By Ryan Michaels
The Birmingham Times
Bessemer City Schools Superintendent Autumm Jeter, EdD, will be moving into an assistant superintendent role with the Alabama State Board of Education beginning April 16.
Jeter, who has served as superintendent for Bessemer since 2020, previously spent 20 years as a teacher and before her election to head the Bessemer school system, had been an administrator for 15.
The educator said she looks forward to working with more school districts across the state. “This particular position, will allow me that opportunity,” Jeter said. “It was a goal of mine to just be able to make a bigger impact. I was very excited [to get the role] because I knew I now had an opportunity to work with the state.”
Jeter said she will miss the students and faculty in Bessemer.
“I’m very proud to have led Bessemer City Schools, to have the opportunity these last about four years to be here, and we’ve made phenomenal gains during my tenure, and I look forward to keeping up with my students,” Jeter said.
The superintendent said she made it a point to know the students in her school system.
“I pride myself in going out to our schools, at least weekly to stay connected…And then when I’m doing that, I’m also teaching our students about my position, in particular, what it is, what I do because some of my high school students already tell me they want to be teachers. And I always say, ‘Yes, teach and you could aspire to do more, like I have done,'” Jeter said.
During the phone call with State Superintendent Eric Mackey when Jeter was told she had the job, Jeter said Bessemer would be fine in her absence.
“We have a great foundation [in Bessemer], and they are going to be okay because there are always great leaders to replace you, regardless of the position,” Jeter said. “With the growth being made, we will be well-off to being a high-average school district very soon.”
Since taking on Bessemer, the schools have seen significant improvements, particularly Abrams Elementary School, which was taken off the Alabama Accountability Act list, or “failing schools” list, this year.
The success at schools like Abrams, Jeter said, comes from taking an in-depth look at what the school system had been doing.
“We fine-tuned,” Jeter said. “What are we teaching? What are we using? What are we doing? And we cleaned that up. What are some of these evidence-based practices that are best practices curriculum-wise that we need to make sure our students are receiving?”
Previous administrative roles in other districts, Jeter said, also gave her an ability to consider what educators outside of Bessemer were doing and implement those strategies. That work, though, is not just her doing, Jeter said.
“That has taken all of us not just me, as a superintendent, I just had a vision for it. I communicate that vision to my leadership team, and that’s inclusive of the principals, and we’ve been able to carry it out together. I believe in collective leadership, and it has worked here. Is there room to grow? Sure, but I’m very proud of my school system,” Jeter said.
Jeter is a Fairfield, Alabama native and a product of the Fairfield City School System. She received her B.A. degree in Secondary Education from Talladega College; her M.A. in Secondary Education with a concentration in History from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She received her educational administrative certification, Educational Specialist Degree (Ed.S.) and Doctor of Education Degree (Ed.D.) all from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.