When the 2019-20 school year begins, Cartersville High School will have a new program that hasn’t been offered before.
At a called meeting Tuesday night, the Cartersville School Board approved 4-0, with members Kathi White, Tim Chason and Kelley Dial absent, hiring Sgt. 1st Class John Snead to head up the high school’s first JROTC program.
“It was just something where several years ago, we did a survey amongst our students, just looking at what their interests were, and that was something that had some decent interest,” Superintendent Dr. Marc Feuerbach said, noting CHS has never had a JROTC program before as far as he knows. “So we started looking into it a few years ago and found an opportunity to partner with the Army, and it was an opportunity we didn’t want to pass up. We feel it’s something that will benefit our children and so that’s why we decided to go ahead and implement it.”
He added close to 120 students have “expressed interest” in taking the introductory-level JROTC courses.
Snead, who spent 28 years serving in the U.S. Army and the National Guard before retiring from the Army in December 2017, took over his new command Wednesday.
“We’re already getting supplies and materials in, which is one of the main reasons that we had this called meeting [Tuesday] instead of waiting for the regular board meeting [May 13],” Assistant Superintendent Ken Clouse said. “Basically, we want to get him on board so he can inventory and receive those materials and also start to meet the students that have signed up for the program.”
CHS Principal Shelley Tierce said 10 candidates applied for the noncommissioned-officer teaching position, and five of them were interviewed.
“Our interview committee feels Sgt. Snead possesses the characteristics needed to develop a successful JRTOC program at Cartersville High School,” she said. “He is passionate about developing meaningful relationships with our students and our community. He values education, and he understands how the implementation of a JROTC program can help prepare our students for both college and career success beyond high school. We feel Sgt. Snead’s desire to develop young men and women as leaders in our community aligns with our beliefs about leadership.”
She also said school officials are thrilled to add JROTC next year, “and we look forward to seeing the positive impact it will make in our school and in our community.”
Snead, 48, said he’s “excited for the challenge” of starting a new program as his first JROTC assignment.
“I have always wanted to leave a legacy, and what better program to place my mark on than what I know and love the most,” he said. “I strive to be the best at everything I do and will ensure that this program is a success and the cadets that are enrolled are top-notch leaders within the school and community.”
The Kennesaw resident said he wanted to teach in Cartersville “because I love the community support of the high school and its various programs.”
“I immediately clicked with the staff and faculty during the selection process and knew I would fit in and succeed with them by my side,” he said. “The support from the leadership at the school has been tremendous.”
Snead also said becoming a Purple Hurricane is fulfilling a dream he’s had since he was a teenager.
“Ever since graduation from high school, I have wanted to teach,” he said. “The Army was originally my path to a degree. I stayed in for 28 years because I enjoyed my duty positions and loved serving my country. Now that I have retired, I am happily pursing my dream once again.”
Though the new school year doesn’t start for another three months, Snead will have a lot to keep him busy.
“We are anxiously awaiting the construction to be completed on the JROTC classrooms,” he said. “Until that is complete, I will be inventorying equipment and ordering the necessary supplies for the program to be ready in August 2019.”
He also said he will spend the rest of this school year “getting acclimated to the school and its schedule as well as meeting the faculty and future cadets.”
“I will be working throughout the summer and will be prepared to have everything ready for the beginning of school,” he said.
Snead also will have some help with the program, as the school board plans to approve another JROTC instructor at its May meeting, but he won’t start until sometime in the summer, according to Clouse.
A native of Fredericksburg, Virginia, Snead held various positions while in the military, including engineer, administrative, legal, medical, instructor and recruiting.
“In my final duty, I was responsible for the operation of multiple pre-basic training sites for the entire state of Virginia,” he said.
The sergeant also earned an associate degree from Columbia Southern University while actively serving, and he plans to finish the last four classes needed for his bachelor’s degree “within the next couple of years,” he said.
Snead said he and his family — wife of nine years, Kelly, BB&T’s district operations manager for the Georgia region; and son, Blake, 7, who attends Bells Ferry Elementary School in Marietta and plays baseball for East Marietta National Little League — moved to Georgia in December, and he worked for Dignity Memorial in Canton as a family services counselor while seeking a JROTC appointment.