Longtime employee of Madison City Schools reflects on his career as he moves in a new direction

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MADISON, Ala. – A longtime member of Madison City Schools will soon be leaving the district.

Dennis James most recently served as the Director of Student Services. He also spent time at Bob Jones High as a math teacher and six years as the assistant principal at Liberty Middle School.

James was the first principal of Columbia Elementary School for six years.

He and his wife, Mary Pat James are moving to Memphis. James’ last day will be next week.

Reflections from Dennis James:

During my nine years at BJHS I started the cross country and indoor track programs.  Both won the first state trophies ever for Bob Jones and the district.  I also coached basketball and track.

At both Bob Jones and Liberty I helped lead efforts that earned both schools recognition as “National Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence.”

I had the pleasure of being the first principal of Columbia Elementary School.

At the district level, my focus has been to make sure students know we care about them and their families beyond the walls of the classroom. In student services we have started a backpack food program, added a social worker, embraced the Madison Police Department’s “Text to Protect” help line, implemented programs for students struggling with drug/alcohol use, developed threat assessment protocols to determine if a student is a threat to themselves or others, and expanded our School Resource Officer Program. Through community partnerships we’ve been able to assist families in true need of food, rental assistance, utility assistance, etc.

I’ve always tried to model servant leadership. I started our now annual St. Jude campaign to help teach students that they have the power to help others… and if you have the ability to help, you have the responsibility to help.  Over the years our St. Jude campaign has raised more than $500,000. This is due largely to the remarkable principals and staff at each of our schools, and of course to our very generous community.  At this year’s annual St. Jude marathon dinner I was honored to receive the prestigious “Hero Among Us” Award on behalf of our team.

Somewhere during that time I did climb Mount Kilimanjaro with my wife Mary Pat.  We did it as a fundraiser, and we managed to come off the mountain after eight days still happily married!

We are moving to Memphis later this month. I am pursuing opportunities with ALSAC/St. Jude, and Mary Pat has been asked to lead some volunteer efforts at St. Peter’s Church in Memphis.

Our daughter Molly is a first grade teacher at Columbia Elementary, and our son Patrick attends college in Maryland.

– Dennis James