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Thank you to AIS and the Alma School District

Warnock020620I wanted to share my retirement letter with students and parents, so it appears at the bottom of this post. I shared the following four points with our School Board on February 6.

I’ve spent 19 years as a part of the Alma School District and have the following observations:   1) Alma has shown an ever-increasing focus on student achievement over these years.  2) Alma has made huge leaps in providing relevant technology for students.  3) Alma has demonstrated a constant focus on hiring great people and then providing professional growth opportunities throughout their careers.  4) Alma is a “both/and” district that balances student achievement efforts with an emphasis on the arts. Alma is a place where students can add relevance and engagement to their education through music, dance, drama, and the visual arts.

I didn’t mention this, but it’s evident in so many ways that the Alma District and community are committed to student and staff safety. We have our own Alma Police Department SRO, secure facilities, and well-trained staff and students. This means so much to me as a parent and an educator.

I’m thankful for the way the Alma School District has impacted my family, and my many students and staff.

January 31, 2020

Mr. David Woolly and the Alma School Board

I will be resigning as principal at Alma Intermediate School on June 30, 2020. My goal has always been to conclude my career in education still excited about learning and working with students. Being part of the Alma School District made this goal easy to accomplish.

I delayed my original retirement date by one year so that we could work with staff to plan and implement our Alternative Learning Environment (ALE). Writing that plan last year and then watching the teacher in our new ALE this year meeting the needs of our most at-risk students has been a highlight of my career.

I’ve had the privilege of working with great superintendents, most notably, Bob Watson in El Dorado, and Charles B. Dyer and David Woolly in Alma. I have also enjoyed my association with school board members who volunteer to serve our schools in continuous improvement efforts. My assistant principals, Geneva Moss (El Dorado), Suzy Ferguson, and Ralynn Wilkinson, have influenced my professional growth and done many things to increase the success of schools I’ve served.

While teaching music and completing my master’s in counseling earlier in my career, I could never have imagined that my journey would lead to a great school like Alma Intermediate. Thank you for giving me this privilege.

It has been an honor to work with teachers and play a role in their professional and personal growth. Watching them has taught me much about teaching and learning and the significance of their service. I often brag that my best talent is recognizing talent and core values in hiring teachers. I will genuinely miss hiring and watching the development of teachers.

Completing Phase III of the Arkansas Leadership Academy Principals’ Institute, being designated Arkansas’ Principal of the Year, and serving as president of the Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators were opportunities to bring positive attention to Alma. Still, my highest personal honor has been to work with students and take actions to enhance their learning. Watching their growth and development is the greatest joy of my work in education. I hope to continue working with students in the future in some capacity, maybe an occasional bucket drum club, or sharing an outdoor adventure from time to time.

I have many interests to pursue. Between family, trails, photography, writing, and drumming, I fear not having enough time and health to get it all done! Thank you to the leaders of the Alma School District for being such a significant part of my career. Education has been a rewarding way to spend a large portion of my life, and I look forward to serving our community and schools as a volunteer in the future.


Jim Warnock


Backpacking in the Ozarks


  1. Sue Warnock says:

    Lest you ever doubt it, you have made your parents, grandparents, and, indeed, all of your ancestors and current relatives mighty proud!

    And you have been a shining example for all of your many students, staff, and associates of what a fully formed human should look and act like—physically, intellectually, and emotionally.

    Be well and be at peace. You are loved beyond measure.


  2. Kyler says:

    Wow it’s been several years since I’ve been in the intermediate school and I enjoyed it and got everything I feel that I needed to succeed and I continue to grow in many ways even after I graduated in 2018 you were always attentive and understanding a truly great person

  3. Beverly Elliott says:

    Beautiful letter. I am already “richer” than my wildest dreams because of you and people like you. Think of you often – at least nightly when I see the photo of ”Lake ”Shepherd Springs Spillway“ that you gave to us. It hangs over our bed.

    Congratulations to you and all those kids, teachers, board members, parents, etc. that you have led. So very, very proud of you, Jim.

    Best wishes always, and get after those things you want to do. Time passes so quickly in retirement.

  4. Thank you for the kind words. Your leadership of the Arkansas Leadership Academy has had immeasurable impact! Best professional learning of my career! I’m honored to know you still have that photo.

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I'm a retired educator. I enjoy learning and sharing with others. If you like the outdoors, check out my other blog: ozarkmountainhiker.com

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