Longtime headmaster retires from Morgan Academy

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 4, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

As a young man growing up in Binghamton, N.Y., Christopher de Buzna aspired to be a history teacher and a coach; nothing more, nothing less.

But he soon learned life had its share of twists and turns and he ended up in Selma, where he’s been headmaster at John T. Morgan Academy for 22-and-a-half years.

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On July 31, de Buzna will retire, and leave behind students and faculty he’s come to know as his “family.”

“It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to these people, but it was just time,” de Buzna said. “I’ve been very blessed and fortunate to be here for so long. It’s been a very good ride.”

de Buzna hasn’t had much time to think about his retirement with spring athletics, band and choir concerts and graduation just days away.

While sitting in his office Wednesday morning, de Buzna began to reminisce about his 42-year education career, which began when he accepted a job as a public elementary school teacher in Florida in 1965.

Then he was a recent graduate of Fresno State University in California, now known as California State University, Fresno, where he majored in elementary education and history.

de Buzna went on to teach in Fort Stewart, Ga., at a military base for the U.S. Department of Defense. He also worked as a high school principal in Georgia before moving to South Carolina to become deputy superintendent.

After earning his doctorate degree in education from the University of Alabama, de Buzna relocated to Greensboro to serve as headmaster at Southern Academy. He became headmaster at John T. Morgan Academy in February 1985 while he was still at Southern Academy, and worked at both schools for four-and-a-half months.

“On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I was at Southern Academy and on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays I was at Morgan,” he said. “It’s unusual running two schools.”

During de Buzna’s tenure, Morgan has received numerous honors. The school is a 15-time winner of Alabama Independent School Association’s (AISA) President’s Award for academic achievement and an 11-time winner of the AISA Chairman’s Award for athletic achievement.

de Buzna believes the honors bestowed on Morgan throughout the years is a testament to the school’s standing among larger schools in the state, saying “that’s not bad for a school in west Central Alabama that is up against the big boys.”

Gale Bedgood, who’s served as Morgan’s secretary for 17 years, said de Buzna has “brought the school up to a level where we’ve never been before.” She describes her boss as compassionate, fair and patient.

“He doesn’t put up with you not doing your best,” she said. “He’s always been real solid, real steady and thinks things through thoroughly. He has a position and he stands firm in it.”

Rett Rivers, a 2006 Morgan graduate who is now an accounting major at Samford University in Birmingham, called de Buzna “a good administrator.”

“He did a lot for Morgan Academy and Morgan will miss him,” he said.

de Buzna certainly values the accolades Morgan has received, but says the best part of his job is observing the exuberance of children and their insatiable wonder and curiosity.

“It’s such a good feeling to see these kids blossom,” he said. “It’s a refreshing thing to see.

“Everyday there’s something to look forward to and be proud of.” de Buzna plans to move to Pinellas County, Fla., to be near his two daughters and “do zero.” He says he will always regard Selma and Morgan Academy as home.

“I thought I’d be here for a year or two, but it’s been a very enjoyable experience for me,” he said. “I always tell people 90 percent of what you hear about Selma you need to throw out the window. This is home.”

Morgan is a K-12 institution that draws students from a five-county area.