After the completion of the new Jackson County High School and Empower College and Career Center in 2021, another big change is in the works for 2022: the retirement of Superintendent April Howard.
Howard has served with the school system as superintendent for several years, and she said a lot has been accomplished since her first day in the role.
“Jackson County was in a very, very difficult situation, 2012, 2013 timeline. I had some real significant goals,” Howard said. “I wanted to get us back to a place that we were very financially stable. I wanted for us to be able to bring to the table an International Baccalaureate program, and to open a college and career center … a lot of those things that I really want to accomplish were done … I think it’s going to take the next iteration of leader now.”
Howard’s venture with the school system first began in 2000, where she started as a sixth-grade teacher at West Jackson Middle School. She said middle schoolers were always her favorite group to teach.
“I think it really was that they need adults and people who believe in them, probably more than anybody, because that’s the time in their lives that they are most unsettled,” Howard said. “I spent most of my career teaching eighth grade, and that was my favorite grade.”
After several years of teaching, Howard said she took the plunge into administration after being encouraged by a multitude of individuals.
“Once I did it, I did realize the impact of being able to help teachers, because ultimately those are the people who make the difference for kids,” Howard said. “It was a fit, and it just seemed to be the natural next step.”
Howard said her final day as superintendent is currently scheduled for June 30, 2022. While the Jackson County Board of Education has not named a successor for the role at the time of this article’s publication, Howard said she does have some advice for the next superintendent.
“I think the advice that I would give them is to make sure that they partner with the Board of Commissioners, and partner with the Planning Commissions,” Howard said. “Leading the schools is the core and the most important thing that that person will need to do … but in tandem with that, because we are such a growing community, to manage the growth and to be able to appropriately serve students in the future is going to take tremendous partnership.”