PHS#039;s Mobley to lead AEA

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 22, 2003

Being outspoken can be a good thing. Her reputation for being blunt and outspoken - and truthful and fair - has won Pleasant Home math teacher Peggy Mobley to the top spot in the Alabama Education Association. Mobley, a native of Covington County and graduate of Andalusia High School, was elected in an uncontested race earlier this year and assumes her duties as the president on July 15.

"I'm excited," she said at a special reception held for her Wednesday afternoon at the Covington County Board of Education. "If I can get everything accomplished that needs to be accomplished, I'll be very excited."

She has chosen a tough time to lead Alabama's educators, with the schools statewide facing what Covington County Schools Superintendent Ronnie Driver called "a crises in education."

"To begin with, we need funding," said Mobley. "Without funding, education in Alabama is going to be totally destroyed."

Attacking the devastating effects of proration is highest on her list of priorities and she said she will be watching Montgomery carefully over the next six months as the tax increase proposal is presented and the state tries to help beleaguered schools.

"I hope this called session will be successful," she said. "But even if something is accomplished (in legislature), the people still have to vote for it - and I don't know if the people understand how important the need is."

At least now, when she's keeping an eye on the political and economic maneuverings of Alabama government, she can do it from much closer. As the new AEA president, Mobley will be located in the capital for the two years of her term. It is one of the few downsides to her election - having to take a two-year leave of absence from her teaching job at Pleasant Home School.

Mobley has taught a year here and there in other places, such as Florala, Andalusia High School, and even Houma, La. But for the past 33 years, she has made Pleasant Home her home and her presence has been felt.

"We're happy for her, but wer'e going to miss her," said Principal Jim Garner. "She's been totally involved in our school. She helped me learn the ropes."

Garner admitted the guidance was not always smooth sailing. "We've had some fights, or so I'm told," he told the large group of educators assembled at the reception. "But we always learned something from it. She doesn't mind speaking her mind, she doesn't mind making a statement."

Driver agreed.

" It's such a critical time for education and I think having a person with Mrs. Mobley's qualities is just what we need," Driver said. "We feel like our organization will be in good hands. I can't be believe we could have a more effective person in that office at this time."

Those are the hands of experience. Mobley has been involved with AEA for 17 years now and has served on local, state and national levels.

"She has been the AEA's voice to Covington County," said Driver. "Now, she can be our voice to the AEA."

Acquiring funding isn't her only goal. With Dr. Paul Hubbard as its executive director, the AEA is a powerful lobbying force in Montgomery for educational needs and Mobley intends to use that to make education even better in Alabama. She feels that high test scores disprove the common perception of a lower level in quality of education in Alabama, but she would like to see the scores go even higher. One of Alabama education's greatest success stories - the reading initiative - she would like to see repeated in math .

She said she would also like to see more parental involvement.

"Most parents just don't realize how important it is," she said.

Several spoke at her reception besides Driver and Garner, including Andalusia City Councilman Andy Alexander, there on behalf of the mayor, to read a proclamation honoring Mobley for her achievement. Her family members were also present, including her daughter Carrie Mitchell and her husband Johnny, their daughters Chandler and Reid, her brothers Vincent Ham and Anthony (Tony) Ham, Tony's wife Susie, and others.

Mrs. Mobley is the first person from Covington County to hold the AEA's president's office since Vernon St. John held it more than 30 years ago, she said.