University Charter School welcomes John W. Cameron as founding principal

LIVINGSTON, Ala.—The Board of Directors for Sumter County’s new University Charter School has announced the hiring of its founding principal, John W. Cameron, Jr. His career in education has included all levels of public education from pre-k through 12th grade.

Before being named principal at University Charter School, Cameron has served the past three years as assistant director of the Hale County College & Career Academy. In this role, Cameron has been thoroughly involved with the Region 3 Workforce Development Committee, the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce, the Alabama Simulated Workplace, and the Ready to Work program for high school students.

Cameron was named principal at the UCS Board of Directors meeting on Monday, Feb. 5. According to Board President Micky Smith, UCS received 109 applications for the position, selecting Cameron as the best person to help the school achieve its goals and fulfill its mission. His background is a blend of professional achievements that complement the UCS vision for education and student development.

“I have always believed that we have to start early in elementary school to teach students soft skills that they need to grow and learn,” Cameron said. “Ultimately, we have to make sure that even as young children they are learning to talk to people, present themselves, and be able to compete fairly for their achievements. As educators, we provide the tools and a path for them to succeed.”

Cameron earned an associate of science in 1992 from Shelton State Community College, where he played baseball on scholarship. He then earned a bachelor of science in physical education from Livingston University (now UWA) in 1995 and was named one of two outstanding graduating seniors by the University’s College of Education. In 2005, he earned a master’s in education administration from UWA.

From 2006 until 2013, Cameron served as assistant principal at Hale County High School and was also head coach of baseball and athletic director there. He was then named principal of the school in 2013, serving two years in that position until being transferred to the Hale County College & Career Academy to serve as assistant director.

Cameron’s wife, Alesia, is also an educator, a special education teacher. They have two daughters, Liz (17) and Baylee (14). He is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys hiking and fly fishing. He’s a former power lifter competitor and says he still enjoys fitness but no longer lifts competitively.

A Tuscaloosa native, Cameron brings a track record of success in education, including teaching, coaching, and administration. He began his career as a physical education teacher and baseball coach. He has both taught and coached throughout Tuscaloosa City Schools, from elementary to high school at Skyland Elementary, Stillman Heights Elementary, Eastwood Middle, and Northington Elementary schools. Additional coaching positions include Tuscaloosa Middle School, Tuscaloosa Academy, Central High School, Hillcrest High School, and Paul W. Bryant High School, all in Tuscaloosa.

Over the course of his coaching career, he coached nine players who went on to play professional baseball, eight of which played in the major leagues.

“To me, coaching is teaching,” Cameron explained. “It’s providing leadership and instruction that allows everyone to succeed.”

Cameron said that he wants to act as a bridge that helps to build a school culture of inclusivity, fairness, and achievement.

“Issues usually are a result of divides, and divides are a matter of perception,” Cameron said. “We will establish a transparent path of communication for the school, families, and the community. We all share a common goal, and that is to get kids ready for whatever path they’ll choose, whether it’s academia, military, or absolutely any profession.”

Cameron said that he fully expects the challenges that will surely come with establishing a new school, and he sees his role as principal as an opportunity to set a high standard.

“The standard is excellence,” Cameron said. “It’s something that was instilled in me as a college athlete in Livingston. Our coaches held us to a standard and helped us do what we needed to do to succeed. The work is hard, but it’s rewarding. It’s where we gain the sense of investment that moves us forward.”