Laney retiring from TCSS

Published 2:05 pm Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Jonathan Laney has been a Granger, a Cavalier, a Tiger and much more during his time at the Troup County School System, where he started as a student and has progressed to his current role as director of secondary education. He’s adding a new title to his list soon — retiree.

However, don’t expect him to be gone long. Laney said in time he expects to be back at the Troup County School System in some capacity, but after 30 years in education, he’s looking forward to a few months off. His official retirement date is Dec. 1.

Laney’s retirement was made official when the Troup County School Board passed its human resources report during Thursday night’s meeting.

Sometimes when people graduate, they take off as fast as they can and leave their hometown as quickly as they can. Laney only spent a few years away from Troup County during his career, and that entire time he said he felt like he needed to get back.

“It does matter tremendously that I was here in my hometown, serving the families of Troup County and making an impact where the school system had impacted my life,” said Laney, a 1989 LaGrange High graduate. “My dad graduated from LaGrange High School in 1962. My mom graduated from LaGrange High School in 1964. So we were longtime residents of Troup County and LaGrange, and it does mean a lot that my career was spent here in Troup County.”

Going back to his early days as a student, Laney probably never expected to go into education. He was a special education student in fourth-grade who was struggling with reading. He’s shared those struggles with students over the years.

“I finally overcame those learning difficulties and finally learned to read, but it took me to fourth grade to actually begin being a reader,” Laney said. “But after I overcame those struggles, Troup County Schools saw me through, and I was an honor graduate from LaGrange High School.”

After graduating from LaGrange College, Laney wanted to go into construction, but his parents encouraged him to try out a career in education. His first job was as a paraprofessional in a special education classroom, where he encountered a student that reminded him of a young version of himself.

“I encountered a young man that was autistic and had a tremendous amount of mathematical ability. But the coursework they were doing in the special ed classroom was on about the third-grade level, and his behavior was extraordinarily bad as a result,” Laney said.

Laney started working with the student during math time and soon he was doing high school level math. The young educator was hooked.

“Once I saw how excited he got about learning mathematics, and I got a lot of support from his parents who thanked the superintendent of schools at the time, I fell in love with education,” Laney said. “At that point, I decided I wanted to be a teacher and I applied for and became a teacher that next semester.”

His career has taken him around Troup County School System, from teacher to assistant principal, principal to his current role. He’s become ingrained in all three high schools, but he said his six years as principal at Callaway High was very special.

“Serving Callaway High School as principal was the thing that I’m most proud of in my career,” Laney said. “Joining that community and joining that staff and that team and seeing that school really come into its own while our team was working, it was truly the highlight of my career. … I love the entire county — I love the Tigers, I am a Granger, but that was the highlight of my career.”

So what’s next for Laney? First, a break. He became the director of secondary education in 2021, and he’s looking forward to some time off. 

But then, he expects to be back at TCSS in some capacity, even throwing out the idea of being a substitute teacher.

“I plan on coming back and having some role in the school system,” Laney said. “Whether I’m substituting or whether I’m doing a part-time job in some capacity at Central Office, I’m not sure, but I plan to come back and still be a part of Troup County Schools but just not at the level of responsibility that I am now.”

Superintendent Brian Shumate said Laney will be missed.

“I’ve been in education for 37 years and Jonathan Laney is one of the best administrators I’ve ever been around,” Shumate said. “… Jonathan has been a great leader. He’s going to be sorely missed.”

Shumate said TCSS will start advertising for the job soon.