LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. - A new principal has been named for Tanner High. The school hasn't had a new principal in over 20 years, and Tuesday, they named James Gordon as the school's new leader.
"He's been an assistant principal at Bob Jones High School in Madison City, he's been in Jefferson County amongst others," said Limestone County Schools Superintendent Tom Sisk. "We hope that because he has a rich experience in a diverse, low economic area where we struggle a little bit, he can put that experience to work for us."
But many in the community left the meeting frustrated because there was no discussion regarding the decision, just a unanimous vote. Also, many in the community feel the school's current assistant principal was the right choice.
"Why was he chosen over Russ Cleveland, who has been here for three years and poured his heart and soul into this school," said Angela Sides, who graduated from Tanner and currently has a child there.
Sides adds that Cleveland worked under outgoing principal Billy Owens. Superintendent Sisk explains they chose who they felt was best.
Gordon is principal effective July 1, and community members say they have nothing against him, they just feel they weren't heard.
"How this meeting went, there was no explanation given to the people of Tanner, it was 'this is who you’ve got,'" said Sides. "Not one board member listened to the community who they are supposed to be representing. The school board needs to listen to the voters. It will be remembered next voting season."
They also have concerns about the many changes happening all at once in Tanner's schools.
"Our elementary is being divided from our high school," said Sides. "We lost a football coach, we lost a basketball coach, we lost a principal."
But school officials say the people need to give them the benefit of the doubt that they're making decisions with the kids in mind. Sisk says he acknowledges that the community wants to feel heard.
"Let's not confuse being heard for dictation," he said. "Give the man a chance, our children deserve that."
About James Gordon
James Gordon II is originally from Louisville, Kentucky, but matriculated through the Lauderdale County School System. Brooks High is his alma mater, where he played basketball, football, baseball, and ran track. He received a football scholarship to the University of Mississippi, where he got a Bachelors of Business Administration.
He received the Marion George Academic Scholarship to complete a Masters of Education Leadership and Foundations from Indiana State University. He also received a Leadership Professional Development Certificate from Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Mr. Gordon was inducted into the Lauderdale County Sports Hall of Fame in the class of 2014.
He is completing his 20th year of educational service. He has 12 years of administrative instructional leadership experience and 8 years of teaching experience. Mr. Gordon has also served at the college level in the capacity of Adjunct Professor. He has experience working with diverse populations in rural, suburban and urban communities.