GRIFFIN, Ga. — Bibb County Schools Superintendent and National Superintendent of the Year, Curtis Jones, is still riding high on his accomplishment. On Tuesday, he was awarded the key to the city of Griffin.

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Jones grew up in Griffin and was a graduate of Griffin High School in 1978 where he played football. After 20 years in the military, he returned to the high school as a JROTC instructor before becoming a principal, assistant superintendent, and later, superintendent of Griffin-Spalding County schools.

"Griffin took a chance on me," Jones said. "In a lot of ways, it was the foundation on what I've been building on."

Tiffany Taylor, principal of Carver Road Middle School in Spalding County, was hired by Jones when he was a superintendent and remembered his desire to give everyone a chance to succeed.

"One of the things he prided himself on was really just making sure that all of the schools and all of the students of Spalding County got a fair shot," Taylor said.

Taylor said Jones personal touch went a long way in educating her as a principal. Jones eventually moved on to Bibb County schools where he raised the graduation rate from around 58 percent to 78 percent in three years.

Mayor Pro Tem of Griffin, Rodney McCord, said the city will always claim Jones as one of their own.

"We loaned him off to Bibb County, he's done a very good job down there," McCord said. "We are so proud of him. Being a Griffin native, we still lay claim to Dr. Jones as being Griffin's own Dr. Curtis Jones."

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McCord said the most notable accomplishment he could remember of Jones' time in Spalding County was the implementation of the College and Career Academy, which gives high school students the chance to learn a career prior to graduation.

The city also named February 26, 2019 as "Dr. Curtis L. Jones Jr. Day." Jones said nothing can compare to the love from his hometown.

 These people know me," Jones said. "It just means the world and I'm full of joy."