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New school superintendent praises 'tradition of excellence'
Anthony DeWayne Jackson (right) talks with (from left) Wendy Durham, principal of Drewry Mason Elementary School; Cherie Whitlow, physical education teacher at Collinsville Primary; and Sandy Gammons, principal of Collinsville Primary, shortly after Jackson was hired as the next Henry County School superintendent on Friday. Jackson met teachers, principals and others in the lobby of the County Administration Building following the school boardâ€™s unanimous vote to hire him. (Bulletin photos by Mike Wray)
The new superintendent of Henry County Schools said he will emphasize "shared decision-making" and "open and honest communication" when he assumes leadership of the division on July 1.
Anthony DeWayne Jackson, 44, was chosen to succeed the current superintendent, Sharon Dodson, Friday night in a unanimous vote by the Henry County School Board. About 60 people - mostly teachers and school officials - attended the special meeting at the county administration building.
Jackson currently is executive director of K-12 curriculum and instruction and director of secondary education for the Spotsylvania County Schools. Spotsylvania County is south of Fredericksburg.
A native of Washington, D.C., he has a bachelor's degree in music from East Carolina University and a master's degree in educational leadership from N.C. Central University. He is a doctoral candidate through Walden University with a major in educational leadership.
According to Jackson's contract, he will be paid a $125,000 salary, with an additional $5,000 added to his base salary once his doctorate is awarded. He also will receive a $700 monthly car allowance and a $10,000 annual payment into an annuity or deferred compensation plan.
Jackson praised the "strong tradition of rigor and excellence" in Henry County Schools. He said his goal is to harness the strengths already in the school division and "collectively move forward."�
"It's a great school system, and I believe we can move from great to greater," he said.
Jackson said one factor that encouraged him to seek the position was "even with challenging economic times, this school division has continued to perform and receive recognition from the state. I wanted to support that and be a part of that."�
In the coming months, Jackson said he plans to visit the schools and talk to school personnel, parents and community members "so we'll be able to hit the ground running in July, with some sense of connection to the community."�
"My vision will be based on the collaborative thoughts I receive during this process," he said.
Board Chairman Kathy Rogers said the school board is "very pleased" with Jackson's selection.
"We believe we selected the best possible leader for our schools," she said.
She noted Jackson has "held just about every job you can have in public education."�
He has worked as a bus driver and custodian as well as a principal at the elementary, middle and high school levels, associate superintendent and chief executive officer of a charter school, Rogers said.
"I see him being able to relate very well with everyone in the community, from the boardroom to the classroom," Rogers said.
Jackson's experience includes collaboratively developing a division-wide plan to address student performance in Spotsylvania County Schools. This resulted in 25 of 28 schools making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and 27 of 28 being fully accredited, as well as the division making AYP for the first time, according to a Henry County Schools release.
He also worked to improve SAT, math and reading scores at The Arts and Technology Academy in Washington, D.C., attracting attention from members of Congress and senior officials at the U.S. Department of Education, the release said.
Jackson's selection was "unanimous from the get-go," said Horsepasture District board member Terri Flanagan.
"He's excited; we're excited," Flanagan said. She called him "really a go-getter" and "very energetic."�
"I think he has a lot to bring to the table, and I hope he's going to take our school system to the next level," she said.
Board member-at-large Joseph DeVault praised Jackson's "way of working with all the stakeholders," including teachers, governing bodies and the community.
"His fresh approach is going to be a nice shot in the arm for this system," DeVault said.
Reed Creek District board member Betsy Mattox said what impressed her most was the feedback from Jackson's references.
"When we asked how the teachers and principals like him, they all said they do like him, and they respect him greatly," Mattox said.
"What struck me most was his experience and his enthusiasm in looking after the interests of children," said Ridgeway District board member Charles Speakman Jr.
Blackberry District board member Rudy Law called Jackson "a new asset in our community."�
Law said the superintendent search was "tough" because there were many outstanding candidates, but he added the board "worked together, and everybody contributed, which made for a very good selection."�
Iriswood District board member Curtis Millner Sr. said "one of the best choices we made" was involving the Virginia School Boards Association in the search. VSBA representatives met with the board to help narrow the pool of applicants.
"Also, we had the public's input, and we made sure that we stuck to that," Millner said.
Jackson's contract states he must establish residency in Henry County within three months of taking office, and he will be reimbursed up to $7,000 for "reasonable moving expenses."�
If his house in Richmond has not been sold by the time he moves, the contract allows him a $900 monthly temporary housing allowance through December or until the house sells, whichever comes first.
Jackson is director of music for Ebenezer Baptist Church in Richmond, and a member of the Bells for Peace Foundation and Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. He and his wife, Lori, have two children: Philip, a freshman at Old Dominion University, and Camille, a senior at Freeman High School.