Jones plans to retire

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 5, 2003

After years of service in Troy City Schools, Superintendent Hank Jones will quietly hang his hat this October.

He unofficially announced to teachers and staff members his retirement on Wednesday.

His retirement will likely be official at the next Troy City Board meeting.

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"It's a personal decision, and we respect that, but we would sure love to see him stay on," board member Doug Patterson said.

Jones became superintendent in 1996, replacing Johnny Vaughn.

Over the last seven years, Jones has earned the respect and the love of his co-workers and the community.

Pike County Superintendent Mark Bazzell was surprised by the news and is sorry to see him go.

Bazzell gives Jones credit for improvements the two school systems have made in working together to share the county and resources.

He said one of his most valuable characteristics is his genuine interest in the students.

"He doesn't get sidetracked," he said.

"His focus has always been the students."

With Jones at the helm, such programs as the Culinary Arts Academy and the Business and Finance Academy have blossomed.

The two school systems have also been able to share the Troy/Pike Regional Center for Technology and the Alternative Learning Center.

"I have been around a lot of administrators in my time and without question, he is one of the best," Bazzell said.

Roxie Kitchens has been a board member for less than a year and is sorry Jones won't be there for the rest of her term.

"I've learned so much from him," she said.

"I'm really going to have to cram two years of learning into the next few months."

She may be more right than she realizes.

Jones has 31 years of Troy City Schools experience and knowledge there for the asking.

He has been a teacher, a principal and a mentor.

"I'm sorry to see him retire," Kitchens said.

"But at the same time I'm appreciative of all the years he has given to the school system."

Jean Laliberte, who is vice president for institutional advancement at Troy State University, serves as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce and as chairman of the Tory City Schools Education Foundation.

In both these roles, she has worked closely with Jones. She describes Jones as "extraordinarily admired and loved."

"Hank is a tough taskmaster but he is incredibly fair and he has always had the school system and the children in the forefront," Laliberte said.

"He is very well respected as a real leader in the community."

But retirement doesn't mean Jones will wash his hands completely of what he helped build for the last 31 years.

He plans to be involved with the Alabama Association of School Administrators and to continue to be an active citizen.

And, while this may keep him busy, Jones said he will still have plenty of time to "dote on my six grandchildren" and "play golf when I want to."

Jones will be sorely missed by his associates, but be assured that the feeling is mutual.

"I will really miss the school system; the children, staff, parents," Jones said.

"I've had great relationships with a lot of people over a lot of years."

Throughout his career, Jones has taught the children and grandchildren of some of his first students, and he has fond memories of it all.

"There are a large number of students who have meant a great deal to me," he said.

With his kind of following, Jones seems irreplaceable.

But he disagrees.

"They'll find someone else to lead," he said.

"They won't have a problem with that."

Laliberte agrees to an extent.

Although she said she has every confidence Jones will leave the superintendent's office primed for his successor to succeed, "He'll be a tough act to follow."