VILONIA — The recipient of the state AdvancEd AR Excellence in Education Award, Ed Sellers of the Vilonia School District, has worked in his career field for 43 years serving in several capacities and on many committees and boards.
"I am humbled by this," Sellers said regarding the title and award that was formally presented to him Thursday at the AdvancED Arkansas Fall Training Conference at the Double Tree Hotel in Little Rock.
When asked about his thoughts regarding the honor being bestowed on him, Sellers said, "It’s probably a culmination of a lot of years. I have held a lot of committee and board roles in state education. When you have been around as long as I have, people know who you are and they know what you are about. I think it is just complimentary of their respect for me."
Sellers, assistant superintendent/athletic director, has worked for the Vilonia School District for about 40 years. Of that, he served as principal for the "entire school district" his first couple of years. As the district grew, the structure changed and Sellers became principal at the high school and stayed in that position for about 38 years. His current position is a relative new one that he began a year or so ago. This work, he said, is more about administrative responsibilities rather than one-on-one with students.
While he enjoys it, he said, he misses the daily interaction with the students. That relationship, he said, has always been an important aspect of his career field. His career, he said, has always been more about lifestyle rather than a job. All educators, he said, need to "love young people and want to help them" and the good ones do.
Sellers was born and raised in Vilonia. He graduated from VHS in 1964. A "farm kid," he was the first person in his family to go to college. His father, Adolph Sellers, was a carpenter and his mother, Ulma, was a stay-at-home mother.
"If I had become a carpenter, like my father, I would probably have been rich," he said, jokingly.
Instead, he has invested in young folks and watching them grow up to be "quality adults."
He made the decision in high school to go into education. His inspiration, he said, was his teachers or at least three of them.
"I had a coach that cared about me," he said. "I had an agri teacher that pushed me to do my best and I had an English teacher, although I wasn’t the best student, which believed in me."
Out of college, Seller’s first teaching job was at Marianna where he stayed about three years. There, he taught agriculture, science and coached basketball. He was offered a principal’s job but didn’t take it. Yet, he accepted some words of encouragement from one of his co-workers and began to further his education and has earned a master’s in educational administration among other certifications.
Modestly speaking, he said, he believes that he has made a difference in the lives of some students. For instance, he encouraged a student to take agriculture classes. That student now owns a seed company and is on a board of directors for a college.
"A success story—that makes me happy," he said.
Phone calls, handshakes and thank-yous from his former students also appear to be high marks on his personal measure of success.
Some of his former students are now his peers and work alongside him in the Vilonia district. One, he said, called him a few days ago and teasingly wanted "to bounce something off an old person," regarding an issue. Sellers accepted it as a compliment and offered an ear.
"I feel very blessed to have worked so long at Vilonia, with some quality individuals," he concluded. "I walk in and I see students that I was principal to their mothers as well as to some of their grandparents. I guess that means I’m getting old."