John Adams returns to CCSD
by Haisten Willis
June 04, 2014 04:00 AM | 4132 views | 12 12 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
John Adams<br>Staff/Jeff Stanton
John Adams
Staff/Jeff Stanton
MARIETTA — John Adams is moving from a job where he defended teachers to one where he is responsible for terminating them in his new role as chief human resources officer for the Cobb School District.

Adams got the nod from new Interim Superintendent Chris Ragsdale on May 29, joining a seven-member executive cabinet and bearing the title of interim chief operations officer.

Adams will make $132,000 in his new role. The former human relations chief, Michael Shanahan, made $129,958 in 2013.

“My goal is to make this the best human resources department in the state,” Adams said. “I think I may be the only person in the state who’s been on both sides of the human resources table, defending teachers, as well as working in human resources.”

For Adams, the move marks the second time he’s made the jump between representing employees and representing their employer. Fifteen years into his career with Cobb schools, Adams left his job as director of employee relations in 2011 to found Educators First, a non-union teachers’ organization based in Kennesaw and boasting almost 2,000 members.

Adams said his experience defending teachers through Educators First will be a credit to his human resources work, rather than a detriment.

“I think I’ll be able to relate better to teachers because I understand their concerns and their perspective,” he said. “It gives me a more balanced view of things.”

Connie Jackson is president of the Cobb County Association of Educators, a group similar to Educators First. She hopes Adams avoids any bias toward or against teachers in his new position.

“I think the fact that he has been on the other side could actually be beneficial because he’s seen how hard it is for employees when they’re treated unfairly,” she said. “I hope that experience would make him an aware and sensitive human resources director.”

One idea Jackson said Adams has floated is monthly meetings between himself and teacher organizations such as Educators First, the Cobb County Association of Educators and the Professional Association of Georgia Educators.

Jackson said she likes the idea. She said the important thing for all sides to work toward is fair and equitable treatment of teachers.

Educators First is replacing Adams with Tommy Stephens, a retired school superintendent from Union County, which in north Georgia near the border with North Carolina.

Teacher morale must be improved, Adams says

With his new titles, Adams supervises nearly 2,000 employees, including a human resources staff of 48, a transportation department of 900, 38 school resource officers and several other departments.

He says he’s up to the task, citing low morale as a major challenge to be overcome.

“My three years with Educators First made me keenly aware of the challenges facing Cobb teachers today,” said Adams. “Morale is very low in Cobb County right now. That’s no one’s fault. Teachers across the state are doing more with less and less. We have to improve employee morale.”

Adams also wants to change the conversation about education in Georgia. He said the trend right now regarding leadership is to look at Gwinnett County and see what their school system is doing. Adams wants people to start asking what Cobb County is doing, at least regarding human resources.

Adams outlined his view of a strong human resources department.

“A good human resources department is very employee friendly,” Adams said. “They do whatever they can to let employees know every day they are the department’s critical customers. They are never too busy to take time out to make an employee’s day. They are sympathetic, they listen. They also have to do a good job of recruiting and hiring teachers.”

Adams said he loves dealing with people, especially educators, and feels he can make a more proactive difference in the lives of Cobb educators through his new job.

Adams has lived in Cobb County since 1988. He spent seven years as a police officer before becoming a teacher. After joining Cobb schools, Adams first taught special needs students with behavior disorders. In this role, he taught all subjects to his middle school students.

“I was a police officer and somebody called in a bomb threat. I got my first job talking to the principals walking the hallways,” said Adams, who prides himself on his sense of humor. “I was good at managing behavior for kids who had behavior problems. I was good at that, but not good at teaching math. You can’t be good at everything.”

The John Adams file
• Wife, Lenora Nyeste, assistant principal at Barber Middle School. Three daughters, ages 20-12.
• Residence: Acworth
• Career stops:Cobb County Police Department, officer; Floyd Middle School, teacher; Pebblebrook High School, assistant principal; Sanders Elementary School, assistant principal; CCSD central office, investigations manager, director of employee relations; Educators First, executive director
• Number of years in education: 18
• Education: B.A. History, Georgia State University; M.Ed. Behavioral Disorders, Georgia State University
• Spending time with family, playing with his dog, movies (especially science fiction), shooting handguns
• Salary: $132,000

Comments-icon Post a Comment
June 04, 2014
“A good human resources department is very employee friendly,”

A managerial perspective- 'OK, now the bad eggs will be even harder to get rid of."

Bad Egg perspective- Woo Hoo! Now we can do what ever we want!

The oppressed perspective- "OK, now maybe they will act on this tyrant"

Teacher fans
June 04, 2014
I'm a big fan of his. He has always been honest and direct whether working in a school or for an organization. Lots of respect for him. And I think it's a great step to have him running things in Cobb.
Omar the begger
June 04, 2014
Move alone folks, nothing to see here
Nice Guy
June 04, 2014
I've known John for a long time and have worked with him for years. A truly nice guy and a good choice for the job. I wish the best of luck!
Cobb Resident
June 04, 2014
Nice to see someone higher up in the school system who has lived in Cobb since the 80s. Ragsdale at least didn't have to go out of state to find good talent. Please, no more people from Texas.
June 04, 2014
Low morale is "no one's fault?" When the organization's morale is undermined by unethical behavior in the upper ranks, there certainly are people at fault.
Two jobs?
June 04, 2014
Wait a minute....Is Adams going to be BOTH the head of HR and the head of Operations? Have they combined two full time central office jobs into one?
CCSD Principal
June 04, 2014
Welcome home, John. We are glad you came back and are excited to have you back on "our side of the table" again.
New Hires
June 04, 2014
Mr . Ragsdale is surrounding himself with good people, starting with Dr. Rivera and Mr. Adams. Seems to be a trend of veteran Cobb people coming back to the fold, and that is a good thing. I suspect some teachers and administrators will want to return too.
Breath of Fresh Air
June 04, 2014
Imagine that! A head of HR who seems to actually understand and sympathize with the teachers and other employees. What a radical concept.
Welcome Back!
June 04, 2014
Welcome back, John! We missed you.
Great Move
June 04, 2014
Great move for the district!

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