Nash, Byrd honored by SPISD

Published 8:27 pm Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Sabine Pass Sharks had a bit of celebrating to do Thursday.

The three-fold party welcomed incoming superintendent, Malcolm Nash, thanked outgoing interim superintendent Zack Byrd, and gave kudos to the students and faculty who helped the district achieve recognized status.

The foyer of the gymnasium was decked out with school colors of purple and gold and a special table was set aside for cake and punch.

Nash, accompanied by family members, has been working with Byrd learning the ins and outs of the k-12 school.

“This feels great,” Nash said as district patrons and faculty gathered to wish him well. “I feel like I’ve been here my whole life. I wouldn’t take anything for the 14 years experience in West Sabine. It really prepared me for this experience.”

Nash comes from a family of educators. His mother, Wilma Nash, taught elementary school for 38 years; his father, who is now deceased, was superintendent of Evadale ISD from 1957 to 1975; his sister, Patsy Mahan is a retired educator with decades of service; his brother, Ronnie Nash, is an elementary school principal in Silsbee; sister-in-law, Eileen Nash, is a longtime school counselor and a second brother, Mickey Nash, is a principal in Evadale.

Nash is the former superintendent of West Sabine ISD.

Zack Byrd and his wife, Cookie, enjoyed some laughs as they spoke of the former superintendent’s career.

“I’ve retired three or four times,” Byrd said.

Byrd spent 38 years in Port Neches-Groves ISD and served as superintendent for eight years before retiring the first time. Later, after he and his wife built a house, Byrd was called to High Island ISD.

“They said it (High Island position) would last three months. It lasted two years,” Cookie Byrd said.

From there Byrd spent time helping with a major expansion at his church, First Baptist Church. Then in April he received a call to assist in SPISD.

“There was a lot of things to do here,” he said referring to the mounds of paperwork necessary for insurance, Federal Emergency Management Agency aid and a Texas School Re-start grant. He will continue to work with the district as a consultant until the paperwork is completed.

“We have good equipment here, the facilities are back up,” he said. “If there ever was a bright spot in a hurricane, it’s the school. It survived and is better than ever.”

Principal Kristi Heid called Byrd a class act.

“He was a big shot in the arm for Sabine Pass,” Heid said. “Here we were trying to recover from the storm, we had lost our previous superintendent and things were still in the air. Sabine Pass couldn’t have asked for a better person to step in.”

SPISD received high marks from the Texas Education Agency, something that Heid and School Board President Peggy Lee were very happy about.

The school was closed for six weeks after the hurricane but students, faculty and parents came together to make sure the ever important state mandated test scores were high — and they were.

To commemorate the status, Andy Bates, high school teen coordinator/social studies teacher, took to the roof Thursday night. Bates promised his students if they scored high on the tests he would spend the night on the school roof.

“Basically I’m spending the night 40-feet in the air,” Bates said with a chuckle. “I’m hoping the mosquitoes don’t fly that high.”

The teacher didn’t bring a tent along but was prepared to bed down with a pillow and blanket and lots of mosquito repellent.

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