‘Celebrate what we’ve accomplished,’ says Curtis Jones
Bibb County schools Superintendent Curtis Jones was honored Thursday with the title of National Superintendent of the Year.
The announcement was made at the National Conference on Education in Los Angeles. Jones was among four finalists for the honor.
“When I was named Georgia Superintendent of the Year, my heart was beating so fast,” Jones told The Telegraph by phone late Thursday. “Today, it was probably beating twice as fast. I just feel excitement. I feel proud of the work that we’re doing. ... I’m so thankful that the recognition was made so people can see we’re doing some great things and it’s being recognized. It’s not us saying it’s happening, it’s people who don’t know us who are just looking at the work.”
In addition to a blue blazer, the title comes with $10,000 to be granted to a student of the winner’s alma mater or to a student at a high school in his present district.
Jones said he plans to be back at work Tuesday, “because it’s just like a Super Bowl, the very next day you start preparing for the next season.”
“We’re going to keep working hard, but we will take time to celebrate and recognize the other achievements happening within the district,” he said.
In addressing an applauding crowd from the stage, Jones said, “The truth is I wouldn’t be here if it was not for the hard work of our teachers, our students, our parents. ... This recognition is not about me, it’s about the hard work they put in place.”
Jones, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who lives in Griffin, started working for Bibb County schools in April 2015. He was named Georgia School Superintendent of the Year in December by the Georgia School Superintendents Association.
Jones began his career in education as a Junior ROTC instructor for Griffin-Spalding County schools before becoming a high school principal and later assistant superintendent there. He earned a doctorate degree in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University.
Jones aims to increase the county’s graduation rate, which is currently at 78.5 percent, to 90 percent by 2025. He also has made reading at grade level one of the district’s main priorities.
At the award ceremony, which fell on Valentine’s Day, Jones also gave a shout out to his wife, Evelyn, a retired elementary school principal.
“I never would have made it without any of you,” he said.
The other three finalists, whom Jones said he has befriended, included Brian Woods of Northside Independent School District in Texas, Mary Ann Ranells of West Ada Joint School District 2 in Idaho and Jeff Butts of the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township in Indiana.
“We’re just going to keep working hard,” Jones said. “Because, you know what, it’s still not enough. That’s what we’re going to do.”