Final Jackson-Madison County school superintendent candidate interviewed

JACKSON, Tenn.— The Jackson-Madison County School Board completes superintendent candidate interviews with final nominee, Joel “Joey” Hassell, Friday.

From finance to morale and student diversity it seemed no topic was left untouched.

For nearly 90 minutes, the school board fired questions at the candidate.

“The system is bigger than any one person and if at any one time anyone thinks the system can’t operate without them they need to go to the house,” Hassell said.

With nine years of experience as superintendent in Lake County, Hassell said if he gets the job he will focus on transparency, building better relationships and staff retention rates.

“Often times folks leave because they don’t feel supported. it’s not necessarily the salary they make and I think the support side starts with the board and me creating an environment where folks want to work and feel valued,” he said.

Hassell is a Gibson County native — a proud product of public education, he said he does not want to see families losing faith in the system,”I worry about public education right now in our country.”

Board members admit the district is facing a series of challenges from low morale to infrastructure and teacher turnover, but all agree students must be the highest priority for the next superintendent.

Hassell said students can essentially sell the school system.”Our best advertisement are the students that graduate from Jackson-Madison County schools and make successful transitions to universities, to our Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology to our community colleges and to work,” he said, “I think we have to capitalize on that.”

A special called session is scheduled for Saturday where board members will discuss the three candidates. Members are also likely to discuss which candidate or candidates they would like to pursue further before making a final decision, according to an email shared with WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News from a board member.