Longtime JCT principal retires; familiar face to take over

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James Walker (Photo: Submitted)

Congratulations…..


by KELI McALISTER, Jackson-Madison County School System

After almost three decades of dedicated service to students, James Shaw, principal of Jackson Careers and Technology Elementary School, has announced he will retire at the end of the current school year.  Filling this critical leadership role has been a top priority for Superintendent Eric Jones and the Jackson-Madison County School System leadership team.

After an extensive search and discussions with JCT faculty and staff, Dr. Jones is pleased to announce the hiring of James Walker Jr.  Walker is familiar to many in the District, having graduated from Jackson Central-Merry High School and having served as assistant principal at South Side High School from 2012 to 2014.  He then left the District to accept the principal position at Humboldt High School.

In his four years at Humboldt, Walker has raised the graduation rate from 68 percent to 90 percent.  He also committed to raising the ACT score and implemented a mandatory ACT prep class for juniors.  Humboldt High has since seen the overall composite score for its students increase by a little more than a point.  Walker credits his priority on changing the culture within the school as a major contributor to progressing toward these goals.

Walker has taught and coached at the high school and collegiate levels with experience in Tipton and Fayette counties, as well as Lambuth University, Morehouse College, Lane College and Springhill College.  He received his undergraduate from Morehouse, Master’s in Education from Union University and his Education Specialist degree from Freed-Hardeman University.

Along with graduating from JCM, the Jackson native attended Whitehall Elementary and Jackson Junior High, which sat on the same property as the current JCT.  “Jackson is my community.  It’s where my parents created so many opportunities for me,” Walker said.  “A lot of other people helped me, too.  I feel like it’s my duty to help our youth like others helped me.”

JCT is categorized as a priority school by the Tennessee Department of Education, placing it in the bottom 10 percent of schools in the state in regards to student performance.  Walker said he thrives in situations where change is wanted and looks forward to this opportunity.  “I am confident Mr. Walker is the right leader for JCT,” Jones said.  “He has a proven record of creating positive change and motivating students and his staff to succeed.”

Walker will officially start July 1.  However, he will begin visits to JCT and recruiting the most qualified teachers right away.

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