ON THE MARK
D. MARK MITCHELL
As August arrives, fall sports are preparing for the start of the season and school. Over the past several months, Opelika City Schools administration underwent several changes as a leadership team as well.
I reached out to the new superintendent, Dr. Farrell Seymore, requesting information about all the changes. Seymore took over as superintendent of Opelika City Schools on June 1. He’s served 25 years in the Opelika school system as a teacher, and principal of Opelika Middle School (OMS) and Opelika High School (OHS).
Seymore was the obvious choice to be the new superintendent after serving as middle and high school principal. Seymore and wife Sarah have two children: Anna, a student at FSU, and Patrick, a junior at OHS.
Seymore and his wife chose to raise their family in a place they call home, Opelika. It will take time for Seymore to implement his plan to advance learning and technology in the Opelika City school system.
Tiffany Yelder was hired as assistant superintendent after Ken Burton retired. Yelder has 17 years of educational experience and is an Auburn University graduate. Yelder served as assistant principal at OHS under Seymore before leaving for another position in the Pike Road School System.
Kelli Fischer became the first female principal at Opelika High after being promoted from assistant principal by Seymore. Fischer is a Troy University graduate with 10 years of educational experience.
Allison Gregory was named assistant principal, leaving her position as assistant basketball coach and female athletic director. Gregory attended Auburn University and has 13 years of experience in education.
Courtney Bass was the second assistant principal hired at OHS. Bass has seven years in education after graduating from Auburn University.
Jamey Williams became the first OCS athletic director that is over OMS and OHS athletics. Williams replaces AD Mike Pugh, who resigned after spending three-and-a-half years as part-time athletic director. Opelika plays in class 7A, the largest classification in the AHSAA. A system this size must have an athletic director that has authority over ALL athletic decisions at both schools. Retired Superintendent Dr. Mark Neighbors made all decisions dealing with athletics and coaching hires. Hopefully, Williams will be allowed to improve Opelika athletics. Williams has 25 years in education as a teacher, head coach, athletic director and assistant principal.
Dylan Weaver was promoted to assistant principal at OMS after spending nine years in education. Russ Harwick was named attendance and community affairs coordinator after spending several years as Seymore’s top assistant at OHS. Hardwick was credited with handling discipline issues and many duties behind the scenes at OHS. Hardwick has 19 years in education after graduating from Auburn University.
Thomas Sherfield was named alternative program coordinator after spending 17 years in education, graduating from Troy University. Sherfield takes the position held by the late Steve Carson.
Tamarcus Milner was named assistant principal at Opelika Learning Center after spending 10 years in education.
Cody Patterson was hired as finance director after 14 years in education. Patterson, a Jacksonville State graduate, is replacing Lyndie Payne.
Opelika head football coach Erik Speakman started his fifth fall practice this week. The Dogs enjoyed several days off last week before starting practice Monday, Aug. 1. Speakman and four senior players attended the iHeartRadio High School Media Days presented by the Orthopaedic Clinic last week. OHS moves into the region with Auburn, Central, Lee, Enterprise, Smiths Station, Dothan, Jeff Davis and Prattville. With the exception of Prattville, the other schools were in our region until the seventh class was formed.
The Bulldogs have two weeks of practice before preparing for the opener against Callaway in Troup County Georgia. I will tell you what Speakman thinks about this year’s team in next week’s column.
D. Mark Mitchell is the sports director at iHeartRadio, host of “On the Mark” Fox Sports the Game 910-1310, co-chair of the Auburn-Opelika Sports Council, chairman of the Super 7 and Dixie Boys Baseball state director.