By Donna Thornton/News Editor
Etowah County Schools Superintendent Dr. Alan Cosby was named Superintendent of the Year on March 13 by the Alabama Community Education Association.
The association is a nonprofit that supports member institutions providing community education programs in schools.
Locally, that is primarily the extended day and summer programs operated by school districts.
Etowah County Schools Community Education Coordinator Butch Dixon said Dr. Cosby’s award was driven by the county’s extended day programs. To receive support from ACEA, Dixon said schools have to report on what the extended day programs are doing.
When he reported on Etowah County programs, the association wanted to know more.
Dixon said the report he sent to ACEA was not couched as a nomination, but the creativity of the programs operated in county schools – creativity encouraged by Dr. Cosby and the school board – ACEA selected Dr. Cosby for the award.
“Alan is always encouraging us to think outside the box,” Dixon said. Dr. Cosby has never been bound by “this is the way we’ve always done it,” Dixon said.
One of the attention-getting programs Etowah County has embarked on is the “Bee Aware” program. Students in the extended day programs raise bees during the year, caring for hives, he said, and during the summer program, students extract the honey the bees produce. The program gives money to the public.
When the county’s special education program was ending its greenhouse program, Dixon said, Dr. Cosby suggested the extended day program take over that well-known program.
Dixon said extended day students continue the greenhouse program now, selling plants grown there to the public.
Community education looks to be a bridge between schools and the communities – something that can be vital, Dixon said, especially in rural communities.
Programs like “Bee Aware” and the greenhouse program can bring the community into the school, and show people the school are not just places that teach English.
While the scope of the award Dr. Cosby received in Montgomery is Superintendent of the Year, Dixon said the board’s role in school programs is essential.
“The superintendent recommends, and the school board approves,” he said.
Their support, recommendations and approval have made Etowah County community education programs shine, he said, and that light lead to the honor for Dr. Cosby.