New Superintendent Dr. Lisa Stamps is hoping to inspire teamwork, promote school pride and community support, and bring more opportunities to the students of Daleville City Schools.
Stamps was raised “with the highest Christian standards,” traveling between Pensacola, Jacksonville and San Diego with her mother, three other siblings and father, who served in the United States Navy. Her father passed away when she was 10, and her mother continued to raise her and her sisters.
When she was 13 years old, she found her future husband in the second son of her church’s new pastor.
“We just hit it off,” she said. “It was just kind of love at first sight.”
A few years later, they got married weeks after she turned 16. She had completed the 10th grade and did not return to school. After she married, she worked as a seamstress and used other homemaking skills while her two children grew up and started their education.
As their children got older, Stamps said her husband encouraged her to return to school.
“He encouraged me to go back and get my education,” she said. “So, when I was 30, I took my GED, passed it, got a scholarship and started to Bevill (State Community College).”
Stamps then studied at the Mississippi University for Women, also called “The W,” and completed her bachelor’s degree in elementary education alongside her sister, who graduated at the same time. Stamps had her own classroom by the next school year in 1994.
Her first full-time teaching position was in a gifted education program, which inspired her to complete a master’s degree in gifted education at the University of Alabama, where she also received her educational specialist degree in special education with an emphasis in gifted education and her doctorate in educational administration.
Since her career as an educator began in 1994, she has worked in Fayette; Columbus, Miss.; the University of Alabama; Gordo; and Sulligent. She said her teaching and administrative experiences made Daleville seem like the best place to take the next step in her career.
“When I did the research on Daleville’s school system, it just seemed familiar,” she said. “I thought, ‘Well, I’d love to go down and lead that school system.’ I’d been a principal for 15 years, and I thought, ‘It’s time to step up in the superintendent shoes.’”
Stamps has many goals to make the system even more successful. One of her goals is to build morale to the highest it’s been with DCS faculty and staff to help support them in their roles.
“I’ve always been a team builder,” she said. “I want to build teams of people. No man is an island; we all make decisions together for our students to meet the needs first.”
As one example of working as a team, she said she has met with the administrative staff from all areas of the system to identify school and department needs in relation to the students, such as with safety and technology.
“That’s my philosophy,” she said. “Instead of me saying, ‘I think I want this for schools’ or ‘We may need that,’ I go to the leadership team. We look at the greatest needs of our students and schools, and that’s where we put our money.”
In addition to working as a team to identify the needs of the system and the students, Stamps has other, fun ways to build morale.
“I’m a foodie,” she said, smiling. “I like to cook for my folks. That just builds morale. It’s fun to fellowship together.
“It is true that if you don’t have followers, you can’t lead. The best way to have followers is to build morale. It’s been my experience that teachers will go through the fire with you if they know that you are doing what’s best for students and for them.”
During the system’s institute day, Stamps introduced a “rebranding” of the system with the phrase, “We Are Warhawks, and We Will Rise,” based on the Warhawk mascot.
“We will rise to do great things, and we will rise to serve,” she said. “We will rise to support. We will rise to help our students achieve. It’s a team effort. Everybody gets the honor and glory. It’s not one person. It is for everybody to get credit for their hard work. It’s a shared responsibility, and it’s a shared credit. And our students succeed because of hard work.”
Stamps said another goal for the system is to focus on traditions, such as by highlighting the history of the system and successes of previous DCS graduates.
“School pride is a big thing,” she said. “I love those traditions. Look at Auburn (University) and (University of) Alabama. Look at the traditions, and that builds cohesive pride. That’s something that I want to work on.”
She said she hopes to bring about more community involvement in the school system as well.
“I’ve always tried to have a really good rapport with parents and community members, and I’ve always worked closely with the mayor and city council,” she said. “In a city this small, the school is the community and the community is the school. You can’t separate it. So goes the community, so goes the school.”
With community support and highlighting the history of the schools and their traditions, she said she hopes today’s students develop a strong pride in DCS.
“I hear people talk about how it used to be,” she said. “I want our students to have that. I want these kids who are here now to enjoy that school pride and look back when they’re 35, 55 and remember how great it was when they were at Daleville High School.”
Additionally, for current students, Stamps said she keeps their needs at the forefront of her work and hopes to provide them with more opportunities.
“You can do so much with students,” she said. “Sometimes you can see the rewards quickly. When students have had learning issues and then all of a sudden the light bulb turns on, their learning improves. They turn around and start thinking about their future and they’re putting more into their education. The next thing you know they’re graduating with honors. It is wonderful to see such a reward in a short period of time.”
Stamps said she hopes to bring more opportunities for all high school students, to offer them more chances to find their future, such as through career technical programs.
“We’re always going to need mechanics, welders, plumbers, and hairdressers,” she said. “For many students, these are their strengths and gifts, and we need to try to have enough programs to meet their needs, even in a small system.”
She said she also hopes to bring in more AP and dual-enrollment courses so those students who plan to attend college can also be a step ahead.
Stamps said she would like to bring more of the ideals found in the Leader in Me program, used at Windham Elementary School, to the high school, as well.
“Those skills are so vitally important for our kids to attain so they can be good employees,” she said. “The businesses of today are having difficulty finding people that have resilience. They call them soft skills; I call them character traits.”
Though she wants the system to be seen as a place of positivity and student growth, Stamps said she will continue to “look at things realistically” and work to improve the schools in areas they need.
“I operate using truth, facts and evidence,” she said. “We have to be honest about the problems. If we don’t accept the fact that we have room for improvement, then we can’t ever improve.
“We’re going to own it, and we’re going to move up. We’re going to own our problems, we’re going to capitalize on our strengths and we’re going to work to correct our weaknesses. We’re going to fix the problems and leave the things that are going right, going smooth, alone.”
As a new face to the system, Stamps said she wants the students of DCS to know that she is there for them.
“I would like for them to know that I am their advocate, and they have a lot of advocates in our caring faculty and staff,” she said. “I want them to know that I’m going to ensure they have what they need. That’s what advocates do. They provide for the needs.”
She said she hopes to see that each student has one person “that they trust, that they can talk to” and find mentors with the faculty and staff of each school. These are things she believes are important for all students and wants for her own nine grandchildren.
“I also want them to know that I care about their future,” she said.
Stamps said she wants to start meeting parents by grade level to share the opportunities available to students through the school, and she hopes to work with the high school to bring the military and more colleges to campus to speak with students.
“I want to expose them to as many different things as we can that will be of interest to them in the future,” she said. “I’m going to be their advocate, and I’m going to work to offer opportunities for their future.”
Stamps said she is looking forward to working alongside the DCS Board, faculty, staff and administrators of the schools to have a successful year.
She also said she is “excited” and feels “at ease” and “at home” in the Daleville system.
“That’s what drew me. Daleville is so similar to the small towns I know and it’s a good fit here,” she said. “I think that’s why, if I am successful, it will be because it’s a good fit, because I really don’t feel like an outsider.”