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23 May 2007

JSU Alum with Family Ties
to the Marching Southerners
Named Superintendent of Tuscumbia City Schools

Reprinted here in its entirety.

Hartselle's Walters becomes Tuscumbia superintendent

By Deangelo McDaniel 340-2469

HARTSELLE If Joe Walters had gotten his way, he'd probably be a doctor or engineer.

But the oldest child of a longtime college band director entered music as a college junior and this carried him into education.

Fate has a way of putting you where you should be, he said.

Walters, an employee of the Hartselle City school system, is leaving the place he has called home for 22 years to become superintendent of Tuscumbia City Schools.

A unanimous Tuscumbia school board hired him Monday night. He will receive a three-year contract that pays $112,000 annually.

For Walters, it's not about the power or the money. Accepting the Tuscumbia job is about fulfilling a dream he developed about 10 years ago when he entered school administration in Hartselle.

"Shortly after I got to the central office here, I knew where I wanted to be," he said. "For the past 10 years, it's been in the back of my mind."

Walters will start in his new position July 1, succeeding the retiring Royce Massey. He'll take over a system that has a high school, middle school and two elementary schools. The system, which includes Deshler High, is smaller than Hartselle with 1,800 students.

Challenges ahead

But he'll face some of the same challenges.

"They have done a real good job with the money, but like systems throughout the state they are facing some tough times," he said.

The toughest challenge will be trying to build the reserve the state Department of Education is recommending all systems have.

The only way to accomplish this, Walters said, is by looking at personnel. He said this may mean not filling positions when teachers retire.

"My immediate goal is to evaluate where changes will have to be made," he said. "What the board wants is a quality product. What they desire and what I want to do is the same. So I think this is a good match."

Walters, who is director of instruction for Hartselle, finished second in the race for Hartselle's superintendent job in 2005.

In his 22 years with the system in Hartselle, he held just about every position but superintendent.

Decided to study music

The 1969 graduate of Jacksonville High, enrolled in Jacksonville State University as a pre-engineering student. His father was band director at the college. He thought about the medical field, but opted for music.

"I'm probably the only person in the state with 172 hours with a degree that requires 128 hours," he joked.

Walters graduated from JSU in 1974 and taught music one year in Georgia. He returned to Alabama as band director of West Point High School for three years. In 1978, he went to Tarrant High School, where former Hartselle Superintendent Lee Hartsell was superintendent.

When Hartsell came to Hartselle in 1984, he hired Walters to replace the band director, who had resigned.

Walters was the Hartselle High band director seven years before serving as director of special services for eight years.

He was director of secondary instruction two years and then for five years was principal at Crestline Elementary. Walters returned to the central office when Bobbie Long retired.

He earned most of his advanced degrees, including his doctorate in education leadership, while working in Hartselle.

Fond memories

Walters said he has fond memories of Hartselle and it will be sad when he leaves.

His three sons, Michael, Chris and Josh, are all Hartselle graduates and former baseball players.

"You know, they all wore No. 13 and we followed Hartselle baseball for 13 seasons," Walters said.

His wife, Shelia, teaches at F.E. Burleson Elementary. She has been in the classroom 32 years and can retire.

"I hope she retires and possibly works part time," Walters said.

See story at The Decatur Daily's website:

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