When Jim LeBrun checked out McDuffie County, he liked what he saw.
"I'm real excited about the possibility of coming to McDuffie County," Mr. LeBrun said in a telephone interview with The McDuffie Mirror. "My wife and I have spent some time there, visiting and looking around and we're real excited about the possibilities."
The qualities that made a good first impression on the School Superintendent applicant were the "good, medium-sized" community and school system, the community support of the school system, the progressive and growing community, and the "rich academic and athletic history of the school system."
"My goal would be to carry that forward," he said. "I feel the school system has to have a voice in the community and the direction the community is heading, while collaborating with all the entities in the community. ...And that starts with leadership."
Mr. LeBrun received his master's in education in 1990 and his specialist's degree in the same field in 1994, both from Georgia College and State University.
He is certified in educational leadership, health and physical education and middle grades social science.
For the last four years, Mr. LeBrun was the superintendent of Jones County Schools, close to Macon, Ga., a system with approximately 5,600 students. In his 23 years of education experience, he also was principal of Georgia Military College High/Middle School, principal of Boddie Middle School, principal of Frank Scott Correctional Institute, assistant principal and athletic coordinator of Baldwin High School, teacher/coach of Baldwin High School, teacher/coach of Washington Park Elementary and assistant headmaster/athletic director of John Hancock Academy, all located in Georgia.
"I'm very experienced, but only 48 years old," he said. "So, I feel like I have a lot to offer and plenty of years left in me before I get out of the business."
Although Jones County Schools did not make Adequate Yearly Progress last year, the system has achieved Southern Association of Colleges and Schools district accreditation, National Technology Awards, School Board of Distinction honors, and 100 percent Title I Schools of Distinction while under Mr. LeBrun's leadership. During his tenure, the graduation rate improved by more than 15 percentage points, and the system maintained a millage rate of 14.25, according to his resume.
Jones County School System also earned the Gray/Jones County Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year award in 2007. He said the chamber of commerce recognized that the school system was the largest employer, had the most vehicles on the road on a daily basis and served more meals daily than most restaurants.
"And we did it all while making budget and improving the graduation rate ... and the community was very pleased," Mr. LeBrun said. "If I came to McDuffie County, my goal would be to achieve the same acclamation there."
Mr. LeBrun recently resigned from his Jones County position with a year left on his contract. During the telephone interview, he said he had made some "key personnel" changes, and those people became school board members this year.
"So I've never been afraid to make difficult decisions if it's the right decision, so I hold my head high and I sleep at night and I'm very proud of what we've been able to accomplish in Jones County, very proud," he said. "I left on a positive note ... rather than waiting for something negative to crop up. It was good for the board and it was good for me."
In spite of his early resignation, Mr. LeBrun's resume packet included letters of reference from members of the Jones County BOE, in addition to local business leaders, community leaders and parents of school children. Mr. LeBrun said his wife is a school teacher, and they have six children - four in college, one in middle school and one in elementary school.
"We are looking for a community that needs us," he said. "We know that God will take us where He wants us to be."