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Johnny Cleveland vies for Franklin County superintendent

The elementary principal at Red Bay, Johnny Cleveland said his commitment and his high expectations for Franklin County Schools make him the man for the job of superintendent.

“(I am) committed to providing the students of Franklin County with a safe environment in which exemplary instruction may be designed and used to educate the whole child so that he/she may become a productive member of our community,” Cleveland said, adding that he “expects intellectual curiosity, collaborative and critical thinking to be an everyday part of each school’s educational process. He also expects “effective communication methods to be used by each school to connect parents and educators. Instruction must be targeted to support the strength of each student’s ability to allow them to achieve at the highest levels,” he said.

Cleveland, who has been a classroom teacher at Red Bay in social studies, math, life science, physical science and photography, in students grades five through 12, said his background in working with students, parents and teachers “allows me to stay current on the actual needs of the school community.”

“Attitude is a key element to establishing positive working relationships with parents,” Cleveland said. “As a school leader, one must be willing to sit down and listen to the needs of the students, parents and teachers. Most issues can be resolved simply by allowing input to be heard by the administration and then working together to meet those needs.”

The needs Cleveland said he sees in the school system include school safety, career tech and parental involvement.

“All of our campuses are in rural locations and have too much open access,” Cleveland said. “My plan is to restrict the open flow of visitors from an all-points entry to a single check-in location. By doing this, we will be able to control our flow of visitors and eliminate potential risks to our school community.

“We began using photo ID badges at Red Bay two years ago, and I would like to see this implemented across the county. Photo ID badges allow visitors, new parents and new students to quickly recognize school staff and promote name recognition.

“We still have many exterior doors that simply don’t lock or don’t close properly. These problems need to be corrected. Ideally it would be great to install magnetic door locks so each staff member could use a swipe ID badge to access all exterior doors, instead of carrying multiple keys for a variety of door locks.”

When it comes to career tech, “classes need to be expanded to include computer networking, computer hardware and classes to teach our students to write computer code such as html,” Cleveland said. “We could partner with local industries to allow these students to get hands-on experience through internships or partner with our school technology department … Our students are immersed in technology at home and should not be held back or bored due to our neglect of providing the same or better opportunity at our schools.”

Parental involvement, Cleveland said, is the single most important factor in a child’s success. “As your superintendent I will work with you to promote your child’s success. I understand the working schedule that parents struggle with,” Cleveland said. “We currently have an after-school program that provides parents with an alternative solution for childcare and extra time for supervised homework. Many parents have asked me about providing a childcare program before school for those parents who have to be at work by 7 a.m.” Cleveland said he has been looking into such a program. “By providing this program, parents would be able to drop off their children before going to work, and this would eliminate leaving their children home alone to get on the bus or having to drop them off with a sitter until the bus arrives. I will pursue this if there is enough need to support the program.”

He encouraged all members of the Franklin County school community to “contribute to the support of student learning and to act as collaborative partners in the education of our children.”

“Each student must be guided in their personal educational pursuit by exploring their intellectual, artistic, technological, physical, social and personal character development, both at home and in the school setting,” Cleveland said. “Our instructional programs must be geared toward enabling all students to meet the challenges of the future with confidence and compassion and to provide them with the opportunity to become productive members of this county upon graduation from high school, technical school or college.”

Cleveland will face off against Donald Borden for the Democratic nomination for superintendent.

He is married to Martha Cleveland, and they have one son, Chase Cleveland.

In addition to serving as the Red Bay boys and girls golf coach, has served as a city councilman in the past at Red Bay for three terms. He is currently serving on the Dempsey Foundation Board, which provides scholarships for Franklin County students. He is an active member of the newly-formed Parent/Teacher Organization (PTO) and a member of the Cattlemen’s Association.

Cleveland and his wife are members of the Red Bay Free Will Baptist Church, where he serves as an assistant Sunday School teacher for the adult class.