MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) – Orange Beach City Schools began the school year for the first time as an independent school system this year.

It’s the first year in the system for teachers and students alike. Also, it’s the first year in the system for the man making it all work, Randy Wilkes, superintendent of the Orange Beach School System.

Bill: Well, Orange Beach City Schools began the school year as an independent school system this school year.

Jessica: It’s the first year in the system for teachers and students alike. Also, the first year in the system for the man making it all work is Randy Wilkes, superintendent of the Orange Beach School System. He’s joining us this morning on the Red Couch. We’re glad you’re here.

Randy Wilkes/Superintendent Orange County City Schools: Good morning. Pleasure to be here.

Jessica: Well, tell us about the challenges you’re seeing in Orange Beach as the school year started.

Randy Wilkes: Well, we have had a fantastic start to school. Really appreciate the efforts of our city and our board of education that made all of this possible. Our teachers, faculty, staff members, our parents and our students have all done a phenomenal job.
So we really have had I’ve been doing this now. This is my 34th year entering into a school year. And it’s the best start I think that I’ve ever had since 2005.

Bill: When you started out as an independent school system, you broke the school system, broke away from the Baldwin County school system. So a lot of that infrastructure, for lack of a better word, already in place. Did you have to recreate that did you inherit some of it?

Randy Wilkes: From the foundation up of our board again, and our interim superintendent did a phenomenal job establishing a foundation, but coming in July one, and we have to remember, it’s 107 days from inception to servicing students. That has to be a record. But there were some things in place when we got there, but board policy code of conduct, master schedule, we had to integrate the student tracking system, everything from HVAC controls, Chromebooks and everything. We all had to revamp those programs and fully integrate those for our students in Orange Beach.

Bill: You’ve been a busy guy.

Randy Wilkes: We have all been very busy, and it’s we’ll have to emphasize it is absolutely kudos to our team because they’ve gone above and beyond, worked a lot of long hours to make this all come, come to pass.

Jessica: You came here from Phenix City, leading the school system there. What did you bring from Phenix City that you’re implementing in Orange Beach?

Randy Wilkes: Basically everything at an all at one time and one of the things that we want to be careful of and coming from Phenix City, I learned a lesson there not to bring the vision, but to create some ownership among people and so we’re developing our vision for Orange Beach and we’re massaging those ideas and concepts right now. We’re taking a lot of information from stakeholders and from parents and from students and will develop our vision here.
So a lot of STEM that will become STEAM at Orange Beach. I can foresee some of that bringing some of those ideas and concepts from Phenix City and integrating those in Orange Beach

Jessica: STEM becoming STEAM. We’re talking about the science, technology, engineering, math, art,

Randy Wilkes: jobs, careers of tomorrow. 80% of all jobs of tomorrow will be some type of STEM-based type program. And so what does that look like in Orange Beach? I think it is unique to Orange Beach, and we’re going to work on those ideas in the very near future.

Bill: Exciting time down at the beach. Randy Wilkes, our guest, thank you very much for being here. We appreciate you getting up early with us and joining us on the Red Couch.

Randy Wilkes: Thank you so much.