Hometown lady comes home to lead Humboldt City Schools, her Alma Mater
by Danny Wade
Humboldt City Schools has its new leader. Dr. Janice Epperson accepted the contract offered by the Humboldt Board of Education last week. Her first day on the job as director of schools will be July 1.
Dr. Epperson was one of four candidates interviewed for the superintendent’s position for Humboldt City Schools. She definitely had the support of her hometown (Humboldt) during the interview process with many community people attending her interview.
Dr. Epperson said when she received the call that school board selected her as their candidate to be superintendent of Humboldt City Schools, she was honored.
“I had a sense of Viking pride from athletics to academics,” Dr. Epperson said. “There’s a sense of pride wearing that Viking on your chest. I had one of those ‘whoop whoop’ moments. When you were in school, you wore Humboldt—nothing else.”
Dr. Epperson plans to be in Humboldt a couple of days before her first day on the job. She is in the process of packing up and moving from Waterbury, Conn. where she served as assistant superintendent of Waterbury Public Schools for the past three years.
Even though Humboldt City Schools ended the school year back in May,
Waterbury did not finish until June 16, leaving a tight window between jobs and moving back home to her hometown.
Dr. Epperson plans on hitting the ground running her very first day. She said those first couple of days will be spent listening and learning from the administrators and teachers. This is not so much about education but about health and how the pandemic affected the staff, their families and them individually.
“Before I jump into business, I want to know their social well-being—see if they are mentally ready to go,” Dr. Epperson explained. “We’re still in a pandemic. I want to take care of them. A healthy teacher makes a good teacher.”
This nurturing characteristic is one of servitude, not only for the staff but the students as well.
That does not mean Dr. Epperson is not prepared to address the concerns of where students are academically. She’s looked over Humboldt City School’s latest data from the state scores for 2018-19. She knows these will not be up-to-date, especially seeing how the COVID pandemic affected education.
“One area that jumped out was the graduation rate,” Dr. Epperson. “That rate needs to come up, not just to the state level but better than the state level.”
Another of her first tasks will be determining why scores are lower and why some classes do better than others. Dr. Epperson said she needs to determine if it is the strength in teachers or the strength of students. Pinpointing teachers’ strengths is key to education—getting the right teacher with the students that need help the most.
“We must work as a team,” she noted. “Once you lay the foundation in elementary school you create a pipeline from elementary to middle school, then from middle school to high school, and not always trying to get caught up (academically). High school students need to be college ready.”
Dr. Epperson has an impressive resume for her educational career. She graduated from Humboldt High School in 1987 as an honor graduate. She received a basketball scholarship to the University of Tennessee at Martin where she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education with a concentration in English. She received her Master’s Degree in Administration and Supervision from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tenn., and received her doctorate in Leadership and Research Policies from the University of Memphis.
She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the National Education Association.
Dr. Epperson began her teaching career at Humboldt High School, spending her first six years teaching and coaching. She later taught at Tigrett Middle School Jackson, Tenn., where she served as assistant principal and was promoted to principal. She is the former principal of Madison Academic High School in Jackson, where her school has received Reward School honors for three consecutive years and was named a National Blue Ribbon School.
Dr. Epperson advanced her career as the instructional leadership director for the Jackson-Madison County School System. In all, she spent 19 years with Jackson-Madison County Schools as a teacher, principal and administrator before accepting the position as the assistant superintendent of Waterbury Public Schools in Waterbury, Conn. for three years.
Now, that little girl who was raised in Humboldt, attended Humboldt City Schools, has come full circle as the director of schools for her Alma Mater.
“How does it feel to be superintendent at my Alma Mater? With as many alumni text messages, phone calls, well wishes and social media shout outs: ‘you just can’t hide that Viking pride’. If you are not from Humboldt, you truly don’t understand! I love it!” Dr. Epperson exclaimed.
“We can have a culture and climate that says academic excellence,” Dr. Epperson stated. “People say we need to get back to normal. Normal is not good enough anymore.”