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Frazier looks forward to new post

Patty Frazier said she is looking forward to carrying out the tradition of excellence at W.S. Neal High School, where she was named principal Thursday.

“I’m not here to fill big shoes, I’m just here to carry on the vision,” she said, referring to late principal Phillip Ellis, who died last month after a year-long battle with cancer.

Frazier has effectively been leading the school for the past year, because Ellis’ illness kept him hospitalized or at home for much of the year.

“I’m very honored to get to serve the board of education and W.S. Neal,” Frazier said. “I’m thrilled to be here every day, and not just to teach. We have great faculty and great people that I work with.”

The Escambia County School Board voted to hire Frazier Thursday during its regular meeting. After a 30-minute executive session to discuss the hire, the board voted, with only Donnie Crutchfield voting against the hire.

Superintendent Billy Hines, who made the recommendation to the board, said it was a “hard decision.”

“All of the candidates were local people,” he said. “All of them had the best interests of Neal at heart.”

Frazier has 18 years of experience in education.

School board member Danny Benjamin said the decision was difficult because of the caliber of the candidates.

“We had a tremendous decision to make this afternoon,” Benjamin said. “We’re not going to please everybody. All of the candidates were home grown. I hope after today that all of us will rally around all of our schools.”

Frazier is a 1985 graduate of W.S. Neal High School. She was hired by the school district in 1990 and worked at W.S. Neal Middle School for 16 years before coming to the high school five years ago.

Frazier said the school will likely see minor changes in coming months to accommodate the needs of its students. For example, the school has developed a ninth-grade wing to monitor freshmen in their transition between middle school and high school.

“We’re trying to reach AYP every day,” Frazier said, referring to the state’s set of academic standards under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. “Mr. Ellis’ vision was right on target, but there will be some changes along the way.”

Frazier said the students have responded well to her leadership.

“They are acclimated to me, and they respect me,” she said. “They’re going to take care of me.”

But Frazier said she and the faculty and students will never forget Ellis or his leadership.

“We have felt the absence of his loss every day,” she said.