deal to me,” he said. “My children go to school here. It’s been a part of my entire life.”
Now as superintendent, he meets with his staff and visits the schools as often as he can. That keeps him grounded, and helps him make informed decisions as superintendent.
He said he is particularly proud of recent efforts with the W.C. Handy Early Child Development Center, Launch program and the high school's 12 to Life program.
Shaw recognized the importance of well-trained faculty, staff and administration when it comes to preparing students for the future.
“We’re doing a lot with coaching principals instructionally, and coaching teachers to help them be better,” he said. “Everybody in this district gets coached. Everybody in this district has a plan to get better, so I think that will pay dividends. That’s something you might not see in the headlines, but we have a team of folks really committed to feedback and committed to growth.”
According to Shaw, he wants the city system to continue to improve communication at all levels, help students feel safe at school, strengthen workforce development, and grow programs like dual enrollment and Launch.
Many of Shaw’s colleagues said they share in this vision and support his recent award.
Assistant Superintendent and CSFO Connie Wallace said Shaw “models servant leadership daily.” She said he works hard to equip staff with the necessary tools to ensure students have the best opportunity to learn.
Lynne Hice, assistant superintendent over instruction, said Shaw was “devoted” to the students, employees and community.
“The superintendency for him is not a capstone or a stepping stone, it is a continuation of his life’s mission, and is truly a labor of love for him as he leads all of us who believe in his vision,” Hice said. “He works tirelessly each and every day to ensure every child has the opportunity to learn, grow and realize success."
Shaw’s secretary, Beth Dickerson, called him a leader the employees “love to follow.”
“He leads with his heart,” she said. “His dedication to learning, to education, to offering the best educational opportunities to our students and to our employees is evident in every one of schools. Dr. Shaw inspires us all to give the very best we have to give to our students who are our future.”
Shaw and the rest of the state's district superintendents of the year are eligible for the" Alabama Superintendent of the Year" award. State Department of Education officials will interview and evaluate those finalists this month before making their decision.