Hamilton County Schools superintendent candidate Jermaine Dawson told school board members that what he hopes they will take away from reading his resume is that he has been able to go into schools in urban, suburban and rural environments and bring about success by providing support to all students.
Dawson has worked since July 2020 as chief academic and accountability officer for Birmingham City Schools, an urban school district with more than 21,000 students in Birmingham, Alabama. From March 2019 until July 2020 he worked as zone superintendent for Fulton County Schools, an urban and suburban district of 96,000 students in Atlanta, Georgia.
Prior to that, Dawson served as North Florida state director of Charter Schools USA for a year; region superintendent of Duval County Public Schools in Jacksonville, Florida, for two years; director of schools for Birmingham City Schools for a year; school support officer for Houston Independent School District in Houston, Texas, for a year; and as a principal and assistant principal in Atlanta Public Schools in Atlanta, Georgia, from 2009-2014.
"I want to make sure that every child is afforded the same opportunities that I've been afforded," said Dawson, adding that he experienced homelessness during childhood. "I made it because of the power of my educators, who I have a relationship with to this very day. I have made it my mission, my calling, to be able to ensure that wherever I go that I'm fighting vigorously and working vigorously to be that advocate and that force for all students."
In addition to high-quality instruction, wraparound support for students including mental health counseling, a plan for social and emotional learning and support for students experiencing trauma are important components of efforts to close achievement gaps in the district, Dawson said.
In response to a question on how he would convince parents considering private school that Hamilton County Schools is the best option for their children, Dawson said raising achievement levels in the district is the most important factor, as high student achievement is the No. 1 thing parents look for in a school.
His goal is to make sure Hamilton County Schools offers innovative programs that rival those of local private schools, as well, he said.
"I think it's a good thing that we have competitors, because competition helps motivate you to rise to the level that you need," Dawson said.
Dawson was the second superintendent finalist to interview this week. Hamilton County Schools Interim Deputy Superintendent Justin Robertson has the last interview Tuesday, which will be livestreamed at 5:30 p.m.
The board plans to vote on the next superintendent Thursday.
Contact Emily Crisman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6508.