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Warm welcome for Jackson
Area residents greet county's superintendent
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Henry County School Superintendent Anthony Jackson stops to talk with 6-year-old Isaiah Johnson, son of Michelle Johnson of Martinsville, during a reception held Monday for Jackson at Moral Hill Missionary Baptist Church. Jackson has been on the job just over a month. (Bulletin photos by Mike Wray)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Anthony Jackson knows people have high expectations for him as the new Henry County schools superintendent, but he also has high expectations for county residents.

Jackson wants not only students and parents to be involved in the schools, but also the entire community. For instance, adults who are not parents can visit a classroom and read a book to students, or they can stop by a school, eat lunch with students and encourage them to do their best, he said.

"Be role models for students," he emphasized during a reception held in his honor Monday night at Moral Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Axton.

Kristal Gravely, a rising junior at Magna Vista High School near Ridgeway, said she agrees with Jackson's expectations and likes his ambition.

"I think he'll do an excellent job" as superintendent, said Gravely, daughter of Walter and Judy Gravely.

The reception was sponsored by Moral Hill along with the Sportsmen's Club, NAACP, Men's Roundtable and Fayette Area Historical Initiative. About 100 people from around the county and Martinsville attended.

Moral Hill's pastor, the Rev. Thurman Echols Jr., recalled that when he heard about Jackson being hired, he thought it would be nice for the church to do something to welcome the new superintendent to the community.

"I'm tickled," said Jackson. "It says an awful lot about the community that you would take the time" to plan such an event, instead of just saying hello when coming into contact with him on the street.

Tiffinay Martin, an assistant principal at Bassett High School and a Moral Hill member, said Jackson "has placed tremendous emphasis on communication" with the community about needs and happenings in the schools.

"I promise to continue to be" open and available to people, Jackson said. "It's the right thing to do."�

Jackson, 44, became the county's schools superintendent effective July 1. He previously was executive director of K-12 curriculum and instruction and director of secondary education for the Spotsylvania County Schools.

Curtis Millner, Iriswood District representative on the Henry County School Board, noted that Jackson's first job in education was as a teacher's aide.

Jackson replaces former superintendent Sharon Dodson, who chose not to seek renewal of her contract.

A native of Washington, D.C., Jackson 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 candidate for a doctoral degree from Walden University with a major in educational leadership.

"Maybe we can have a party again" when he receives his doctorate, said Paula Burnette, who represents the Iriswood District on the Henry County Board of Supervisors.

County school board Chairman Kathy Rogers said hiring a superintendent is the most important job of any school board because it "sets the tone" as to how the school system operates.

Rogers said that during the board's recent search for a superintendent, she feared there would be dissension among board members over who should be hired. But in examining the qualifications of applicants, "one name kept rising to the top," she said, and all board members showed support for Jackson.

Jackson said he thinks the county schools' biggest challenge this fiscal year will be "managing resources" in tough financial times. Prudence is necessary to deal with budget shortfalls, he said.

The Rev. Tyler Millner, pastor of Morning Star Holy Church in Axton, called Jackson "a wonderful, dynamic educator."�

Alluding to the fact that Jackson is the county's first black superintendent, Tyler Millner called his hiring "a historic moment in our community."�

He presented Jackson a large gift basket full of items representing the area and its institutions.

One of those items was a Martinsville High School "Bulldogs" T-shirt. While MHS is not a county school, Jackson seemed delighted to receive the shirt.

Clarence Simington, dean of students at Albert Harris Elementary School in Martinsville, said he hopes the county and city schools can work together on projects in the future.


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