Get to know National Superintendent of the Year Dr. Curtis L. Jones, Jr.
By Michaela Fuller
On February 14, Bibb County School District Superintendent Dr. Curtis L. Jones, Jr. was named the 2019 National Superintendent of the Year by the School Superintendents Association. A graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, Jones served in the United States Army and retired as a lieutenant colonel before beginning his educational career nearly 20 years ago. Jones earned his doctorate degree in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University before joining the Bibb County School District in 2015.
During his time with Bibb County Schools, Jones has aimed to increase the county’s graduation rate from 78.5 percent to 90 percent by 2025, and has made reading at grade level one of the district’s top priorities. In this quick Q&A, get to know Jones and his role in the Bibb County School District.
What is your vision for Bibb County Schools?
Our vision is that our students will demonstrate strength of character and will be college or career ready. What that looks like is our students learning to give back to the community, and performing community service because they see a need. It looks like students doing well in class, getting As and Bs, having confidence in how they solve problems and expressing themselves to others.
When you talk about Bibb County Schools to other school system leaders, what do you tell them?
Bibb County has been a great place to work! The Board of Education is working hard to be a quality board, and the community is a great partner. The Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce, the United Way of Central Georgia, the higher education institutions and the religious community have been great collaborative partners. We have issues to deal with, but the various foundations have found it in their hearts to be supportive of the school system.
In remarks to the media, you said that our school system is “doing the right work.” What is the right work?
The right work is building a culture of accountability. We are implementing our strategic plan that includes the right work of recruiting and retaining the right people, helping everyone grow from evaluations, working to be a reliable organization, increasing leader and teacher effectiveness, partnering with students and stakeholders, and increasing student achievement. At the school level, we are working to get students reading on grade level, increasing test scores, getting more students in school every day, and closing the adult knowing-doing gap.
You joined Bibb County Schools in 2015. What is one major difference now that wasn’t happening four years ago?
One major difference is in the mindset of many in the community. I think many had a mindset of learned hopelessness. The combined effects of poverty, crime and low perceptions of schools all led some to believe that “we can’t fix this.” Today, I think fewer people have that sense that we can’t get better. We have some strong community leaders who are working together to improve lives and the community. I think the school system is one area that has improved and gives hope that we are on a good path.