CCHS principal resignsBy Emily Beckett Published 6:38pm Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Chilton County High School has seen hundreds of students graduate and start a new chapter in their lives after four years of hard work, preparation and achievement.
CCHS Principal Greg DeJarnett has been a part of at least five of the school’s graduations, one of which was his own in 1989.
For the second time, DeJarnett will bid farewell to his alma mater after four years as he ends his chapter as principal and begins a new chapter with the Alabama State Department of Education in the next two weeks.
DeJarnett said the decision to leave the Chilton County School System was bittersweet considering he has worked in it for 19 years in different capacities.
“Within those 19 years, I’ve had the privilege to serve as a teacher, coach, bus driver, assistant principal, central office supervisor, superintendent runner-up and high school principal,” DeJarnett said. “It really took a lot of thought and prayer to make that decision to leave this school system after almost 20 years of service.”
As CCHS principal, DeJarnett has been instrumental in numerous changes at the school, including financial accountability, Child Nutrition Program enrollment, test score improvements and the overall campus environment.
When DeJarnett arrived at CCHS in 2008, the school’s general fund account balance was minus-$500. The current balance is about $35,000.
“He’s been a great person to work for,” CCHS bookkeeper Tammy Griffin said. “I hate to see him go, but I think everyone here wishes him the best of luck.”
DeJarnett also helped increase the number of students receiving meals through the Child Nutrition Program, and CCHS made AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) this year.
“The thing that I’m most proud of is just knowing that I had a small part to play in helping students seize the opportunities that life has to offer,” he said. “The only way that they could seize those opportunities is being disciplined and focused on their goal.”
DeJarnett was responsible for hiring an assistant principal, secretary, senior class sponsor, lunchroom manager and assistant manager, head football coach, head volleyball coach, two head basketball coaches and a baseball coach.
“I tried to hire coaches that instill the values that I look for in a person, but who also would make being a part of that program a positive life experience,” DeJarnett said. “My whole thing was to raise the standard of behavior, raise the standard of respect and build a team of ‘we’ and tear down the selfishness or ‘I’ and ‘my.’ Today, I’m proud to say that our faculty and staff and student body have trusted my vision of that, and the school climate is in a healthy place.”
According to CCHS lunchroom supervisor Annie Roberts, DeJarnett had a calming influence on campus and kept an open-door policy with co-workers and students.
“The whole school atmosphere is different,” said Roberts, who has worked at CCHS for nearly 15 years. “He passes out hugs, and if he doesn’t, we’re looking for them. We’re just going to miss him.”
DeJarnett expressed gratitude to all who have supported him in his career and leadership positions ever since he started working at Isabella at the age of 25.
“As a leader, my goal was not to strive to be popular at all costs,” he said. “My goal was to please God.”
In his new position with ALSDE, DeJarnett will focus on the discipline component of school systems through Response to Instruction, or RTI.
He will work mainly with school systems that have high suspension and expulsion rates to try to lower those rates through positive behavior support.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to grow as a professional and to meet new people and to lend a hand to try to help other administrators around the state,” DeJarnett said.
He and his wife, Jackie, will continue to live in Clanton. He will serve another term on the Clanton City Council, as well as continue his roles as a father, a church minister and a barber on the weekends.
“I’m going to miss my students,” DeJarnett said. “It is a hard but rewarding job, and you definitely have to have good people working with you to get the job done successfully. I wish nothing but the best for the next principal that takes my place, and I certainly wish the best for Chilton County High.”