By Kyle Lovern
CINDERELLA – The Mingo County Board of Education selected Don Spence as interim Superintendent of Schools after interviews were conducted all day on Monday.
The announcement was made at the end of the interviews. Seven candidates were interviewed. Sources told the Williamson Daily News the seven finalists included (in no particular order) Spence, Marcella Charles-Casto, Teddy Kinder, Paula-Hinkle Brown, Sabrina Runyon, Doug Ward and Thomas Hoffman.
The interviews began Monday morning around 10:15 a.m. and lasted until around 4:30 p.m. From that point the local BOE apparently discussed the candidates and deliberated. They came from their upstairs location back to the main meeting room on the first floor around 5:45 p.m.
Board President Dave Farley called the meeting back to order and out of executive session. He asked if there was a motion to hire a new superintendent. Board member Mark Colegrove made a motion to hire Spence and it was seconded by new BOE member Sabrina Grace. After a roll call the vote was 5-0 to hire Spence. The five board members are Farley, Colegrove, Grace, June Glover and Jackie Branch.
Spence is a veteran educator with 32 years of experience in Mingo County. He is a former teacher and coach, having coached basketball and baseball for several years, most of that coming at Lenore Junior High and Tug Valley High Schools.
For the last 10 years Spence has been the principal at Dingess Elementary School. Before that he served as principal at Lenore Pre-K 8 for more than 10 years.
Spence was immediately congratulated by several of the candidates who stayed for the official announcement. Then the BOE asked to go into executive session once again to discuss a contract and salary.
“I was surprised, but I feel very humbled that they would have enough faith in me to do this job,” Spence said. “I’ll do it with respect and work as hard as I possibly can.”
“I’ve been a principal for 18 years,” Spence added.
“You never know when you apply – I am very humbled and honored that they would put that much faith in me,” Spence reiterated.
Spence graduated from the old Burch High School in Delbarton and then Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va.
The position came open when Dr. Robert Bobbera recently announced he was retiring. On July 6, the BOE posted the position for a qualified applicant to complete the remaining year of Bobbera’s term which was scheduled to end on July 1, 2017. Interested applicants were required to apply by 4 p.m. on Tuesday, July 12.
Spence will serve in that capacity for one year. At that time the BOE will hire someone reportedly with a longer contract.
Cindy Daniel, Deputy State Superintendent of Schools, was in Mingo County Monday to assist the local board of education if they needed guidance. Daniel spoke briefly to the BOE before they went into executive session to interview the candidates.
The state had control of the Mingo County School System, but returned back local control under Bobbera’s term.
“You have an important decision today,” Daniel said. “This is a pivotal point. You have made a lot of progress and have made great strides.”
Daniel thanked Bobbera for the time he served as superintendent. He took over after the retirement of Randy Keathley in June of 2014. Bobbera had 33 years in the school system as a teacher, administrator and at the central office.
After Bobbera was appointed superintendent by the state, Mingo County was still under state control. In just a short time the county regained control in December of 2014.
(Editor’s Note: We will have a full interview with Spence at a later date on his outlook for the Mingo County School system.)
(Kyle Lovern is the Managing Editor for the Civitas Media Mountain District including the Williamson Daily News and Logan Banner. He can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern.)