The Bicentennial Edition of First Friday Forum will continue downtown at First Methodist Church on Friday, September 10.

The bicentennial programming and event theme for September is education, arts and culture. Jackson Madison County School System Superintendent Dr. Marlon King will join Union University professor Dr. Kenneth Newman to speak on the past, present and future of education in Jackson and Madison County.

First Friday will be held at First Methodist Church located at 200 South Church Street in downtown Jackson on August 6. Doors will open at 11:30 a.m., lunch will be served starting at 11:45 a.m., and programming will start at approximately 12:30 p.m.

As this is a catered event, advance tickets are required for attendance. The cut-off for purchase is 6 p.m. the Tuesday prior to the event. Tickets will not be sold at the door. Tickets are $12 per person and can be purchased using a debit or credit card at Tickets can also be purchased by cash or check at the First Methodist business office during regular business hours (8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday-Thursday or 8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Fridays).

First Friday is sponsored by Simmons Bank.  

About Marlon King

Dr. Marlon King became superintendent of the Jackson-Madison County School System in July 2020. Born and raised in rural West Tennessee, where he attended public schools, Dr. King has given back over two decades of uninterrupted service and commitment to improving public schools. His career trajectory is unique amongst educators in Tennessee because of his wide-range of experiences that encompass being a teacher (Shelby County Schools – legacy), principal (Fayette County Schools), superintendent (Haywood, Fayette, and Jackson-Madison Counties), and an executive director (Tennessee Department of Education), all in Tennessee. Dr. King has a proven record in improving many of Tennessee’s toughest schools and districts. He has built a reputation of turning schools around by promoting strong literacy programs with fidelity, recruiting and training school leaders, setting and expecting high standards for all, garnering community support and deep engagement, and managing fiscal services through a business leader lens.  Within a short amount of time serving as superintendent of JMCSS, Dr. King has worked with his leadership team to bring in over $8 million in revenue while decreasing expenditures right at $3.5 million. King has begun working with the school board around a five-year Strategic Plan that includes implementing a new CyberSchool (JASA – Jackson Academic STEAM Academy) where families are being offered more choices for student learning. One of King’s priorities was to build the community’s trust through transparency and ongoing communication. Currently, the launch of the Superintendent’s Chronicle has been a vehicle to support King’s goals around transparency and effective communication.

About Kenneth Newman

Dr. Ken Newman is a product of JMCSS, having attended Bemis Elementary, Malesus Elementary, and South Side High School. He received his B.A. in English, French, and Secondary Education from Union University. He has a Master’s in Education and a Master’s in English from the University of Memphis. In 1994, he received his doctorate from the University of Memphis in Curriculum and Instructional Design.

He began his teaching career at North Side High School, moved to East High and Elementary as a librarian for one year, and then to West High School as an English and French teacher and part-time librarian for the next 22 years. After Consolidation, he taught English and French at North Side High. In January of 1996, he became a Middle School Instructional Supervisor and Writing Coordinator for grades K-12.

He retired from the JMCSS in 2000 and began teaching at Union University, where he still teaches. During his years at Union, he has served as Director of the M.A.Ed., Ed.S. and Ed.D. programs. He teaches graduate secondary methods courses, such as Literacy in the Content Areas and Secondary Methods. In addition, he mentors job-embedded teachers who are seeking licensure. In the undergraduate program, he teaches the history methods course, classroom management, and literacy across the content areas course. He also supervises history interns.

He advocates for public education, is student-centered, and wants “every school to be considered a good school.” One of his passions is literacy across grade levels. Having spent 30+ years in the public-school classroom, serving as a supervisor, and being in schools frequently, he knows firsthand what teachers experience daily, and he wants to be a voice for administrators, teachers and students.