By JULIE ALPAUGH – Staff Writer
By AMELIA DELAMATER – Staff Writer
On Feb. 3, former Clarke Central High School principal Dr. Jim Willis returned to campus to visit and reflect on his time here.
Willis’ career was influenced by his childhood.
“I grew up in Macon, Ga. (I was the) seventh of nine children. (There were) five boys and four girls,” Willis said. “When I grew up we used to play step school, one of my fondest memories is when I entered first grade and I already knew how to read and write and do some arithmetic because I had step school,” Willis said.
After he completed college and received his Bachelors degree in psychology and sociology, Willis joined the United States Army.
“I became an educator when I got out of the army. I had a college degree and this was in 1969 when there was something called the Vietnam War going on and so I joined just to keep from being drafted and put in the marines,” Willis said. “ And when I got out, I said, ‘How can I give back to the world?’ and everybody was telling me I’d be a great teacher, so I became a teacher.”
Prior to CCHS Willis had worked as a middle school science teacher and both an elementary and middle school principal. Willis moved to CCHS in the beginning of the 1984-85 school year.
“Then I had an opportunity to come up here as the associate principal (at CCHS), for the curriculum. So I decided, ‘Yeah I’ll make that move’,” Willis said.
Although Willis came to CCHS as an associate principal, he soon found his duties expanded beyond being in charge of curriculum.
“When I first came here I was in charge of all of the curriculum. Anything from textbook selections to evaluating teachers. Pretty much anything dealing with instruction. But I also dealt with discipline,” Willis said. “And so once I became principal, I dealt with everything.”
Willis believes he learned even more about education when he became a superintendent for the next 14 years until he retired in 2010.
“Being a superintendent (gives) you a broader view of what education is all about,” Willis said. “It taught me was the importance of a superintendent in the board of education, being a team and having a team vision.”
Willis now is spending his time relaxing, painting and reading.
“Now I sit on my deck look out at the geese in that v, looping around and landing in my pond,” Willis said.