Dr. Jan Irons Harris is a lifelong educator whose mission is to teach others a better way of life through education, love, and by example, by using her gifts of teaching and leading. She is married to her college sweetheart, Dennis Wholey Harris.
Jan Irons Harris was born in Florence, AL. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree in math/education from the University of North Alabama, and the University of South Carolina, respectively. She received her doctorate in school administration from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University where she received the Wheeler Prize for Outstanding Academic Achievement in Doctoral Studies. Jan successfully served as a math teacher, assistant principal, middle school and high school principal, and superintendent.
After Jan “failed” retirement, she served as superintendent in Dade County Schools in Trenton, Georgia for almost five years. Jan served as superintendent of Cullman City Schools in Cullman, Alabama and Dade County for a total of 14 years. In 2020, she and the Dade County Board Members received the Governance Team of the Year Award by the Georgia School Boards Association. The Dade County Board of Education placed a dedication at each of its library media centers and Board of Education in honor of Jan for her “exemplary and visionary leadership as superintendent.” Tree City planted a Ginkgo tree in her honor.
Jan received the Dade County Board of Education Superintendent of Excellence Award, Dade County Chamber Educator of the Year, Optimist Club Partners in Education Award, Alabama PTA High School Principal of the Year, University of North AL Alumnus of the Year, AL District 8 Superintendent of the Year, eschool news Tech-Savvy Superintendent, The Cullman Times Distinguished Citizen of the Year, Outstanding Educator by the North-Central Alabama Girl Scouts, and Heart of An Eagle Award from the Boy Scouts of America. Mayor Max Townson named Jan an Honorary Cullman “Colonel”, and Childhaven Children’s Home presented the Dot Causey Distinguished Service Award to Jan and her husband, Wholey.
Jan’s focus is on character education, academic rigor, and effective communication. Under her leadership, student achievement increased, and all of the school climates improved due to the efforts of the entire team. Additionally, Jan believes that leadership starts at the top. As such, it is imperative that the superintendent and board members maintain and model positive interpersonal relationship skills.
Jan is an active member of her church and community. As such, she has served on numerous boards and committees. Most recently, she served on the Optimist Club Board as well as the Dade County Library Board and Dade County Board of Health. She served as vice chair of the NWGA RESA Board of Directors and the GSSA Board of Directors. Additionally, she served as president of Delta Kappa Gamma. She is the author of Leadership, According to Solomon (2018, co-published by Rowman and Littlefield and the American Association of School Administrators), and The Principal’s Office (2008, Rowman and Littlefield).
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