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JHS principal retiring

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Jemison High School Principal Diane Calloway is retiring from Chilton County Schools effective July 1.

The Chilton County Board of Education approved the retirement during a meeting on April 21.

The meeting was streamed live through YouTube, and all board members were present, either in person or virtually.

Calloway has worked for Chilton County Schools for 25 years. She started as a teacher, and then worked as an assistant principal before being named the interim principal of Jemison High School in 2014. In 2015, she was named principal and has held the position ever since.

In a phone interview, Calloway said she began thinking about retirement about a year ago.

She made the final decision in order to spend more time with family, especially her parents and grandchildren.

“One of the greatest blessings of being in education is when your students graduate and come back to see you years later,” Calloway said. “You then get to see them as an adult. You find out the career they chose, and they share with you their personal information which many times includes a spouse and children. I feel very blessed to know I was a small part of their life.”

Calloway said she has also enjoyed helping parents and students work through any school-related issues that came up.

During her time at Jemison High, Calloway was glad to be a part of upgrades to the facility and technology. The school has enough Chromebooks for every student in each class to have one.

Calloway graduated from JHS, and she said going to work each day felt like coming home.

“I could not have had a better career,” Calloway said. “I think God led me and put me where I needed to be.”

Calloway was drawn to education because she had “always enjoyed being around younger kids and students, and I just felt drawn in that direction.” She previously had a job where she traveled a lot, and she saw education as an opportunity to work closer to home.

During the board meeting, the board also approved 13 other items under retirements, resignations and leave requests.

This included the retirements of Tiffany Gillespie (Jemison High), Daryl Lowery (JHS), Jon Davis (Jemison Intermediate), Jackie Parker (Isabella High), Cynthia Foshee (IHS), Pamela Baker (IHS), Betsy Mackin (Central Office) and Kelly Hayes (Jemison Elementary). Resignations included Kelcie Watkins, Caroline Rushing and Christopher Hare. Leave requests were approved for paraprofessional Robin Price and bus driver Raymond Davidson.

A lengthy executive session was held to discuss a matter of “good name and character” prior to any of the personnel votes.

A new hire that had been on the agenda was tabled to be considered at a later date. The vote to table the item passed 6 to 1. Board President Angie Sanderson, Vice President Pam Price and board members Brian Jackson, Chris Smith, Jaqueline Sullivan and Keith Moore voted in favor. Board member Lori Patterson voted against.

A job description for a technology specialist was unanimously approved at the recommendation of Superintendent Jason Griffin.

A list of employee contracts that will not be renewed for the next school year was also discussed. Price expressed concern that such a vote was taking place before the school system knew what its finding would be from the state. Griffin said that school system would receive enough to cover vacant positions through unit allocation from the state based on “preliminary numbers.” Sanderson, Moore, Smith and Patterson voted in favor. Sullivan and Jackson voted against. Price recused herself from the vote.

During a work session, Griffin also discussed funding for teachers at Verbena High School for next school year. Enrollment is anticipated to be higher than the number of students the state will use to base its funding of teacher positions for the schools. The board discussed that it may be able to apply for class size reduction funding to pay for the additional needed positions.

The annual meeting, where the public is welcome to speak the board, was moved to July 21 at 5:30 p.m.