MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

January 13, 2014

Former school top exec returns home

Tom Stiles continues contributions as assistant superintendent

By Cathy Spaulding
Times Staff Writer

— When Fort Gibson resident Tom Stiles retired as Indian Capital Technology Center superintendent, he did not end his educational career.

“I retired from Indian Capital because I wanted to have some family time and do some traveling,” Stiles said of his departure last October. “But I still was interested in contributing something to education. I wanted to stay engaged in education.”

He has found such engagement in the very halls he left in June 2005.

Nearly nine years after resigning as Fort Gibson School Superintendent, Stiles, 65, is back as a part-time assistant superintendent. He began his new job earlier this month. He works 20 hours per week.

“This situation allows me to be engaged in education and allows family time also. It’s neat because I really like it here,” Stiles said. “Mr. Glover (the current superintendent) and the board asked me to do the lead on construction and bond projects. There is a lot there to be done so we can have them completed in a timely manner. I also assist with whatever is needed.”

Stiles was Fort Gibson superintendent for four years before going to ICTC in 2005. Students in this year’s senior class would have been in third or fourth grade when he left, he said.

“I’ve been at the high school so far,” Stiles said, adding that he plans to visit the Middle School, Intermediate Elementary and Early Learning Center as well.

“I want to visit with students, visit with staff, get reacquainted with those I know, get acquainted with those I don’t.”

Of course, the surroundings are familiar. So is the school atmosphere, he said.

“It’s still the high quality educational institution it was before,” he said. “Yet, there are new levels of excellence in the quest of 21st century learning.”

Stiles cited the district’s One-to-One digital learning program as an example. The program, instituted this school year, seeks to get each student from preschool through high school access to a laptop or tablet computer. Students also are encouraged to bring their own.

“It’s still in the developing stages, using technology in a blended approach,” he said.

Stiles said he also looks forward to working with current Fort Gibson superintendent Derald Glover.

“My hat’s off to Mr. Glover and what his administrative team, support workers and instructors are doing in preparing students for the 21st century. “He has continued to do a great job.”

Stiles helped introduce Glover to school administration about 14 years ago when they were at schools in Creek County.

“I was superintendent at Mannford and he was at Bristow,” Stiles said. “He’s always been a rising star and always been a people-oriented, service-minded individual.”

And yes, Stiles said. “He is my boss.”

“He’s a good man to model yourself after,” he said.

Glover said Stiles “is not only a great friend, but a great educator.”

“He gives a high level of professionalism to the school,” Glover said.

One thing Stiles will not say as assistant is “when I was superintendent here ....”

“That is not the way I operate or want to operate,” Stiles said. “I might offer a historical perspective, but this is 2014. We’re moving forward.”

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.