“… Always make every decision based on what is best for students.”
Dr. Janine Wilson began her career in education as a speech and hearing therapist in Lincoln County, TN. She then taught eighth grade Mathematics and only ten years later became principal of a K-8 (eventually K-9) school. Dr. Wilson joined the Fayetteville City School System in 1999 after being a principal for 12 years. “I started as a supervisor of instruction and became assistant superintendent,” she shared. “I have served as superintendent for five years.”
When asked to relate an important factor in wanting to strive for a leadership role, Dr. Wilson stated, “I feel that we need people who stand up for children and are not afraid to speak on their behalf. Leaders must do what is right; stand up and speak out. We must stand on and for professional values, ethical practice and quality research so that our children have the care and opportunity to learn and grow and meet their potential. If superintendents do not, who will?
Many exciting things occurred in the Fayetteville City Schools District this school year. Dr. Wilson was “proud to report that [the system] had the highest ACT scores in the South Central region. In addition, we had 100 % graduation rate and almost 3.5 million dollars in scholarships awarded to approximately eighty seniors.” Some of the things Dr. Wilson is looking forward to next year are Fayetteville’s “Project Lead the Way” engineering program [which] will be expanded to the middle school. We have received a grant for Gateway Engineering for 7th and 8th grades. The Project Lead the Way Program at Fayetteville High School in one of only five accredited programs in Tennessee.”
When Dr. Wilson visits the students in her district she likes reading to the younger children and talking with the older ones. She shared that, in fact, her favorite subjects when she was a student were reading and English. Her “passion for reading started at an early age …” When relaxing, she still likes to take time out to read as well as golf or work in her garden. Students are of the utmost importance to Dr. Wilson who spoke about learners that had improved, overcome, or had been an encouragement to her, stories that stayed with her:
I can think of a lot of stories about impoverished students who have overcome their home situations and have gone on to finish college and become productive citizens because teachers took special interest in them. One particular student comes to mind – he was from a very poor background and fathered a child when he was a junior. He was encouraged to continue to play football, graduated, received a scholarship, and is completing his sophomore year in college. The encouragement he received from teachers and coaches made this possible.
An interesting fact that most people wouldn’t know about Dr. Wilson, is that she has had multiple sclerosis since the age of thirty-one. However, God has given her the ability to keep going unlike many who have the disease. She is immensely grateful for such a blessing. Dr. Wilson is looking forward to the sunshine in summer and a chance to plan for next year. She would someday love to visit England, Ireland, and Scotland.
When asked a tip that would have been/would be beneficial as a new superintendent, Dr. Wilson advised to “surround yourself with competent, trustworthy professionals, and always make ever decision based on what is best for the students.