By Greg Ritchie
GRAPELAND – Grapeland Independent School District (GISD) has officially begun the search for a new superintendent after Don Jackson’s recent announcement he will be retiring sometime after the end of the current school year.
The Messenger was able to speak with Jackson as he traveled to Palestine for a conference on the four-day school week with other area superintendents hosted by Elkhart ISD Superintendent Dr. Lamont Smith.
The idea of a four-day week would involve extended school days, but with Mondays or Fridays off for students and teachers. Jackson said he understands from other districts the plan can cut down on absenteeism since every weekend would be a three-day weekend. This would allow children and teachers and their families to take short trips or engage in other activities without missing school. The longer break might also improve attitudes and energy levels given the longer break.
“We want to hear from the public and get their input,” Jackson said. “The most important thing is to weigh the ‘pros’ and ‘cons.’ It would be a pilot program so if it does not work for our district we can always cancel it and go back to our current system.”
There will be a public hearing on the matter Monday, Jan. 24 at 6 p.m. at Lorena Shoultz auditorium where the program will be presented and the public can ask questions and address any concerns they may have.
This project is one of the legacies Jackson hopes to leave the district after his departure. He said he is excited about the good things coming to the district and reiterated he is staying in Grapeland – not only as pastor of Grace Bible Church – but looking to play a role in education, something he is still passionate about.
GISD has called on Walsh, Gallegos, Treviño, Kyle and Robinson P.C. and Education Consultant Dr. Ann Dixon to help them in the search for a new superintendent, with both internal and external candidates encouraged to apply. The parameters for the job can be found at www.texasisd.com.
Jackson said there are many requirements for the job, but on a personal level, would advise the candidate have some specific people skills.
“Communication skills really are a key to being a successful superintendent,” Jackson said. “It always helped me to try to be a person who says what they mean and mean what they say. Not just hearing someone – but doing something about it. Actions always speak louder than words.”
Jackson said he knows how hard the job can be and wants whoever succeeds him to be a success. He said he will always be there to guide them or give them advice but only when called upon or needed. Jackson said he had no desire to co-exist with the new person.
Jackson said he will definitely be a part of the community, either in education or doing something else he can be passionate about. He told The Messenger it’s not always easy, but he goes in peace.
“A little rest will definitely be nice,” Jackson mused. “I have no animosity towards anyone. I love this community, this district, our board and all of our educators. I have had a great ride here but it is time for someone new to take us even further.”
Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]