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Posted on Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 10:10 a.m.

Skyline High's Sulura Jackson accepts principal position in North Carolina

By Danielle Arndt

Editor's note: This story has been updated with Sulura Jackson's current salary and comments from a district spokeswoman.

Skyline High School Principal Sulura Jackson has accepted a job with Chapel Hill High School in North Carolina, according to a report in The Herald Sun.


Sulura Jackson

Ann Arbor Public Schools Communications Director Liz Margolis confirmed the news around 11 a.m. Monday after Jackson submitted her notice of resignation.

This is the second administrator AAPS has lost to a North Carolina school in the past month. Deputy Superintendent for Operations Robert Allen resigned in mid-February to take a position as vice chancellor of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, now led by former Ann Arbor Superintendent Todd Roberts.

Jackson was the founding principal of Skyline High School. She has worked for the district for seven years and helped school officials design the structure and curriculum of the new high school and plan for its opening in 2008.

"Ms. Jackson was hired by Dr. George Fornero, the superintendent of AAPS at the time, to lead innovative curriculum development for Skyline High School," Margolis said. "This includes the magnet program and the smaller learning communities at Skyline. Ms. Jackson worked hard to open Skyline, hire staff and create a new curriculum model for students.

"Through her leadership she has established Skyline High School as a highly regarded secondary school serving students needs through mastery learning and creating important staff to student connections. We wish Ms. Jackson all the best as she pursues her next educational adventure."

During her tenure with Skyline, the Jackson was named the 2010-11 High School Principal of the Year by the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals.

Jackson's current salary at AAPS is $127,840.

Jackson will start at Chapel Hill High School on July 8, according to The Herald Sun.

Chapel Hill High is part of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School District and has an enrollment of about 1,300 students. Skyline High School's enrollment for the current school year was 1,501 as of the fall student count day.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 2:46 p.m.

Just to clarify, I was responding specifically to skfina2's comment that Jackson was only hired because she was an African American female. I wasn't suggesting that all of the negative comments were racially motivated. In my opinion a few of them are, including the one I alluded to.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 2:48 a.m.

We have a senior at Skyline. It has been a disappointing 4 years. There was little accountability and low expectation of our daughter...low standards across the board stemming from no leadership in our opinion. Ms. Jackson was not well respected by teachers, parents, nor by students. We are a very liberal family and our daughter is mix-raced. For some to suggest that negative comments about Ms. Jackson are racially motivated is just misguided. In closing, our kids at Forsythe and at Abbot have more homework, more expectation, and more sense of responsibility driven into them than our 18 yr old at the Skyline soft-school. I wish Ms. Jackson the best; but I believe our kids and community will benefit from her departure.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 8:44 p.m.

And of course you would know (that she couldn't possibly have been the most qualified). No, it couldn't be that the hiring committee believed someone with her particular qualifications and experience had the capacity to do the job. I'm not a Jackson fan. I happen to agree with the poster who said that "North Carolina's loss is our gain" but I get so tired of the race card of a different color.


Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 12:31 a.m.

I was part of the committee that was working to solve the overcrowding problem at the two comprehensive high schools, and watched as the decision was made to build Skyline. I participated in the discussions as to what programs we would want at this new school. When the board looked to hire a principal for the new school, there was a district administrator at the time who would have been a terrific choice, someone who was also involved from the beginning. I was incredibly disappointed to hear that Ms. Jackson got the job, especially since I knew people at Harrison High School, where she spent all of four months before bolting to come here. That was enough time for them to know that they were happy to see her go. I hate to say it, as a good liberal, but it seems to me that Sulura Jackson was hired because it looked good for Ann Arbor to hire a female, African-American administrator. There is no way she could have been the most qualified candidate. And by the way, I say this as someone who has a child who will graduate from Skyline this year. He never had anything good to say about her.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 5:55 p.m.

North Carolina has better schools and a better track record. I am not surprised by this due to the article that stated Skyline is loosing students.


Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 2:27 a.m.

Actually loosing and losing go hand in hand with that school. The things I have heard about that school and its students? Glad mine don't go there.

Jay Thomas

Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 12:09 a.m.

Uh, no... and if it did, it probably won't now. ;)


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 7:45 p.m.



Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

We have spent 5 years at Skyline and will say that we have been extremely disappointed. This disappoint stems from the leadership not making parents feel welcome and sometimes being abrasive. It is NOT what I expected from an Ann Arbor school. We had already been making plans to send our two younger children to another high school, when the time came. I can only hope that they will hire leadership that will force teaching staff to take their job more serious and inspire them. When you have so many students in Ann Arbor who are very bright, they do report back to us parents about the job the teaching and counseling staff is doing. It feel really short overall in comparison to our experience in elementary and middle school here is Ann Arbor. Let the kids have something normal at this school, like a dance.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 3:56 a.m.

Truly a gift to AAPS and Skyline especially, just wish this happened while I was still in high school...

Jay Thomas

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 3:37 a.m.

Why look outside for someone to come in and do this job. Why not hire from within?


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 9:44 a.m.

2 words: academic inbreeding.


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 9:51 p.m.

I really don't get all the negativity here. We've been at Skyline for a year and have been VERY impressed with Sulura Jackson and heard nothing but positives about her from other parents.

Jay Thomas

Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 12:12 a.m.

@natewegryn: Beam me up, Uhura. I would have liked some of those easy grades for slacking when I went to school. Too bad it's not good for you.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 7:39 p.m.

If you put in absolute minimum effort, but still put in some effort (don't study, don't do homework, but attend class), with the exception of some AP classes, you will be able to get a B... AP classes are a different story, some AP classes work like NORMAL classes at most schools. If you get a 65 on a test, then ouch you better do better on the next one if you want to avoid your GPA dropping. In a sophomore english class, of you get a 65 on a test, WHO CARES, you an turn it into an 80 next week anyways, no point in studying. The "mastery education" might look good on paper, but in reality actually discourages students from responsibly studying and putting in time and effort. Trust me, I put in MINIMAL effort throughout my 4 years, like less than one hour of studying a week, took 5 AP classes and graduated on the "Dean's List"... what a joke literally.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 6:19 p.m.

When my kid attended Skyline, most kids in class didn't do the work, since as stated, you are allowed to retake everything and still get a grade of B. Other schools, such as Community, don't have this ridiculous mastery practice. Either you do the work, or you fail the class. If your kid got less than a B, you are out of touch with the system. Perhaps that's why you haven't heard any negativity. The teachers my kid had we're pulled to Skyline from Pioneer involuntarily, and went back as soon as they were able. I guess if less than a B is acceptable, I can see why Sulura is okay with you.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 3:09 p.m.

We have been there 5 years. Have you had an issue yet and to work with someone to resolve even a minor issue? Let us know how that goes.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 9:48 a.m.

Well I'm curious exactly what the concerns are. Surely more than making fun of her speech? I do know you can get less than a B because my child has had very mixed grades (due to a lack of effort on her part and not for lack of effort of great teachers). I have talked with other parents and not heard concerns; not saying they don't exist--just have not heard them. I've been very impressed with the design at Skyline and with Sulura herself, from what I've seen to date.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 4:07 a.m.

And thats interesting that you have never heard anything but positives... because I would honestly say I am not sure if I have ever heard anything positive about her from any parents or students. Ever talked to any parents of students from the class of 2012? Even 2013? Those of us who have gone through 4 years with her, 4 homecomings, prom, graduation (graduration -- according to Sulura) generally tend to have extremely different opinions than you.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 4 a.m.

The reason skyline students get better grades is because you literally have to try to get worse than a B in a class. You can actually not pay attention, not do your homework, and fail tests, retaking them and retaking them until you pass and walk away with a B in almost every class. It is extremely hard to get worse than a 3.0. Trust me I know this from experience...


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 2:18 a.m.

Totally agree! Just look at the data between Skyline, Huron and Pioneer with closing the achievement gap, graduation rate, number of students passing gatekeepers (Algebra and Biology) and you will find that Skyline came out ahead in all these. For some reason does not report this. Huron and Pioneer are Focus School, but Skyline is not because of the closing of the achievement gap. Far less discipline problems and lower suspension rates at Skyline compared to Huron and Pioneer, especially in minority students. Why isn't this reported by Most of the people complaining are just spurting out false information and not looking at the actual data (which will not post and the school board will not let the public see) Perhaps it is due to Skyline looking better than Pioneer than Huron.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 12:18 a.m.

I mean hear it!


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 12:17 a.m.

Glad to great it! That's why I used the word allegedly so much--it was just what I heard.


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 9:32 p.m.

I have heard recent complaints from parents and students at Skyline, alleging drug use in students, loss of the original purpose of Skyline (magnet school, more intelligent students), disruptions. Perhaps these alleged issues may be part of the reason Skyline is not fully populated. Perhaps these possible complaints could be evaluated and, if found valid in full or part, be considered in hiring a new, hopefully permanent, principal.

Basic Bob

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 3:14 p.m.

"Alleging drug use". Every high school has drugs and drug users, even Skyline.

J. A. Pieper

Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 11:49 p.m.

It makes no difference how AAPS manipulates things so that this school can be held up on a pedestal as being a top notch school, it is still a comprehensive HS with the numbers that attend, and it is going to have the same problems as every other high school in the community. To even hint at marketing a school to district families as having "more intelligent students" is ridiculous. Why evaluate the complaints that you mention? All of this is just a representation of high school life these days, yes, even in Ann Arbor!


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 9:30 p.m.

Interesting that of the 3 new principals hired in Chapel Hill, one has an earned doctorate, one will complete a doctorate in May 2014, and Ms Jackson has a master's of education and no doctorate.


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 9:29 p.m.

Hmmm....she still hasn't returned my daughters phone call from 1 1/2 years ago. Probably never happen now.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 3:06 p.m.

Consider yourself lucky. When you do get contacted back, it isn't pleasant.

Haran Rashes

Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 8:40 p.m.

I wish Dr. Jackson the best of luck on her "gradrewation" from Skyline and the Ann Ann Arbor Public School System. As a Skyline parent, the High School has absolutely wonderful and caring faculty. I only hope the Board of Ed can find a principal for Skyline who matches the dedication, ability, and care for students exemplified by the teachers he or she will be supervising.


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 8:07 p.m.

If the BOE is really interested in saving money, Skyline should be closed.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 6:07 p.m.

People who neither attend Community nor have kids there don't "get" what Community is about. Skyline is way off in the middle of nowhere. Community would not function there. Kids are flocking to Community, and running from Skyline. The numbers at Skyline keep dropping. Community is one of the FEW things that actually works in the district. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 8:43 p.m.

Barzoom - With the bonds that paid for Skyline was money to remodel both Huron and Pioneer. That remodeling reduced the maximum capacity of both Huron and Pioneer. Without spending significant funds to remodel them again to take the students and move people and activities back out of those buildings to Balas and elsewhere there is not room to go backwards and close Skyline. I addition to the remodel, a large number of portable classrooms (read trailers) were removed. Portables were never loved and will not be missed. If we want to save money at the high school level combining Roberto Clemente and AATech (former Stone) into one building would be the easiest, the next would be to work during the redistricting for the 2014-2015 school year to move the boundries for Skyline and then move the students from Community to the building at Skyline in addition to other magnet programs, leaving Huron and Pioneer as the two major comprehensive high schools, which would be more in line with the community recommendations that were gathered prior to the building of Skyline.

say it plain

Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 8:15 p.m.

But you can't fit the 1600 kids who can be expected to go there into the other schools. Better to close Community and make Skyline the 'alternative' school. You could meet all the demand for Community with a program at Skyline instead, so why not? I just don't get it.

West Side Mom

Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 7:56 p.m.

Dr. Green and BOE: Ms. Jackson's departure offers a unique opportunity to assess the alternative offered by Skyline and whether it really meets the needs of the community. What's happening at Community is so much more impressive.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 2:12 a.m.

Sure, if you give Skyline teachers an extra .2 FTE to teach Forum instead of a class, have block scheduling, which was denied for Skyline, only have 450 students (mostly white and low special ed students) and any school could do what they do. As it is, trimesters are helping to close the achievement gap at Skyline (look at the data), higher graduation rate last year than Pioneer or Huron, lower disciplinary problems than Huron and Pioneer (look at the data). Skyline was not a Focus School as Huron and Pioneer were (look it up). Community does not have the achievement gap problem because there are not enough minority students to count by state numbers.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 12:31 a.m.

Could not have said it better myself


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 7:08 p.m.

I'd like to see a discussion focused on qualities we think are important in a school principal heading an Ann Arbor school. What might be different at the high school level vs. elementary or middle? IThis isn't an exhaustive list, but I'll start with some of the ones that might be less "thought of" - Professional in all communications. - Able to market the best qualities of the school to prospective parents and students. - Active listener who can respond to parental and student concerns.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 2:58 p.m.

- Inspire learning and treat students with respect - Create an environment that inspires learning - Be welcoming to parents - Keep current teachers accountable to teach - Hire staff that enjoy working with students - Allow students to have traditional school experiences, like a normal dance


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 7:23 p.m.

I think I see what you did there, well played!


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 6:47 p.m.

Congratulations to Sulura Jackson and the Skyline community.

Chester Drawers

Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 6:21 p.m.

Hopefully, her 'crony-hires' from Detroit will follow her out the door.


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 5:45 p.m.

This is a good day for those who work and go to school at Skyline High School. I am guessing that the teachers will be flooding happy hour today in celebration. Anxious to see how badly the BOE and Super mess up this new hire!! I know this comes off as sarcastic, but those I know at Skyline have really struggled to wrap their head around her being the principal at this school. This move will benefit AAPS in the long run.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 2:47 p.m.

I completely agree. In the 5 years our children have attended Skyline, I have never heard one parent of our kids friends, classmates, or teammates say anything nice about the principal. I felt that everyone was holding their breath in hopes that the rumors that she was leaving were true.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 4:08 a.m.

@a2roots Sure couldn't be any worse!


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 6:23 p.m.

@local...I would say you nailed it. BOE is a joke and so was Jackson. Fingers crossed going forward.


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 5:43 p.m.

BOE - Please hire someone from the Ann Arbor community that likes it here and wants to live here!


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 9:32 p.m.

Even when that happens, people use positions as stepping stones to other positions, even if they "like" AA and AAPS. Few administrators these days in public education make a career out of one position.

say it plain

Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 4:38 p.m.

There, by the way, goes a large part of the lobbying effort to keep Skyline "different" from the rest of AAPS with their trimesters, no? Why doesn't AAPS doesn't take this opportunity to re-imagine Skyline into the alternative it was hoped to be by many in the district? They can take this opportunity to meet the demand for alternative education that keeps such high demand for Community High in place. I don't sense that the demand for the 'magnets' as Skyline does them is as high as the demand for what Community offers is...that is, a school that *really* tries to make small learning communities for students, and allows the students to personalize their education, focusing not so much on APs and 'certifications' as much as exploring their interests and most importantly getting *support* (via the "forum" program, for one important point) as they move through high school. As I understand it, one of the alleged "smaller learning communities" at Skyline is called "Innovation". It would be an innovation to really get those "learning communities" to work and maybe now AAPS can try to get that going at Skyline, but they'd have to cause some complaints in the process, so it probably won't actually happen...too bad for AA students and families.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 12:30 a.m.

Isn't Skyline going to be a semester school next year? Smaller learning communities is something that looked good on paper, but is not true at the school. Many of my classes have 30+ kids in them, and instead of the claim that students have all of their core classes in their SLC hallway, that is not true either. Maybe with a new principal these and many other things can get fixed.


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 4:27 p.m.

This is good news. Skyline students deserve a top rate principal. Regardless of what is said or printed Jackson was far from a first rate principal. My guess is there is quite a happy dance going on among the staff at Skyline. The only problem now is that the school board has no clue so it will be a crap shoot whether the next principal will be any good.


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 10:04 p.m.

AA is good at running people out of town then paying more to get questionable talent who will fall into the group think of this town............

J. A. Pieper

Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 7:19 p.m.

Especially if a current high level administrator hires the new person. They will probably end up hiding at Balas together!


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 4:44 p.m.

see Exhibit A: Pioneer HIgh School


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 3:57 p.m.

I'm wondering if she is retiring from Michigan schools and getting her pension and starting over in NC? This seems to be what Michael White did when leaving for another state, isn't it?


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 2:49 p.m.

The article states she tendered a letter of resignation, not a notice of retirement.

Jay Thomas

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 3:27 a.m.

To give someone simply changing schools a pension is why we are broke.


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 10:02 p.m.

The taxpayers give them this perk..............and the taxpayers will owrk longer and pay more to make sure they keep their promises to these folks.


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 9:34 p.m.

Probably the case that she will get her pension from MI and start over in NC. Lots and lots of administrators do this. The real question is whether the MI pensions will be there in the future for these people.

Basic Bob

Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 4:13 p.m.

Bingo! Now we can hire another retiring administrator from Illinois or Pennsylvania.

say it plain

Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

Ooh, it looks like the moving vans are heading to North Carolina... do all these smart people know something we don't know about the local economy, hmm? WIll Allen and Jackson sell their homes, thusly improving the "shockingly low" housing inventory we're hearing about on the! Just wondering...


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

Congraturations, Sulura! I'm sure your questionably-awarded Administrator award was prominently. mentioned in the hiring process.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 1:46 a.m.

Oh, and by the way, 2014, she was given the 2010-11 High School Principal of the Year award, not a teaching award. At least according to this story.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 1:44 a.m.

@Classof2014, thanks for filling in for the mute (at least regarding answering my query) @TheDiagSquirrel, but maybe s/he is too busy looking for nuts. Why, then, 2014, do you think Ms. Jackson was given the award? I have no preconceived ideas one way or the other, I am just curious if you have the "back story." Thanks.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 12:26 a.m.

@DBH Many students and parents of Skyline High School did not believe that she deserved Teacher of the Year Award. Most of them still don't think she deserved this honor


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 2:50 p.m.

@TDS, I am sure your congraturations [sic] are greatly appreciated by Ms. Jackson. By the way, what was questionable about her award?

Dog Guy

Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 2:40 p.m.

North Carolina's loss is our gain.


Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 12:04 a.m.

Comment of the day!


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 6:18 p.m.

I can't agree with you MORE!


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 2:32 p.m.

"This is the second administrator AAPS has lost to a North Carolina school in the past month" Perhaps NC is less openly HOSTILE to the public school system? Snyder and his buddies are destroying public education in Michigan. I'd want to leave, too.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 1:58 a.m.

Ha! Mississippi and North Dakota and Texas are just rolling in dough, right? Everyone's broke. But the quality of life I have in a progressive town is far superior to that which I'd have in a republican-run one. My priorities are simply different from yours.


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 10:01 p.m.

A2anon - there is one thing that liberal, progressive towns/states have in common - they're all broke..........New York, California, Michigan, Illinois.........I'll let you figure out why.


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 9:28 p.m.

My comments have nothing to do with her pay. They have everything to do with how difficult it is to deliver an excellent quality education in the aaps with ever-increasing funding cuts and decreased resources. Maybe she'd prefer to be somewhere that actually values public education. Believe it or not, there is much more to job satisfaction than just pay.

Angry Moderate

Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 9:24 p.m.

LOL, yeah high-level administrators have been so underpaid these last few years under Snyder.


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 9:03 p.m.

Ann Arbor is a liberal, progressive town. I will keep my liberal, progressive self right here thank you. And I look forward to voting Snyder OUT the next chance I can.


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 4:18 p.m.

Running the government to reduce the deficit spending and accumulated debt makes no friends and plenty of enemies. Rick has made changes that have made both political partys unhappy. That proves he his doing his job. If you're unhappy with the progress Michigan has made since Jen left, then take I-75 South or I-94 West to "Greener Pastures". I doubt the growing economy and balanced budget had anything to do with their leaving.