From corporate boardrooms to college classrooms, Rock Hill’s new executive director of technology John James brings more than 30 years of experience with him as he begins a new chapter with Rock Hill Schools this week.
James will be replacing Joel Whitesides, who will be retiring next month after more than 31 years in the district. Whitesides shepherded the district’s growth into a recognized leader in educational technology where by fall 2017 all students in grades 3 through 12 will have a personal computer. Other achievements under Whitesides, such as constructing a robust network infrastructure to support the district’s one to one program, a move to cloud-based services and increasing bandwidth, have allowed the digital transformation of Rock Hill Schools to be a success.
For the past three years, James has served as the coordinator of technology at Fairfield County School District where he established himself as a leader in the Olde English Consortium and the South Carolina Association of School Administrators. In an effort to remain connected to the classroom and provide additional learning opportunities for students, he started a student I.T. club that met weekly to discuss a myriad of issues and challenges that his staff needed to address. Working with local churches, he was successful in establishing after-hours study centers with Wi-Fi access when the district began to replace access points in schools.
Previous to Fairfield, James spent 13 years at Converse College in Spartanburg where he rose through the ranks to become their chief technology officer. At Converse, he was responsible for all aspects of the campus technology and was awarded one of the college’s most distinctive honors. The Spirit of Converse Award is given annually to an individual who goes above and beyond the call of duty in serving the college, students, faculty, staff, alumnae and friends. He also was an adjunct professor and taught a junior-level programming class.
He and his wife Michelle have two children. Jack is a junior at Union County (S.C.) High School and Mary Kathryn is in seventh grade at Sims Middle School. Michelle has held many positions in Union County School District and is presently the career and technology education director.
James, who has a knack for numbers, has volunteered with football programs at Gaffney and Union High Schools. His analysis of opponents’ offenses and statistical tracking helped the schools reach five state championship games. He won titles with 1999, 2000, and 2002 with Union and in 2005 with Gaffney.
He holds a B.S. in computer science and mathematics from Furman University.