Partial Transcript: I am Curtis Jones, superintendent of the Bibb County School System...
Segment Synopsis: Jones talks about how his parents' careers affected his upbringing. Jones recalls his experience in being one of the first black students to integrate into Sacred Heart Elementary. Jones relates his transition to Junior High School and talks about some of the friends he had growing up. Jones details the process of mandatory integration and his first days attending the newly integrated Griffin High School.
Keywords: Bibb County Public School District; Griffin High School; Sacred Heart Elementary School; Spaulding Junior High School; mandatory integration
Partial Transcript: So I will tell you what my thoughts are...
Segment Synopsis: Jones describes the differences between voluntary and mandatory integration, and his experience with both. Jones recalls how his mother helped him with the transition to attending a white school. Jones mentions how his experience at Griffin High School had an impact on his future career. Jones talks about his decision to run for president of the student body at his school, and how he built a following among the students for his campaign.
Keywords: Fairmount High School; Griffin High School; Griffin-Spaulding County; Sacred Heart Elementary; Virginia Ball; mandatory integration; voluntary integration
Partial Transcript: Athletics did that, and when...
Segment Synopsis: Jones talks about how his experience on Griffin High School's football team assisted him in gathering support for his student presidential campaign and also influenced his decision to go into the Army. Jones recalls how he came to attend West Point Military Academy. Jones mentions his friends in high school and how they impacted his high school experience.
Keywords: Air Force; Griffin High School; United States Military Academy West Point; military
Partial Transcript: Now, I'll tell you when there was competition...
Segment Synopsis: Jones recalls how the consolidation of the Griffin and Fairmount High School football teams spurred competition, as players from the historically black and white schools initially viewed each other as rivals. Jones talks about returning to Griffin, Georgia after graduating from West Point Military Academy and how he came to lead the ROTC branch at Griffin High School. Jones mentions how he became the first black principle of Griffin High.
Keywords: Fairmount High School; Griffin High School; Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC); competition; integration
Partial Transcript: So when I joined the staff in '97...
Segment Synopsis: Jones relates how he rose from the position of ROTC leader to the position of principal of Griffin High School in 2005 to finally the position of Griffin Spalding Superintendent. Jones shares how he was received by the white staff at Griffin High School. Jones adds how his experience attending Griffin High School eased his experience of transitioning into the role as principal.
Keywords: Griffin High School; Walter Pyron; William Walker
Partial Transcript: And the principal who was going...
Segment Synopsis: Jones talks about how opening Spalding High School proved to be a contentious subject for the employees of Griffin High School. Jones relates an experience he had with an angry mother who felt threatened by the majority African American administration of Griffin High School. Jones mentions how he dealt with a problem among staff concerning dress code.
Keywords: Griffin High School; Spalding High School; Todd McGee; Walter Pyron
Partial Transcript: So, in the military, I was an...
Segment Synopsis: Jones talks about his twenty year career in the military. Jones explains the process of merging the staff of Fairmount and Griffin High School. Jones emphasizes how creating separate schools for grades 6-8 assisted with the distribution of staff after mandatory integration. Jones shares how this integration method was also applied for the sports teams of Griffin High School.
Keywords: Albany State, Georgia; Fairmount High School; Fort Benning, Georgia; Fort Leavenworth; Germany; Griffin High School
Partial Transcript: Mom and Dad came from Texas...
Segment Synopsis: Jones talks about his upbringing and recalls his experiences visiting his grandparents. Jones talks about his family's history and his father's career in the army. Jones shares how his parents upheld their beliefs in the Civil Rights movement in their decision to allow him to integrate to Spalding Middle School. Jones relates some of the decisions he had to make as superintendent of the Griffin school system.
Keywords: Kiwanis Club of Griffin; Sacred Heart Elementary School; Texas; Trinity CME Church; University of Georgia
Partial Transcript: Here's a story about Dr. Bradley...
Segment Synopsis: Jones recalls some of the interactions he had with Dr. Bradley, while trying to become the principal of Griffin High School. Jones shares how, despite his lack of formal education in the way of administration, he managed to make improvements in the Griffin school system.
Keywords: Dr. Bradley; Griffin, Georgia; education
ART CAIN:Okay, it is June 27th, about two o'clock, in 2017, and we're here inthe conference room for the Center for Urban Agriculture. We're here with Colonel Jones, who is the former superintendent of -- should say Curtis Jones, who's the former superintendent of Griffin Spalding County schools and currently superintendent of schools in Macon, Georgia. My name is Art Cain. I'm here at the University of Georgia in the Office of Continuing Education.
CURTIS JONES:Hi. I'm Curtis Jones, superintendent of the Bibb County schoolsystem. I'm also a resident of Griffin Spalding County, and I am a former superintendent here for six years.
JEWEL WALKER-HARPS:Jewel Walker-Harps, president of the Griffin branchNAACP, and cosponsor of the African American Oral History Project. 00:01:00
ELLEN BAUSKE:I'm Ellen Bauske. I'm with the UGA Center for Urban Agriculture.
RICHIE BRAMAN:I'm Richie Braman. And I'm also with the UGA Center for Urban Agriculture.
CAIN:Okay, I'll start. Curtis, I have considered you a literal icon here inGriffin. You've had many distinguished accomplishments over your career, being the first African American principal at Griffin High School, first African American superintendent of schools here in Griffin. Prior to that a distinguished career in our military. And now currently superintendent of Bibb County schools. And what we want you to do is just kind of reflect back and tell us how you got -- how you were able to be able to set 00:02:00yourself up to have such accomplishments as you've had over the course of your career.
JONES:I appreciate that. Truthfully it's not about me, it's about a lot offolks. And I'll tell you it begins with my mom and my dad. Mom was a teacher here in Griffin Spalding. She taught at -- as far as I can remember the first school was Annie Shockley Elementary. And I'll tell you, being a child of a teacher at the school can be hard, right, Richie? We were able to get in trouble, and whenever I got in trouble in second grade, they said, "Boy, I'm going to tell your mama." I learned to get straight. I will tell you that my dad was a minister here at Trinity CME Church. And because of that it created a foundation. After going through an experience at Anne Street and being 00:03:00in segregated schools for grades one through four, voluntary segregation -- integration occurred, and I was allowed to go to Sacred Heart Elementary School. And while at Sacred Heart I learned a lot of different skills. I remember my brother, my sister, and I were usually the minorities in our class, and it was the first time you had to wear a uniform. At that time it was a white shirt, navy blue pants, and black or brown shoes. As you've already mentioned though, I learned to wear a uniform for 20 years after that, when I joined the army. That became though part of the experience that my parents put us through, because while I stayed at Sacred Heart for two years, what I found was that when it was time to go to seventh grade, I had to make a decision. Was I going to go to what was called Spalding Junior High or go to Kelsey? One was a majority 00:04:00black school, one was majority white. We currently at that time lived in Barnesville, and we commuted back and forth every day. And so like most kids I just turned to the people who were in my class and said, "Where are you going?" And the majority of them said Spalding Junior High. So I went too. I think at that age it was trying to be, you know, know who your friends are and go. I also will tell you though that I think part of it started with my parents allowing me to play football when I was in sixth grade. Eleven years old, never played organized sports, but I will tell you that I still remember this, but at the end of that first season I got the most valuable player award. (laughs) And I still remember what it looks like. But it was different, because I truthfully had more fun practicing than playing the football games. Practice, you know who your friends are, you're competing with them, you talk to them about what you're doing. After that I went to junior high, and that was a very unique 00:05:00experience. And I will tell you it was unique in several ways. There was one individual named Wayne K. who was -- I'd known when I was in first grade. And then Wayne and I separated. We came back together in seventh. And Wayne was in advanced classes and I was in regular classes. But we were both able to compete. Later on Wayne went on to Howard University and became a lawyer. Another person I met when I was there was Randal. Randal came from Pike County but Randal also went on and became a state legislator. And --
JONES:Yeah. Randal Mangham. And so he and I became friends at that point. It wasinteresting when we went through that. But learning football and learning who people were and creating relationships I think was key for me at that point, because it was interesting, but during that time of voluntary integration, I remember in eighth grade I ran for student body president. And I was 00:06:00riding home in the car with my mom one day. She said, "Boy, you ran for president of that school?" (laughs) And I said, "How did you know?" And she said, "I know. You going to win?" I said, "Mom, I don't know." Turned out I came in second. But it was surprising to Mom that, you know, we even came that close at all. And she also thought it was funny because -- I'll say this to you, Jewel -- I ran. Randal ran. Wayne ran. A girl named Michelle R. ran as well. A bunch of us ran. We were just kids going to school. And then I think, Art, what happened for me also though was I went to Griffin High. And Griffin High, when now you had mandatory integration of schools, and that for me was in the tenth grade. And what I remember distinctly about that summer is this. At the time the integration of schools was based on the seventy-thirty 00:07:00percentage. Seventy percent black, 30 percent -- no, 70 percent white, 30 percent black. And there was a guy who I knew, Danny Wayne. Danny Wayne was the copresident of that class. And Danny Wayne was another student who was with me at Annie Shockley. He was two years ahead. He was a person I looked up to. I said, "Like man, I want to grow up and be like Danny." So I come back after all these years and I see him for the very first time and he's copresident. And Danny is writing on the blackboard. And he puts twelfth grade seven white three -- seven Griffin High three Fairmont. And then he -- eleventh grade, seven, three. He got to tenth grade. And he wrote six parentheses one, three. And I remember sitting there looking at that and saying, "What?" And a friend of mine, Tony Head, who I played with later, said, "Curtis, why are you 00:08:00looking at that like that?" I said, "Why'd he put six, one in parentheses?" He says, "Because it's seven white but you came from Spalding. They voted you in so they're trying to figure out how to count you." (laughs) And I felt like holy cow. And so Danny then went over -- yes, sir.
CAIN:I just --
JONES:Am I talking too much?
CAIN:Can you tell us a little bit (inaudible) continue but I just wanted you totell us a little bit about that distinction between voluntary integration and mandatory I guess.
JONES:Okay. So I will tell you what my thoughts are. Mom was a teacher. And Iremember when I was going to Annie Shockley, which was an all-black school -- now it's called Anne Street -- Mom was a teacher there. And I think teachers were required to send their children to public schools. Was -- that was my impression. But that year Mom said, "Curtis, you don't have to go to Anne Street any -- to Annie Shockley anymore, we want to put you in Sacred Heart. And -- but it's voluntary. You don't have to go." That was what she said. And I 00:09:00said, "Is anybody else going?" And I said, "I don't know." And so that whole idea of voluntary was you were able then to go to a white school if you were black or a black school if you were white. But you volunteered to do that. And really it kicked in for me when -- between that Spalding Junior High and Fairmont. Because I didn't know at the time there were two different middle schools. I just didn't. I just stayed in my class or stayed in my lane. And so when we got there it was probably -- if it was seventy-thirty when I got to high school, it must have been ninety-ten (laughs) when I was in junior high. But I will tell you, the people who were there wanted to be there. And we kind of band together a little bit. But it was interesting. When I got to tenth grade there was no longer that option. And I'll be honest with you. My experience now tells me that Griffin Spalding did it well. They decided to have one school 00:10:00where all seventh graders went, one school for all eighth graders, one school for all ninth graders. And then one high school for grades 10, 11, and 12. That didn't happen all over the South but it happened here in Griffin Spalding. And I remember my mom telling me -- she came back from a board meeting and she said, "You know," and she named the principal, he was the principal up at Beaverbrook. And he just said, "You know, we've been dragging our feet on this for about 15 years, they just told us it's time to do it, so we're going to do it."
CAIN:So it was that transition from that voluntary period until --
CAIN:-- full. Yeah.
WALKER-HARPS:The law insisted that you do it when it became mandatory. When weconsider prior to then when we -- teachers and students transferred that it was voluntary. But I never did because I went -- and I didn't volunteer, I went because --
JONES:(laughs) You were told.
JONES:Well, you know, the thing that was interesting is my mom wastold that same year that I went to Sacred Heart. She ended up being assigned to 00:11:00Beaverbrook and I remember she was scared. And it's interesting when you're a child and you see your mom worried about that. Didn't know about the north side of Griffin or Spalding County and she ended up going there for that one year. And I remember hearing, heard Mom and Dad just talking about it. But she went. And my impression was -- now this is where I may get in trouble -- the black schools picked who they thought were some of the very best teachers that would go, that would not embarrass them. And then later my impression was that some of the white teachers who went to the black schools may not have been the very best but they were some -- the ones with the best attitudes about I can go and I can make a difference. And that ended up being key. Part of what made it work for me though was Mom. Mom went to Beaverbrook. Later she went to Jackson Road with a principal, Gladys Harden. Stayed there for about 20 years I think.
JONES:Became a part of that family. And was special. But I think that00:12:00experience in Griffin High worked for me. When you talk about being the first black principal or the first black ROTC, I will tell you it started for me back in high school. In high school when I was in eleventh grade I ran for student body president. Truthfully it was I think having white friends and black friends, playing football, being somewhat, you know, known. And that same guy who was with me who said, "Curtis, they're trying to figure out what to do with you," that was Tony. He got elected vice president. I got elected president. And after that my mom came to me and said, "I'm just surprised. I never thought that would happen at this point in time." But I also remember a Ms. Ball. Ms. Ball was the counselor at the school.
JONES:Virginia Ball. I wasn't sure how much names I could use. I can use them?
JONES:Okay. Virginia Ball. Had been my second grade teacher when she00:13:00was Ms. Hodo at Annie Shockley. Then when I was getting ready to go to fifth grade she'd gotten married, became Ms. Ball, was going to be my fifth grade teacher. Well, I get to high school, and there she is the counselor. And I remember Ms. Ball saying, "Curtis, you're fortunate, you're going to be president of the student body. But you need to work something out. What's going to happen when you leave? We always need to have some kind of representation. And so I think you ought to do something like the president is black, the vice president is white, or vice versa. But they need to do that." I said, "Ms. Ball, how can I do anything about that?" She says, "You're the president of the student body, the first one that we've had, just talk to the principal." And so I did. I went and talked to Coach Gray and I just shared that idea with him and he said, "Curtis, why would we do that?" And my response was, "You run for president of the United States, you're on the ticket, let them run on tickets. And doesn't have to be mandatory but if things are like they are I think people are going to see diversity as a good thing." I was surprised but when I came back to Griffin after 20 years in the military, people running for 00:14:00student body council at Griffin High were running on tickets. One black, one white. And that's who was winning. Not mandatory. But people were still electing that way. That was surprising to me.
CAIN:Just to back up a little bit about your run for president, student bodypresident at the time. Was that -- how did you -- because you were kind of in two worlds. How did you cultivate the kind of relationships in both worlds that allowed you -- allowed for you to get that kind of vote from your student body colleagues?
JONES:I think in a lot of ways it was athletics. When I played football Istarted off in the city league. And back in that day elementary schools had their own football teams. And so we played and I learned who the players were, they learned who I was. That second year they stopped having school teams but they just had rec teams and you signed up. But truthfully the 00:15:00athletes knew each other. And that group of us in that particular year, we were pretty special, I'll be honest. We got together in eighth grade. So and that just became the nucleus I would say. But that group of us, we stayed together. We were undefeated in eighth. Undefeated in ninth. About four of us made the varsity as sophomores. And then when we became seniors our team went nine, one, and one, won the region championship, beat R. E. Lee for the first time in recent history and people were happy. And I just think it was just a special group that came together. Randy Pass was on the team, ended up playing for the New York Giants, went to Georgia Tech on a scholarship. Tony Head ended up going to Georgia Tech, doing very well. Terry Willis, who was -- went to Fort Valley. David Wolfoff, who became a city policeman here, went to Fort Valley on a scholarship. Setter Jun, Keith Tubble. I mean we were just -- we were pretty good. But I think athletics did that. And when I got to West Point what I learned was that it's on those fields when you're struggling with 00:16:00something that is unique -- not unique, but common to everybody. You form a friendship. And I think that happened for us at that time. We were special. I'll tell you now. It was scary. I remember my sophomore year when we were playing one of the very first games. Might have been like the third game of the season. It was a home game and there was this guy who was walking on this guy's yard and he got killed. Shot, because he was trespassing. After that they changed all our games to day games. We started playing on Saturdays. Coach Dowis, who was our head football coach, Johnny Goodrum, who was an assistant coach, made a difference though. That next year they took us up to summer training camp and they said, "Look, forget what's happening there. This is about us and what we're going to do." And that training experience for us just bonded us in a way that you can't imagine. You ever seen the movie Remember the Titans? 00:17:00
JONES:It was just like that experience where we went up and went to camp and wecame back. And we were just unique. So anyway I think living in both worlds worked for me. It made it easier for me to then decide to go to West Point. That was probably life-changing for me in more ways than I realized. Now I'll tell you, I only did one year of ROTC in high school. Didn't want to be in the military. (laughs) No. Didn't want to wear a uniform. But West Point was unique. And when my dad found out about the opportunity for me to go, because Congressman Jack Flynt gave me a nomination, he said, "Son, if that works for you that's the thing to do. I'm trying to save money for you to go to college. But if you do this it'll help us out a whole lot." And that by itself was unique. Just, you know, sometimes it just turns out how things happen. I was in a French class. Mr. Russell was my French teacher. And Mr. Russell 00:18:00said to me -- he was absent one day -- and he said, "Curtis, what did you say with that substitute teacher who was in here?" And I said, "Sir, I didn't say anything. (laughs) I didn't do anything. I'm sorry." He says, "No no no, it's good." And he was out again and she came back. Turned out later I found out she was really a vocational teacher that they had sent in. And -- but we were talking about race and issues like that. And she just came up to me one day and said, "What are you going to do when you graduate?" I said, "I think I want to fly airplanes, maybe be a pilot." And she said, "You think you can do that?" And I said, "I guess." So she said, "I got a person I want you to meet and I'm -- he's going to give you a call." That person was Jack Flynt. She had been his teacher. And so he called, asked me to come out to his house, he lived down there on Poplar Street. And he told me. He says, "Curtis, you impressed my former teacher. I still listen to her. She asked me to give you a nomination for West Point. I don't -- I mean for the Air Force Academy. I don't have any. But if you're willing to go to Military Academy I can get you one of those. 00:19:00And if that doesn't work out for you, I have a friend named John Conyers," a guy from I think Michigan, or Pennsylvania.
JONES:Detroit, Michigan. "He can get you a nomination to the Air Force Academyif you like that." And I said, "Yes, sir." I'm thinking like man. That was how I ended up going. But West Point changed and it was all because of football and being willing to work with people. So a long answer to a short question.
WALKER-HARPS:You talked about several young men who went to Spalding with you.Did you bond as a unit or was there rivalry among you?
JONES:Well, Randal was on the football team and Randal Mangham is the one whobecame a state legislator and he and I ended up being -- we continued to be friends. With Wayne, Wayne and I had been -- Wayne came to Anne Street -- Annie Shockley -- for like two weeks. His mom was my first grade 00:20:00teacher. And he then left and went to Moore Elementary and attended school there until we got to junior high. There was no competition among us. Wayne was just smart. I was an athlete. And so I don't think we had any kind of competition among ourselves. What I learned is that there was safety. And so sometimes you see somebody in the hallway and they would just give you a look or a nod and you felt like it was okay. I remember though there was a -- in middle school, you know how you have bullies? There was this one family moved in. And they were fighting everybody. (laughs) They were fighting everybody. There was one black boy there who was, what's his name, James Leeks. James said, "Look, I'm not going to fight you." But these three brothers that moved in, they were Caldwells, they were going to fight everybody. And so they did. And we had a big fight in the gym between James and the middle Caldwell boy, first 00:21:00name was Joe. And it just happened. You know, but to be truthful, whenever that happens, teachers aren't around. (laughs) Principals aren't around. It just happens. And everybody knew that fight was going to happen. And when it was over, I remember the Caldwell boy looked at me and said, "All right, I'm going to fight you tomorrow." (laughs) I looked. And I said, "Why?" He says, "Because I'm going to be king of the hill." And I said, "Okay. You can be king of the hill." He says, "That's it? We're not going to fight?" And I said, "No." He threw his hands up in the air and said, "Yay, I'm the best." And for him that was a big deal. So that's what he wanted to do. But there was no competition for us. You know, we were just trying to make honor roll, trying to do well. And that's just -- that was what it was. But again when I played football I'll tell you this. Mom was driving a Simca, and practice would be after school. And I could see the car up on the hill every day just waiting to -- waiting 00:22:00for practice to be over so I can get my stinky behind in the car and ride 17 miles to get home. But there was no competition for that. Now I'll tell you when there was competition was when we integrated the schools in high school. That first year when we came together, you have to think about it this way. You had two football teams, one black, one white, one Fairmont, one Griffin High. And you had two returning quarterbacks, two returning centers. Everybody was a starter who was coming back. And the question became how's that going to work. Johnny Goodrum, who ended up being assistant coach, had been -- and Coach Hiram Whitaker had been the head football coach over there. They made him the assistant coach for Coach Dowis. Trying to pull staff together, trying to pull teams together. I mean that was hard. It was very hard. Because people thought they were going to start. For me it ended up being a little bit more difficult. And I'll tell you why. Those black boys who were at Fairmont, they didn't know me. This was just a little black boy who was over there playing with those white boys, who can't play. And they were going to show me they could 00:23:00play. And I tell you what. (laughs) We had drills. And they lit me up. Day after day after day. But eventually I think I won them over by just keep -- I just kept coming back and just kept trying to learn. And I'll say this. Coach Goodrum, who was the backs coach at the time, he was setting me up too. Curtis, go over there and run the ball. Oowee. But after that, turned out to be okay. Here's what else happened though, Art, that made things work for me. After going to West Point and coming back after 20 years, and I found out that Mom was sick, and she needed help transitioning from the hospital to come home, and for me it was a transitional period. I had three children. We wanted them to learn their grandparents. I came back to Griffin. And I went into a meeting with 00:24:00one of my friends down in Barnesville, Carl Ogletree. And Carl said, "Curtis, go find out about ROTC in Griffin. My wife is a teacher and she can find out if we can start one here in Lamar County. You go up to Griffin and find out how to do it." Well, I did. And in Griffin they told me, "It's a federal thing, you just can't start one. They're not starting any more. But our guy Colonel Imes is getting ready to retire. Why don't you come interview for that job?" And I said, "Like whoa, okay. I don't have a uniform." "You don't need a uniform, just come on up." This was like on a Tuesday. I got home, I got a phone call. "This is Colonel Imes. Is this Curtis Jones?" "Yes, sir." "I understand that you're interested in Junior ROTC." "Well, I really don't know a lot about Junior ROTC." "Well, I'm getting ready to retire. I've been here for 20 years." And I'll tell you that caused me pause. And I'll tell you why. When I was in high school at Griffin High ROTC started in 1966. Major Pelt came aboard in 1967. And then they had a couple other people that came on. But I'm talking about in 00:25:00'97 when I got back, Imes had been there for 20 of those 30 years. That's how long he had been at Griffin High. He was an institution. And he called me up, interviewed me, and said, "Look, I'm going to recommend you for the job." As I was getting ready to leave I saw this guy. And he was a black NCO. And he said, "Hey, sir, how you doing?" I said, "I'm fine, how are you?" And he said, "I'm good." He said, "You Curtis Jones?" And I said, "Yes, sir, I am." "One that played football at Griffin High, number 21?" "Yes, sir, I am." "One that used to play for the Saints back when you were in the sixth grade?" "Yes, sir, I am, how do you know that?" He said, "I used to be a recruiter back in Griffin, I saw you then. My name is Lee McRae. And you up here interviewing for this job?" I said, "Yes, sir, I am." He said, "I think you're going to get it because they're looking for somebody from Griffin to come on back and you're just a Griffin kind of guy." Because of Lee I think I helped get the job. Went in for an interview with the principal, who was Mike McLemore, was the incoming 00:26:00principal. And Larry White was the outgoing principal. They did a joint interview. McLemore said, "I'm going to recommend you for the position," so we started out together. And I'll just tell you that that just turned out to be a blessing for me with Lee McRae and how that turned out. But again I think it was part of having my being in both worlds because when I found out I was going to be recommended to be the principal -- this is four years later -- I needed some recommendations. And he was one of them. And so was Dr. McLemore. But I will tell you something that worked for me. Having done ROTC for four years at the school, and having done the interviews, I'll be honest, I was scared. I mean Griffin High was a big school. It was like 1,900 kids, one of the biggest in the state. And people used to come to Griffin to see what a school looks like. And this is from a guy who's been in the army for 20 years but didn't really know a whole lot about what to do. I'll tell you Mom said to me, "They going 00:27:00to make you the principal? What are they thinking about?" (laughs) I said, "Well, Mom." I said, "I don't know." And so what happened was I ended up interviewing, got the position. And during one of the very first meetings we had -- this is another thing that worked for me -- we went out on the football field to talk about what happens during a bomb threat. And when we were coming back in all the black staff peeled off to the right and went down the 600 -- down the 800 hallway into a room. And Doc Richard Beaton was walking in with me, and he said, "Where are all those folks going?" And Kay Moore, who was my secretary, about to be my secretary, said, "Oh, the black staff wants to meet with Dr. -- with Colonel Jones." And he said, "Well, I want to go." And she said, "No, you can't go, this is just for them." And he said, "Oh. Okay." Well, he said, "When you finish that you come talk to me." I said, "Doc, I'll come see you." So I went into the room. And they said to me, "Look, you're the first 00:28:00black principal for Griffin High School. We want you to be successful. We don't want you to do anything stupid. We're going to support you. We're going to do our very best. We ask that you do your very best as well." And I said, "Okay." And we kind of came to that common understanding. Never met like that again. Never had that conversation again. Until I was asked to speak at a black history program and I shared that story probably, I don't know, it may have been 16 years later. Where that group just said, "We're going to support you." And I can tell you I can remember occasions now that may not seem significant where they helped me. I'll give you one. I was asked to make morning announcements when I was the principal. And, you know, going through school, you learn phonics and how to speak, but there was this word that I said that was wrong. I would always say, "And this," how did I say it? I said, "And this Saurday I want you guys to come in and talk to us about how to do this." Or, "This Saurday 00:29:00we're going to do this." Jewel McCann was one of my English teachers. She came down and she said, "Look. If you're going to be principal of this school you're going to stop saying Saurday. It's Saturday." I said, "Yes, ma'am." That was the small kinds of things they did to help me out that, you know, in some ways will take away your credibility but in other ways -- and so she helped me with that.
BAUSKE:I'm confused about ROTC and principal.
BAUSKE:Can you talk about that (inaudible).
JONES:So when I joined the staff in '97 the principal made me the chairperson ofthe discipline committee for school improvement. The next year, he made me the -- a -- I guess I was the cochair a second time of that committee. Then my third year, he put me in charge of the school improvement. And that fourth year he retired. And so based on that and working on SAT improvement, the 00:30:00superintendent and others asked me if I'd apply for the position. And so I then moved from after four years of doing ROTC, I became the principal of the high school. And then after being principal of the high school for four years I was talking to Walter Powry, who was then the assistant superintendent. And I was saying, "Dr. Powry, you know, I've been doing this now for about four years, I'm trying to understand. Where am I going?" And he says, "Curtis, I'm probably going to retire in about two years and I think you're going to be taking my place." Turned out he retired that year, and I applied for that position and I got it as well.
BAUSKE:And what year was it?
JONES:That was 2005. So I was assistant super -- so ROTC for four years, highschool principal for four years, and then I became the assistant superintendent for administrative services for four years. And then after that I applied to become the superintendent and I got that as well. That was another story too. I'll just give you the short part about help. I was a member of 00:31:00Trinity CME Church, that's where my dad had been a pastor. Johnny Goodrum was a member of that church as well as some other folks who were educators. And one day I was -- got a phone call from Johnny Goodrum, and he said, "Curtis, can you meet me down at the church?" And I said, "Yeah, coach, I can meet you down there." Told you he was my previous coach. He says, "There's some people want to meet you, they understand you're going to be -- you're applying to be superintendent and they just want to talk to you." "Okay." I told my wife about it and she said, "What are they going to do?" I said, "Dear, I don't know." So I went down to the church and inside the church there was William Matchett, Dr. -- was the principal at Moore --
JONES:Dr. William Nesbith. Johnny Goodrum. Mr. Walker.
JONES:William Walker. Were there. And Coach Goodrum. And Coach Goodrumintroduced them all. Truthfully I'd never really met any of them 00:32:00before except Goodrum at the time. And kind of knew Matchett. And he just told me, said, "They want to talk to you because you're going to apply to be the superintendent." And it turned out they didn't -- I thought it was going to be an interview. It turned out them just telling me stories about what happened with them as they were administrators and going through and lessons that they learned. So I was there for about an hour and a half just listening to these wise guys tell me about what they had learned and some of their experiences. And then after that I told my wife about it and she said, "What'd they ask you?" And I told her they just talked to me. Later I found out though that that group had actually called the superintendent and some board members and they endorsed me for being superintendent. And Jesse Bradley, who at that time was the superintendent, said, "Curtis, I want to be honest with you. You got people on the north side of town and people on the south side of town. You 00:33:00got people on the north side of town, that's the black side, and they're supporting you. You got people on the south side of town," and they're supporting this other internal candidate who was there who turned out -- who was white. And he says, "But the advantage you have is you also got some people on the south side of town calling for you as well." He says, "I don't know if that's going to make a big difference or not but it means something to me." And I ended up getting the position. So that ended up being unique as well. And I'll be honest. As superintendent I fully felt supported by everybody. And I was worried there for a while, you know. Ms. Harps scared me for a while. She was president of the NAACP, I said, "Oh Lord, what is she going to call and ask me? What do I have to do? I'm trying to raise the graduation rate. Just give me some time." (laughs)
WALKER-HARPS:You had advantage. Your mom and I were very very good friends. Andyour dad had been a good friend.
JONES:And he was also friends with Calvin Hill, who was my ninth00:34:00grade science teacher. Remember I told you when I was in first grade, when I was in elementary? I was in tenth grade biology class with some students. And I'll be honest. Biology was hard. And Mr. Hill was the teacher. And I remember one day we were getting ready to do some -- cut some frogs and that kind of stuff. And people were just acting silly. And so I started acting silly with them. He just grabbed me and took me aside, said, "Look, boy, I know your daddy, you keep that up, I'm going to call him." And I said, "You know my dad?" He said, "I know Curtis. And I know Roberta." And I said, "Ooh." (laughs) Didn't get out of line anymore after that. So for me I think that helped me out some so --
CAIN:Can I --
WALKER-HARPS:How well were you received by the white staff at Griffin High?Because that was their first experience having to receive orders from a black person? And particularly a black man. Were there challenges?
JONES:Well, yes and no. So the first part of it is Mr. Johnston, who had been00:35:00the French teacher when I was in high school, Jim, James Johnston, was one of the ones who wrote a letter of endorsement for me for going into the position. He had been Evelyn's teacher when we were in high school, and so he still remembered, he was one of the ones who I visited when I came back. Mark Fenezee had been my ninth grade science teacher, and so now Mark was the head of the counseling department. There was also Ms. Jackson, who was my ninth -- my tenth grade math teacher, who was there for that one year, who introduced me to Evelyn, who I -- became my girlfriend and my -- now my wife. And so I was not a total stranger to some. And so that helped when I first got there. And when I became the principal, because I'd been on the staff and had led the leadership, there -- most of them were willing to come on board. We had another issue that divided us more so than being a black principal, and that is that we 00:36:00were opening Spalding Junior High -- Spalding High School at that point in time. And the principal who was going to be for Spalding High was located in that building and was actively recruiting people. And at this point now I'm going to be the principal and he's telling people, "Come on over with us to Spalding High School because we're going to have a great school." And people are like, "Well, wait a minute, you saying we're not great?" And so -- and well, you're great, but you're going to stay here, we're going to go do this other thing. And it was like oh. And so it just divided the staff. And it started before we even had opened Spalding High. And so that was difficult because I'm now the person who's going to be the principal of the school. Todd is the -- yeah. Well, put his name -- was --
WALKER-HARPS:(inaudible) it's okay.
JONES:Todd McGee was going to be the principal of Spalding High. And he pulledin one of our assistant principals who was out who was making this. That's what was hard. And then trying to figure out how do you divide a staff and 00:37:00keep things going. And wondering are you losing -- and who you're losing. It turned out later, what I realized is that a lot of the people who went to Spalding had come from Spalding Junior High and were ninth grade teachers and they had never really felt as if they were a full part of the staff at Griffin High anyway. And so they were able to go and create that environment, that school that they wanted to have. Now here's a story though that was hard. One day I was principal of the school, and I walked out of the main office into the hallway and I looked down. And classes were going on. And I saw this group of people come out of the building. And it was a mother, her child, assistant principal, teacher. And the mother said, "Look, I'm not going to talk to you anymore. I'm just going down. I'm going to see the principal." And the boy looked up and said, "Well, there's the principal right there." And she says, "I ain't going to talk to him, I'm going downtown." And so they left and 00:38:00went downtown. Wally Snell, who was my assistant principal, and Clint Middleton came, who was the teacher, came, told me what had happened. They said, "Son is not doing well, he's failing, we tried to tell them that. But, you know, they wanted to talk to you but we just said going downtown." So they did. Little while later I got a phone call from Walter Powry and Walter said, "Curtis, just had this parent come see me. And she's not happy. But I told her she got to follow chain of command, she's coming back to see you. But I'm going to tell you now race is a part of this issue." And I said, "Oh, okay." So I thought about it. She was white, her son was white. Clint Middleton was a black male. Wally Snell, the assistant principal, was a black male. I was the principal of the school, a black male. She got downtown and saw the assistant superintendent Walter Powry, a black male. (laughs) She came back in and saw me. What I did though was Jamie Cassidy, who was an assistant principal I had, was 00:39:00on campus, and I called Jamie in, who was white. We met, we had a great conversation. But the conversation started off with the student looking at me and saying, "Colonel Jones, just want to tell you, I don't really have a problem with Negroes. I mean I have a lot of friends who are." And I said, "No problem." And so that was -- we had situations like that, I guess, you know, but Cassidy was great, he helped that environment. And I'll tell you I learned something. People want to take care of their kids the very best they can. And they just want to believe that somebody understands. And what that parent was looking for was somebody who she thought understood. For her that was Cassidy.
WALKER-HARPS:I would think that more so than race your military background andyour procedure, your attitude would have had more effect than race.
WALKER-HARPS:(inaudible) after having come back from the military,and your sternness, and your being so adamant about what you believed. 00:40:00
JONES:Well, that did get me in trouble. We were coming back from a meeting inMacon one day. And it was my first year. And my secretary called and said, "Colonel Jones, I have a petition from some teachers." "A petition?" "Yes." "What is it about?" "They don't think you're enforcing the dress code with students and so they're mad. And so they --" "How many people signed that?" "Oh, 25, 30." "Are you serious?" "Yes, sir." I said, "Tell you what. We're going to have a faculty meeting. We're on our way back now. I want everybody to meet me on the JROTC rifle range." "The rifle range?" I said, "The rifle range. I want you to take the chairs in the rifle range, I want you to divide them in half, I want them facing each other, one on one side of the room, one on the other. We'll be back in about 35 minutes." Got back to Griffin High School. Ms. Moore met me at the door and said, "They're all down on the rifle range." 00:41:00(laughs) I said, "Okay." Went down to the rifle range. My assistant principals were waiting for me. I walked in. I said, "Look, I see this petition. People say that they're upset about dress code. I am too but here's the problem. If you have a child for first period and the child is not in dress code, you didn't do anything about it, and that makes second period, third period, fourth period, and fifth period teachers all upset because they think everybody's breaking dress code just because you didn't enforce it. So right now in this room we got the people on this side who are the ones who signed this petition. And on this side is those who didn't. I will do whatever it is you want me to do, I work for you, so here's the deal. All of you who think we're not enforcing dress code, you need to talk to these on this side about what it is you need to do. And you-all finished having that conversation come get me and my assistant principals, we'll be waiting on you in the hallway. Just tell me how you want to do it." I turned around, I started walking out. And one of the teachers said, "Colonel Jones, can I ask you a question?" I said, "No. You need 00:42:00to ask them over there." We walked on out. About 5 minutes later, maybe 10 minutes later, Dr. Beaton came out and said, "We worked it out. We have a way. We're going to enforce the dress code now. We understand." And the other thing that we did though was at that point we were starting to record all of our faculty meetings because football coaches couldn't be there. And so later on I went back to look at the tape. And this one teacher I had said, "Turn off that camera, they're trying to turn us against each other." (laughs) So but so that sternness did get me in trouble. I still have teachers today who remind me of taking them down to the rifle range. But that was the way we tried to approach things. Just straightforwardly and dealt with it. Now if I had to do it over again I may take them to the cafeteria. But the rifle range (laughs) --
JONES:But I wanted them close. I didn't want them spread out. Ineeded them to be able to see each other and engage. 00:43:00
WALKER-HARPS:(inaudible) called the rifle range. (laughs)
JONES:It was called the rifle range.
WALKER-HARPS:I thought you were going to say they were going to shoot (inaudible).
JONES:(laughs) So that got us into a little bit of trouble. Dress code. But, youknow, but we worked hard. We worked hard.
BAUSKE:What'd you do in the military?
JONES:So in the military I was an infantry officer for 20 years and --
BAUSKE:Start and finish? The dates?
JONES:So -- okay. So I went to -- graduated from Griffin High in 1973. Startedat West Point that summer for what's called Beast Barracks. Graduated four years later in 1977 and became an infantry officer. And just to tell you how much I am a Griffin boy, so Evelyn, who was still my girlfriend at that time, and was still a member of Trinity Church, my dad a pastor, we got married at Trinity, Dad did the marriage. My brother was my best man. Barbara, my 00:44:00sister-in-law was the maid of honor. Or Mycie was, the other sister. But it was in the infantry for 20 years. Was assigned to Fort Benning, Georgia for one tour of duty for three, assigned to Albany State College for three to teach Senior ROTC. Was assigned to Hinesville, Georgia where I did -- was an infantry officer. And then I also did one year at Fort Leavenworth as a just school, Command and General Staff College. And did a total of six years in Germany. Three of those as an infantry officer, our very first assignment, and then three years as a comptroller. Very unique experience for me. I was a new army major, was going to Heidelberg, Germany, I was a comptroller. And I found out that the budget I was responsible for was $1.1 billion. (laughs) And there's my first assignment. The army just threw you in there and said, "Figure it out." Later on I also had my last tour of duty in the Pentagon. So I 00:45:00retired in '97. But I was a comptroller there for the Joint Chiefs of Staff for fighting counter drugs and that budget was like $1.3 billion. So at least then I had some experience. So that was what I did but -- while I was in.
CAIN:Can I back you up one more time?
CAIN:Okay, you said when -- that when mandatory integration hit --
CAIN:-- and you had the two football teams come together that there wasobviously a quarterback from one team was competing for -- from both teams were competing for one spot. If I take that and ask about integration between the two schools, Fairmont and say Griffin High, okay, or merging almost two 00:46:00districts together, you have that same kind of scenario, I would think, where you would have to decide who was going to be the English teacher at Griffin High, and you've got an English teacher at Fairmont and English teacher at Griffin High. You had that same kind of scenario as you merged those two entities together. Do you know anything about how that was dealt with? And whether there was fairness, the idea of fairness, in trying to do that merger? That had to be a little bit of a challenge.
JONES:I don't have a great deal of knowledge about that. But here's what myinitial thoughts are. Remember I said that we had one school that was for seventh, one school for eighth, one school for ninth, and then one school for 10, 11, 12? If you had the approximate correct class size you probably needed all the teachers you had, you just had to decide who was going to 00:47:00teach what. And so I don't think it was a -- I don't remember hearing any issues being discussed about somebody not being able to get that particular position. I mean you're -- almost always you were looking for some teachers who would come. And I remember even when I was there we had turnovers of black teachers and white teachers. So it wasn't quite the same in that regard because on the football team you only have 11 starters. Here it could expand based on the number of teachers to accommodate what you, you know, what you need to have.
JONES:Yeah. I think it expanded. Made it easier to accommodate. What was hardwas I think when you -- who was going to be the principal, who was going to be the assistant principal, who was going to be the head coach, and that kind of thing. And I do remember thinking that you had a football coach at Fairmont who became an assistant. And the new coach who was in charge had his own system that was different. And I'll tell you though. That quarterback situation 00:48:00was hard. Randy Jones had been a student that I knew at Sacred Heart who was now the quarterback. Eleventh -- he started as a -- I think he started as a sophomore and as a junior. Now he's coming back for senior year. And then you had Greg Wellmaker who started as a sophomore and as a junior at Fairmont who was coming back. And they were different. And the offense the coach wanted to put in. Because he was new too. It was only his second year. Was hard for them to figure out. And so you had to -- they had to figure out how they were going to make it work. I'll tell you though, my senior year, that whole idea though about -- I'm just going to say skill takes over. It was interesting. Our starting quarterback that first year when we got there was a guy named Charles Buckaloo. He broke his leg in the first game. The backup quarterback was David Sprine, who broke his leg in the third game. So now we're down to our third-string quarterback who was a guy named Willie Jordan who was a black kid who was a sophomore. Willie was a better athlete than both those 00:49:00guys. And Willie could throw the ball at least 45 yards on the fly. Came in, started as a sophomore, continued to start as a junior, and finished as a senior. Went on to Tennessee and played football. And so but people were just about winning. And I'll tell you. Football pulled this community together back then better than anything you can imagine. And I take pride in the fact that we were part of that group that started that whole process of just making it work. But it was, you know, kind of like making sausages. Didn't look good when it first started. You had to have the right people there to do it.
WALKER-HARPS:Were you a part of the group that decided what the team would becalled (inaudible) Bears or whatever and the colors or whatever? Were you a part of that group?
JONES:I was not a part of that group, that was -- Danny Wayne was the president.And what they did was they pulled together a group of students from Fairmont and a group of students from Griffin High and those students had to 00:50:00come together, what those ideas were going to be. Now I think suggestions were made to them, but it's -- truthfully it was pretty much an equal compromise. If you remember, it was the Griffin High Eagles and the Fairmont Bears. And so they decided to make it the Griffin High Bears. Fairmont's colors were blue and white. Griffin High's were green and white. And so we ended up becoming the green and gold because Fairmont also had a gold color. And so it was just a compromise. Now some people said, "Why does a black school got to get the mascot? Why can't we be the Fairmont whatever?" But for the players when we got those new uniforms -- and I'll be honest, they gave us a bus. It was painted green and gold. And they started feeding us pregame meals. (laughs) Hey, we were doing fine. And we thought we were going to be pretty good, and we were, we were. All righty. Anything else? Have I talked about what you wanted 00:51:00me to talk about?
CAIN:You've covered a whole lot and it's been -- I guess I could ask one morequestion, and it gets -- this goes back to early years. I know you're going to have to run here. Grandparents' influence. Influence from grandparents, great-grandparents on you, on the family.
JONES:Okay. Mom and Dad came from Texas. And Dad was a minister as I said.Initially lived in Pike County. He got his church at Trinity, which is still here, where I currently attend. And so I didn't really know a lot about grandparents. I can remember the first time that Mom would take us back to Texas and spend time with our grandparents on her side of the family. I now know it was because she was working on her master's. And she was going to University of Georgia. And so she had to find something to do with us, because during the summers when Dad was having his church, either vacation Bible school was going on or it was revival. And so had to figure something out. So we would 00:52:00go stay with my mom's mom. And truthfully that's when I learned my cousins and my uncles, and that's when I learned a lot about them. And then later we would go visit my dad's family. And so that was a support. But what I came to realize is that on both sides of the family they had been down as sharecroppers. They moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth area which is what we then recognized. And then the idea though was that -- that I came to recognize is my mom went to college. My dad went to college because of the G.I. Bill. Learned to cut hair. He was a barber. And then he had been in the field artillery. My dad's brother was a career army man, a sergeant. And I remember him talking to me about running a basic camp. And I had a picture. It was him and all these trainees and he was the only black person in that picture. And he said, "Curtis, in the army is the only place where I can tell white people what to do." I was teaching 00:53:00Junior ROTC at Griffin High and Sergeant Major Lang, who was one of my instructors, told me about a time when he was working with one of his cadets the year before I got there. Cadet did something and Sergeant Major Lang was in charge of rifle team. And Sergeant Major Lang had told him he couldn't stay on the team. Was kicking him off. He said the boy got up and said, "You know, there'd have been time back there when my uncle just would have hung you up for that." He said, "Like okay, well, your uncle ain't here so it's time for you to go." (laughs) Interesting times. So but Mom went to college, Dad went to college. But I also recognized as I thought back on that Mom at some time drove up to Jonesboro to get to work on her degree after school, and they had to make sacrifices. And so when Mom asked us to go to Sacred Heart and then said, "You need to go to Spalding," it was really them putting their values about the importance of integration with their own children to what it is they 00:54:00believed. When the March on Washington happened Mom and Dad didn't get to go in '63, but when it happened that second time around they went, because they wanted to be a part of that process. And so I think in some ways I recognized that and kept up with it. But it wasn't like they, you know, they talked about it all the time. It's just who we were and what we did. I didn't tell you, but we grew up on Railroad Street down in Barnesville. And it's just a way of keeping humble and knowing where you came from and what you're doing.
WALKER-HARPS:What challenge or challenges did you face when you first -- fromthe community when you first became superintendent? Because the schools are usually the focal point of the community and of particular interest to businesspeople.
WALKER-HARPS:And special challenges or just in general (inaudible).00:55:00
JONES:Well, for the most part it was good. Jesse Bradley, who had beensuperintendent kind of set me up by when it was time for him to have -- he had a seat on the chamber of commerce, in the Rotary. He put me in Kiwanis. We built a -- we started working on this idea of -- it wasn't the College & Career Academy. It was a different idea. Oh, I know, it was UGA was working with the school system to try to approach this poverty issue. And so with Archways. And so Dr. Bradley put me on that. So that put me in good stead to create relationships. I remember he said, "Curtis, I need for you to join Kiwanis. And we'll pay for your membership." It's like oh, okay. And he -- in order to be fair he then went out to the other people in the senior cabinet and offered them the same opportunity. But I eventually became president of the Kiwanis club here in Griffin. And one of the members was about 90 years old, had been a 00:56:00former I think county commissioner -- county manager. And he was getting married and -- at 90. And he invited me to his house for a party that was going on. Turned out his granddaughter had been one of my students when I was the principal at Griffin High School, and I went over. And Evelyn went with me and at this point now I've been named to be the superintendent. And he came up to me while we were at his house with this celebration and he said, "Curtis I'm just going to tell you now. Never had a president that looked like you before but I'm going to support you." And it was like okay. And I told that to Evelyn. And things I think were okay. I was a member of the chamber, and so they were pretty supportive of me. Bonnie Pfrogner was a -- was I would say a supporter. And so if there was resistance I think it was this. If it turned out I'd done something that they didn't approve of, then I'm not sure that leash was too 00:57:00long for me that was out there. And so they may have been willing to pull back. I'm trying to think. Do I really want to tell you this?
JONES:So at one point when I was superintendent it was time for me to name anassistant superintendent and I had a couple people came to me and said, "Curtis, you have support on both sides of town, north and south. But I don't think this town is ready for two blacks to be superintendent and assistant superintendent. So before you make a recommendation you need to think about what your choice is going to be." That was a reminder to me that things had not progressed as much as we -- as -- maybe as much as I'd thought they had. That was 00:58:00different. But I don't remember. Fundraising kept going as strong as it had been. Anna Burns was on my staff. She was very good. Worked very hard. And in fact it increased. She worked very hard to increase the number of partnerships we had. I was able to name a number of people to be principals of schools. And I didn't -- I only got pushback on one, my very first one. But overall I think Griffin -- I think because of the background and even though I didn't live in Griffin, I think most people thought I did. And I think most people just saw me as a Griffin person from -- for, you know, forever. And so I don't think it was a lot. I cannot say I had any issues. Dick Brooks, who was at First National Bank, was very supportive as well. So I think it went pretty well. 00:59:00
CAIN:(inaudible) Jerry Arkin was supportive too.
JONES:Dr. Arkin was very supportive.
JONES:In fact I didn't know how to use him enough. (laughs) And so were you. Tobe quite truthful, Art.
WALKER-HARPS:Much of that probably, would you agree, came about because of thepersonality and the people person that Jesse Bradley was and his willingness to take you on and take you in (inaudible).
JONES:I would agree with that. I will tell -- here's a story about Dr. Bradley.When I was interviewing to become principal he -- it was just a one-on-one interview. And he said to me, "What kind of principal you want to be? Just a general." And I said, "Dr. Bradley, I just want to be a good principal. I don't want to be a black principal. I want to be a principal who happens to be black that does a good job." And he talked for the next 20 minutes about 01:00:00wanting to be a good superintendent. Not a white superintendent, but a superintendent who happened to be white. We bonded from that moment on. And it was -- I don't know if something was going on with him at that point in time but I will tell you that I do know that some board members ran initially to get rid of Dr. Bradley when he first got there. But all I ever saw him trying to do was what he thought was right. He made hard decisions. Some weren't always popular but he worked hard.
WALKER-HARPS:Yeah. I had an issue with him when he first came. But then webecame very good friends, very supportive of me and I liked him a lot. And I see him occasionally now. But (inaudible) Curtis.
JONES:(laughs) Well, that's because you're not -- people weren't sure what theagenda is that people get hired with or what it is they're trying to accomplish. And if you don't have great communication then people will fill the 01:01:00gaps. But I'll tell you. He was very supportive of me. He even was the very first person through Mike McLemore who asked me if I wanted to become an assistant principal. I went home, told that to Evelyn. She said, "You only been in this for two years, you going to be an assistant principal?" (laughs) Said, "No." And then he encouraged me to go to a conference to learn about how to improve SAT scores. I came back, I briefed them on the plan. We implemented the plan. And I do believe that was another key reason for why they decided to go ahead and let me apply to be principal of the high school. And then I mean truthfully, if I -- as I look back on it, it was that, then assistant superintendent, and then putting me in places so I could develop relationships. So Dr. Bradley I think just wanted to do the best. And truthfully he will tell you he only came here for four years -- for three years. They hired him to come in to clean things up. And then he just stayed. He was good. 01:02:00
WALKER-HARPS:(inaudible) you came to the system with little education background (inaudible).
JONES:Correct, I'd been in the army for 20 years, and -- but what I think washappening -- well, you got to understand now. Dr. Bradley came from the prison system.
JONES:(laughs) And so the idea is that you're looking for leaders.
WALKER-HARPS:Clean things up is (inaudible) about. Yeah (inaudible) system.
JONES:Well, and I did have somebody come back and tell me when my time was up toleave Griffin, they said, "Okay, we've had Bradley and now we've had you. Now we need a real educator." I said, "Okay." I thought we did pretty good. We made some improvements while I was here, and I'm very proud of the time and the people that worked with me. But -- and I'll be honest. James Westbury, who was the board president when I left, said, "Curtis, we trained you well. Now you're leaving us." And I had to apologize for that. But I'll be quite 01:03:00honest, they did train me well, gave me a lot of opportunities. And I feel very fortunate. I feel very fortunate to have been in Griffin too. And I say that. Very proud of what's happened the 18 years that I was here. For me it's the American dream to be quite truthful, 20 years in the army, and now 20 years in education.
WALKER-HARPS:Well, we're proud of you. America is. I am. I'm not alwaysagreeing, but we manage to coexist. So but we are proud and thankful. Your contribution that you made to this community.
JONES:Well, appreciate it.
WALKER-HARPS:Wish you well. And there's no point in wishing you well in Maconbecause you're already doing so well that we --
WALKER-HARPS:-- just need to commend you on how well you have been received andthe progress that you've been able to make. 01:04:00
JONES:We appreciate it. But again I'm really proud of the work that we did herein Griffin. And the people who were principals, assistant principals. And, you know, and I'll be remiss if I didn't say something about my wife who was a -- truthfully an inspiration. I used to go home and say, "Evelyn, what is this stuff? Evelyn, what is this?" She was a teacher at Anne Street for a little while. Then she moved to Jordan Hill only for a couple weeks. Went on over to Orrs. Then became a gifted one teacher here in the system. And then an assistant principal at Anne Street again. Became the principal at Anne Street. And now she's at Orrs. But she's the true educator. Evelyn has worked in Department of Defense schools, Fairfax County, she just solves so much. And has been able to contribute so much. And truthfully if I ever was successful in any ways while I was here, a large part of that would be because when I was about to do something Evelyn would say, "What are you doing?" (laughs) And I would explain 01:05:00some of it and she'd say, "Well, all right, now, you know what you're doing." And just gave me reason to think. So I have to thank her as well.
WALKER-HARPS:Evelyn was always destined to be an educator. When she -- eighthgrade, and my student, you could see the potential of that girl.
JONES:Well, I truly admit that she's not as smart as I am. Well, she's not. Imarried her. (laughs)
WALKER-HARPS:Oh, okay, I think that's (inaudible) that is a wrap-up. So again wesay thank you for taking time and the interest to come and share with us on this project.
JONES:I appreciate it.
JONES:Thank you, sir. I didn't recognize you, sir.
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