Hall of Fame honors new inductee

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 29, 2009

After 43 years of service to Alabama schools, Sandra Sims-deGraffenried was inducted into the Alabama Educational Leadership Hall of Fame at Troy University.

Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr. commended the selection committee for choosing Sims-deGraffenried, saying she was the first woman to serve as an executive director for state education.

“I’ve known Dr. Sims-deGraffenried for three decades or more, and she has been a pioneer in many ways,” Hawkin said. “She has not only talked the talk, but she has walked the walk for public education in the state of Alabama.”

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Sims-deGraffenried called her induction, a “very cherished and coveted honor.”

She served the state as executive director of the Alabama Association of School Boards for 19 years and retired in 2007.

Sims-deGraffenried reflected back to the beginning of her more than 40 years in education.

“Forty-three years ago, I walked into a rural Alabama school at 22 years of age. Little did I know that would bring me here to this point,” she said. “The Hall of Fame is the most prestigious award that an educator in Alabama can achieve. To know that others have recognized my work as worthwhile is very humbling.”

Sims-deGraffenried took the time to recognize others in the audience who had previously been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

AASB President Sue Helms described Sims-deGraffenried as “confident, courageous, dependable, meticulous, professional and superior.”

Helms said Sims-deGraffenried was an advocate for children and had spent the last 40 plus years dedicated to education in this state.

During he tenure as executive director of AASB, she designed and implemented the school board academy, which trains school board members. She also was instrumental in establishing a state proration prevention program.

“She is a champion for children,” Helms said. “Her road has not yet ended.”

The Troy University Board of Trustees under the authority of the Alabama Legislature established the Hall of Fame in 1983.

This was the first induction held at the new site for the hall of fame at Hawkins Hall.

College of Education Dean Lance Tatum said one of the goals when building Hawkins Hall was “providing ample space for our Alabama Education Hall of Fame, so people can see what it means to us.”

The Hall of Fame’s purpose is to recognize, by cooperative effort of Troy University, the AASB, the Alabama Department of Education and the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools, outstanding leaders and to establish and maintain a Hall of Fame to permanently record their achievements.

“For those of you who know me, know I’m a Maya Angelou fan,” Sims-deGraffenried said.

“People will forget what you said, forget what you did, but not how you made them feel.”