Superintendent and School Board Members Take Office

Mary Beth Jackson, the new Superintendent of Schools, was sworn into office along with Dewey Destin, School Board member representing District 2,  and Cathy Thigpen, returning District 4 School Board member, at the November 20 Swearing-In Ceremony/School Board meeting.

Over 200 family, friends, faculty, and administrators gathered at Shoal River Middle School for the ceremony. School Board member Cindy Frakes led the Invocation and the Honorable Rodney Walker, School Board Chairman, presided over the event.  Taylor Oury, Shoal River Middle School, led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance and Alex Roy, Baker School, sang the National Anthem.

Jackson chose Pastor Jonathan Shepard, Ebenezer Baptist Church, to administer her oath to the office of Superintendent while her mother and husband stood by her side.

“I want to thank all of my friends and supporters,” said Jackson after being sworn in.  “I look out here tonight and I see you and I am very humbled by your presence.  I am very humbled by your support and I will promise you one thing – I probably won’t always make you all happy with me.  I will probably make decisions that maybe were not the very best decisions.  But one thing you can count on – whenever I make decisions, it will be one that has the welfare of our students and our employees at the very base of every decision."  

About Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson

Mary Beth Jackson has been active in the field of education for over twenty-five years, first as a social studies teacher and later in developmental guidance and administration. She has experience in elementary, middle, and high schools, and she has served as a district-level administrator.

Jackson has worked in the creation and implementation of career and technical education, gender-specific, drop-out prevention, and developmental guidance programs. Some of the initiatives with which she has had success include Building Blocks at Richbourg Middle School, BIRD Reading/Developmental Guidance at Richbourg Middle School, CHOICE High School and Technical Center, and Career and Technical CAPE Academies. She has served as the district administrator for Career and Technical Education for the Okaloosa School District for the past five years. During this time, she has seen enrollment in this program double, and the number of CAPE Academies has increased from twelve to twenty-eight.

Jackson graduated from William Carey University with undergraduate work in social science and received her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of West Florida. Additionally, she obtained certification in guidance and counseling at Troy University.

Jackson is married to Len Jackson, and they have a blended family of five children. She also has two grandchildren and is expecting a third. Len, Mary Beth, and all five children are products of the Okaloosa School System. Len and Mary Beth live on Len’s family farm and enjoy outdoor activities and time with family.

Cathy Thigpen - School Board Member District 4

Surrounded by her family, Thigpen chose Lee Thigpen to administer her oath of office.

“This is my fourth time to stand up here,” said Thigpen.  “Every time I stand up here, I am so grateful and humbled that you have the confidence in me to serve this incredible District.  I am happy to work alongside of Mary Beth.  It is going to be a great run together.  As Cindy Frakes said in the Invocation, it is all about the kids and those that work to make the kids productive citizens in our country.”



Dewey Destin - School Board Member District 2

Destin’s son. Parker Destin, administered Destin’s oath to office.

“It is a great honor for my family and myself to be allowed to serve in this capacity,” said Destin after completing his oath. “Public service is the bedrock of American policy and there is no more important task of any society than the education of students.  I know that this District has faced stormy waters financially for the last few years and I know that we have a few more ahead of us, but I feel very confident that this group will weather that storm and continue to prove that this is one of the best School Districts in the state of Florida.”

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