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After graduating from Alabama State University (ASU), Marlon Firle returned home to Collins, Mississippi, to find a job. When he asked the principal at his former high school about a teaching position, he was told he’d never be hired.
That initial rejection and others motivated the Nappie winner for Best Mobile County Public School Principal to do the best job he could as the leader of Mary G. Montgomery High School.
“Numerous times, I was told I couldn’t do something, but I use it as motivation,” Firle said.
Coming from a family of educators, including having a father who was an administrator, Firle said the award just means he’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing.
“To me, it’s a fulfillment of what I was meant to do,” he said. “For me, it means I’m fulfilling my purpose.”
They might be cliché, but Firle said he enthusiastically believes in the idioms “there’s no ‘I’ in team’’ and “teamwork makes the dream work.” He credits those creeds for helping him have a successful career in education that has spanned several locations over two decades.
“I want to establish a positive relationship with everyone on campus,” he said. “I’m not above anyone or anything on campus. It’s not about me; it’s about we.”
Even as a high school administrator, Firle believes in educating the whole student and focusing on social and emotional behaviors.
Despite his father spending 31 years as a school administrator, Firle wanted to study engineering at ASU. However, he shifted his thinking because the Montgomery college was known as a teacher school. After graduating and being rejected from a job at his former high school, Firle landed a science teaching gig with Daleville City Schools. He later became the vice principal at Williamson High School for five years and moved on to be principal at B.C. Rain High School for a decade.
He will be starting his fifth year at MGM this fall.
Like many educators, Firle said he recognized the struggle for students during the COVID-19 pandemic and believed Mobile County Public School System Superintendent Chresal Threadgill showed strong leadership and made some tough decisions during the 2020-21 school year. Firle said he also learned some lessons.
“I learned we need to provide support for teachers and students,” he said. “There are always certain things going on in the lives of students and teachers that we may not know about.”
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