The West Orange-Cove Board of Trustees voted unanimously Monday to appoint Bill Conway, Lorena Oates Elementary School principal, as interim superintendent.

He succeeds O. Taylor Collins, who leaves Orange after five years to become executive director of Red Bird Mission in Beverly, Ky.

Conway has 42 years in education and has worked in the West Orange-Cove, Silsbee, Kountze and Beaumont school districts.

He has served as a school principal for the past 31 years, leading Pre-K through 12h-grade campuses. He has been Oates principal for two years.

Pete Amy, trustee board president, “Mr. Conway, with his years of experience, will be a great asset for WO-CCISD.  With the support of the board, I believe that Mr. Conway will be able to meet the challenges that are ahead with the many projects that are in place while continuing to place an emphasis on improving our test scores.

“With the completion of the new elementary school and the new addition at the middle school, there will have to be much planning to take place in order to have a smooth orderly move into the new additions.  I look forward to working with Mr. Conway during this interim period while we begin the search for a new superintendent.”

Conway has served 11 years on Texas School Improvement Initiative Accreditation Teams. He is a five-year member of the Silsbee ISD Board of Trustees and is beginning his sixth year as a board member.

He and his wife Lynda Kay have four children and nine grandchildren. Conway assumed his interim superintendent responsibilities Tuesday.

In a release, Collins said, “Leaving West Orange-Cove is difficult for me. This experience is the capstone in my career thus far. This district has a wonderful board of trustees and Orange is a great city in which to live. However, I feel that I must heed the call to service in my church. Red Bird Mission is the largest project of the Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church in the United States. I look forward to serving the people of Appalachia.”

Collins’ tenure saw the passage of a $47.5 million bond issue which provided for the construction of West Orange-Stark Elementary School in Pinehurst. The kindergarten through fifth grade campus will open in the fall.

 The bond passage also allowed the district to make additions and renovations to the high school and middle school.

Other district achievements during Collins’ tenure include creation of elementary and middle school foreign language programs, creation of an elementary band program, placement of a digital security camera system within district campuses, the creation of the WO-CCISD Education Foundation, establishment of a Universal Pre-kindergarten program; and designation of WO-CCISD by the Texas Educational Excellence Project as one of the best schools in the state of Texas for African-American students.

Collins also led the district’s recovery in the aftermaths of hurricanes Rita and Ike. He was recognized as an Outstanding Communicator by the National School Public Relations Association and has been a vocal state and national advocate of educating parents and students on the dangers and consequences of “sexting.”