“I’ve spent most of the summer preparing for the school year,” says Dickerson who took over as Director of Schools in June.
Dr. Dickerson, the son of John and Thelma Dickerson, was born in Altamont. He attended the old Altamont School and North Elementary. While a student at Grundy County High School, he played basketball for four years, graduating in 1986.
Dickerson attended MTSU, finishing with a degree in Physical Education. He returned to the mountain and taught at North Elementary School. At the time, the school had an opening for a math teacher, not a physical education teacher. Dickerson sought his certification to teach math in the elementary classroom and says he never taught physical education.
After several years of teaching, Dickerson returned to school and received his Master’s Degree and his Ed.D Degree (Doctorate) in Effective Student Discipline at Trevecca University.
During his second year of teaching at North, he was pegged as Assistant Principal. He says that “back then, this was an unpaid position. You filled in for the principal when they were unable to be there.” However, once placed in the role, he enjoyed the change of pace and problem solving that goes with administration.
When he returned to teaching after advancing his education, the position of principal opened up at North and Dickerson accepted the job. It was his first experience in an official administrative capacity for the school system. From there he would become Supervisor of Instruction, move in to the Director of Schools position for three years, return to North as Principal, and head back to the school board as Supervisor of Instruction before his most recent move to Director.
Dickerson wants to make sure he “puts students first and meets their needs.” He has identified problem areas and has plans in place to make immediate changes.
“I want to build leadership in our schools,” says Dickerson. “We have started the Grundy Leadership Academy (GLA) to step up the administrative leaders in our schools. It began as a process where we took applications, narrowed it down to about ten, and plan to meet around 10 to 12 times a year. We will identify the roles of great leaders, have guest speakers, and at the end of the academy we will have a completion ceremony.”
With the leadership academy, the county will have prepared leaders ready to step up when there are openings.
Student achievement is also on Dickerson’s radar. He is changing and improving instructional strategies to increase test scores. This includes different approaches inside as well as outside the classroom. Every student in Grundy County schools will receive free breakfast and lunch this year, regardless of income or eligibility. The high school is providing a second chance breakfast for students.
Dr. Dickerson and his wife Karen have two children, John David, a junior at GCHS, and Allison, a second grader at North. They like to vacation in Montana.
As the fall football season gets underway, Dickerson hopes to attend as many games as possible and have the opportunity to talk with the students and parents of Grundy County schools.