Pennington, Ellis to lead; Halley retiring

Jennifer Halley, left, the only principal East Jackson Elementary School has known since its opening in 2003, will retire at the end of the school year with more than 30 years of service to the Jackson County School System. Allyson Pennington, center, will take Halley’s place, and Lisa Ellis, right, will take Pennington’s position as assistant principal after action by the Jackson County Board of Education Monday night, March 11, 2019.

Jennifer Halley, left, the only principal East Jackson Elementary School has known since its opening in 2003, will retire at the end of the school year with more than 30 years of service to the Jackson County School System. Allyson Pennington, center, will take Halley’s place, and Lisa Ellis, right, will take Pennington’s position as assistant principal after action by the Jackson County Board of Education Monday night, March 11, 2019.

Allyson Pennington was named principal of East Jackson Elementary School by the Jackson County Board of Education Monday night, March 11, 2019. She will be only the second principal for the school, which opened in 2003.

Pennington is in her first year as assistant principal at EJES; the BOE named Lisa Ellis to take Pennington’s place. The changes come after long-time principal Jennifer Halley announced her retirement in December (see separate story).

Pennington earned her bachelor of arts degree in interdisciplinary English from Emory & Henry College in Emory, Virginia, in 1997; her master of science degree in curriculum and instruction, elementary and middle education, from Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, in 2001; and her educational specialist degree in leadership and administration from Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee, in July 2008.

She started her career as a fifth-grade teacher in Virginia and was a graduate teaching assistant and K-through-eighth grade student intern advisor at KSU before the family moved to Georgia.

She joined the staff at South Jackson Elementary School as a fourth-grade teacher in 2001 and taught there for 10 years, serving as grade-level chair, leadership team representative, curriculum team representative for SJES at the district level, mentor teacher, University of Georgia intern liaison, and yearbook advisor.

Before joining the staff at EJES, she was an assistant principal at Maysville and South Jackson elementary schools for a total of seven years.

She and her husband, Michael, have been married for 20 years, and they have two children who attend Jackson County schools.

Lisa Ellis has spent 16 of her 25 years in education in the Jackson County Schools System. She started in Clayton County, Georgia, as a paraprofessional in a multi-age classroom of kindergartners and first-graders while earning her bachelor of science degree in early childhood education at Mercer University in Macon.

After graduation in 1997, she worked as a pre-K, first-, and second-grade teacher and a K-5 teacher of gifted and talented children in Douglas County.

She came to the Jackson County School System in 2009 as a K-5 multi-tiered system of support teacher at North Jackson Elementary School and also worked as a first-grade and an early intervention teacher there. She earned a master of science in curriculum and instruction at Piedmont College in 2010.

She moved to EJES as a first-grade teacher in 2016 and was named instructional coach for pre-K through fifth-grade in 2018.

She has been married to Richard Ellis for 24 years, and they have three children.

Ellis and Pennington’s appointments are effective with the start of the 2019-2020 school year.

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Halley to retire at end of 2018-19 year

After almost 30 years, she says it’s going to be hard to leave.

Jennifer Halley has spent her entire educational career with the JCSS, more than half of it at East Jackson Elementary School, and she is the only principal the school has known since it opened in 2003

Before that, she served a year as principal at Benton Elementary in Nicholson and three years in that same role at North Jackson Elementary School in Talmo.

She was an assistant principal at Benton for three years and at Jackson County Elementary in Braselton for a year.

She began her career at Benton Elementary in 1990, the same year she graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor of science degree in education. She taught fourth grade for two years and kindergarten for three years.

A “triple dawg,” she earned a master’s of language arts in education in 1995 and her leadership specialist’s degree in education in 1997 there as well.

When Halley announced her retirement in December, she pointed out that the school system had become part of her and part of her family. At the end of this school year, she will turn those tables, spending more time with her parents, Jack and Janet Halley of Merritt Island, Fla., and her children, Cole and Stephanie Elrod, and grandchildren, eight-year-old Halley, six-year-old Kate, and four-year-old Hoke, who live in Talmo.

“I have been very fortunate during my career to work with great people on both sides of the county at four different elementary schools,” Halley said. “I am proud of all the accomplishments I have witnessed within the JCSS since my start date in March 1990.”

Halley said she looked forward to “watching us become the most sought out school system in the state of Georgia,” and praised the staff at EJES.

“They truly have the passion for helping students achieve to their highest potential no matter what it takes. The relentless time and energy they spend on EJES students and families are what has kept me going and happy in my position for the past 16 years.”

And, as she says, “They will be hard to leave.”

EJES is one of 10 schools in the Jackson County School System, which serves nearly 8,000 students in pre-K through 12th grade. Learn more online at JacksonSchoolsGA.org.