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On The Job with David Coley

David Coley has tried retirement, and discovered he did not care very much for it.

Dougherty County Schools Interim Director of Federal Programs David Coley hated retirement. When DCSS Interim Superintendent Butch Mosely offered him a job in February, the lifelong educator never hesitated in taking his position with the district. (Staff Photo: Terry Lewis)

Dougherty County Schools Interim Director of Federal Programs David Coley hated retirement. When DCSS Interim Superintendent Butch Mosely offered him a job in February, the lifelong educator never hesitated in taking his position with the district. (Staff Photo: Terry Lewis)

ALBANY — Dougherty County School System Interim Director of Federal programs David Coley has tried retirement and did not like it. The Cairo native was sitting at home in February when Butch Mosely, who had just been hired as the DCSS interim superintendent, asked Coley is he would be interested in coming to Dougherty County to help straight out the district’s Title I troubles.

He never thought twice and quickly accepted the job.

THE DAVID COLEY FILE

NAME: David M. Coley

POSITION: Interim Director of Federal Programs, the Dougherty County School System

EDUCATION: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from Georgia Southwestern College. Master’s degree and a Sixth-Year Specialist degree in Administration and Supervision from Valdosta State College. Doctorate in Administration and Supervision from The University of Sarasota.

FAMILY: Wife, Valerie. Children, daughters Ashley and Witney and son Tyler. Four grandsons.

PERSONAL: Teacher, Coach, Assistant Principal, Principal, and Title I Director before retiring. His wife also a retired Teacher. Once children came along he coached girls softball, baseball, and soccer. He also coached the two oldest of his grandchildren in baseball and soccer. Coley feels as if he did not give up anything, but gained everything by being allowed to coach his children and grandchildren in organized sports.

Nearly a year later, the system’s federal programs mess is clearing up, due in large part to strict oversight of spending of federal funds.

He sat down earlier this week to answer a few questions in this week’s edition of On The Job.

Q: If you were fresh out of school, what would you first do in searching for a job?

A: If I had known back when I was fresh out of school what I know now, the first thing I wish I could have done in searching for a job would have been “nothing.”. When I graduated from college, I was married, so doing nothing was not an option. When my wife and I were first hired to teach it was six weeks before we received our first paycheck. That was a long six weeks.

Q: What was your first job?

A: My first job as an educator was in the Thomasville City School System where I taught Social Studies and coached football and basketball. If you are talking about my first job as I was growing up it was doing farm work. I know farm work is different now, but I certainly respect the American Farmer.

Q: What was the first thing you bought after you got your first paycheck?

A: Here again if we are talking about my first professional job, the first thing I probably bought was groceries. You’ve got to remember that was over 40 years ago.

Q: Who was your role model or mentor in your current job?

A: I don’t think I have been here long enough to actually have a role model or mentor in my current job. I am very impressed with the people that work in this (DCSS administration) building. I guess I am one of the world’s worst at not telling the people I work with how much I appreciate them. One person that made me feel at home the first time I came in the door of the Administration Building was Officer (Robert) Lofton. He welcomes everyone that comes in the door. You know, not everyone that walks in the Administrative Building has a positive attitude at that moment. Officer Lofton makes you feel welcome. That type of attitude leaves a positive lasting impression on visitors.

Q: How has the recession affected education budgets, specifically within the DCSS?

A: Most definitely the recession has affected budgets. I really hate to see teachers and administrators have to take furlough days, not only in Dougherty County, but all over the State of Georgia. It is just not a positive situation for our system. Ultimately anything that impacts teachers and administrators in a negative way has an effect on the students.

Q: If you could turn back the clock on one aspect of technology (email, internet, cell phones, etc.) what would it be and why?

A: I have to admit, I like a hypothetical question like this one. There is no wrong answer. To attempt to answer this I would have to say the clock should not be turned back on technology, the clock should be turned back on me. I think I was born a hundred years too late. The advancements in technology are great. I wish cell phones had been available when my children were out on weekends. It sure would have given me peace of mind to know they were safe, rather than me sitting by the kitchen window looking for them to come home. In that age of technology I have not yet understood why my clocks were always few minutes slow. I know I am a dinosaur when it comes to modern technology. That old myth about, “you cannot tear a computer up”, is just that, a myth. If I had two computers in my possession at the same time I could tear one up and lose the other one. On a serious note, computers are wonderful. One thing a computer cannot do is measure what is in a kid’s heart or how much heart he/or she has. It can’t measure the desire to learn or achieve, or the ability not to give up on a task whether it is academic or athletic.

Q: I am up and going by …?

A: Early, very, very early. Normally 4 a.m., and on some occasions earlier.

Q: Favorite hobby or activity outside of work?

A: When I have time I enjoy doing yard work. Physical work in some ways to me is easier than mental work. I enjoy reading if the weather is not too pretty outside. It is not my favorite hobby or activity but somehow I got nominated and elected to be a “pool boy” with no pay.

Q: If you could take back one decision in your career, what would it be?

A: We all make choices. If we knew how they would turn out then we could all win the lottery. I have made some poor choices or decisions in my life, but on the other hand I don’t think there is too much I have missed. That is a good question and hard for me to answer, give me a couple of years on that one.

Q: What’s the best thing about your job?

A: The best thing about my job is the quality people I have met here since February of this year.

Q: What’s the worst thing about your job?

A: I dislike telling Principals or staff no. I know their requests are for the betterment of their schools, but the requests are not always within the guidelines of my job. I don’t always agree with the guidelines we work under, yet we have to follow them. Sometimes common sense and guidelines for my job don’t always go together, but my job is to keep us legal.

Q: The most beneficial course you took in school?

A: Does recess and P. E. count? College prep teachers would not want to hear this but the most academically beneficial course I took in high school was old-fashioned business math. I still use some aspect of it almost everyday. From an elective standpoint, I took two years of typing which has been a lifelong asset.

Q: What would be your dream job?

A: Moving right along, next question please.

Q: Finish this: “On the first anniversary of my retirement” I see myself …

A: I have already had a first anniversary of my retirement and I did not like it. I looked at the amount of effort, time, and money I put into getting my degrees. If I retire they are just collecting dust. I certainly appreciate Dr. Mosley and the Dougherty County Board of Education, along with Dr. Jimmy Everson from the State Department of Education for getting me back into doing something I enjoy. The former great baseball player Satchel Paige once said, “I never had a job, I played baseball all my life.” That is how I feel about my career. Once I received the training to become an educator, I never looked at it like a job, it is just something I enjoy.

Q: What is the one trait a educational leader cannot be without?

A: A sense of humor.

Q: What do you see as southwest Georgia’s biggest education challenge?

A: I see southwest Georgia’s biggest educational challenge as the breaking of the recycle of ignorance. As an educator, if you stay in one system or town long enough you see the children of students you taught or knew as an administrator following the same pattern as their parents. Money is not the answer or the solution. Education is the key to improving the quality of life. How many times have we as educators wished we could have removed children from horrible home situations to give them a chance? Make the playing field level for that child. There is so much potential for a child if he or she sees a quality role model.

Q: What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in education over the past several years?

A: More tax dollars wasted with no positive results to show for it. Education is a “fad chasing” institution. Every new program is going to solve all of our educational problems, according to the experts selling the product. Show me a kid that is a reader, and I will show you a winner.

Another sad change is the percentage of parents that do not support the teachers and administrators. Sadly, it is getting worse. The children who are having children more than likely had bad school experiences before they dropped out. The purpose of the school is to educate the child to prepare for the future. Look what is happening at schools that have a high percentage of parent support. Those students are achieving great heights.

Q: What was the best vacation you ever took?

A: I have enjoyed all the vacations we took, but to me there is no place like home. I prefer the mountains in the fall. My wife likes the beach in the summer. We have never been anywhere we didn’t bring back some good memories.

Q: Any parting words of wisdom?

A: Don’t look back!