By Gary Lloyd
PIKE ROAD — The Pike Road School Board on Tuesday approved former Trussville City Schools Superintendent Suzanne Freeman to be its first superintendent.
Freeman will begin the job July 1.
The Pike Road School System formed after breaking from Montgomery Public Schools.
“It’s just been so fun to get to know (the people in Pike Road) and just to be embraced by them,” Freeman said. “I’m just honored and humbled to be a very small part of a very big journey.”
Freeman was the first Trussville City Schools superintendent, serving from 2004 until 2012. In July 2012, the Trussville City Board of Education unanimously approved a contract settlement with Freeman.
Freeman in 2008 was named the state superintendent of the year by the School Superintendents of Alabama and in 2009 was one of four finalists for National School Superintendent of the Year.
Prior to that, she was the superintendent of Cullman City Schools since 2000. Freeman earned a doctorate in curriculum and teaching from Auburn University, and had worked for Auburn City Schools as an assistant superintendent and principal for the Auburn Early Education Center.
Freeman interviewed with the Pike Road School Board on Feb. 21. Other candidates who were considered were Susan Cole, who earned her doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Alabama and had most recently served as the director of human resources for Gordon County Schools in Calhoun, Ga., and Craig Ross, who earned his doctorate in educational leadership from Auburn University and was serving as the principal of Robertsdale High School in the Baldwin County School District.
Before her approval by the Pike Road School Board, Freeman was retired from public education but was working as a consultant for school systems.
Freeman said she consulted for Pike Road with its “early planning stages” in 2006. She said the new school system is “building from the ground up,” since no schools have been constructed yet. A school in the Waters community will open for students in K-8 in 2015. High school students will filter into Montgomery schools or private schools until Pike Road can have a high school.
“It’s going to be explosive,” Freeman said of future growth in the area.
Freeman said future plans for additional facilities are being worked on.
“They have a real strong vision for being bold and innovative,” Freeman said of Pike Road leaders and parents.
Freeman said she hopes the school system develops a culture of high expectations and innovative strategies so that students learn at high levels. She said the community is all about family, and quality of life and education.
“The enthusiasm is just contagious,” she said.
Freeman is the school system’s first employee, and it will look at hiring about 41 teachers and staff members to work at the school. There will be neighborhood meetings to “really capture people’s voices and their passion and their vision for the system,” Freeman said.
“It’s a blank slate, and that’s exciting, the opportunity to create something with a blank canvas, with people that just have a vision and passion and enthusiasm about wanting to build something great,” she said. “They’re bold and innovative and charismatic. They just want it to be spectacular for kids.”
Freeman’s obligations to Trussville City Schools and other school systems will conclude June 30.
“God has a plan that far exceeds anything that we could try to figure out on our own,” Freeman said. “You just have to know that He’s got His hands on everything and if you just listen and believe that He creates these amazing opportunities and uses the gifts He gave us to do great work. It’s just exciting.”
Freeman said there is a lot of hard work and heavy lifting ahead, but that’s OK.
“This is fun stuff,” she said. “This is the good stuff.”
Contact Gary Lloyd at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.