FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CARTERSVILLE, Ga., Jan. 14, 2015 – Dr. John Harper has served the Bartow County School System (BCSS) faithfully for the past six years in his role as superintendent. Despite the allegations made against him to the Professional Standards Commission, he has a proven record of leading the school system with integrity, innovation and compassion.
In our current climate, education is the center of much debate. Equipping students with technology and work-readiness skills upon graduation is a common goal among school systems. However, at BCSS under Harper’s leadership, the goal has become actionable steps. During his tenure, nearly every fourth through 12th-grade student has been given an Apple MacBook Air for daily use. Currently, more than 10,000 BCSS students are benefiting from the program, which will be complete in the 2015-2016 school year. Only three other school systems in Georgia, Hall, Polk and Clark counties, are attempting this cutting-edge program. Conversion to a hybrid-digital instruction has accompanied the transition to using laptops, as well as a system-wide increase in technology bandwidth.
The Bartow County College and Career Academy, which began under Harper’s leadership, allows students to learn skills and obtain certificates that enable them to enter the workforce upon graduation. Through developing relationships and coordinating with the needs of local industry, the College and Career Academy presents an invaluable opportunity to high school students and advances the local labor market and community.
Harper has developed and maintained an excellent working relationship with every Bartow County School Board chair during his time in leadership.
Anna Sullivan, current Bartow County Board of Education chair, said to the Bartow Neighbor, “Over the past several years, we have seen our system continue to move forward, despite the challenges posed by an uncertain economic environment. Those gains are the direct result of strong leadership, outstanding work by our teachers, and unparalleled support from our community. We have every reason to be very proud of our school system. It is an honor to work with our superintendent and my board colleagues who give significant time and energy to the well-being of our children and community.”
Through garnering community support, Harper successfully passed a special purpose local option sales tax –SPLOST IV. With those funds he authorized the construction of three schools and the renovation of two others, as well as, the transportation office. South Central Middle School received a new band room and Adairsville High School’s athletic facility and fields were updated. At Woodland High School, an addition to the building was completed to house the 9th Grade Academy, an innovative program working to ease the transition from middle to high school and places a strong emphasis on graduating.
During the economic downtown, many school systems were forced to eliminate essential programs and staff. In Bartow County, Harper fought to keep pre-K programs operational, nurses in every school and art, music and physical education in the elementary schools. While other school systems made deep staffing cuts, BCSS endeavored to reduce staff through attrition.
Jim Gottwald, Bartow County secondary education curriculum coordinator and 42-year veteran of
education, said, “When I consider everyone I have worked with in my career, Dr. Harper is the biggest
champion of students and his staff I’ve ever known. He strives to ensure students receive the absolute best
education. He is deeply caring about his staff, which was evident to me in the way he handled the reduced funds we received from the state and trying to keep as many people employed as possible. He went so far as to take a reduction in salary himself; I don’t know many superintendents who did the same.”
During his 45-year career, Harper has worked at every level of K-12 education. In South Carolina, he spent seven years as a coach and teacher before being promoted to middle school principal. He remained in that position for 14 years. After moving to Georgia, Harper became an elementary school principal and served as superintendent for two other school systems prior to coming to Bartow County.
Jacki Woodring, BCSS administrative assistant, has worked in the school system for 14 years and served under six superintendents during that time.
She said, “Dr. Harper has always made relationships a priority. He has preached this quote, ‘People will forget what you said and forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.’ He has reiterated this to his principals and all others in leadership positions for the past six years. I have been made to feel valued and respected as an employee under Dr. Harper’s leadership and that was not necessarily always the case in prior administrations.”
The Bartow County School System is a public school district accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and serves 14,066 students. The system is comprised of 20 schools: 14 elementary, four middle schools, three high schools and one college and career academy.