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WATER VALLEY – Water Valley School District superintendent Jerry Williams will retire at the end of the semester in December following a 26-year career as an educator. He has served as the district’s superintendent for almost four-and-a-half years, starting with the 2019-2020 school year.
“I have always said I will know when it is time. It is time,” Williams told the Herald late Tuesday afternoon about his decision. “My wife asked me about the timing. For the last four and a half years I have given everything in me to get this district to where it is now. Now it is time, I have to worry about Jerry moving forward.”
The superintendent expressed strong appreciation to the community, students, teachers, administrators and school board members for helping make the district successful during his tenure. Williams is confident that he is leaving the district in a strong position for his successor following academic gains and infrastructure improvements in recent years.
“I have had great support from strong school board members during my time working in the district. They have been very supportive and behind me,” he explained. “We have great teachers and administrators employed in the district. There is still work to do, but the school district is in a good spot for whoever comes in,” Williams said.
The Water Valley School District earned a B-rating, meaning a high performing district, for the 2021-2022 school year and again for the 2022-2023 school year. The B is the highest rating the district has received since the state changed to the A-F accountability model in 2014.
Williams also said that almost $12 million has been invested in the district’s infrastructure, starting with a $6.5 million general obligation bond passed by voters in 2019 for school improvements. He also noted that almost $6 million in federal funding has flowed to the school through ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund) during Covid.
“We were able to be creative with the ESSER money, that helped a lot with school improvements,” he explained.
The upgrades include new facades at Water Valley High School and Davidson Elementary School. Renovations have also ranged from parking lot work to bathrooms, new floors, doors and countless other projects from the football stadium to air conditioning the high school gym.
“It was amazing to see the pride our teachers and students have in the all of these improvements, that was a very enjoyable part of my job,” Williams said.
“I have enjoyed the strong community support. This community is behind the schools, all the sports. It meant a lot getting to a B-Rated district.”
Williams, 52, said he will take a break for a few months after retirement to contemplate his next move. He is too young to completely retire and plans to pursue employment outside of education in the future.
“I told the school board when they hired me that this was going to be the last place I was going to work in education, and I meant it,” he explained. “For four-and-a-half years I have poured everything I have into this district. That may be what has drained me and led to this decision. This is a 24-hour, seven-day per week job. You have to live it, if not you will not make progress.”