Dr. John Jackson has announced plans to retire as of June 30. He has agreed to stay on as long as needed as a search begins for a replacement. He calls the Floyd position “the capstone experience of my career.”
In a letter to the board, said he promised the board a three-year commitment “and I am closing in on that time and plan to retire on June 30, 2018.” He added: ” I believe that God led me here and provided me this opportunity and I give Him praise and honor for it all.”
He concludes: “The school system is in great shape on may levels — academics, finances, current and planned facilities, extracurricular activities — due to your diligence and the collaboration of many people who are focused on our students’ well-being. And even our challenges have taught us valuable lessons.
The letter appears below:
Chip Hood, who chairs the school board, says members will meet at 8 a.m. Monday both as part of the school safety update and also to decide “which direction we want to go” in replacing Jackson. Said Hood of Jackson: “He’s the real deal. He cares about the system.”
Options are expected to include both internal and external candidates.
This will be the third time in six years the board has searched for a superintendent. In April 2012, then-Superintendent Lynn Plunkett announced plans to retire at the end of the year. Jeff McDaniel was hired as her replacement but was ousted in a 3-2 board vote in August 2015. As the search got under way, Jackson — a veteran educator with strong ties to the Rome City Schools system — was hired on an interim basis and later applied for the full-time spot.
Two years after taking the job on a full-time basis after serving as an interim appointee, Dr. John Jackson is retiring as superintendent of Floyd County Schools effective June 30.
Jackson, a veteran educator who came out of retirement at age 60 to replace Jeff McDaniel in the fall of 2015, has steered the school system through the backlash of much of the internal theft scandal, the passage of the latest education special tax in 2017, into a more tech-savvy environment for students and educators — and basically allowed the school system to heal.
The announcement came as part of a specially called meeting Tuesday morning. We expect a search to begin immediately for a replacement. Floyd has around 10,000 students and nearly 20 campuses and operation centers.
Below is a profile of Jackson written by Hometown’s Natalie Simms in February 2015:
Dr. John Jackson “hit the ground running” when joined the Floyd County Board of Education as interim superintendent last fall and he hasn’t slowed down since. He made such an impression that board members will be extending him a contract during their March 1 School Board meeting, making him the system’s next leader.
“I just have that sense of calling … I want to give back and help children reach their full potential,” says Jackson, who at 60 years old is coming out of retirement to head back to work full-time with the school system.
“Education was that spark, that opportunity, I needed to achieve. Education was very important in my life and has been my life’s work.”
Born and raised in Lake Charles, La., Jackson graduated from McNeese State University. He holds a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and specialist degree. He taught a number of years at public schools in Louisiana at both junior high and high school levels. In addition to his public school teaching, he also served as an adjunct professor at McNeese State.
“I had tried to get into administration in Louisiana but wasn’t having success finding an open position, so I thought I’d branch out,” he says. “I looked through a publication with administration jobs and found an opening for an assistant principal at East Rome High School. I had no idea where Rome was. I had never been to Georgia but I decided to put in my application.”
Jackson brought his family, including wife Carolyn and their two children, on a family vacation to Georgia for an interview.
“We visited Atlanta, visited the sights and also went to Chattanooga while we were here for my interview,” he says. “I didn’t get that job but I did get a call three weeks later from West Rome High School looking for some for a part-time assistant principal and part-time teacher position.”
Jackson was hired and moved his family to Rome. “I didn’t know a single soul,” he says. The family settled in an apartment until they could find a home.
He worked two years at West Rome before moving over to East Rome High as a full-time assistant principal for two years. Jackson then went back to West Rome for one year while the two schools were consolidating into one. He was then at Rome High as an assistant principal for one year before going to work at the Rome Board of Education as instruction and curriculum director for four years.
“I worked with Lucian Harris, who as the assistant superintendent at that time. He was my mentor and a great friend. He moved to become superintendent in Athens-Clarke County and gave me the opportunity to be Deputy Superintendent,” he says.
Jackson worked there for three years before moving to Greene County as assistant superintendent and later superintendent of that system for four years. He left there in 2005 to go to Oconee County where he served as assistant superintendent for three years and then superintendent for four years before retiring in 2012.
“I never really retired in the sense of no longer working. I collected a retirement benefit but I never really completely retired. I still worked different jobs including serving as the interim Rome Superintendent in 2014. Even now, I am still Coordinator for Leadership at the North Georgia College (and State University). I can do all my work remotely but since my job with Floyd County is full-time, I am now working to shed those responsibilities,” he says.
Once his contract with Floyd County is completed next month, he will be suspending his retirement benefits while working full-time.
Jackson says Rome feels like home. “It was the first place we have lived outside of Louisiana. Our children grew up here. We are still extremely close to friends and have bonds that will last a lifetime. We have roots here … I never really lost my connection with Rome.
“The Board and principals have been great to work with and it just felt natural to be here. I want to continue that work,” he says. “The school system is in very good condition. It’s not broken and all I want to do is enhance it and add to what’s already being done.”
Last year was a tough one for the board, with the continuing investigation into spending concerns within the maintenance department and the subsequent resignations of four employees and retirement of another. Not to mention the Reduction in Force that took place a few years ago, laying off dozens of employees.
“We’ve got to work to win the trust of the community. There have been lots of challenges. But we are going to keep doing the work day-by-day. You build trust by doing things right daily … it’s a process,” he says.
Jackson says his main goals will be working to improve the high school graduation rate, prepping kids for post-secondary education, working to improve Milestones test scores and improving some school buildings, especially in Pepperell and Armuchee districts.
“With our graduation rate at 90 percent, there is room for improvement, so that will be a central focus,” he says. “It is also so critical that when our kids graduate, they have the skills they need to work hard, be able to work in groups, arrive to work on time and be creative thinkers. They need to be ready for work, service or college.”
But overall, Jackson says everything really revolves around the teachers. There are several vacancies within the system and Jackson says he work to retain staff.
“We have to support those who teach and do whatever we can to attract and retain the best teachers we can. We definitely have a lot of great teachers in our classrooms and we need to make sure we retain them,” he says.