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Demopolis’ Jackson kicks off Day 2 interviews with Linden BOE

Clarence Jackson, principal of Demopolis Middle School

Why do you want to be Superintendent of Linden City Schools?

It’s in my heart. I prayed about it before I applied. I’ve got a vast interest in the kids in Marengo County. It’s a love for the kids here. I’ve actually had some offers from some other places but Marengo has become my home.

What are the most important functions of superintendent?

Overseeing the overall program of the school system. Everything inclusive from monitoring the schools, dealing with the community and accepting responsibilities for what’s going on in the school system.

How would you keep the BOE informed?

Through regular board meetings, called meetings, phone calls, e-mails…I believe it is important to advertise what we’re doing and the direction we’re going in.

How would you resolve conflict with the BOE?

That’s life. I think there would be something wrong if the board agreed with everything I said. I think the superintendent’s focus should be on what’s best for the kids. Depending on the board’s attitude, maybe it’s something I neglected to show to the board.

If the budget was prorated by 10 percent how would you recommend budget cuts be made?

You would have to look at the finances and see what cuts can be made. Everything is student-centered. I would make a proposal to the board and have research behind that as to why we needed to make that cut.

What are important elements for innovative programs?

You need innovative staff. You need an innovative superintendent and the support of the board. Anything you do that’s going to advance our kids…and get the parents involved, this whole system would move.

What curriculum trends have merit?

I’m convinced that…we’re moving into another age: A curriculum full of technology. Probably 90 percent of our kids know how to text. I believe the curriculum can be advanced through technology. There are so many grants out there where you get freebies. For example, Kid’s College. I’ve applied for that grant for the past four years and I’ve got it every year.

(Kid’s College is a computer-based game that is aligned with the Alabama Teaching Curriculum).

They’re playing games, but to continue playing they have to correctly answer questions.

What changes have you made in your present position?

I’ve run every schedule that you can run to find out what’s best for our kids. The last one I did was block scheduling, which was new to Demopolis. In a seven period day, you don’t have 50 minutes of instruction…You may have a good 40 minutes. I wanted our kids to be able to have more time with that teacher…We did that and our test scores shot up. Then they went up the next year.

What attributes do you look for in a good teacher?

Number one: Caring. You actually know when teachers care about kids.

How would you stimulate professional growth in teachers?

You wouldn’t have a choice. That’s part of being a teacher: Working with administrators and directing a plan of action. The one thing I’d look at is what the data says about Linden City Schools.

How do you handle complaints from principals and parents about a teacher’s performance?

Every school system has a board policy. As superintendent, I would stay with that policy as much as possible. You never turn a parent down, but you can direct them in the direction they should go. Many times, a parent may have a problem with a teacher and hasn’t said anything to the principal.

What is your greatest administrative strength?

Consistency. I believe in being fair. Whatever you do for one, you do for all. In our school, my wife works there but you wouldn’t know it. The rules apply to all. We’re all in this business to educate kids.

What is your greatest weakness?

I don’t know if you call this a weakness but I go to the classroom…I’m not a math teacher so maybe lack of knowledge in that area could be seen as a weakness, but test results will show the effectiveness of the teacher.

What is your most outstanding contribution?

Kids being turned around. My attitude of being consistent…I have people coming from all around Marengo who want to get into Demopolis Middle School. One thing I am a stickler on is that I want safe schools. There is no place in the school for a bully. Students want to come here because it’s safe.

The current superintendent of education also serves as principal of Linden Elementary School. Would you be willing to serve in that capacity, also?

I knew coming in that Mr. Collier did that, and when I sent that resume in I was willing to do whatever.

Could you be released room your current contract?

Yes.

Would you be willing to move to Linden?

Yes. Actually, I have two lots and I’ve always wanted to live out in the woods. I intend to move this way anyway.