Leadership at a critical time!
by C. Wayne Mitchell, President/CEO, Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce
There is no other description for what Alton Frailey provided to Nacogdoches in his time here.
The Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce Alton Frailey as the Nacogdoches Citizen of the Year for 2020! (Mr. Frailey is pictured left)
Prior to his selection as interim superintendent the Nacogdoches Independent School District (N.I.S.D.) was in need of attention. Facilities were in need of major repair or replacement; teacher morale was low and many students were seeking their education in other communities. To compound the problem, the I.S.D. had major turnover with several superintendents and faculty in recent years as well.
The Alton Frailey tenure began with a call from a member of the Nacogdoches School Board, G. W. Neal. Alton recalls that G.W. started the conversation with “Brother Frailey, we could sure use your help!” The good news is that while in retirement, the Nacogdoches school system was already on Alton’s mind for quite some time!
After letting his wife Anissa know of his interest in helping the Nacogdoches School system for “five or six months” (which turned into two years!) and gaining her support and encouragement, Alton agreed to come to Nacogdoches to become interim superintendent!
“My biggest challenge was to change the mindset and attitudes both internally and externally. In many ways the I.S.D. was a toxic environment,” Frailey said. “Working with staff, community leaders and other stakeholders, we began the process of changing the perception of the N.I.S.D. We needed to bring people together if we were going to move forward.”
Alton points out that the Superintendent position has changed in recent years. “If you do the job right, you know it’s more about servant leadership and building up the team and system as a whole. You have to understand that it’s not about you. Rather, it’s because of how you identify, support and encourage the critical work.”
One of the first public initiatives was to institute “Huddle Time”, a forum for Mr. Frailey to share with the community, faculty and other interested individuals the needs of the system; why investment in education is critical for economic development and to let people know why we cannot wait another decade to improve the system. Alton faced tough questions from attendees but always offered a candid and frank response. “These forums gave me the opportunity to ‘tell our story and build credibility,’” Frailey said. “I believe that people in Nacogdoches began to believe in the N.I.S.D. once again!”
C. Wayne Mitchell, President & CEO of the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce says that Frailey was instrumental in getting the bond issue approved by voters. “Alton’s ability to make a compelling case for investment and his willingness to engage were critical in the success of this initiative,” Mitchell said. “He motivated and inspired many people along the way and without his leadership and involvement I am not sure the bond issue would have passed.”
As a result of his leadership and strong community support a major school bond issue was approved by Nacogdoches voters with a $73 million investment. “The citizens of Nacogdoches came forward and took ownership of the NISD once again,” Frailey said.
Alton is proud of his Nacogdoches roots. “When I moved away in 1983 I never forgot Nacogdoches and have always been proud of the community.” He says the support from people like G. W. Neal and others have contributed to his success.
Alton, and his wife Anissa currently reside in Fulshear, Tx. They have three children, Alana, who attended Texas A&M University; Anderson, currently at the University of Virginia and Austin, a Senior at the University of Houston.
Mr. Frailey continues to serve Stephen F. Austin State University and is currently Chair of the Board of Regents. He graduated from SFA in 1983 with a bachelor of science in elementary education and holds a masters of education in educational administration.
Prior to coming to Nacogdoches, he served for nine years as superintendent of the nearly 74,000-student Katy Independent School District near Houston.
Mr. Frailey ranks his experience here at the Nacogdoches Independent School District as one of his most important accomplishments. He was proud that he could return to his hometown and to help Nacogdoches understand that we are “better than you think”.
The Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce the 2020 Nacogdoches Citizen of the Year, Alton Frailey. The Citizen of the Year Award is sponsored by Tipton Ford-Lincoln.
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