By Mark Carpenter –
After a very successful stint with the Manchester Local School District, Manchester High School Principal Jamie Wilkins will be ending those duties on July 31 and stepping up to the superintendent’s position just down the river with the Ripley School District.
Wilkins, a graduate of Penn State University who earned his Superintendent’s licensure from Ohio University, will be making his second stop in Ripley as he was there from 2003-2009 in the capacity of teacher, coach, and Athletic Director. He came to Manchester in 2009, beginning his career there teaching two periods a day, while acting as Assistant Principal and Athletic Director. When Principal Jeff Stricklett left for a superintendent’s position in 2011, Wilkins stepped up into the principal’s role at MHS, where his list of accomplishments is impressive.
“I was presented with a fantastic opportunity to come to Manchester when I left Ripley,” said Wilkins. “It was good for me because I am very comfortable in these small river communities and I like the southern Ohio/northern Kentucky area and plan on spending the rest of my life here.” “My eight years at Manchester have been great. I have been very lucky to work with great people, an unbelievable teaching staff and kids that are just fantastic here. I will really miss the staff and students at Manchester, however, I am very excited to go to Ripley because it is similar in so many ways.”
“It’s been a team effort here at Manchester with staff, administration, students, parents, and board members, with everybody on the same page,” Wilkins continued. “Six times we were a Bronze Medal School, we have been a School of Promise, and on several occasions our OGT scores were the highest in 19 surrounding counties. You had to go to Indian Hill to find a school with better OGT scores than Manchester. There are teachers, community, and board members at Manchester who have the students’ best interests at heart and when everyone works together, good things happen.”
“My only regret in leaving is that I will miss the people. I’ve made great friends and relationships here at Manchester and I’ve really enjoyed my time here. I will still see them around when Manchester and Ripley meet on the athletic fields.”
Current Ripley superintendent Linda Naylor announced her retirement and the job was posted in March where it caught Wilkins’ attention as it remained posted through April. Wilkins went through two interviews in Ripley, which he described as “very extensive”, one with a nine person committee and another with 11.
“It was a very good and fair process, but very taxing,” said Wilkins. “I really had to demonstrate what I knew but I felt comfortable with it and on the evening of my second interview, I was offered the position. I will not officially begin at Ripley until Aug. 1, but they are without a high school principal at the moment and I will be working with them as a consultant in that hiring process. I will try to talk to as many people there as possible to assist in my transition and my goal for the first year will be just to get to know people and staff and learn the strengths and weaknesses of the school district.”
“My first goal as a superintendent is to be engaged with the community and staff. I want people to know who I am and I want to know who they are. Building relationships that first year are essential to being a superintendent. I plan on being very visible and supportive and I believe in servant leadership, my job is to help people and that’s what I plan on doing. I won’t change who I am or how I conduct myself.”
“I do want to thank the Manchester Board and community for the opportunity here. It has certainly been a blessing for me.”
“I was able to work with Mr. Wilkins for six years here,” said current MHS Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Chris Young. “We have actually known each other for 15 years. It’s great to see a friend and professional colleague be able to advance their career and I know this has always been a career goal for him. The work he has done here has really paid off and working as his assistant for the past three years has been one of the best professional relationships that I’ve had.”
“I will miss him dearly but at the same time I am very happy that he gets to advance to where he wants to be and I think Ripley is getting a heckuva leader.”
Wilkins’ wife Leah works as the Elementary Counselor at Manchester, his son Jamison is a recent graduate of MHS who will begin studies at Northern Kentucky University in the fall, and his daughter Jenna will be a first grader at Manchester.