By CECIL PERGRAM
Members of the Powell County Board of Education members pose with new Powell County Schools Superintendent Anthony Orr during a meet and greet held on January 4 at Central Office. Those picured right to left are Kimberly Hall, Anthony Orr, John Brewer, John Barker and Diann Meadows. Board member Mendel Tipton is not pictured
The Powell County Board of Education held a meet and great on January 4 at Powell County Central Office for the community to get introduced Dr. Anthony Orr who was named as the Interim Superintendent of Powell County Schools at the end of December.
Orr was born is northwest Tennessee and went to school in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“I was like a lot of kids when I went through high school. I was unsure what I wanted to be,” Orr said. “I knew that I liked science and math and I thought that might be connected to my future.”
Orr says while in college he met a chemistry teacher he really liked and respected and she inspired him to do something with chemistry and students.
After getting his undergraduate degree Orr moved to a city outside of Houston, Texas where he taught chemistry and physics for three years.
Orr moved from Houston to San Antonio where he taught for five years before moving to Lexington, Ky.
Orr spent a year working in Lexington with Habitat for Humanity International before taking a teaching position at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School.
“I spent the first 10 years as a teacher saying I would never take a position in administration. I didn’t want to be a principal and I didn’t want to leave the classroom, but ultimately I decided when I got my Masters Degree to go ahead and get into administration,” Orr said.
Orr says he made his transition from teacher to principal during his 10 years spent at Dunbar High School.
“I started teaching there but I ended up finishing as a Principal,” Orr said. “After 10 years at Dunbar I went to Nelson County and was the Superintendent in Nelson County for seven years.”
Orr says he has been asked by some about the possibility of dropping the interim for his title and becoming the full-time Superintendent of Powell County Schools in July and he’ll eventually make decision, but right now that’s not his primary goal.
My primary goal is spending the next six months making sure everything about the district is going as smoothly as possible. So whoever steps into position in July has a district that’s in good order,” Orr said. “My expectation is that most likely someone else will be stepping into that position and thinking about it. That way it helps me make decisions that are good for kids in Powell County instead of making decisions about what’s good for Anthony Orr.”
Orr says he is still in the process of learning how things work and once he gets a feel for his new position he hopes to be able to collaborate with staff and find better solutions to some of the districts problems.
“We got some attention for some concerns we have going on in our elementary schools and that is certainly going to take sometime over the next couple of weeks to get that situation taken care of,” Orr said. “Really I want to make sure my work makes the job of staff, our teachers, custodians, bus drivers, and administrators easier. All these folks have really hard jobs and I just want to watch for ways I can help them do their jobs and do them more effectively and more efficiently.”
Orr says the last 15-16 years he spent in school administration has prepared him for the work ahead of him because of a lot of the job is going to be a similar experience.
“Certainly coming to a district of a different size will make some difference. Every district had issues going on that needed to be worked on, but that keeps the job fresh and keeps me thinking about new things all the time and that helps keep me engaged and interested in what we are doing.”
Orr says he wants everyone to know his first priority is getting the district in good shape and taking care of the kids in Powell County.
“Beyond that I want people to talk to me. If they are wondering what’s going on, how things work, or if they have any concerns about something that was said or something they heard, just call me,” Orr said. “I would be glad to answer any questions or check on a situation so I can be part of a solution if one is needed or part of an explanation if that’s all it takes.”
Orr says he intends to be in attendance at most Powell County High School sporting events and those events would allow for a great opportunity to have interactions and to hear from those in community.
Orr says additionally he wants the community to know he intends to make himself available by phone for those who call the Powell County Board of Education Central Office at 606-663-3300.