Monday, June 17, 2013

TOP STORY >> Search for new JHS principal

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville High School Principal Henry Anderson is leaving the troubled Pulaski County Special School District to serve as principal at McClellan High School in Little Rock.

When he was hired in 2011, Anderson was the fourth principal at JHS in about two years.
His base salary at the Little Rock high school will be $101,820.

Anderson said, “(McClellan is) yet another challenge... (JHS students) are the greatest group of students I have ever come into contact with and have so much potential. I would encourage them to go for everything they can have.”

PCSSD spokeswoman Deborah Roush said Anderson has not turned in an official resignation. The search for his replacement has not kicked off yet.

She noted, “With the (school improvement grant) there, we’ll be looking for a highly qualified principal.”

Before Anderson was hired, the high school received a $5.7 million improvement grant from the state Education Department for ranking in the bottom 5 percent in the state.

The news of Anderson’s departure comes on the heels of Jacksonville Middle School Principal Don Booth and Assistant Principal Sharon Hawk being suspended with pay last week for personnel issues unrelated to criminal activity and students.

Booth has resigned for personal reasons unrelated to the suspension, Roush said. The Hawk investigation is ongoing.

Anderson said, “In two years, we made dramatic changes to the culture. I think the shifting culture has been largely due to support of people like Mayor Fletcher, who has been phenomenal, local churches, local businesses and just our city as a whole.”

After just one year of his leadership, test scores and graduation rates rose.

Math and literacy scores increased by 9 percent and only 14 of 166 seniors failed to earn diplomas in 2012, compared to previous graduation rates of a little more than 50 percent.

With the school improvement grant money, students were given computers in labs and classrooms and several iPads. There is now campus-wide wireless Internet, Promethian interactive whiteboards, a parent/community liaison, credit recovery, concurrent enrollment with Arkansas State University-Beebe and more.

Nine JHS students celebrated in January the end of their first college semester through the concurrent enrollment program with ASU-Beebe.

Anderson held several community meetings to talk about what needed to be done at the school. He also formed a principal’s cabinet to give some of the school’s brightest students a voice in what improvements they wanted to see at JHS.

Anderson encouraged teachers to seek out professional development opportunities and told them to teach or leave the school.

He said, “I have the opportunity to make (the same) changes (at McClellan).” McClellan High School’s enrollment of 864 is larger than that of JHS, which was 775 as of May 31.

While Anderson was principal, the district remodeled the media center and the entrance of the high school, which was built in 1968. The school also held several “For the Love of the Arts” events to showcase talented student artists, singers and musicians.

Anderson left his position as Crossett High School principal to take the Jacksonville post.
He started his career with PCSSD, teaching English and Spanish at Fuller Middle School. Anderson then went to work with the technology department and was responsible for most of the Jacksonville schools.

He also worked as an assistant principal at Wilbur D. Mills University Studies High School and served as a department chair at the Arkansas School for Math, Sciences and the Arts in Hot Springs.

Anderson was hired as Crossett High’s principal in the late spring of 2009.

He grew up in the Little Rock area and relocated to Georgia after joining the Army Reserves and serving in Central America and Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

Anderson has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He also has an education-specialist degree in educational leadership.