By Gail Gettis
A Rankin County Middle School Principal is among the finalists for the 2012 Mississippi Administrator of the Year Award
With his characteristic infectious smile, the principal of Rankin County Middle School, Jacob McEwen, accepted the award as the 3rd Congressional District finalist.
Awards were presented to four of the state’s top administrators at a recognition ceremony during the State Board of Education meeting at the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) in downtown Jackson, June 15.
As McEwen accepted his award, he acknowledged how thankful he was to receive such an honor. “My success as a school administrator comes first from God, and a staff and school district that support me,” McEwen said. “I am all about education and seeing to it that students understand that they can achieve anything if they work hard and get a good education.”
He credits the inspiration from his superintendent and the support of a parental community for keeping him grounded in that belief.
McEwen has been in the field of education for 25 years, serving 19 of those years as an administrator with the Rankin County School District. He has served in his current role as the principal of Northwest Rankin Middle School since 2003. He previously served as assistant principal at Northwest Rankin High School from 1997 until 2003.
In his time as principal of the middle school, he has done much to advance student success. He has implemented programs focusing on dyslexia training, at risk students, as well as piloting a state program for informational computer technology.
Dr. Lynn Weathersby, superintendent for the Rankin County School District, in his recommendation of McEwen said, “He is an intelligent, hardworking and driven individual who has the capacity to inspire and motivate his teachers and students.” He credits McEwen with developing partnerships between parents and the community that further encourage students to succeed.
McEwen believes in nurturing all his students no matter their challenges as he develops them for high school and to be lifelong learners in order that they may be successful citizens in our society. With a passion for getting to the business of educating children, he begins the day by arriving at school early.
Although he also works late and participates in after-school activities, he still finds time for involvement in several civic organizations such as Goodwill, the American Heart Association, the YMCA, St. Jude’s and his church.
McEwen has been recognized as an outstanding administrator on several other occasions by his district and others, including being named the 2007 Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) and Administrator of the Month by his district and Rankin County Chamber of Commerce. He is a member of NASSP and other professional associations to continue his professional as well as personal growth.
Among McEwen’s supporters present at the ceremony were his pastor, Dr. Michael T. Williams, and several members of his College Hill Missionary Baptist Church family.
He has served as a church deacon for 27 years. In the 23 years at College Hill, he has served as a role model for both the youth and adults. Members look for his smiling face and positive attitude.
Although McEwen was not selected as the 2012 Administrator of the Year for the state, his wife Sandra, a recently retired educator, was extremely proud that her husband was recognized among the four most outstanding administrators.
He was the only African American to be recognized among the Congressional District finalists in the 2012 program.
The state has 151 school districts and each has the opportunity to participate in the nomination process by submitting one nominee’s application to MDE in the spring of each year.
McEwen and his wife have two adult sons, Terrance and Shaun.
About the Administrator of the Year Program
The Mississippi Administrator of the Year program, mandated by Senate Bill 3350, is designed to annually honor an administrator who demonstrates superior ability to inspire teachers, employs exemplary leadership practices, and participates as active members of the community.
A state selection committee, appointed by the State Superintendent of Education, selects four finalists (one from each congressional district) from a pool of outstanding candidates nominated through each participating district’s Administrator of the Year program. Following an interview with each finalist, the committee selects the Mississippi Administrator of the Year.
The Mississippi Administrator of the Year receives formal recognition by the State Board of Education and a $5,000 salary supplement from the Mississippi Department of Education during the school year following selection.
The AOY is also asked to share expertise through various presentations and activities for the improvement of education in the state.
Those eligible for the award include elementary and secondary school principals, vocational-technical and alternative school directors.