Former Selma educator dies at 72

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Special to The Times-Journal

Former Alabama and Tennessee education leader, Dr. James A. Street, 72, died Sunday in a Bristol, Tenn., hospital after a brief illness.

The family will receive friends Saturday from

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noon to 1 p.m. at Ridout’s Roebuck Chapel in Birmingham. Funeral services will follow with Dr. Ron Wilson of Samford University officiating. A committal service and burial will be held at Forest Hills Cemetery.

Street served as superintendent of the Bristol Tennessee City Schools from 1990 to 1995,

a position he retired from due to health reasons. He previously served as superintendent of Schools in Tallassee, Ala.

Street is recognized in education circles throughout the state, having been the first executive director of the Alabama Council for School Administration and Supervision (ACSAS) for 11 years.

ACSAS represented school superintendents, principals and supervisors in public education.

Today, ACSAS is the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS).

CLAS presents the Dr. James A. Street Award annually to a person, persons, institution or organization for exceptional service or achievement for the cause of public education and in the interests of school administrators in Alabama.

Street is best known locally in Selma as serving as principal of Albert G Parrish High School from 1966 until 1975. He oversaw the merger of two racially segregated high schools.

Street became principal – and director of Secondary Education of the resulting school – Selma High School.

“We have lost a very valuable person who has left a lot of his philosophy of education still with the teachers who started with him,” said Elton Reece, recreation director for the city of Selma.

Reece started working with Street in 1972. “He gave me my first job,” Reece said. ” I had the opportunity to work with him for five years.”

Reece called Street “a godsend for a new teacher and coach just starting out his career. He did everything by the book. He was tough, a disciplinarian, but he also had a kind heart. He thought things through before he made a decision.”

Street’s vast career in education also includes teaching and coaching positions in high schools located in Perry, Fla, Cordele, Ga., and Sheffield, Ala., where he also served as assistant principal and guidance counselor during his tenure there.

Street’s education credentials were extensive.

He received his bachelor degree from Howard College (now Samford University), master’s degree from George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, Ed.S. from the University of Montevallo and his doctor of education at Auburn University.

He also attended the University of Alabama and University of Georgia on National Science Foundation Fellowships.

Street received numerous awards for his commitment and dedication to public education, including Samford University’s Outstanding Administrator “Golden Apple” Award and the Outstanding Leadership Award from the University of Montevallo. He was recognized by the National Association of Executives with their Distinguished Service Award.

The National Association of Secondary Schools Principals presented him their prestigious Distinguished Service Award and he received the Award of Honor from the National School Public Relations Association.

During his tenure in Tennessee he was recognized for Outstanding Service by the Superintendent’s Study Council and by the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents.

In 1989, Street was inducted into the Alabama Educational Leadership Hall of Fame, which is housed on the campus of Troy University.

He served as board member and president of the Rotary Club of Bristol, Va.-Tennessee, board member and secretary of the Bristol United Way, and chairman of Keep Bristol Beautiful. He was a Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow.

Street was a member of First Baptist Church, Bristol, Va., serving as a deacon, chairman of the Board of Administration and chairman of the Deacon Board. He worked on numerous committees and other positions of service in the church.

Street was born March 3, 1933, in Birmingham and graduated from Woodlawn High School.

He served in the U. S. Marine Air Corps during the Korean conflict.