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Shelby County Public Schools added two new principals to the ranks this week, with J.J. Black leaving Painted Stone to take over at Heritage and John Leeper being hired from Carroll County High School lead Collins High School.
As principal at Carroll County, Leeper saw the school become one of 40 Bronze Medal Schools, as recognized in U.S. News and World Reportmagazine.
But he won’t stop there with his new school.
“The data is here at Collins, so it is my goal that Collins receives a Gold Medal and also is selected for the Washington Post’s high school challenge,” he said in a release from the school district. “Because of the work that has been done here, the awards are on their way. There’s no limit.”
A 1995 graduate of Centre College, Leeper also holds a master’s degree from Murray State and an educational leadership certification from the University of Louisville.
He credits a former high school coach and extracurricular activities with helping him perfect his academic skills.
“They challenged me to excel because I love to compete, whether it was in the classroom, on a board game or hiking in the woods,” Leeper said in a release.
He said that the competitive spirit of those activities can “spill over into the classroom and whatever else the individual does.”
Leeper said he feels blessed to be an educator.
“I look into a student’s eye and see a smiling face that proves to me a great sense of accomplishment because when a student is really improving, he is leaving better than when he came to us,” he said. “So my office will always be open. I will be our students’ biggest cheerleader.”
Black moves into Heritage
Black knows a thing or two about Shelby County’s schools. In fact, she may know a thing or four or five. A former Bagdad Elementary, East Middle and Shelby County High School student, Black has been a teacher, a student-achievement consultant and an assistant principal for the district. Now, her moving from assistant at Painted Stone to principal at Heritage fills a lifelong dream.
“My desire has always been to give back to the community, who has given so much to me throughout my lifetime,” she said in a release.
Black said becoming an assistant principal allowed her to use some of the skills she started to foster as a student-achievement consultant.
“Thinking and working from the district perspective, I thought so much more of the whole child,” she said. “That job taught me that there was so much that I didn’t realize that I didn’t know.”
Now, Black said she understands that building relationships with the students and parents is key.
“Learning the child more than as a student that I see in school,” she said. “I wanted a vested interest inside and outside school. That way I proved to them and to their parents that my relationships were stronger than one-time instances.”
Black has a bachelor’s degree from Campbellsville University and master’s degree from the University of Kentucky.