Former Grant superintendent dies in Okla.

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By Bryan Marshall

Former Grant County Schools Superintendent James Gardner died March 3 at his Oklahoma home.
Gardner, who was “Jimmy Joe” to all who knew him, served as superintendent from July 1989 to September 1994.

He was a 1959 graduate of Grant County High School before going on to Georgetown College, where he earned his bachelors degree in 1963 and his masters degree in 1969.
Gardner’s career in Grant County Schools began in the fall of 1963, when he assumed a position at Grant County High School teaching Bookkeeping, Typing I and Business English.

After four years in the classroom, he received his Director of Pupil Personnel certification and began serving in that capacity in the fall of 1967.
Gardner held that position for 15 years before transitioning in 1982 to director of transportation, where he remained until 1989 when he was selected as superintendent of Grant County Schools.

Grant County School Board chair Jim Colson, who began his service on the board in January 1985, recalled Gardner’s leadership.
“As I look back at those years, I realize major, major changes were occurring,” Colson said.

“Everything, including long-held, proud traditions that dated from the early 1900s at Mason and Corinth, to funding formulas, and even every child’s report card, changed during those years. Jim provided us the leadership we needed. His respect for education and his down-home approach smoothed a lot of ruffled feathers and allowed us to not just weather the storm, but move ahead rather nicely. He was a good man and served our district well.”  

In Gardner’s first year as superintendent, the Kentucky Educational Reform Act (KERA) of 1990  brought about monumental changes in school finance, curriculum and assessment.  
With Gardner at the helm, KERA was implemented in Grant County Schools, and also under his leadership, Mason Elementary and Corinth Elementary Schools were consolidated and the new Mason-Corinth Elementary School was constructed.
Gardner grew up deeply entrenched in education and Grant County Schools – both at home and at school.  

His mother, Pauline, served as a teacher in Grant County Schools (1947-1962), and his father, Marion Gardner, was a long-time teacher and administrator (1940-1968) for Grant County.  

Marion Gardner served as superintendent of Grant County Schools (1948–1962) during the consolidation of the four high schools in the county system (Corinth, Mason, Dry Ridge and Crittenden) and the construction of the then new Grant County High School (now Grant County Middle School).

Gardner is survived by his wife, Jackie, and five daughters:  Tammy, Deana, Jenny, Jamie and Johnna.  
To read the complete obituary, see page 7 of this issue.
(Information provided by the Grant County Schools.)