Stiles, 38, was signed by the school board to a three-year contract as superintendent at an annual salary of $130,000.
Stiles saw an opportunity when former Superintendent Dr. Robert Steeber accepted a position with Region XI Education Service Center and the Athens position came open.
“This (serving as a school district superintendent) is something I’ve wanted to go into for a long time,” Stiles said. “Having the opportunity to do it in Athens was the perfect scenario to move right in and make that jump into the superintendency.”
Stiles served as assistant superintendent a little over a year, supervising principals and district directors and assisting the superintendent.
“This is a great district. My family loves it here. I have two children in school and my wife teaches here,” Stiles said.
“I’m very excited about being superintendent. I enjoy being in a small town. I think Athens is a great place. I really like it and my family really likes it. I’m glad to have the opportunity and hope to be here for awhile.”
Becoming superintendent in Athens was appealing, he said, because the district has strong teachers, a strong administrative leadership team and a diverse student population.
Stiles added, “I think we have great kids here. We’re very diverse. We have excelled and gotten better in academics, athletics and other extracurricular activities. We have a lot to offer kids here.”
The diversity of the student body is one of the district’s biggest strengths, Stiles said. The largest group of students is white, the fastest growing group is Hispanics and the smallest group is African-American pupils.
As the district hires new instructional staff, Stiles would like for the district to hire more diverse teaching staff that reflects the diversity of the student population.
Some facilities have been upgraded, but other facilities are going to need more work as the buildings age, Stiles said. “The fact that the school board has made a commitment to upgrading our facilities is a strength as well.”
One of the biggest challenges facing the district is meeting rigid mandates for Adequate Yearly Progress set by the federal government, Stiles said. To meet the federal standard, 93 percent of every student group will have to pass state exams next school year, he said. “That’s a good goal, but that’s a very difficult goal for every group to make it,” Stiles added.
“Since we are at stage 2 of Adequate Yearly Progress, that has to be our primary focus,” Stiles said. “We want to make progress we need to make in every area and get off that list.”
“Our first need is to improve (in meeting) accountability standards. We need to get better (in) Adequate Yearly Progress federal requirements and we need to get high state ratings for state testing purposes as well.”
The district as a whole was listed as acceptable in the last state accountability ratings.
The district implemented a new curriculum recently and will need to get better with teaching it and evaluate some of its other instructional programs also, Stiles said.
When asked his greatest satisfaction about being an educator, Stiles said, “When you get to be around students and seeing them succeed and seeing them move on and be successful in life gives you a feeling that what I did today at work was worthwhile.”
Stiles became interested in education growing up in Quinton, Okla., because his mother was a principal’s secretary, and he spent a lot of extra time at school and looked up to his principal, coaches and teachers.
Stiles was high school principal in Howe near Sherman six years and assistant principal in Howe for two years.
Before going into administration, He was a social studies teacher and coached at three high schools.
Stiles earned a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., a master’s degree from the University of Houston and a superintendent’s certificate from The University of Texas at Tyler. He is working on a doctorate in educational administration at Texas A&M University at Commerce.