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Education is Powell's priority

By By LYDIA GRIMES Feature Reporter
Melvin "Buck" Powell did not dream, when he was growing up in Flomaton, that he would someday become a teacher, much less the superintendent of Escambia County Schools.
He holds that position in a time when there are many good things going on in school and some hard things as well. Money, of course, is always one of the main factors and he applauds the public for voting for the 10-mil tax which he says is a start in the right direction for Escambia County.
There are 4,594 school students enrolled in Escambia County. That is a lot of students, but enrollment has been going down for the past few years.
Powell's job is oversight of the daily operation of the education of all county school students and it is a daunting task. There are 80 buses running each school day and the "No child Left Behind" program has to be considered.
Powell grew up in Flomaton and graduated from Flomaton High School in 1961. His was the typical story of kids growing up in the sixties. As soon as he got his driving license he would come to Brewton and hang out with Terry Clark, Terry Jordan, Charles Thompson and others at the bowling alley. He said he was an average student who played sports. He went to Livingston as a walk-on to play football but didn't like it there. He decided to return to Flomaton to work on the family farm. His father was a county commissioner at the time and Cecil Murphy was working for him. Murphy persuaded him to go to college which he did, with the intention of majoring in forestry. After one semester, he changed his mind and switched to teaching and coaching. After graduation he got his first job at Lyeffion in Conecuh County making the huge amount of $3,600 a year plus another $600 to coach. He left Lyeffion to go to Greenville as assistant coach and stayed there for a year before moving to Century where he led the team to state two times during his six years as coach. He coached at Escambia County High School for eight years and won the state championship in 1983. The next year he became assistant principal of Escambia County High School and then spent four years as principal at Rachel Patterson Elementary School.
He was appointed to his present job in 2000 by the Escambia County School Board.
During these years Powell was married two times. His had two daughters in his first marriage, Kelli and Joi. He later married Mary Bess Faircloth in 1978 and they had a son, Mark, who is in his first year of medical school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and did his undergraduate work in biomedical science at Auburn.
Powell credits his wife with helping him tremendously along the way. She, too, is in education. She is an elementary supervisor and works out the curriculum for elementary school students in Escambia County. She also works with federal funds.
He has six grandchildren and loves to spend time at the family place at Orange Beach. He has a boat there and loves to salt water fish. He likes sports and his office reflects his interest. Photographs of football and baseball are displayed with one being Mickey Mantle with one of Powell's former students, Nathaniel "Buck" Showalter, who coached the New York Yankees, the Arizona Diamondbacks and now with the Texas Rangers.
Powell also enjoys riding motorcycles and has two Harleys of his own, one from his high school days. He is not a member of a motorcycle group but loves to ride for himself. He has a dog that he has named Elvis and calls his "baby."
With education such an important part of everyone's life, it is good to know that there are people such as Powell, teachers and support people to see that things are going right.