Almost fifty years after Jeff McKinney’s dad coached the 1970 Ricebird football team to a state championship victory, McKinney will be back to lead the students and staff of SHS as the new high school principal. McKinney admits that he does already have some Ricebird blood in him since his family lived in Stuttgart when he was born and his sister graduated from Stuttgart High. “I am ready to be part of the Ricebird tradition,” he said. “There is so much tradition in Stuttgart.”
The Stuttgart School board unanimously voted Jeff McKinney of Rison as the new SHS principal during Tuesday’s board meeting. McKinney has been in education over twenty years, serving as a history teacher at both the middle school and high school levels. He decided to become an administrator when he was ready to “make a greater impact on more people.” McKinney is leaving the Cleveland County School District, where he served as principal of the elementary school and Federal Programs Coordinator.
Over the last eight years in Rison, McKinney has focused a lot of his work on supporting teachers, using data to drive instruction, and creating a new RTI system for students. (RTI is a system of support for providing remediation that is student-focused.) His experience as Federal Program Coordinator provided a tremendous amount of budgeting experience, primarily with federal funding.
As principal of Stuttgart High School, McKinney wants to bring a student-centered, data-driven focus to the building. He wants to strengthen the Professional Learning Community (PLC) to empower teachers and staff to take an active role in the educational process.
McKinney received his high school education at Rison High School where he graduated in 1989. He then served in the United States Marine Corps before attending the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff where he received a Bachelor of Science in 1999. McKinney earned a Master of Education from Harding University in 2005 and an Educational Specialist degree in 2015, also from Harding University.
The McKinney family is ready to move to Stuttgart and become an active part of the community. “We (my family) are excited about a lot of things,” he said. McKinney has two daughters, one graduating from Rison this year and going on to cheer at Arkansas Tech. His youngest daughter will be in the 8th grade next year. His wife, Lynn, is a speech pathologist for the Woodlawn School District.
“I am ready to move to Stuttgart and begin the work. Everyone I have talked to from the Stuttgart School District and Stuttgart High School has been very encouraging and welcoming.” McKinney will begin his tenure as SHS principal on July 1, 2020.