Progress

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PROGRESS

THE STATE OF PIKE COUNTY

The growth throughout Pike County continues.

7 OVER 70

Age is just a number for these leaders in the area.

EDUCATION SNAPSHOT

Take an in-depth look at Pike County’s school systems and Troy University

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under 40 2023
Progress 2023 3 ON THE COVER Haleigh Finger
6 TRMC expands services 8 The State of Pike County 10 10 under 40 24 7 over 70 39 Education Spotlight IN THIS ISSUE 10 39
Photo by: Josh Boutwell

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Savanah Weed is a University Relations Coordinator at Troy University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in 2017. After nearly five years of working in newspapers in Monroeville, Enterprise and Eufaula, she joined the communications staff at her alma mater in 2021. Because of her love for community newspapers and the City of Troy, she soon became a freelance writer and layout designer for the Troy Messenger in 2022.

Josh Boutwell is the sports editor and a general news reporter at the Troy Messenger with more than a decade in the business. After attending Enterprise State Community College, he began working for the Andalusia Star-News and then Enterprise Ledger before becoming the sports editor at the Southeast Sun in 2016. He accepted the position of sports editor at the Troy Messenger in 2022. JAINE

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Go to www.troymessenger.com to read and share select stories from this edition. CONTRIBUTORS Troy Progress is published once per year by Troy Publications, Inc. 101 E. Church Street P.O. Box 727 • Troy, AL 36081 334.566.4270 • www.facebook.com/ troymessenger
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Troy Regional Medical Center now has board certified physicians in its emergency room.

Troy Regional Medical Clinic expands services

The Troy Regional Medical Clinic continues to expand its services as the hospital strives to provide much-needed care for Pike County residents that wasn’t always here in the past.

Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, 50 percent of hospitals in the state currently operate at a negative operating margin with hospital closures happening all over the state over the last few years. The smaller, rural hospitals are even more at risk.

“I think healthcare in general, coming out of COVID, is in the worst condition we’ve ever seen it,” TRMC CEO Rick Smith said. “I think Dr. (Donald) Williamson, the president of the Alabama Hospital Association, said that recently six of those (rural) hospitals in our state were on the brink of closure. In order for us to maintain our viability we have to continue growing and adding services and providing those services, so our people stay here.”

Smith said that another important lesson learned in healthcare is how over capacity many of the larger hospitals were during the pandemic.

“The other important part we learned during COVID is that tertiary care centers don’t have the capacity to handle everyone,” he said. “If it had not been for rural hospitals during the pandemic patient care would have been severely

impacted because the hospitals in Montgomery, Dothan, Birmingham, Mobile, Huntsville and the other places were already at capacity themselves.”

So, TRMC works hard every year to expand its services. Among the expansions over the past year includes the expansion of primary care services and the new Vein and Vessel Clinic at TRMC.

“Everything we try to do is focused on trying to keep services close to home, so patients don’t have to drive 50 miles for services anymore,” Smith emphasized. “We’ve expanded our primary care services with new providers in primary care. Rebecca Allen Jones is a nurse practitioner and Dr. Ethan Sellers is a primary care physician we now have on hand.

“Another important service we’ve added recently is the Vein and Vessel Clinic for patients that have lower limb ischemia or leg pain that can come from a number of different sources. Patients that would typically have to go to Montgomery or Dothan can now have those procedures and interventions right here at Troy Regional.”

Possibly the crown jewel of TRMC’s most recent additions is the changes that have come in the emergency department.

“We really have expanded and elevated our emergency department,” said Smith. “We made a change last June to a

new emergency department provider, Keystone Healthcare, and since that change we have all board certified emergency room physicians.

“These (physicians) are board certified in emergency medicine and that’s something that has never happened here before. That again elevates the services here, these are physicians who specialize in emergency medicine and I think that has truly, truly made a difference in our service here.”

In years past, Pike County residents may have felt compelled – or even required – to drive far outside of the area for the types of services mentioned, which is what Smith said TRMC would continue to focus on preventing in the future.

“The important thing for us is to keep our community close to home,” Smith said. “These are services that are relatively standard in most places and I think it’s something we can provide the community through our ongoing efforts to increase our resources and increase our physician staff and expertise and bring those procedures here locally instead of our residents having to drive for them. These are relatively simple procedures that people were driving an hour to have done in the past.”

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Story by Josh Boutwell
TROY REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER

“We really have expanded and elevated our emergency department,” said Smith. “We made a change last June to a new emergency department provider, Keystone Healthcare, and since that change we have all board certified emergency room physicians.

“These (physicians) are board certified in emergency medicine and that’s something that has never happened here before. That again elevates the services here, these are physicians who specialize in emergency medicine and I think that has truly, truly made a difference in our service here.”

Troy Regional Medical Center

“By the Numbers”

• 0 - Hours Troy Regional Emergency Room is closed in a year.

• 1 - Number of “air ambulance” helicopters used to transfer critical-care patients to larger hospitals.

• 6 - Approximate number of counties served by hospital.

• 20 - Minutes it takes helicopter to arrive in Dothan or Montgomery hospitals.

• 26 - Number of medical services or departments listed on TRMC website.

• 54 - Years since hospital opened in 1969.

• 72 - Number of recently renovated private rooms

• 79 - Number of RN’s currently on staff

• 97 - Number of beds hospital is licensed to operate.

• 150 - Number of employees currently on “nursing team.”

• 325 - Current number of full and parttime employees.

• 2,090 - Number of in-patient and observation admissions in FY23

• 3,800- Total surgical procedures in FY23.

• 4,355- Approximate number of COVID vaccines administered by hospital from March 2020-Dec. 2022

• 17,830 - Emergency Department visits in FY23.

• 76,000 - Number of Patient Registrations in FY23.

• 125,266 - Total number of meals served.

• 176,030 - Total Square feet of hospital.

• 42.2 million - Hospital’s total expenses in 2020.

In years past, Pike County residents may have felt compelled – or even required – to drive far outside of the area for the types of services mentioned, which is what Smith said TRMC would continue to focus on preventing in the future.

“The important thing for us is to keep our community close to home,” Smith said. “These are services that are relatively standard in most places and I think it’s something we can provide the community through our ongoing efforts to increase our resources and increase our physician staff and expertise and bring those procedures here locally instead of our residents having to drive for them. These are relatively simple procedures that people were driving an hour to have done in the past.”

Progress 2023 7

The State of Pike County

Growth continues throughout the county in multiple sectors

Pike County continues to grow, especially economically, and it seems as if there won’t be any slowing up there in the near future.

A number of new businesses and expansions across the county, especially in the City of Troy, have brought more growth and jobs to the area. Kimber Manufacturing held its official groundbreaking for the company’s manufacturing and corporate headquarters in Troy last summer. Kimber’s move to Troy brought with it a $38 million investment from the company along with more than 400 new jobs.

“Since coming to Troy, we have met many goals far sooner than expected,” Kimber owner Leslie Edelman said. “One such example is our employee headcount, which has exceeded (the expectations) by 29 percent.

“Kimber now has 475 people here in this building. This is just one example of Kimber surpassing expectations and a testament to our commit-

ment to bolster not only Kimber as a company, but strengthen the positive economic influence Kimber has on Troy.”

In recent years, Lockheed Martin expanded its factory outside of Troy and the company even received a visit from U.S. President Joe Biden last year on the heels of the wide usage of the Javelin missile system, which is assembled at the Troy plant. Lockheed employs more than 200 people at its Pike County facility.

Industry expansion in Troy also saw Troy University break ground on the Center for Materials and Manufacturing Sciences, which will serve as a research facility for polymer and plastics. Troy’s own KW Plastics, which is the world’s largest plastics recycler, employs more than 300 residents, is assisting the university with the project.

Two of Pike County’s biggest mployers, the Wal-Mart Distribution Center and Southern Classic Foods in Brundidge, continues to grow and are looking for new

hires, as well.

“Most of our storefronts in Brundidge are filled up,” Brundidge Mayor Isabell Boyd said. “I’m pleased with that and we’ve added three restaurants, so come to Brundidge and have lunch with us. Our playgrounds are being filled and we’re working with the county commissioners in reference to gettig some storm shelters into Brundidge. A lot our residents live in mobile homes and we’ve had a lot of storms, so that is something we’re working on.”

Industry isn’t the only form of growth seen in Pike County either. In the past year, Jersey Mikes opened in Troy and the groundbreaking for Baumhower’s Victory Grille was held. A new bowling alley and hotel is also coming adjacent to Baumhower’s, while an Aldi grocery store is also in the works for Troy. The management team at Hooks BBQ will soon open a new concept restaurant, The Corner, in downtown Troy. Escape Troy, an escape room experience, recently opened in Troy, as well.

8 Progress 2023
Huck Treadwell | The Messenger Economic Development: Representatives from the City of Troy, Hutton Real Estate, Pike County Commission and City of Brundidge cut the ribbon on the Trojan Marketplace.

“We have a lot of great jobs (in Troy), a lot of things are expanding and growing and we’re excited about that in Troy,” Troy Mayor Jason Reeves said. “We need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to keep everyone here and attract more people.

That’s what we’re working on and I think you can go downtown or up and down (Highway) 231 and see that.”

Education and medical sectors are also growing. Along with the recycling research center, Troy University broke ground on its future new health sciences building, which will house programs for the school’s College of Health and Human Services. Banks Elementary held the ribbon cutting for its new school in 2022, which saw the school shelter all of its students, K-4 through eighth grade, all in one building for the first time.

Additionally, the groundbreaking for the new Troy Pediatric Clinic in Troy was held last December and the new healthcare facility is expected to open this summer. Progress on the new Pike County Judicial Facility, outside of Troy, continues as well and is expected to be completed soon.

The City of Troy could also soon see a new form of industry as the city council recently passed a resolution to allow for the sale of medical cannabis inside city limits by a licensed distributor.Growth in the City of Troy has also seen the total number of building permits increase from just 42 new building permits in 2013 to 56 in 2022. In fact, the city issued 89 new building permits in 2019 – a 10-year high –and 81 in 2021.

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Innovators.

Movers and shakers.

Creators. Leaders.

Haleigh Finger

The Pizza Box

Hailey Finger is one of the youngest business owners in Pike County, and the Troy native’s business continues to grow every year.

Finger, a Zion Chapel graduate, began working at Sips on the Square straight out of high school as “the donut girl” before becoming a manager there and eventually launching her own food truck.

“I went to community college for a little bit but college wasn’t the place for me,” she said. “So, I learned everything hands on. The Pizza Box was my first business, and I started with one oven that held two pizzas at a time. I’ve grown and expanded to my third oven that holds 12 pizzas. It’s grown beyond my expectations.”

Finger said that she began to want to start her own business as she worked at Sips on the Square originally.

“I honestly just enjoy making people smile through food,” she said. “It makes me so happy to get to know customers and see people return and to see new faces. I also love pizza and making everything from scratch and the creativeness of it all.”

She’s even expanded by purchasing a new food truck that she rents out for those that want to start their own small business, and the Pizza Box itself has expanded to six employees. That success didn’t come easy, though.

“They always say, in the food truck industry, that if you last the first two months that’s the real show of whether you’re going to survive,” she continued. “At my two-month mark my oven broke. I wasn’t willing to quit, though, because this was my dream and everything I wanted to do. Success was my only option.”

Finger, who also serves as Sips Beer Garden and Food Court Lot Manager, said that she hopes more young people see that they can also live out their dreams.

“The quote I think I live on is that you either overcome or you become your situations,” she said. “You can reach for the moon and the only person stopping you is you. I came from nothing and created this beautiful business.

“Every day I hope it gets better and I can hopefully inspire someone else. It’s your choice to put in the work. It’s not easy, the hours are long and some of the jobs are dirty but it’s worth every moment of it and once you’re reaching your own goals – and not someone else’s – it makes such a difference.”

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Quinn Hambrite

Charles Henderson High School Head Football Coach/ Athletic Director

From working at Best Buy to leading his team to the Class 5A State Championship game, Quinn Hambrite has completely turned around the CHHS football program in just two years.

Hambrite is a White Hall native that was a star player at Central-Hayneville before going on to play college football at Millsaps College for former Alabama great Mike DuBose. He eventually transferred to Huntingdon College, where he played for Mike Turk, and graduated from there. While Hambrite helped out with summer camps during his playing days, coaching wasn’t even a thought for the young linebacker.

“I wanted to be a physical therapist and went to school for it,” Hambrite recalled. “I applied to all three (physical therapy schools) we have here and at Mercer but I didn’t make a high enough GRE score. I needed a 1,000 and made 700 on it twice. I had a 3.6 GPA, but just couldn’t get the GRE score I needed.”

Hambrite began working at Best Buy during his playing days at Huntingdon, and when he wasn’t able to get into physical therapy school he continued to work there when things changed.

“I was working at Best Buy and trying to figure out what the heck I’m going to do with my life,” he said. “I was thinking about all these good grades I’ve made my entire life and here I am, at Best Buy, and then God walked (Prattville Coach) Chad Anderson through that door for me.

“He told me to come out with them and I volunteered my time in Prattville in 2012 as an intern and loved it. The very next year I got hired at Carver (in Montgomery) and that sparked my coaching career.”

Hambrite earned his master’s degree in health education from Alabama State and went on to serve on the staff at Hillcrest-Evergreen and was a head coach at his alma mater Central-Hayneville before returning to Carver as defensive coordinator and then becoming head coach at Charles Henderson in 2021.

“I get to do now what wasn’t done for my high school, get that exposure for the kids,” Hambrite said of his love for coaching. “As a coach, you’re not just on the football field. You’re a counselor and sometimes the only ear they can talk to.

“From where I’m from, football gave kids something to do when the community center was nonexistent. The joy for me is seeing them get excited when they get that first scholarship offer or seeing them playing on TV on Saturdays or playing on Sundays. That’s the joy for me. The winning only comes if the kids enjoy it and trust and love their coach. It’s had to play hard for someone you don’t trust or love.”

Hambrite and his wife, Kay Launie, have two young daughters, Nadia and Noel.

Lauren Cochran

Cochran graduated from Troy University and did her undergraduate studies in journalism before getting a master’s degree in strategic communication.

“I feel like having a degree in communication is very helpful for everything I do, but I was fascinated with public relations more so than media,” she said.

Cochran’s mother worked for the city government in Mobile, which is what first got her interested in civic engagement.

“She worked very closely with the public relations department,” Cochran said of her mother. “I think I was attracted to it at the time but later, in,roles like this, I learned I was really more attracted to the community working together and celebrating the assets that make the community great.”

During college, Cochran worked in the print shop on campus before working in First Year Studies and the Marketing department at Troy. She’s been at the Office of Civic Engagement since 2018. The aim of Cochran’s department is to connect Troy students to applied learning opportunities where students can develop skills in leadership, project management and civic action while attempting to make a difference in the local community.

“I’m able to combine a lot of my interests in this job,”

Cochran said. “My interest in celebrating community and getting to work with those really incredible communities we have in Troy. I also get to work with people on campus, work with our schools here in Troy and work with some of our incredible non-profits we have in the community, as well.”

Cochran’s favorite part of the job, though, is working with the Troy students.

“I think when I was in college I really fell in love with working with college students,” she said. “It’s such a foundational and developmental time in their lives. They’re becoming more independent and figuring out what they want to do and discovering their passions and they have a lot of energy.

“I love to see them develop a passion for their community and be a part of that. I want to help them increase their confidence in whatever they’re studying or learning and have them understand how they can connect with the community and add value wherever they are. I oversee 8-10 student workers in our office and they really carry out the work of our office, honestly. I am very lucky to get to work alongside each one of them.”

Cochran’s husband, Rick Cochran, is the campus minster at the Troy Christian Student Center. Lauren and Rick Cochran have two sons, Ben and Elliot, aged 14 and 10 years old.

Troy University

Cameron Rice

City of Troy

Cameron Rice, a former Troy University athlete, acts as community liaison for economic and community development for the City of Troy.

A Huntsville native, Rice originally came to Troy as a track and field star.

“I had never heard of Troy, but I got school paid for and I found out what Troy was about real quick,” Rice recalled. “I never thought I would be here for 10 years, but I truly love it.

“I never thought I’d be here doing this but I literally can’t wait for my feet to hit the floor every morning and get to work.”

Rice said that he met Troy Mayor Jason Reeves when he was in college, which eventually led to him working for the mayor.

“He asked me to come and help with some community development stuff, working part-time, my senior year,” Rice said. “I just fell in love with it. My role started off as a liaison for him and the university and then it expanded into an economic development role.”

Rice helps with the recruitment of businesses to Troy.

“I love the chase,” Rice said of trying to recruit potential businesses. “It reminds me a lot of sports, chasing that goal and trying to improve. I’ve enjoyed every bit of it.”

Rice said he saw a need for improving the quality of life in Troy when he started working with the city.

“I’ve been a part of a few projects now and I have learned a lot,” Rice said. “Growing up in Huntsville, I knew we had a huge hole in quality of life here in Troy. That’s been the thing I’ve been trying to champion since I’ve been working for the city.

“If there was one thing I would say I would want to leave as my legacy it’s that the quality of life has improved since I’ve been working for the city.”

Rice has previously worked with Habitat for Humanity, and he and his wife, Faith, are also deeply involved in their church, Church of the Highlands, in Troy.

“Church is a huge part of my life,” he said. “I’ve been a part of the Church of Highlands for six years. It’s been great just to see how many people get involved there.”

Marjorie Lane

Education is in Charles Henderson High Assistant Principal Marjorie Lane’s DNA.

Lane, a Troy native and Goshen High graduate, is the daughter of longtime Goshen assistant principal and principal Major Lane. Both of her sisters eventually went into education as well.

“I thought I was going to be in broadcast journalism,” Lane said with a smile. “I’m a talker, so I love to speak, but when I started getting involved with 4H and doing other activities in high school, I started to become like a big sister to some of the other kids. I knew then I would probably go into education.”

Lane graduated from Alabama State University with a bachelor’s degree and a double master’s. Following graduation, she taught first and second grade at schools in Montgomery, Selma and Enterprise before becoming an assistant principal at CHHS.

“You have to have a passion for it,” Lane said of teaching. “It’s not just something where you can say, ‘Oh, I’m going to be a teacher’ suddenly one day.

“You definitely have to be willing and able to help those kids. Not only are you helping them, but you also sometimes have to step in as a parent figure because they may not have that at home. You have to be in that caring and compassionate role. It has to be a calling from the Good Lord to be a teacher.”

Lane is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and the Order of the Eastern Star. She’s also volunteered with Common Ground Troy and mentored girls at CHHS as a part of the L.I.F.E. program. In college, she was Student Orientation Services Leader and Miss Bessie Benson Hall Queen. She also is a member of the NAACP.

Will Austin

Pike Liberal Arts School

Will Austin is a part of a rich baseball legacy in Troy as his grandfather, Butch Austin, was a baseball coach at both Charles Henderson and Pike Liberal Arts School for years. Butch Austin had so much success at PLAS that the school’s baseball field was even named after him.

His father, Buddy Austin, was also a two-sport all-state athlete at Charles Henderson High School in both basbeall and softball before going on to play baseball for Chase Riddle at Troy State University

Now, Will Austin is carrying on that tradition at PLAS as the school’s head coach, taking over a program that won back-to-back state championships before entering into the Alabama High School Athletic Association this season.

Austin grew up in Savannah, Ga., and played college baseball at Southern Union and Armstrong State before getting into coaching himself.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Austin said. “I knew I wanted to do something with sports and as I kept playing and got older, I knew I wanted to coach. I always loved football and baseball and really fell in love with baseball.

“I love the relationships you create with the kids and the competition and just learning the aspect of baseball. You never stop growing and can always learn something new every day. Baseball is a teacher of not only the game but of life, as well. It’s special to me.”

Austin is one of the youngest head baseball coaches in the state, which can help him relate to his players.

“As a younger coach, I can definitely relate to them well,” he said. “I known a lot of older coaches I look up to and get advice from, too. I think older coaches and young coaches alike can relate to this generation but being able to have one-on-one relationships can definitely help.”

Austin and his wife, Sierra, have a baby girl named Berkley. The Austins are also heavily involved at Southside Baptist Church and both teach Sunday School there. Austin is also a big part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at PLAS.

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Abby Peters

Pike County Extension

Agriculture has been a part of Abby Peters’ entire lif, and she now serves as the Pike County Extension Coordinator.

Peters, who grew up in Troy, graduated from Pike Liberal Arts and Troy University with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Master’s in Public Administration. After working at the university for more than a decade, she took over as county coordinator at the Pike County Extension.

“I was interested in that because I could use my public administration background, but my dad and I are also cattle farmers, so it brought my agricultural background into it, too,” she said.

Peters and her father own 100 head of cattle on their cattle farm along with her career with the Pike County

Extension Office.

“Every day is different,” she said. “I have to wear a lot of different hats, everything from resource development to workforce development to agribusiness. There is no day that is the exact same and I also love that I’m not sitting behind a desk and I’m out in the community almost every day. I get to meet people and talk to people in the community.”

Peters is a member of the Troy Junior Women’s League, which raises funds for two scholarships for a female senior in the county. She’s also the Pike Medial Foundation Chairperson and is on the Pike County Farm City Committee and the Pike County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

Dr. Douglas Hawkins

Troy Animal Clinic

Troy Animal Clinic has been home to three generations of veterinarians, and Dr. Douglas Hawkins is the youngest of that generation.

Dr. Doug Hawkins founded the clinic in 1959 and served there until retiring in 2011. His son, Dr. Robert Hawkins, began in 1990 and continues to this day alongside his own son, Douglas Hawkins, who returned to his hometown in 2020.

“I think just coming up here and seeing what my dad and granddad were always doing it, it just always interested me and I always enjoyed it,” Hawkins recalled.

Hawkins grew up in Troy and graduated from Pike Liberal Arts before attending Auburn University. In college, Hawkins flirted with going into the human side of medicine but eventually chose to follow in his family’s footsteps.

“I’m very proud. I’ve always taken pride in this clinic,” he emphasized. “I couldn’t imagine someone else having it. When I was going to vet school, I never pictured myself being anywhere else.”

While Hawkins loves animals, his favorite is the golden retriever; it’s the connection with those animals’ humans that he loves the most.

“Dealing with the people and interacting with the clients is my favorite part,” he said. “I love animals but being able to help folks out is what I really love about it.”

Hawkins and his wife, Anna, have two children, Fin and Nix. The Hawkins family is very involved with First Baptist Church and teach Sunday School there, as well.

Anna Ballard Johnson

BlueKey Realty

Anna Johnson graduated from Troy University but began working in real estate as a student and hasn’t looked back since.

Johnson grew up in Montgomery and was BlueKey Properties very first employee in 2013.

“I worked for Al (Renfroe) in college and was his first employee. I was going to go to (physical therapy) school but he asked me to work full-time,” she remembered. “I thought I would just do it temporarily and fell in love with it.”

Johnson said that being out in the community and

doing different things every day has led to her love for the real estate business.

“I love the people and the community,” she said. “It’s something different every day. My days look different every day and I also love the flexibility of it and being able to do different things each day.”

Johnson and her husband – Sam – also own the Emporium, a wedding venue in Troy, along with two of their friends. Johnson also serves on the Pike County Chamber of Commerce Board and the Johnsons are heavily involved in Troy Church.

Very few 20-year olds can say that they work at the State Capitol, but Troy’s Laney Kelley can, acting as Secretary of State Wes Allen’s Executive Administrative Assistant.

Kelley was valedictorian of her graduating class at Charles Henderson High School before starting her college career at Troy University, majoring in financial economics. She’s a semester away from earning that degree. While Kelley currently serves in the State Capitol, her career in politics began much earlier than that.

“I’ve worked with (Allen) since I was 14 years old,” Kelley recalled. “I started stuffing envelopes and phone banking when I was 14 when he was still a probate judge. I’ve been with him since then and all the way up to Secretary of State. I’ve always been pretty interested in politics and politically involved.”

Her interest in politics led Kelley to begin working in a lobbyists office as a 14-year old and has led to her working on close to 50 campaigns for various offices, from county coroner to mayor to State Senate to U.S. Senate to Secretary of State.

While Kelley is confident, even she didn’t expect to be where she is this soon.

“At 20, I thought I would be in a sorority and living it up, not that I would be the Secretary of State’s (Executive) Assistant,” Kelley said with a smile. “I’m grateful and I love it and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world, but it’s very different.

“Even just simple things like the drive here. I get up every morning and leave my apartment (in Troy) at 6:30 in the morning and don’t get back usually until 6:30 at night and then I have to work on homework and that kind of stuff. It’s a good experience and I love where I work. We have an amazing team here.”

Kelley handles Allen’s calendar as well as the calendar for the office attorney along with working on press releases and other office and administrative work. To get where she has at such a young age has taken plenty of drive from the 20-year-old.

“I’ve always been a hard worker and pushed myself to do as much as I can while I’m on this earth,” she said. “We’re given a finite amount of time here. So, we better use every minute we can. I think that’s probably why I am where I am at 20 years old. I refuse to waste time.”

Kelley may have accomplished more than most will in 40 years, but she says she’s far from satisfied just yet.

“I foresee continuing in a career in politics and working to serve the State of Alabama,” she emphasized. “If you know me, you know I’m passionate about this state. I think there is so much potential here.

“I think we have the greatest state in America and we are a diverse and hard-working state. I believe in this state and I want to see it thrive and I want to do my part to serve the State of Alabama in whatever capacity God has for me.”

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7 over 70

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Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.

Johnny Garrett

Johnny Garrett grew up working.

“That’s all I’ve ever known … or wanted to do. I can’t sit around and do nothing – not for long,” Garrett said with a smile. “I enjoy working and I enjoy being around people. The grocery business is hard work and long hours, but there are always people around, and I enjoy people.”

Garrett said the grocery store is a work place, but also a gathering place.

“If you live in a small community, you get to know most everybody and become a part of the community,” he said.

Garrett had answered Uncle Sam’s call to service. He came home to his bride, Patricia, and started looking for a job. He was working at the commissary at Ft. Rucker when he had the opportunity to buy his brother ‘s A&P grocery store in Troy.

In 1985, he bought the Big Bear in Brundidge and later the IGA store. In 1986, he opened the Troy store on North Three Notch.

His three children were also interested in the grocery and food service business.

“I didn’t encourage them and I didn’t discourage them,” he said. “When Steve was 10 years old, he would stand on a stool to put out produce. I knew then, he would be grocer. Stanley was later showing a serious interest. Denise has always enjoyed cooking like her mama and grandmothers. I wasn’t surprised that she expressed interest in food service.”

But it’s the strong work ethic that Garrett inherited or acquired that keeps him active and involved, sometimes day and night, and that he passed down to his children.

As much as Garrett enjoys his workplace, he also enjoys the outdoors and owns a few cows and baled hay. He has 100 brood cows and a tractor. He cuts hay and he’s happy rain or shine. But, perhaps, when he’s a happiest is when he’s involved in the community.

“I’ve been a member of the Pike County Cattlemen’s Association for almost more years than I can remember, 19 years, I believe it is,” he said. “And, I’ve been on the board for that same amount of years and treasurer for 15 years.”

Garrett has been on the Pike County Soil and Water Conservation Board for two years and has served as treasurer. He is on the board of trustees at the South Alabama Electric Cooperative and served for two years as a director. He is also has served on the Pike County Tax and Equalization Board for 10 years.

He has served his church, Brundidge Methodist Church, as a trustee and on the finance committee. Garrett has been a member of the Brundidge Folk Life play for 16 years.

“I just don’t like to sit around and do nothing,” Garrett said. “As long as I can be active and involved in something that is beneficial to others, then that’s what I want to do. I can’t think of anything I would rather do than be a part of something that benefits the community and its people. It’s long hours and hard work sometimes, but, as long as I can, I’ll do what I can and be proud to do it.”

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Serving you in Troy, Steve and Jennifer Garrett 710 N. 3 Notch St. Suite A Troy, AL 36081 (334) 566-0127 1225 Hwy. 231 S. Troy, AL 36081 (334) 770-7444 Two locations to better serve you!

Jim Jackson and Virginia Bush are happy together. He seems a little shy and she is bubbly. He smiles when she takes his hand and she, laughingly, leans her head on his shoulder.

Jim is 95 years old. Virginia will turn 94 on April 16.

Both had wonderful, loving marriages. He to Lucy Jackson, “the most giving person and loving wife” any man could ever have, and she to Joe Bush, “the best husband a woman could ever hope to have.”

Not many people ever have two great loves in their lives. “Jim and I are very blessed,” Virginia said, with a smile as she touched his hand.

Jim and Virginia were from the Crenshaw County area and attended Luverne High School. They knew each other and even doubled dated but never dated “or thought about it.” After high school, their lives went in different directions.

Jim married Lucy, a “treasure” from Petrey and Virginia married Joe, whose father was the pastor at Bush Memorial Baptist Church.

Virginia and Joe Bush moved away from the country life. His career in the textile industry took the couple from Georgia to New York.

“Joe and I were sort of snowbirds, I guess,” Virginia said. “We spent a lot of time in Naples, Florida. I’m a people person and I loved being in New York. We were  both very happy there.”

While Virginia was walking barefoot along the Florida beaches, Jim was happy walking through the woodlands of Crenshaw County.

She and he were leading different kinds of lives, but both were well-grounded in their homelands.

Without Joe, Virginia’s desire was to come back home to rather rural Pike County.

Virginia Bush

All hearts go home and, for Virginia, being home was a blessing and the beginning of a very special relationship from her youth.

Jim had been just as happy at home working with W.L. Petrey Wholesale Company, a family-owned business established in 1898, as she had been in New York.

“I’m not a joiner, so I don’t belong to any clubs,” Jim said. “I grew up with a love of the outdoors. My interest is upgrading the forests. My favorite tool is a weed eater with a skill saw attached. I still like to play in the woods and shavings.”

Just how and when Jim and Virginia were reacquainted, they aren’t exactly sure.

“I had been admiring Virginia from a distance for a time before I got a chance to hold her hand,” Jim said. He added with a smile, “I overcame that.”

It didn’t take long for the casual high school friends to become close friends.

“We share the same memories of childhood and of growing up the same way,” Virginia said. “We can talk about things that were important to us. We have the same memories.”

Jim has a “hideaway” of sorts where he spends much of his time enjoying the woodlands and the lake that reflects the sunset and the sunrise. He and Virginia spend time relaxing on the cabin’s front porch swing and reflecting on their lives.

“Virginia and I were born at the best time in modern history for humanity,” Jim said. “We are blessed by that.”

Virginia said, “To have had wonderful lives apart and now together...Now, at this time in our lives, we can look back on our lives with joy and we have each other and we have happiness.”

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Jim Jackson &

Allene Snider

Allene Snider is like the Energizer Bunny. She just keeps going and going and going.

Allene says it’s her country upbringing that keeps her up and going and enjoying life to the fullest.

“I love life and like to have a good time and, as long as I can, I’ll keep going,” she said. “I hear some people say, ‘I can’t do that,’ and I say, ‘can’t never could.’ I got that from my mama. I never say can’t.”

Allene Snider is from Perote. She attended Inverness School, played three-dribble basketball and graduated valedictorian of her class.

“We had eight in our senior class,” Allene said, laughing. “I graduated from Troy State with undergraduate and graduate degrees and taught, first, at Banks School.

“Then, Gladys Stephens called me from the county’s central office and offered me the job working with special needs children. Amy, our little girl, was born with Down syndrome. I could take her to school with me. That was a blessing.”

Amy died when she was five years old.

An opportunity to teach the special needs kindergarten class at Brundidge brought the realization to Allene that kindergarten was where she needed to be. She retired after 33 years in the classroom. During those years, she was involved with school programs for special needs children and local organizations that supported youth programs.

“Children need love and guidance and I hope, in some way, I gave my ‘children’ both,” she said. “I tried my best.”

Allene just had a birthday and she tries to stay active and involved no matter her age.

“I get up in the mornings and go to the exercise class at the Colley Senior Complex. I line dance and participate in other activities.,” she said. “I tell everybody how much the center means to me. Everybody needs physical activity and friendships. The center provides both. And, I’ve taken painting from Mary Page and learned a lot. I painted a portrait of Jerry and me on our 50th anniversary.”

Allene enjoys the beach, especially during the “calm and relaxing time of the year” in January.

“I enjoy line dancing and I love to travel but I don’t go as much as I used to,” she said. “I’ve been to all 50 states, to Spain and several European countries. I’m excited to be going on a bus trip to see The Ark in Kentucky. I want to do more of that kind of traveling.

“I enjoy life every day. I want to keep living as long as I live.”

Lawrence Bowden

Lawrence Bowden’s childhood was spent in the Tarentum community. When he was school age, his family moved to Brundidge. He and his wife, the late Sarah Dickert Bowden, have five children, and each inherited their parents’ volunteer spirits.

“We are on this earth to love and care for one another,” Bowden said. “I have tried to be a help to others.”

Bowden is a graduate of Pike County High School and the University of Alabama where he majored in biology and chemistry. After graduation, Uncle Sam wanted him in Okinawa.

Early in 1950, the Korean War was beginning and Bowden “didn’t want to miss out on the war,” so he volunteered to go to Korea. He arrived right after the conflict started.

Back home, Bowden worked in construction and other jobs and was asked by his state representative to organize a National Guard Unit in Brundidge. Bowden was the first commanding officer of the Brundidge Transportation Unit.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, the Brundidge unit spent 11 months on active duty at Fort Polk, Louisiana.

He retired from military service with the rank of colonel. Bowden had a full career with the Alabama Department of Civil Defense and later with the Emergency Manage-

ment Agency.

“I had a career that included four nuclear attacks on the United States and natural disasters,” he said.

He “retired,” and then worked 11 years as the planning and response coordinator for the Alabama West Florida Conference dealing with tornadoes and hurricanes.

Bowden also served 22 years on the East Center Mental Health Board, eight years on the Brundidge City Council, was a leader with the Cub Scouts, served 10 years as president of the Brundidge Historical Society, was a cast member of the Folk Life Play “Come Home, It’s Suppertime” for 21 years and was involved in the Peanut Butter Festival for even longer.

Bowden is a lifelong member of the Brundidge Methodist Church where he has served on several boards and as a trustee. He has taught Sunday school for 50-plus years and was in The Last Supper production and also Old Christmas at Clay Hill for 20 years. He is a Brundidge Rotary Club Paul Harris Fellow, and a scholarship is named in his honor.

“God put us here for a purpose, and that includes helping others and being of service to your community and your country,” Bowden said. “I’ve tried to be a good servant and hope I have made a positive difference in some small ways.”

Jimmy & Alice Phillips

Jimmy and Alice Phillips have been married for 56 years. They are the parents of four children, Kelly Ware, Kerry Loflin, Maggie Hammond and Michael Phillips, who are all graduates of Charles Henderson High School.

Jimmy has lived in Pike County all his life and is a graduate of Pike County High School. Alice is also a lifelong resident of Pike County and is a graduate of Charles Henderson High School.

With the exception of high school attendance, Jimmy and Alice have a rather similar background, and there is one trait that is remarkably similar — they both have a servant’s heart. Serving their home community is, and has been, a priority in the couple’s lives.

Jimmy said he and Alice never discussed volunteerism in that it was something they should do; volunteerism is something they do that comes from the heart.

Jimmy does not golf, fish or hunt. He doesn’t line dance, play dominoes or paint, but he can’t just sit around. He got involved in the American Heart Association after he had two mini-strokes and was found to have one completely blocked artery.

“I felt I could help myself and others by joining the Pike County Heart Board,” Jimmy said. “Then I heard St. Mark’s Episcopal Church had a food pantry, so I called and volunteered. The food pantry is a way to reach out to those who are, too often, having to choose between eating and staying warm in winter or cool in summer and taking their prescription medications.”

Thinking his “getting out and about” could help someone, Jimmy heard the Salvation Army needed bell ringers for the annual Red Kettle campaign, so he began ringing bells.

Donna Kidd, Pike County Salvation Army Service Center director, said Jimmy Phillips is the first one to sign up to ring the bell for the Red Kettle fundraising campaign each Christmas. He will ring his turn and

ring for someone else who is not able to take their turn.

Jimmy was recently appointed to the Pike County Salvation Army’s Advisory Board with the assurance, Kidd said, that he will be a dedicated member with constructive suggestions and hands-on support of current projects and others that will benefit the Service Center and those served.

Alice Phillips is a former teacher with the Troy City Schools. She has also taught at Pike County High School and at Troy University. She is widely known and appreciated for her performances of Ann “Granny” Love, the Monticello innkeeper, who embodied the American pioneer spirit. She is also a volunteer at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama.

Both Jimmy and Alice are members of the Brundidge Historical Society and are members of the cast and crew of the BHS folk life play, “Come Home, It’s Suppertime.”

Alice is a popular cast member and brings laughter to her role. Jimmy, however, is content to be behind the scenes as a member of the crew. But, he makes it a point to be in view of the stage when his wife takes center stage.

“I’m just having fun,” Alice said. “I like being different characters, and I hope people enjoy my efforts. History is fascinating to me. My dabbling in genealogy is part of that; it’s my ‘story’. I recently discovered I am a relative of George Washington, and I also found I have an ancestor with two wives, one at home and one down the road.”

Although Alice is known for her giving spirit, she is not sure it applies to her.

“I just wish everybody would quit judging and start loving. Love is the most important word in my life. I love my husband, my children, grandchildren, my great grandchildren, and most of my relatives. I love all of my former students, well, most of them. I have spent my life serving these people, so, in a way, I guess I do have a ‘giving’ spirit.”

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Deborah Huggins-Davis

Deborah Huggins-Davis calls Pike County home.

She is from the Harmony community and received her early education there. She later attended Troy City Schools, received her undergraduate degree from Troy University and a master’s in education from Auburn. She taught in both the Pike County and Troy City school systems and has been a member of Oak Grove Methodist Church since 1968.

Huggins-Davis is a member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international Honorary Organization of Women Educators dedicated to education, excellence, altruism and world understanding.

She grew up on a farm and loves soil, timber and any and everything associated with farm life.

She was a leader with a Forestry Day event at Charles Henderson High School where students visited the Troy University Arboretum and learned about the educational and recreational opportunities the arboretum provides for the citizens of Troy and Pike County.

Huggins-Davis is an active member of the Pike County TREASURE Forest Association and is dedicated to the proper management of personal woodlands and supports timber landowners through her involvement in the TREASURE Forest Associations.

She is a longtime member of the Pike County Farm-City Committee and is committed to strengthening the relationship between the rural and urban communities.

She is active with Farm Day for all county third graders, Classroom in the Forest for all county sixth graders, Job Swap, Farm City Banquet and more. She is also a member of the Master Gardener’s Association and participates in the Association’s community projects.

“Farming feeds the world. To do so, it is necessary for the rural and urban communities to work together,” she said.

Historical preservation is also high on Huggins- Davis’ priority list.

Huggins-Davis is a longtime member, and past president, of the Pike County Historical, Genealogical and Preservation Society. She is now vice president. She is also a docent at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama.

“All history is important, but so are our local history and family histories,” Huggins Davis said. “What we do in our lifetimes will be the history for those who come after us.

“It is important to give back to your community. Without people who are willing to give freely of their time and talents, we will lose what binds us together as communities, as Americans.”

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Ginny Hamm

Ginny Hamm moved to Troy 15 years ago due to her parents’ declining health. Troy was several hours closer than North Alabama, and she had the added bonus of being close to her daughter’s family and her “precious grandchildren.”

“My husband and I were involved in community service throughout our married life,” Hamm said. “We have always served in our church no matter where we lived. There is always a need for volunteers in every community. This was instilled in me through my parents’ service to others and by the knowledge that God commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves.”

Hamm has been involved in the Association of Junior Leagues International since she lived in Louisiana in the late 70s.

“As we moved to Texas and Alabama, my membership moved with me,” she said. “My last affiliation was in Decatur. AJLI is all about service from hospitals to schools.”

Hamm said one of her most interesting assignments was as a United Way board member that resulted in her serving as Annual Campaign Chair for Ouachita Parish, Louisiana.

“When I moved to Troy, the Johnson Center for the Arts had just begun their programs and I was invited to an informational program regarding volunteer needs,” Hamm said. “Since I had been a docent at the Masur Museum of Art in Monroe, Louisiana, I was very interested. There is no question that the arts provide an amazing avenue for adults and children to explore outlets for creativity and artistic expression and enjoyment, but there is also a direct correlation between the arts and academic performance.

“Involvement in the programs and activities at the Johnson Center has been a rewarding relationship.”

Hamm said making one’s voice heard and being an informed citizen motivated her to get involved with Pike County Republican Women.

“The speakers address issues that are relevant nationally, at the state level and locally and that impact our community and our families,” she said.

Hamm is a member at First Baptist Church and finds many ways to get involved.

“Membership at First Baptist Church provides many ways to serve our church family, but also our community.

Participating in our sewing ministry, the annual Back to School Prayer Walk, serving on our State Disaster Relief team are some ways to carry out Christ’s command to love our neighbors and those in need,” she said. “Ringing bells for the Salvation Army, supporting the Empty Bowls fundraiser and Salem Troy’s Bible Reading Marathon are small ways to invest in this community that I have come to love.”

Hamm said Troy is a wonderful community because the people who live here support each other.

“No matter your age, ethnicity, gender or economic status, we all have a place to serve and talents to share with others,” Hamm said. “The greatest thing we can share is the love of Christ who loves us.”

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DISTRICT 1 Homer Wright 334.670.0620
DISTRICT 2 Robin Sullivan 334.268.1053
DISTRICT 3 Jimmy Barron 334.372.7099 Mckenzie Wilson, CCA
36 Progress 2023

Education Spotlight: Pike County Schools

Address: 101 West Love Street, Troy, AL 36081

Website: pikecountyschools.com

Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pike County Schools App

Date opened: The Pike County School system was established by the 1854 Alabama Bill

Board Members: Chris Wilkes, President; Dr. Clint Foster, Vice President; Rev. Earnest Green; Dr. Greg Price; Scott Hartley; Cathy Lott

Key Personnel: Dr. Mark Bazzell, Superintendent; Dr. Donella Carter, Deputy Superintendent; Pamela Franklin, Administrative Assistant; Jeff McClure, Administrative Assistant; Brandi Mosley, Chief School Financial Officer; Tamika Hurt, Special Programs Coordinator; Brooke Terry, Child Nutrition Director: Tom Hicks, Director of Finance & Operations

Principals: Shantell Rouse, Banks School; Rodney Drish, Pike County Elementary School (PCES); Ken Britford, Pike County High School (PCHS); Natalie Mims, Goshen Elementary School (GES); Dr. Jamie Rich, Goshen High School (GHS); Jeremy Knox, Troy-Pike Center for Technology (TPCT); Jodie Jefcoat, Center for Advancement

and Accelerated Learning (CA3L)

How was this last year eventful for your school?

The mission of Pike County Schools is to provide excellence in education, producing graduates ready for college, careers and life-long success. In the Pike County School District, we serve approximately 2,200 students in grades PreK-12. The district had 148 graduating seniors in May 2022 from Goshen High School and Pike County High School. Out of those graduating seniors, 17 graduated with an associate degree from a local college and 19 graduated with a short-term certificate. Pike County Schools pays for tuition, books and fees for students who participate in the dual enrollment opportunities.

Pike County Schools is thrilled to announce that Banks Primary School and Banks Middle School have come together as one and now can be found on one campus. A new building, housing 32,680 square feet, was completed. Banks Primary students were able to move into the new building in the Fall of 2022. The new building also contains a choir room, science lab, computer lab and STEM lab for all students at Banks School.

Like any other school district, we still feel the effects of the COVID pandemic. This is a multi-year effort. Our teachers and students are working hard on academic recovery, but Pike County Schools isn’t stopping there. We are not only working on academic recovery, but pushing beyond the recovery and continuing to excel in academic achievement. Pike County Schools maintains high expectations and performance standards for all of our students and adults.

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What plans for expansion and growth are there for Pike County Schools this year and beyond?

Pike County Schools adopted the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) service, which was phased in over several years by the USDA. CEP permits

eligible schools to provide meal service to all students at no charge, regardless of economic status, while reducing the burden at the household and local school levels by eliminating the need to complete the free and reduced household meal application. A school is eligible for CEP if at least 40 percent of its students are “directly certified.” Pike County Schools has taken part in CEP since 2018, allowing all students to receive breakfast and lunch at no charge.

Pike County Schools moved to the new Alabama Comprehensive Assessment Program (ACAP). This assessment provides students, parents, teachers, administrators and Alabama residents with information regarding student progress toward mastery of Alabama Course Standards. In the 2021-2022 year, Pike County Schools had an average of 82 percent for ACAP reading for students reading on or above their grade level. We will continue to strive and improve our test scores. There

is always room for improvement.

Technology innovation and integration to create learning experiences remain a priority for Pike County Schools. Currently, laptops are used to enhance instruction and learning for all grade levels. The laptops are being used to engage students in learning, collaborate with classmates, produce projects, conduct research, and more. Students and families can track assignments, learning modules, due dates, grades, standards mastery and more through the learning management system, Schoology.

Pike County Schools is working towards being STEM accredited by 2024. We want all of our students in K-12 immersed in the STEM experience. All of our schools in the Pike County School district have a fully functional STEM lab. Not only do high school students have an opportunity for an associate’s degree in STEM, but a STEM cohort is also offered to middle school students. We want our striving to have all students immersed in STEM experiences in every class, even core curriculum subjects.

Pike County Schools Students are encourged to take part in dual enrollment courses, like First in Flight.

Pike County Schools is also raising awareness of Fine Arts. A pilot program was offered at Pike County Elementary School with the help of the Patti Rutland Jazz. One day of dance lessons from professional dance instructors was offered weekly to students who may not have had the opportunity otherwise. The pilot was such a success that 50 students were given scholarships to attend Patti Rutland Jazz for after-school instruction. Pike County Schools is planning to expand the Fine Arts experience in the 2023-2024 school year to every school in the district.

The Pike County Schools’ governing board remains committed to establishing pathways for improvement and support through affirmative Board action on recommendations made by the Leadership Team. The board understands its roles and responsibilities, as well as the roles of the Instructional Improvement Committee, Secondary Instructional Committee, Elementary Instructional Committee, ACIP and other system-wide Committees. The governing board itself participates extensively in Board training, attends conferences, and assumes leadership roles in their professional organization. The Board’s leadership has resulted in the Pike County School System becoming a model for other school systems. Additionally, the

Leadership Team and faculty members have presented at local, state, regional and national conferences and have received awards themselves for their commitment to their students. The Pike County Schools’ board, leadership and faculty will continue to strive to ensure each student reaches their full potential.

Pike County Schools continues to look for more Dual Enrollment opportunities. We want all high school students to take at least one college class. At Pike County Schools we want all of our students to be college and career ready at graduation.

Other planned summer facilities projects will improve the appearance, safety, and security of all campuses. Each school received a new roof this year as well as upgraded windows. We have invested in newsecurity cameras for each campus. We also plan to continue our work with law enforcement to keep our schools as safe as possible as part of our school safety initiative. The Pike County School system works not only to meet state requirements but to go above and beyond by requiring safety drills throughout the year and keeping a variety of channels between all stakeholders where safety concerns can be noted and addressed.

What are some opportunities and challenges facing Pike County Schools this year and beyond?

School districts remain among the most popular and vulnerable targets for cyberattacks. School cybersecurity threats have multiplied nationwide. Because of this, awareness has grown around the best practices to handle the threat. The Pike County Schools’ Technology Department helps train every employee to know about malware, phishing, and cyberattacks. Technology education is even embedded in our education instruction to make our students good cyber citizens.

Pike County Schools is working with Troy University ROTC to create a JROTC academy. This will help provide the best leadership courses for our cadets. This will also give cadets the tools, training and experience they need to become officers.

Early education has become a growing need

nationwide. Pike County Schools offers one Pre-K class at each school, with Pike County Elementary offering two Pre-K classes. We are applying for an additional Pre-K class at each school for the 20232024 year.

Nationwide teacher shortages were exacerbated by the pandemic nationwide. Like any other school district, we still feel the effects of the pandemic with faculty/staff vacancies. The Pike County Schools’ superintendent was asked to join an initiative with other school districts and junior college presidents to combat the challenges that we’re facing. The initiative is making strides in how to get future teachers ready to teach and excel in the classroom faster because our faculty/ staff are our greatest asset.

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How does Pike County Schools contribute to the local economy?

Pike County currently offers 14 dual enrollment programs. Of these, there are 13 that lead to Associate Degrees, including Agriscience Technology, Arts with an emphasis in theatre and drama, Business and Finance, Education, Electrical Engineering Technology, Exercise and Health, First in Flight and Leadership, Health Information Technology, International Studies, Mechatronics, Medical Assistant Technology, Paralegal Studies and STEM (high school version). These programs are offered free of charge to the students of the Pike County School System. These exciting programs are offered in cooperation with post-secondary partners, like Troy University, Enterprise State Community College and Wallace State Community College – Hanceville.

Middle School students have the opportunity to join the STEM Academy. Targeting select students, this program is designed to deliver accelerated instruction in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

concepts, while cultivating interest in both post-secondary STEM education and STEM-related careers.

The Pike County School System is dedicated to teaching practical job skills and promoting real-world knowledge and experience while continuing to develop progressive, challenging opportunities for advanced and career oriented education.

Another dual enrollment opportunity available through the Pike County School System is the Short-Term Certificate program. These programs include Agriscience, App Development, Aviation Maintenance Technology, Business & Finance, Emergency Medical Technician, IT Professional (IT Support Technician, Linux Operating Systems Specialist, Network Security Professional), Mechatronics and Welding.

Additionally, Pike County Schools is one of the largest employers in Pike County with over 300 full-time employees alone.

Short the Squirrel paid a visit to students to encourage reading.

Education Spotlight: Troy City Schools

Address: 358 Elba Highway, Troy, AL 36079

Website: www.troyschools.net

Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Date Opened: 1888

Board Members: Dr. Jonathan Cellon, President; Maxine Hollis, Vice President; William D. Coppage; Jacquelyn Patterson; Zach Spann

Key Personnel: Cynthia G. Thomas, Superintendent; Tricia Norman, Chief School Financial Officer; Dr. Christie Armstrong, Administrative Assistant Superintendent; Dr. Joanna Taylor, Curriculum and Federal Programs Coordinator; Duncan Lindsey, Technology Coordinator

Principals: Teresa Sims, Troy Elementary School; Aaron Brown, III, Charles Henderson Middle School; Lise Fayson, Charles Henderson High School

How was this last year eventful for your school?

The vision of Troy City Schools (TCS) is “Trojans Committed to Success.” Troy City Schools is dedicated to providing a meaningful and useful education that ensures our students are productive citizens. Accredited by Cognia, Troy City Schools exemplifies excellence in education and stands out in our service to learners. We believe every student can succeed.

With that said, our graduation rate is 95.97 percent, and 95.73 percent of our students graduated College and Career Ready. In fact, the Class of 2022 had 128 graduates that were offered scholarships totaling $4.2 million to several different colleges/branches of the Armed Services. Thirteen athletic scholarships were offered, and two seniors graduated with enlistments in the United States Military including West Point Academy. One student graduated with an Associate’s Degree, whereas two students graduated with short-term certificates. As a matter of fact, a student who is classified as a Junior has already earned a short-term certificate at Enterprise State Community College and is on track to graduate with an Associate’s Degree in Mechatronics. Several students graduated with college credit either by participating in dual enrollment programs or by earning qualifying scores on Advanced Placement Exams.

To prepare students for success, TCS’s new initiative, T3 Trojans of Tomorrow: Today, enables students to participate in state-of-the-art STEM Learning Labs for Coding, Robotics, 3-D Printing and Engineering. Students can also participate in Project Lead the Way Curriculum in Energy, Flight and Space, and Aerospace Engineering. Students can earn an Associate’s Degree free of cost to students with accepted applications in the areas of Medical Assisting Technology, Business and Finance and Mechatronics. Additionally, TCS’s Early Childhood Program, which is housed full-time at Troy Elementary School, is the only program of its kind in the state of Alabama. Troy City Schools also has STEM labs located across all school campuses. TCS has several dual enrollment partnerships with post-secondary institutions. Additionally, Troy City Schools is in the third year of implementation of the A+ College Ready Grant, which provides rigorous professional development and classroom resources to staff to help aid in the preparation of teaching

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Advanced Placement Courses. The A+ College Ready Program provides students with opportunities such as study sessions, test-taking strategies, and mock exams that lead to earning qualifying scores on Advanced Placement Exams. By being involved in an exclusive partnership with A+ College Ready, the number of students receiving college credit from earning a qualifying score on the Advanced Placement Exam has also increased.

Additionally, Charles Henderson High School earned the College Board Advanced Placement Computer Science Female Diversity Award for expanding young women’s access to Advanced Placement Computer Science and helping to close the gender gap in computer science.

Students have the option to attend on-campus classes or online classes. For students who prefer

online education, TCS Virtual Academy at Charles Henderson High School (CHHS) offers online education to students in grades 9-12. Students participate in a rigorous curriculum in the comfort of an alternate setting.

Partnerships and relationships with stakeholders have been vital to the success of our school district. Both TES and CHMS have active Parent Teacher Organizations (PTOs) while CHHS has an active Booster Club. Throughout the school term, TCS held a series of strategic planning meetings with the Strategic Planning Team to implement the Seven Steps to Success. Each step embraces the core of our values and dedication to student success. Furthermore, “Trojan Talk” and Family Engagement Nights have been successful in involving and engaging community stakeholders. TCS maintains successful

partnerships with post-secondary institutions including Troy University and Enterprise State Community College as well as many different organizations including Charles Henderson Child Health Center, East Central Mental Health, Organized Community Action Program (OCAP) and HeadStart, and Lockheed Martin. To meet students’ mental health needs as a result of the pandemic, TCS was able to employ a district-wide Mental Health Services Coordinator and partner alongside East Central Mental Health to have an additional counselor available to our students.

CHMS students won multiple awards at the Annual Beta Club Conference and CHHS Culinary Arts Competition Team won First Place in the Jr. Chef Competition for the State of Alabama as well as ranked in the top 10 of the NASA

Students have the opportunity to participate in STEM-based courses. Troy City Schools

Competition.

TCS offers a plethora of competitive sports programs available to students. Sports offered include football, basketball, soccer, tennis, archery, track, field, wrestling, and eSports. 13 CHHS Seniors signed athletic scholarships. The CHHS Cheerleading Team placed fourth in the state and participated in the semifinal national competition. Both boys’ and girls’ basketball teams had great seasons with the girls’ basketball team participating in the Final Four, while the boys made it to the state championship. Lastly, the CHHS Football Team competed for the State 5A Championship Title and won 2nd place. We look forward to competing again for the blue trophy!

TCS continues to be committed to art and music programs. All schools have full-time music and art teachers. TES offers all students instruction in art and music as well as the option to participate in two musical performance groups, Choir and Orff Ensemble, as well as Beginner Band. CHMS students can participate in Art and Band and CHHS students can participate in Colorguard, Majorettes, Concert

Band, and “The Blue Machine” marching band. Lastly, the community has been supportive of our theatre program and this year’s extraordinary, captivating theatrical productions were nothing short of excellent. CHHS students performed William Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Legally Blonde: The Musical. Both performances received rave reviews as our community experienced a taste of Broadway. Next school term, three compelling, breathtaking productions will be performed.

What are some opportunities and challenges facing Troy City Schools this year and beyond? Opportunities

Our students’ education as a Trojan begins with our Preschool Program that is housed at the Hank Jones Early Childhood Center. This program houses three pre-kindergarten classes which include two first-class Pre-K classes and 9 kindergarten classes. Students attend TES from grades pre-kindergarten through sixth grade. TES has a National Elementary Honor Society. Also, TES has a sensory room and two STEM labs, a nature trail, a new playground with modernized equipment, and a rock-climbing wall in the gym. Archery is available for students who would like to learn the sport of using a bow and arrow. After school and summer learning programs are provided. TES provides students with the foundational skills needed to be successful, productive citizens.

To address the learning gap caused by COVID, TCS has employed additional reading and math coaches as well as interventionists. These trained staff members have been strategically placed at all schools.

Our students have many opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities. Students have opportunities to participate in clubs and sports. Clubs

include FFA, FCA, Spanish Club, Theatre Club, HOSA, Skills-USA, FCCLA, JROTC and National Technical Honor Society. Sports offered include football, basketball, soccer, tennis, archery, track, field, wrestling, robotics and eSports. Art, theatre and music programs are also available.

TCS students have the opportunity to participate in Project Lead the Way Curriculum which is a STEM-based curriculum. Three programs are available in Energy, Flight and Space, and Aerospace Engineering. Troy Elementary School uses the Launch Curriculum in grades 4-6 whereas the Flight and Space program is offered at Charles Henderson Middle School. When students enter Charles Henderson High School, they have the opportunity to enroll in the Aerospace Engineering and Principles of Engineering courses. Troy City Schools also has STEM labs located at all school campuses. Additionally, TCS offers students opportunities to earn a ServSafe credentials certificate which provides them with

beginning certification that increases students’ employability within the food service industry.

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Challenges

COVID-19 presented a challenge as it widened achievement gaps and caused a significant disruption in education. We have hired additional math and reading coaches as well as interventionists to address the learning gaps and provide instructional support to students. Student success and safety are priorities. Constantly, we practice prevention strategies to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We work to keep schools clean and increase awareness of practicing good hygiene habits as well as encourage hand-washing. We will continue to follow the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

In lieu of the recent school tragedies, we will

continue to work to address school safety. Currently, we have two school resource officers assigned to our schools to help ensure students are safe. It is our hope that the legislature will work to equip every school with at least one school resource officer. Security is being upgraded at all schools. TES’s front portico area in both the Hank Jones Early Childhood Center and the main campus have been updated and cameras have been installed at our schools. Phones have also been updated. Lastly, there is a nationwide shortage of educators. TCS has been blessed to be able to replace educators that are no longer staff members due to attrition. Through our recruitment efforts, we have been able to continue to hire highly qualified teachers.

What plans for expansion and growth are there for Troy City Schools this year and beyond?

TCS continues to utilize technology to close the achievement gap caused by the pandemic and believes in providing learning experiences through technology innovation. Therefore, every student has access to Chromebooks which promotes equity in technology. Chromebooks allow students access to Google Classroom and Schoology learning management systems. Taking digital learning to the next level, the use of Google Classroom and Schoology encourages student engagement and collaboration. TCS filter allows the administration to control the content that is visible to students. Additionally, parents have access to the PowerSchool Online Registration and Parent Portal which allow parents to register students and track student grades and progress throughout their school career as a Trojan. Furthermore, all classrooms have Viewsonic Panels installed so teachers can maximize student learning experiences.

TCS Core Network is being updated to be able to accommodate the internet. As we realize more devices are connected to the internet, our goal is to meet the growing demand for connectivity. WiFi is being upgraded. TCS is increasing the WiFi capacity to meet the WiFi demand of modern devices and to better accommodate state-wide testing.

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) upgrades are being made at CHHS. HVAC

upgrades improve air filtration which leads to cleaner and more comfortable environments. Additionally, systemwide lighting upgrades to LED (Light Emitting Diode) are expected to be completed. Close to natural light, LED lighting has proven to increase academic performance by improving students’ concentration and focus. Both HVAC and LED upgrades merge energy efficiency and smart technology to enable TCS to provide meaningful learning experiences using clean energy technology.

Charles Henderson High School’s students will begin the year in newly renovated buildings. The concession stand area and restrooms in the gym have been recently updated with new equipment. Students are able to participate in sports with enhanced athletic performance while enjoying the new amenities. Next, TES Cafeteria will have modernized equipment installed.

The contemporary equipment upgrades will guarantee cost-effective cooking efficiency and healthier meals to students.

Students learn best in an environment that is conducive to learning thus TCS has made updates and upgrades to ensure student safety. This year, updating technology is at the forefront of student safety. Security is being upgraded at all schools to be sure all students are safe. TES’s front portico area in both the

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Hank Jones Early Childhood Center and the main campus have been upgraded to promote safety. Cameras have been installed at all three school campuses.

With cameras, our administrators are able to improve emergency preparedness and response. Phones have been recently upgraded across the district.

Periodic aesthetic improvements will be made to all campuses as needed.

How does Troy City Schools contribute to the local economy?

Troy City Schools offers students vast opportunities to participate in various programs including Early Childhood, Construction, Computer Science, Health Science, Welding, Aerospace Engineering and Aviation Maintenance. Students can earn math and science college class credit at no cost due to the STEM Dual Enrollment through the Alabama College Career System. Students can earn a degree or Short-term Certificate in Welding from Lurleen B. Wallace Community College. Students who are interested in Culinary Arts can earn a degree or Short-term Certificate from Trenholm State Community College. Students can earn Associate’s Degrees from Enterprise State Community College in Mechatronics, Medical Assisting Technology, Paralegal and Business and Finance or a Short-term Certificates in Mechatronics, App Development, Aviation Maintenance and Technology, EMT, Business, Paralegal and Health Information Technology.

Troy City School’s Early Childhood Program, which is housed full-time at Troy Elementary School, is the only program of its kind in Alabama. This program prepares students to become edu-

cators as it provides real-world experiences in the K-12 setting. Additionally, Modern Manufacturing is offered.

Students obtain basic employment skills and earn Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSC) Credentials. Students receive on-the-job training and can earn articulated college credit to Enterprise State Community College. Within this program, students have the ability to participate in the AIDT employment training program with Lockheed Martin. Upon successful completion, they have the opportunity to work for Lockheed Martin. We also have Adult Education Programs that include Welding and Construction located at the Troy-Pike Center for Technology. These programs include business industry partnerships with Whaley Construction Company, KW Plastics, KW Recycling, KW Machine, as well as Sanders Lead Company.

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TCS athletes read to elementary school students for Read Across Pike.

Education Spotlight: Pike Liberal A rts

Address: 301 Kervin Drive, Troy, AL 36081

Website: www.pikelib.com

Social Media: Facebook, Instagram

Date Opened: 1970

Board Members: Cory Rushing, Chairman; Ashlee Stephens, Vice Chairman; McKenzie Wilson, Treasurer; Lauren Kilcrease, Secretary; Dr. Steve Barron; Tyson Fountain; Thomas Hicks; Marilee Hussey; April Johnson; Scott Ross; Brandon Rountree; Walt Sanders; Tom Smith; Jason Terry; Troy Weed

Administrative Team: Eric Burkett, Ed.S, Head of School; Amy Allen, Ed.S, High School Principal; Jeanna Lankford, Elementary Principal; Trecy Gray, Administrative Assistant; Jeremy Mathews, Technology Director; Brooke Murphy, Bookkeeper; Shondra Whitaker, Ed.S., Testing and Curriculum Coordinator

How was this last year eventful for your school?

This is the first year our sports teams are competing in the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA). Our volleyball team won the regular season area championship, as well as the area tournament championship, to advance to the state tournament. Our JV softball team finished the season undefeated. Our golf, tennis, softball and track teams have also started off their seasons with wins. Our baseball team is undefeated in area play and ranked in the Top 10 in Class 2A, and our JV baseball team continues to pick up wins as well. Our football team also competed in AHSAA, picking up three wins while playing five different teams that reached the state semifinals in their respective classifications. Our elementary and middle school archery teams have been very successful with both qualifying for the state competition this year, following a great showing in the state last year in their inaugural season.

This year we introduced “ACT Saturdays.” Three Saturdays during Fall Semester we offered free ACT prep classes on campus. Students in grades 9-12 came and rotated through sessions taught by certified teachers. This was offered at no cost to our students. Teachers covered different topics each Saturday so that students could come more than once. The program was extremely successful with many students increasing their ACT scores by several points.

We expanded our high school electives to include new classes: Welding, Strategies for Critical and Creative Thinking, Introduction to Healthcare, Outdoor Sports and Woodworking. We also added Psychology as an elective for our 8th-grade students. These classes are in addition to Home Economics, which was added as an elective last year. We continue to offer Robotics, Bible, Theater, Criminology and Driver’s Ed as staple high school electives.

46 Progress 2023

With the support of local businesses, including KW Plastics, KW Recycling, Whaley Construction, Complete Agri Services, Lockheed Martin and Premier Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Troy, we implemented a STEM elective class for our elementary students. The students are having a great time participating in various challenges like the Leprechaun Tower Challenge, the Rotating Tower Challenge and various Ozobot challenges. Students have also been learning lessons in teamwork and sharpening their critical thinking skills. The 5th and 6th graders were also able to attend Engineering Day at Auburn University in the fall.

What plans for expansion and growth are there for Pike Liberal Arts this year and beyond?

Because we’ve experienced a high level of success with our ACT Prep course, we are planning to expand by offering summer sessions and opening them up to non-PLAS students for a fee.

As our mission statement proclaims, our aim is to prepare students to be productive members of society in whatever role they choose - as students in a post-secondary educational environment, members of the military or entering the workforce. Part of that preparation includes introducing our students to and helping them become effective users of technology. Therefore, technology integration for the purpose of creating 21st-century learning experiences remains a priority for PLAS. We are in the process of updating our inventory of Chromebooks to enable students to use them in all of their classes on a regular basis. We regularly assess new technologies as well as their benefit to our students and implement meaningful uses thereof.

Ongoing, personalized professional learning is a way to build faculty cohesiveness and collective teacher efficacy which has been proven to have a

considerable effect on student learning; therefore, we are planning to incorporate more professional learning opportunities designed specifically for our teachers. This year, PLAS teachers have learned more about topics like curriculum mapping and using standards-based assessment data to help inform instructional decisions. Additionally, math teachers and English teachers have been a part of sessions like “Making Math Fun” and “Foundations of Reading.” Next year, we hope to incorporate a faculty book study as well.

For the first time, we administered the PreACT8/9 to our 8th graders which gives students, teachers and parents an accurate picture of how students are progressing toward becoming college and career ready. The test includes a Career Interest Inventory which helps students begin to see how their interests and abilities align with possible career paths. Score results were reviewed with students, teachers and parents and were used to determine areas where students may need more support before high school.

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A physics class completed a study of energy by designing and constructing a roller coaster from paper PLAS

What are some opportunities and challenges facing Pike Liberal Arts this year and beyond?

Opportunities

Pike Liberal Arts School has limitless opportunities for growth. As a Blue Ribbon award-winning school for 21 consecutive years, PLAS offers challenging academics in a family-oriented, Christian environment for grades K4-12, with the intention of beginning a K3 program as well. As part of our ongoing commitment to equip students with a Biblical worldview, we have enhanced our Chapel time. Elementary students participate in weekly Chapel times, giving them the opportunity to grow in their faith. Students have the opportunity to serve as scripture readers, song leaders and as participants in various teaching demonstrations. From K4 through 6th graders, students are taught about multiple character qualities, and at the end of the year will be given certificates acknowledging those characteristics being lived out. Our middle and high school students participate in monthly Chapel times. A team of high school students secure speakers or lead the services themselves. They share their musical talents, act as role models and show great leadership in creating these times together.

Challenges

Last year, ACT retired the ASPIRE tests, which left us without a standards-based assessment for elementary school; therefore, we were faced with the challenge to find another option for end-of-course testing in elementary grades. After much research, we decided on Pathways to Proficiency, a program designed by ELS (Educational Leadership Solutions). Pathways to Proficiency not only provides end-ofcourse testing, but also includes short, standards-based quizzes that teachers can administer throughout the school year. These assessments provide teachers with insightful data and next-step instructional resources and content to use in their classrooms. So, while this began as a challenge, it has resulted in an excellent opportunity for teachers to make informed instructional decisions. We are still in the process of learning all that the program has to offer, but we are confident that these tools will result in improved student outcomes.

Keeping up with the fast pace of emerging technology is a constant challenge. Things change so quickly, and we want to provide our students with current innovations and tools to use. We are exploring a variety of funding sources, including grant opportunities. We are working hard to ensure our students are able to seamlessly enter into the post-gradation world with all of the skills needed to succeed.

PLAS elementary students dressed in their very best for the 27th annual Valentine’s Day Tea Party.

How does Pike Liberal Arts contribute to the local economy?

Pike Liberal Arts School contributes to the local economy in a variety of ways. We provide employment opportunities for local citizens. We have several students who are in the dual enrollment program at Troy University, and we utilize the services of Troy Cable for all of our internet needs. One way that our school indirectly supported local businesses this year was by inviting them to participate in our inaugural “Life Skills for Seniors” knowledge fair. Our purpose for the event was to provide seniors with a fun, engaging way to learn some essential life skills in preparation

for post-graduation life. Representatives from various local organizations and businesses set up exhibits in the cafeteria. Students rotated in small groups through interactive presentations every 30 minutes. Topics like buying or leasing a car, opening a checking account, renting an apartment and interviewing for a job provided the perfect learning experiences for our students. We hope to expand and include even more topics next year.

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Pike Cheer Team placed 6th in the nation in Small Varsity Division 2 Gameday out of 50 teams. Students learn how to change a tire during the inaugural Life Skills for Seniors event.

Troy University

Address: 600 University Ave., Troy, AL 36082

Website: troy.edu

Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

Date Opened: 1887

Board of Trustees: Governor Kay Ivey, President, ex-officio; Gibson Vance, President Pro Tempore; Edward Crowell, Vice President Pro Tempore; Forrest Latta; John Harrison; Earl Johnson; Allen Owen, III; Cam Ward; Gerald Dial; Karen Carter; Roy Drinkard; Charles Nailen; Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Secretary

Administrative Team: Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor; Brig. Gen. Richard Boutwell, Senior Vice Chancellor for Advancement; Dr. James Bookout, Senior Vice Chancellor for Financial Affairs and Online Education; Sohail Agboatwala, Interim Senior Vice Chancellor for Student Services and Administration; Dr. Lance Tatum, Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs; Brent Jones, Senior Vice Chancellor of Athletics

Educate the Mind to Think, the Heart to Feel and the Body to Act

That’s our motto at Troy University since 1887, and we take it very seriously. At TROY, we want our students to not only make a living, but to make a life. Student success is at the heart of all we do.

Troy University offers students a top-ranked education made up of more than 260 internationally recognized undergraduate and graduate programs. Whether you are pursuing your bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree, TROY will help prepare you on your road to success. As you earn your degree, you’ll join the ranks of thousands of TROY Trojan Warriors who have entered the world of work career-ready and able to compete in the most competitive markets in the world.

At TROY, you’ll find a Trojan Warrior Spirit that distinguishes our University from the rest of American higher education. Here, our faculty know their students by name, and our culture of caring is manifest in the lifelong relationships that are formed by Trojans around the world. Today, we serve students from 13 different time zones, and they all share the same standard—academic excellence.

Troy University is a public institution comprised of a network of campuses throughout Alabama and worldwide, employing over 2,500 people and educating over 15,500 students across all campus locations and online. International in scope, Troy University provides a variety of educational programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, to include doctoral programs, for a diverse student body in traditional, nontraditional and emerging electronic formats. Academic programs are

supported by a variety of student services which promote the welfare of the individual student. Troy University’s dedicated faculty and staff promote discovery and exploration of knowledge and its application to lifelong success through effective teaching, service, creative

partnerships, scholarship and research.

In 2022, the Princeton Review named Troy University among the best colleges and universities in the southeastern U.S. for the 18th straight year. Fortune ranked Troy’s online Master of Science in Nursing program as the 36th best in the country in its 2022 Best Online Master’s in Nursing Programs rankings, and also included Troy’s online MBA program among its “Best Online MBA Programs in 2022” ranking. The Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust recognized Troy University as a national model for providing quality, affordable education. The study examined the leadership of Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr. and the Board of Trustees and the decisions that have made TROY an adaptive and affordable institution focused on meeting the needs of students and the community.

Abound has ranked TROY among its “Top 100 Online Colleges 2022,” making it one of only two universities in the state to achieve the recognition. Abound also included TROY among its “Best Colleges for Military and Veterans 2022” listing and its “Best Colleges for Adults 2022” listing.

Institutional Goals

As derived from the Troy University mission, the institutional goals of the University are to: lead the higher education community in growing enrollments to provide access to  academic programs through innovative educational technology and a culture of caring; provide an exceptional college experience for all TROY students that results in  meaningful careers and lives for our graduates; ensure through effective stewardship that TROY students have an affordable academic experience; provide an international perspective for domestic students and an American experience for international students; proactively reach out and serve those who serve, and have served, our country in the armed forces and their families as part of the TROY family; improve the diversity within the University’s administration and staff and

provide TROY students with the values of diversity servant leadership, professionalism and democratic principles so they will serve as good citizens and leaders in their communities; and address educational needs that will promote the economic and social growth of  Alabama and the southeastern United States.

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