New Bibb County Superintendent Curtis Jones made it very clear who his main influences are when it comes to education.
At a welcome ceremony Sunday afternoon at Central High School, Jones introduced the members of his family to more than 100 people in attendance -- each of whom has helped shape his approach of being a superintendent.
His mother-in-law, Mary Kendall, has worked as a school nutrition worker for two elementary schools and helped Jones look out for the needs of classified employees. His mother, Roberta, was a teacher for 31 years and later served as a Lamar County commissioner.
His wife, Evelyn, is a principal for a Title 1 elementary school and a teacher before that. His son, Curtison, Jones said, represents all of the students that Jones is serving.
“He’s the one I think about when it’s time to think about students,” Jones said. “We always say you want a teacher to teach your child. Curtison is the child I thought of whenever it came to teachers and/or administrators.”
Jones also introduced his niece, Kela, a teacher in the Griffin-Spalding school district who kept Jones grounded when he was the superintendent in that system and kept him informed of the view from the trenches. Her fiance, Michael Rucker, Jones said, works at the alternative school helping give students there a second chance.
Jones said that the school system “is going to come together.”
“What I submit to you is this,” he said. “From the board of education on down, you’re going to have leadership that you can believe in. From my administration, you’ll have leadership that you can believe in. From the principals and the schools, you’re going to have leadership that you can believe in. Because of that leadership, teachers and students will start believing in us.”
Jones said everybody in the system is a leader because they have the opportunity to influence students.
Jones credited former interim Superintendent Steve Smith, board member Wanda West and his pastor, Rev. Urseula T. Williams of Trinity C.M.E. Church as the three key people who led him to accept the Bibb County superintendent’s position.
Smith, who introduced Jones to the audience, said Sunday that he has known Jones for six years and that he was Smith’s personal pick for the superintendent’s position.
“I think he has a tremendous quality of leadership,” Smith said. “He’s a servant-oriented leader who has had a lot of different leadership experiences.”
Smith noted that Jones is a man of faith and a man who had 20 years of experience leading a diverse group of people while serving in the United States Army. After he retired from the service, Smith said Jones worked at virtually every level in education, starting out as a teacher and moving through the system as an administrator before finally becoming superintendent for Griffin-Spalding.
“I admire people who give of themselves and serve our country in that capacity (of education),” Smith said during his remarks.
Board of Education President Thelma Dillard told the audience that the long search to find a full-time superintendent turned out to be worth it.
“We looked long and hard to find the right superintendent for our school system,” she said. “We found him.”
State Rep. James Beverly, D-Macon, and Pat Topping, senior vice president of the Macon Economic Development Commission, also greeted Jones and his family to the community. A proclamation from Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert in honor of Jones was read during Sunday’s ceremony.
Jones, who has been in his new job for about two weeks, has already met with all of his principals and has visited five schools in the district.
His top priorities are getting the budget ready for the next fiscal year; working on board governance now that a new policy handbook has been approved; and closing out this academic year and getting ready for the upcoming school year.
The mood at Sunday’s event was positive, and some of the school system employees who also have children at schools in the district said they are eager to being working with Jones.
“I’ve heard so many positive things about Dr. Jones,” said Ben Bridges, the district’s director of fine arts. “I’m so excited to see strong leadership so we can move to the next step.”
“It’s what we’re all waiting for,” said Timeka Murphy, the principal’s secretary at Central. “It makes us more excited as parents to see the education we know we can offer. He’s a very pleasant person and I’m looking forward to great things for this county not just as a staff member, but as a parent.”
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.