Madison City Schools administrator says goodbye and thank you

563fe3b2e1681.imageA Madison City Schools administrator who has worked with the district since it was created is moving on to help children in a different way.

Director of Student Services Dennis James has served the district as a teacher, a principal and as an administrator over the years.

“It doesn’t seem like it’s been 28 years until I look in the mirror,” he laughed and said.

During his nine years at Bob Jones High School, James started the cross country and indoor track programs, which later took home state trophies. He also coached basketball and track.

As Director of Student Services, James initiated a backpack food program, implemented programs for students struggling with substance abuse and expanded the School Resource Officer Program, among other achievements.

WAAY 31 first met James and his wife Mary Pat in August of 2015, when they were training to climb Mount Kilimanjaro as a fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. In an effort to create a “mountain of hope” for children suffering from cancer, the James’ raised more than $15,000.

James also spearheaded the district’s fundraising efforts for St. Jude. Over the years, the Madison City Schools community has raised $500,000 for the hospital.

Now, James is moving to Memphis in the hopes of helping St. Jude full time.

“You get into the teaching profession because you love and care about kids, and you want to make their lives better. So this is one way that you can again help children, you can give back…you can help keep them safe,” he said.

Mary Pat James will also stay busy in Memphis by leading volunteer efforts at St. Peter’s Church.

Although Dennis James is leaving the district, his legacy remains through his daughter Molly, who is a first grade teacher at Columbia Elementary School, where her father was the first principal.

To the Madison City Schools community, James wanted to leave this message:

“For all of the people whose paths we’ve crossed, I’d just like to say thank you. They have meant so much to me and to my family, and it’s just been a blessing to be a small part of their world,” he said.