PITTSBORO — Six months after former superintendent Derrick Jordan announced his departure, the Chatham County Schools Board of Education unanimously selected Anthony Jackson, superintendent from Vance County Schools in Henderson, as the new CCS superintendent. He will start July 6.
Announced at a special meeting on Thursday, the decision comes five months after the school board officially began advertising for the position; two after the deadline for superintendent applications.
“First of all I want to say I am absolutely humbled and glad to be here. Let's get it out of the way: I do love children,” Jackson said after his contract was approved by the board. “And so anything I can do to help move that ball forward for children I want to do well. And so I thank the board for this opportunity, I thank you for the opportunity and the trust you’ve placed in me to come and share in this journey.”
Jackson thanked his parents for their support of his career and dreams, along with his wife, Tawannah Allen-Jackson, a professor of educational leadership at High Point University. He also thanked teachers for their hard work, particularly during the past year.
“I come as a willing worker with my hands ready to dig in and do the work with you, my sleeves will be rolled up with yours,” he said. “And we will do what's right for children every single day.”
An educator for more than 30 years, Jackson was recognized as the North Carolina Superintendent of the Year in 2020. He served as superintendent of Vance County Schools since 2015. Under his leadership, WRAL reported in 2019 that the school system's graduation rate had increased dramatically, and the dropout rate had fallen to 2.02% from a five-year high of 5.25%. Before that, Jackson was the leader of Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools for four years and at the Henry County Public School System for three.
He has a Bachelor of Science degree from East Carolina University, a master's degree from N.C. Central University and a doctorate degree in education from Walden University in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“This is an exciting day,” board member David Hamm said at Thursday’s meeting. “Dr. Jordan led us and took us to new heights and has laid a foundation, and Dr. Jackson is going to take us to even greater heights — and we look forward to that.”
After 12 years in Chatham — nearly eight of those as the superintendent — Jordan joined N.C. Superintendent Catherine Truitt at the Dept. of Public Instruction in January. He was replaced by Randy Bridges, a long-time educator and superintendent, who was hired to serve in an interim role until the board found a permanent superintendent.
The district said it received 45 applications for the position, submitted across 18 states and U.S. territories.
According to district survey results — 464 from community members and 133 from staff — CCS stakeholders wanted a new superintendent who would provide safe environments for students and staff, communicate with people across race and socioeconomic lines, has strong people skills and can work collaboratively to help children learn.
At their March 22 meeting, board members echoed those priorities, and Chairperson Gary Leonard emphasized looking for a good communicator, team builder and educational leader.
“We’ve been fortunate,” Leonard said at that meeting. “We had a wonderful superintendent in Dr. Jordan so that’s a good role model, and of course we followed with Dr. Bridges and he’s been awfully good too.”
At the time, board members also emphasized a desire to find a visionary leader willing to take risks for the sake of education and innovation. Hamm said he’d like to see a superintendent with a vested interest in the community.
“We want a superintendent that’s going to be out there. Beyond what the survey says, a real people person that lives and connects with the community,” Hamm said. “It’s going to take a very special person to do that and so that’s one angle I’m looking at as we review applications… I’m looking for a person that’s going to live and breathe and be part of us for a long time.”
Jackson emphasized a commitment to the community in his concluding remarks.
“I would say to you that as we move forward, I want to assure you I am coming first as a learner and then as a leader,” he said. “... If we believe we can do it, that'll be my purpose, my push, my promise to you that we will work hard for children every day, that we’ll work together, that we’ll help this community deliver on the promise of educating all children to the highest level.”
Additional opportunities to “meet and welcome” Jackson will be announced at a later date, the district said.
Reporter Hannah McClellan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @HannerMcClellan.
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