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AISA announces 2013 Hall of Fame

Published 1:37pm Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Special to the Herald / AISA

A diverse group that includes two teachers, a pair of coaches, an administrative assistant, an athlete, two administrators, two state officials and two lifelong academic and athletic supporters comprise the ninth class of inductees in the Alabama Independent School Association Hall of Fame and will be honored with a banquet later this year.

Eleven of the 13 remain active in their support of AISA schools.aisalogo

“We are excited about this diverse group of candidates selected for inclusion in the AISA Hall of Fame,” said AISA executive director Randy Skipper. “These inductees are a true testament to the level of commitment that is necessary for the success of any independent school and we are proud of the impact that they have made in their respective school communities.”

The Hall of Fame selection committee consisted of past and present AISA officials at the state level as well as headmasters, educators, athletic directors and boosters from the local level. Two media members round out the committee.

The AISA Hall of Fame is open to both academic and athletic standouts as well as lay people who have made contributions either at the local or state level. The 13 inductees include the second athlete inducted by the committee in the 13-year history of the Hall of Fame, with former Lowndes Academy and National Football League star Preston Gothard joining former Glenwood School and current Atlanta Braves pitching ace Tim Hudson, who was inducted in 2011. Like many of the honorees who have spent a large portion of their lives supporting the institutions that have made up the Alabama Independent School Association during its 44-year existence, Gothard has been supportive of Macon-East Montgomery Academy and has served on its board of directors in recent years.

“I had no idea they had even put (a Hall of Fame) together,” Gothard said. “But any time you’re recognized by your peers or your (local school), it’s a great honor.”

This year’s induction class also includes Martha Walker, the wife of 2009 inductee David Walker, marking the first time a husband and wife team have ever been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Walker was one of two inductees that were unanimous selections by the Hall of Fame committee, along with former AISA executive director Don Oswald.

The 13 members of the 2013 class join 81 other individuals inducted in the first eight classes. The Hall of Fame started in 2000 but switched to a bi-annual format beginning in 2005.

A thumbnail sketch of the inductees follows:

Sara Bazzle – A lifelong supporter of the AISA, Bazzle was educated and served as a teacher at an AISA school before moving to the state office in 2004. A 1979 graduate of Calvary Christian Academy, she immediately went to work at the school and remained there until its closing in 2004, serving as a daycare worker, teacher’s aid, church secretary and school secretary as well as a sixth-grade science teacher. She moved on to the state office as a secretary in 2004 but was quickly promoted to activities director, a title she has held over the past 10 years.

David Brantley – While much of his career has been spent in his native Escambia County, Brantley is best known for his service the last 18 years as headmaster at Fort Dale Academy. A 1966 graduate of T.R. Miller, he started his career as a teacher at Fort Rucker Elementary in 1970 before moving into administration as a principal at A.C. Moore Elementary in 1976. Three years later, he was the principal at Escambia County High and two years after that, in 1981, he became the superintendent of the Escambia County School System. In his time at Fort Dale, Brantley has worked tirelessly to make the school a prominent fixture in Butler County and has served in the community with the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Butler County Economic Development Office. He currently serves as the treasurer in the AISA Headmasters Association.

Preston Gothard – Only the second athlete selected for the Hall of Fame, Gothard is a 1980 graduate of Lowndes Academy. While his career with the Rebels came during a stretch where Lowndes struggled on the gridiron, he was invited to walk on by Paul “Bear” Bryant to play football at the University of Alabama and earned a scholarship as a junior. Signed as a free agent by the Pittsburgh Steelers, he played five years in the National Football League while remaining close to his alma mater in Lowndesboro. He is the president of Gothard Well Drilling Inc., but volunteers his spare time helping Macon-East Montgomery Academy, where his children attend school. He has served on the board of directors at the school in the past as well.

Patricia Kelley – Has spent the last 29 years working at Abbeville Christian Academy, first in a part-time role splitting her duties of librarian and school secretary, then for the last 13 years as the executive assistant for headmasters Barbara Lindsey and Jim Arrington. A 1969 graduate of Baker Hill School, Kelley worked for a few years in private business in nearby Eufaula, but has dedicated most of her life toward serving Abbeville Christian.

Frank Lamar – A native of Autaugaville and a 1953 graduate of Autauga County High, Lamar has been involved with Autauga Academy since its inception in 1969. Lamar served on the board of directors from 1977-2000, primarily as the board’s treasurer. Chosen as the Autauga County Businessman of the Year in 2001, Lamar served several years as a certified public accountant for the AISA state office as well. A charter member of the Prattville Rotary Club, that organization honored Lamar in 2010 by with an annual scholarship named in his honor.

Jesse Little – A 1964 graduate of Sweet Water, Little served as baseball and football coach at Marengo Academy for parts of four decades, winning four state championships in both. He motivated students off the field as well, teaching biology, physics and chemistry at the school. On the field, he coached football for 12 years, compiling a record of 92-39 while winning state championships in 1981, 1983, 2001 and 2002. He coached baseball for 14 years, compiling a record of 207-78 while winning state championships in 1977, 1993, `995 and 2000. He served two stints in both sports, coaching football in 1981-85 and 2001 until his retirement from coaching in 2008. He went into private business after the 1985 season and returned to the diamond as a coach in 1993-2000 and for one season in 2006. He originally coached baseball from 1977-1981.  

Glynn Lott – A 1983 graduate of Lowndes Academy, Lott coached both girls and boys basketball at Macon Academy (1985-90) and Meadowview Christian (1991-94), but became synonymous with Macon-East Montgomery when that school relocated to Cecil in 1995 and Lott became its first football coach. Two years later, he would add athletic director to his title and has transformed the AISA school in east Montgomery County into one of the state’s best-known programs in his dual role of constructing new athletic facilities while coaching five different sports. A 14-time all-metro coach and six-time all-state coach, he has won state championships in football, softball and track while guiding basketball teams to eight Final Four appearances. Since 2008, he has served as the president of the AISA Coaches Association, improving the visibility of that organization in the process. For the past two years, he also has served as headmaster of the school.

Nancy McLeod – Successfully made the transition from the classroom to administration where she has served the 20 years as the elementary school principal at Lee-Scott Academy. A 1959 graduate of Opelika High, she started her teaching career with night classes at a small private school in 1970, then moved on to Scott Prep in 1974. When that school merged with Lee Academy in 1981, she continued her teaching duties at Lee-Scott, adding the role of coordinator of curriculum and instruction in 1984. She left the private school in 1987 to become a teacher at Opelika Middle School, then returned in 1993 to accept the job as Lee-Scott’s first elementary principal, a title she holds to this day. 

John Meals – A 1963 graduate of Gibson (Tenn.) High, Meals served as the headmaster during a crucial stretch (1992-2000) at Lee-Scott Academy, transforming that school into one of the AISA’s best before his retirement in 2000. Meals was a champion of both the public and private school sector, believing they needed each other in order for both to be successful. A coach and math teacher at a junior high in Huntsville, he moved over to Grissom High when that school opened in 1969 and held the same duties until his move to the Auburn-Opelika area in 1973 to become a track coach at Auburn University. He started teaching at Opelika High that year and would move into administration at the school, first as an assistant principal in 1978 and then as principal in 1982. In 1987, Meals became the assistant superintendent for Opelika City Schools and held that position until he was hired by Lee-Scott to resurrect the struggling school. He was headmaster for only eight years but during that time he completed the largest fund-raising campaign in school history, negotiated the sale of the school property to Auburn and oversaw the construction of the new campus in 1997. The baseball field is named in his honor.

Don Oswald – A 1967 graduate of Sidney Lanier, Oswald served in the AISA state office for the past 13 years before his retirement in 2012 as the organization’s executive director. He began his career as a social studies teacher at Druid High and Lanier before becoming a principal at Vaughn Road Elementary, Carver Elementary and Baldwin Magnet Middle School. He also served as a principal at Holtville High, Autauga Academy, Greenville High and St. James Middle School before becoming the AISA’s academics director in 2000. He took over the role of executive director following John Faircloth’s retirement in 2003 and ran the private school organization for the next nine years. While retired, he remains active in the AISA as a volunteer helper at state sports events and as the part-time academic dean at Macon-East Montgomery Academy.

Paul Henry Parham – One of the founding members of Jackson Academy in 1969, Parham has remained active with the school for more than 40 years before cutting back recently for health reasons. He served on the school’s board of directors for 41 years and as chairman of the board for 20. As the founder and chief executive officer of Parham and Parham Engineering and Construction, he was responsible for the construction of the school building, the gym and part of the stadium. When a tornado came through years later and caused damage  to the school, he helped in those repairs as well.

Virginia Ransom – A 1962 graduate of Wilcox County High, Ransom dedicated 40 years of her life to teaching at Lakeside School before her retirement in 2012 and continues to serve the school as a substitute teacher when called upon. Ranson got her start as a teacher in the Houston County (Ga.) school system in 1965 and moved over to Eufaula the following year, setting the stage for her switch to the private school association in 1972 when she started teaching at Lakeside. She was chosen as the AISA’s teacher of the year twice, in the 1991-92 school year and again in 2009-10.    

Martha Walker – A 1966 graduate of Escambia County High, Walker has devoted 44 years to teaching and 40 years to AISA member schools, including the last four at Escambia Academy. It was at Escambia Academy that she got her start in the AISA teaching profession in 1973, but as the wife of a headmaster, she has often had to relocate despite her devotion to the students at the school in which she was teaching. She served at Escambia for 11 years; Monroe Academy for 11 years; South Montgomery County Academy for  four years; Greenville Academy for three years; Morgan Academy for five years; and Clarke Prep for two years before returning to Escambia in 2009.  She was selected as the AISA teacher of the year in 1997.

Already in the AISA Hall of Fame 

Class of 2000

Jeanette Adams, administrator, Patrician Academy

Robert Andress, coach, Hooper Academy

Ted Davis, administrator-businessman, Catherine Academy

John Faircloth, administrator, AISA-South Montgomery County Academy

Delaney Kervin, administrator, Pike Liberal Arts School

Jack Moseley, administrator-businessman, AISA-Morgan Academy

John Niblett, administrator-coach, Central Christian Academy

John Sherrer, administrator-businessman, AISA-Morgan Academy

Buddy Sumner, administrator-coach, Wilcox Academy

Woody Woodall, administrator-businessman, South Montgomery County Academy

Class 2001

Jim Autry, administrator-coach, Greenville Academy

Lynn Blackburn, administrator-businessman, Lowndes Academy

Scott Brenizer, coach, Tuscaloosa Academy

Diane Johnson, coach, South Choctaw Academy

Larry Pickett, administrator-coach, Edgewood Academy

John Segrest, administrator-businessman, AISA-Morgan Academy

John Shoemaker, coach, Lakeside School

David Taccone, game official-businessman (submitted by Morgan)

Class of 2002

Richard Brown, coach, Sparta Academy

Chris de Buzna, administrator, Morgan Academy

Woodie Head, coach, Faith Academy

Mary Hostetter, administrator, Macon Academy

Barbara Lindsey, administrator, Abbeville Christian Academy

Darrell Self, administrator-coach, Hooper Academy

Jerry Steele, businessman, Monroe Academy

Jimmy Warr, coach, Patrician Academy

Bobby Wasden, administrator-coach, Meadowview Christian

Jeanette Worrell, administrator, Southern Academy

Class of 2003

Judy Brannum, administrator, Escambia Academy

Mac Champion, coach, Lowndes Academy-Monroe Academy

Linda Faust, administrator, AISA

Robby James, coach, Catherine Academy-Morgan Academy

Theresa Johnson, administrator, Crenshaw Christian Academy

DeWayne Kervin, administrator-coach, Shelby Academy

Paula Stacey, administrator, Monroe Academy

Herbert Traylor, businessman, Edgewood Academy

Lynn Wright, administrator-coach, Pickens Academy

Class of 2005

Jim Bigger, businessman, Monroe Academy

Marcus Anne Dempsey, administrator, South Choctaw Academy

Robert Gartman, coach, Morgan Academy

James Gentry, businessman, Pickens Academy

Cornelius “Connie” McKelvey, administrator, coach, Wilcox Academy

Elisha Poole, businessman, AISA, Fort Dale Academy

Vestula Thompson, businesswoman, Coosa Valley Academy

Ann Walker, administrator, Meadowview Christian

Paul Word, administrator, coach, Abbeville Christian

Class of 2007

George Fendley III, businessman, Wilcox Academy

James Gardner, coach-businessman, Fort Dale Academy

Scott Langley, businessman, Chambers Academy

Tim Skelton, administrator, Faith Academy

Art Sullivan, coach, Lowndes Academy

DeWight Ward, coach-administrator, Pike Liberal Arts

Susan Weaver, teacher, Glenwood School

James Wilson Jr., administrator-coach, Macon Academy

John Wise, businessman, Crenshaw Christian Academy

Class of 2009

Sue Bell Cobb, businesswoman, Sparta Academy

Buddy Edwards, businessman-coach, South Montgomery

Elizabeth Herring, administrator, Calvary Christian Academy

Betty Hixon, teacher, Pike Liberal Arts

John Holley, administrator, Marengo Academy

Anne Horne, teacher, Lee-Scott Academy

Barbara Hough, teacher, Clarke Prep

Duane Johnson, coach, Patrician Academy

Marjory Johnson, teacher, Macon-East Montgomery

Don McGinty, teacher-coach, Chambers Academy

James Rane, businessman, Abbeville Christian

Paula Reid, teacher, Clarke Prep

David Walker, administrator, Clarke Prep

David Woods, businessman, Southern Academy

Class of 2011

Roddie Beck, coach, administrator, Springwood-AISA

Connie Dickson, teacher, Bessemer Academy

Stewart “Sandy” Harrell, businessman, Lowndes Academy

Dwight Harrigan, businessman, Clarke Prep

John Harrison, game official-businessman, Crenshaw Christian

Tim Hudson, athlete, Glenwood School

Judy Pate Powe, teacher, Wilcox Academy

Billy Skinner, coach-businessman, Edgewood Academy

Elisabeth Smith, administrator, Pickens Academy

Carol Story, teacher, Lee-Scott Academy

John Westbrook, administrator, Meadowview Christian-AISA

Linda Williams, teacher-administrator, Lowndes Academy

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