New Stanly County Schools superintendent prepares for work

Jeff James brings classroom and school-level experience to the top education job

The Stanly County School Board gives new superintendent Jeff James a standing ovation during their meeting on Tuesday, February 6, 2018.


Jessica Furr | Stanly County Journal

ALBEMARLE — Newly hired Stanly County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff James opened up to the Stanly County Journal about his plans and hopes for the district. James said his vision for the Stanly County School System is “to provide every student with the skills to compete in the global economy … ready to enter the workforce, community college and or university system with the skills necessary for success.”

Dr. Jeff James (Photo: Montgomery County Schools)

James has lived in Stanly County for the last five years and said he has grown to love it for its “perfect mix of business and educational opportunities.” James believes that by ensuring Stanly County students get 21st-century skills, they will have a wide array of opportunities to go into numerous fields.  Advanced Placement, career and technical education, science and technology-focused schools, and other community-based and themed schools — already available to students in the county — are just some of the paths into the workforce, technical college or four-year college.

James, 57, has served as assistant superintendent for Montgomery County Schools since 2016.

Prior to that, he was a special education teacher at Statesville High School in Iredell County. He also taught business technology at Lake Norman High School. He served as assistant principal, high school summer school principal, and then interim principal at South Iredell High School. After that he became principal at Troutman Middle School. While James was at Troutman Middle, the school was recognized as one of the “Top 25 Most Improved Schools” by the N.C. Department of Education.

“Besides the superintendent’s role, a principal’s job is one of the most challenging in the administration arena,” James said of how being a school level administrator and principal helped him succeed at the system level. “School administrators face many of the same challenges the superintendent’s position has, but at a smaller scale. Budgets, interpersonal relationships, crisis management, doing more with less funding, are all things I have dealt with.

“Understanding federal budgets and managing them has been a great asset to seeing the bigger picture and being able to make sound decisions on resources and support programs for teachers,” he added. “But the most important aspect as I have moved up the organizational ladder has always been keeping the ultimate goal in mind ‘doing what is best for students.’ Everything I have dealt with in my career has become much clearer when I put the student lenses on the issue.”

James said he does not anticipate any immediate staff changes but will lay out a 100-day plan for assessment of the district to gather data to share with the school board. Together, he and the board will evaluate the findings.

“The board has an innovative vision that I embrace and is one of the reasons I sought this job,” he said.

James’ will start as superintendent of Stanly County Schools on March 1.