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Walter Jackson's Heim retiring as principal

By Bayne Hughes 340-2432

After taking a one-year medical leave of absence, Jamie Heim will not return to her position as Walter Jackson Elementary principal.

The Decatur school board accepted Heim's retirement Tuesday at a called meeting that focused on end-of-school personnel matters. She retires after 23 years in education, including five years as Walter Jackson principal.

"Jamie has been a tremendous professional in our school system," Superintendent Sam Houston said. "She was an outstanding teacher, she served as assistant principal at Chestnut Grove (Elementary) and she provided truly fine leadership at Walter Jackson."

Rhonda Reese moved from Austinville Elementary to serve as interim principal last year at Walter Jackson. The board approved making the move permanent Tuesday. Houston said keeping Reese at Walter Jackson was a "natural decision" because of the relationships she developed this year with the teachers, parents and students.

Beth Hales served as interim principal at Austinville this year. Houston said that as part of the school system rules she would return to her former position as an Austinville teacher. She can, however, apply to become the school's permanent principal when the system seeks applications during the required two-week period.

Depending on the number of applicants, Houston said, he could use the same search process that he is using to fill the Leon Sheffield Elementary principal position. A committee of central office administrators would check references and interview the candidates before selecting a group of finalists for Houston and Assistant Superintendent Ed Nichols to interview. Houston said he hopes to make a recommendation in June.

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