New principals named for middle schools, GSES

Three principals were named by the Jackson County Board of Education during a called meeting March 21.

Melissa Conway was hired as principal at West Jackson Middle School and Todd Graichen, at Gum Springs Elementary School, beginning July 1.

Kimra Johnson, named interim principal at East Jackson Middle School in February, will take the principal’s position there for the coming school year. A community open house was held to introduce her to the community Feb. 27.

“We are in the process of scheduling a ‘meet-and-greet’ so our community can welcome the new Gum Springs and West Middle principals,” Dr. April Howard, Jackson County School System’s superintendent, said Friday. “Watch for details on our websites and social media platforms.”

The two will share office space at GSES over the summer months, as the $7.1 million renovation at WJMS begins, “providing an excellent start for this transition,” Dr. Howard said. She released letters welcoming the west-side principals and confirming the east-side selection March 23 (see below).

Dr. Melissa Conway will return to Jackson County after three years as assistant principal at Madison County High School in Danielsville. She worked at East Jackson Comprehensive High School from 2008-2015, serving as chair of the English department, response-to-intervention coordinator and assistant to the principal.

She earned her bachelor of arts degree from Georgia State University in 2004 with a major in English and a minor in sociology; she earned her master’s degree from GSU in 2005 and her educational specialist’s degree in 2010 from the University of Georgia, both in secondary English education.

Dr. Conway earned her doctorate in educational leadership from UGA in 2016. She holds certificates from the state in English, grades six through 12, and in educational leadership.

She was a 2011-12 Teacher of the Year nominee at EJCHS and was voted “most awesome teacher” in 2012-13 by the student body.

She told the WJMS staff when she met with them Wednesday that she and her family were looking forward to returning to Jackson County.

Todd Graichen began his career in 2001 as an elementary school teacher and has taught third, fourth, fifth and sixth grades in Toms River, N.J.; Darlington, S.C.; and Columbus, Ohio. He also served as Teen Success Coordinator for the Salesian Boys & Girls Club in Columbus for three years.

From 2009-2012, he worked as an instruction coach for the Clarke County School District in Athens, and from 2012-2016 as an elementary and middle school assistant principal for CCSD. He was named assistant principal at Auburn Elementary School in Barrow County in July 2017.

Mr. Graichen earned a bachelor of science degree in elementary education in 2000 from East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., and his master’s of education degree in curriculum and instruction from Ohio Dominican University in Columbus in 2007. He earned an education specialist’s degree in educational leadership from the University of West Georgia in Carrolton in 2016.

Mr. Graichen and his wife, Jody, live in Athens with their son, Ben, and daughter, Katie.  

“I am honored to be part of the Gum Springs community and look forward to fostering strong relationships with the staff, students, and families of Gum Springs Elementary School,” he told the Gum Springs’ staff Wednesday.

Kim Johnson was an eighth-grade math and earth science teacher at Randolph-Clay Middle School in Cuthbert, Ga., from 1990-1996, before joining the staff at West Jackson Middle School in 1996. She served as a team leader, grade-level leader, and/or curriculum team leader each year from 1996-2009, teaching 7th- and 8th-grade mathematics, as well as English language arts and social studies during that time. She also worked as a basketball, track and volleyball coach. She was 2001 Teacher of the Year at WJMS.

In 2009 she was named assistant principal at WJMS and served in that capacity until February when she was named interim principal at EJMS. She said Wednesday she is excited to work with EJMS and the East Jackson community.

Mrs. Johnson earned her bachelor of arts degree from UGA in 1989 and her master’s degree in education from Georgia Southwestern College in Americus in 1993. She received her leadership certification add-on through Northeast Georgia RESA/UGA in 2006, and her education specialist’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Piedmont College in Athens in 2010.

Mrs. Johnson told the EJMS staff she is excited to work with them and the students and the East Jackson community and welcomes the new opportunity.

Dr. Conway and Mr. Graichen - letter
Ms. Johnson letter