November 7, 2012 Edition

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Jacob Kersey (left), principal of WRHS, attends a Kiwanis Club meeting with his school superintendent, Terry Belcher. Both are members of the organization.

Transition goes well for WRHS
Principal Jacob Kersey

John Bland

For Jacob Kersey, the transition from coach to principal at Walnut Ridge High School has been very smooth. Having been employed by the district for the previous four years, as well as an earlier stint, he is familiar with the students and faculty, and they know him.

"Teachers and students know my personality and know what to expect, and I know them, so it has made the move relatively smooth," Kersey said.

Nevertheless, the beginning of this school year held special anticipation. "My best memory is the first day of school when we met in the gym that morning, seeing everyone together and knowing that it is now my school to lead."

Also making the transition less drastic is the fact that Kersey has continued for one last season as an assistant coach for the Bobcat football team. Over the summer, he helped keep student athletes in shape with a rigorous fitness regimen conducted in the new P.E. and field house complex.

Kersey graduated from Ridgecrest (Paragould) High School in 1995. He completed a bachelor's in physical education at Arkansas State University in 2000. He then earned a master's degree in educational leadership at ASU in 2008.

His work history includes the following:

  • 2000-01: Phys. ed. teacher, baseball coach, Bloomfield Schools, Bloomfield, Mo.

  • 2001-03: Phys. ed. teacher, assistant football/assistant baseball coach, WRHS.

  • 2003-07: Seventh grade science teacher, head junior high football/head baseball coach at Hoxie High School.

  • 2007-08: High school principal, Williford.

  • 2008-12: Phys. ed. and health teacher, assistant football/assistant softball coach, WRHS.

Kersey's family includes his wife, Darenda, who is a business instructor at Black River Technical College in Pocahontas. They have two children: Katie, age 11 and a fifth grader at WRMS, and Bo, age six and a first grader at WRES.

His mother, Cathy Wilkin, lives in Paragould and is employed at the Northeast Arkansas Education Cooperative in Walnut Ridge. His father and stepmother, Tim and Pat Kersey, live in Phoenix.

Kersey wished to acknowledge several people for their help in his transition to principal: "My wife for being supportive of my career through all the years of coaching and long hours away from home and now into this new job; Mr. (Terry) Belcher for giving me this opportunity; Mr. (Derek) Bramlett and Ms. (Kim) Brown for the support as fellow administrators, and numerous phone calls and texts from everyone who has congratulated me and wished me well in my new position."

"The students have been great," Kersey said. "They have told me on several occasions that they like me being their principal."

"The teachers have also been wonderful. They gave me a surprise potluck on Boss's Day and gave me a couple of gift cards," he added.

Kersey believes one of the biggest challenges for him and other educators is keeping up with the changes in education, society and technology. "Our teachers are willing to do what it takes to change with the times, but sometimes there are so many new programs and ideas that it is difficult to decide what's best for our students ," he said.

"We have a wonderful school here at WRHS," Kersey said. "We are proud of our students, excited about what the future holds in education and are proud to have the opportunity to serve the students of our district."

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