TROY—Dr. Sandra Sims-deGraffenried said she was humbled at being inducted into the Alabama Educational Leadership Hall of Fame at Troy University, calling it a “very cherished and coveted honor.”
The former executive director of the Alabama Association of School Boards, Dr. Sims-deGraffenried, who retired from AASB in 2007 after 19 years as executive director, was installed as the Hall of Fame’s 37th honoree in a special ceremony today in Hawkins Hall on the Troy Campus.
“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 was established in 1982 by the Troy University Board of Trustees under the authority of the Legislature of the State of Alabama. Its purpose is to recognize, by cooperative effort of Troy University, the Alabama Association of School Boards, 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.
“The Hall of Fame is the most prestigious award that an educator in Alabama can achieve,” Dr. Sims-deGraffenried said. “To know that others have recognized my work as worthwhile is very humbling.”
An educator for more than 40 years, Dr. Sims-deGraffenried began her career in 1966 teaching senior high English at Danville High School including stints as a counselor and central office supervisor in the Decatur School System. In 1985, she joined the AASB as its assistant executive director and in 1988 became its executive director.
While at the helm of the association, Dr. Sims-deGraffenried strengthened the association’s finances, solidified membership, increased the group’s visibility in the advocacy and legislative arena and developed an extensive professional development program for school board members.
“I’ve known Dr. Sims-deGraffenried for three decades or more and she has been a pioneer in many ways,” said Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor of Troy University, who noted Dr. Sims-deGraffenried had followed St. Francis of Assisi’s admonition to “preach the gospel at all times and, when necessary, to use words.
“She had not only talked to the talk, but she has walked the walk for public education in the state of Alabama,” he said.
Her advocacy on behalf of public education in Alabama earned her the association’s Champion for Children Award in 2004. She has been twice recognized by the American Society of Association Executives with national awards in governmental relations and training programs. The National School Board Association selected her as its recipient of the Thomas A. Shannon Leadership Award for Excellence in School Boards Association Leadership in 2005.