By Julie Turner
He has worked in education for a total of 37 years and is in his third year as superintendent of Collierville Schools. And John Aitken is our Collierville Independent Readers’ Choice for Man of the Year.
“I feel honored; I was surprised,” Aitken added. “I’ve been doing this a lot of years now, and I’m always appreciative of any recognition but it’s always due to the people around you.”
And he gives special credit to one person who has been around him through it all.
“Behind every good man is a good woman,” he said of his wife of 33 years, Jody. “She’s been through thick and thin with me, so she’s got to get a little credit, too.”
Aitken taught in Arkansas, taught and coached at Collierville High School and was both assistant principal and principal of Houston High before he worked at Shelby County Schools. He worked first as assistant superintendent for one year and then superintendent for four before his current position with Collierville Schools.
“The major goal that we all have is to make this the best school system,” Aitken said. “Our job is to teach kids how to be good citizens, how to have integrity, and how to contribute to the community – I think that’s really important.”
“I would hope that what we are doing would help with that,” he added. “We also want to teach them how to treat people right.”
Aitken is often seen at school events, football games and concerts. On a beautiful fall Friday morning, he visited Crosswind Elementary for the Turkey Trot and the site of the new high school scheduled to open in August of 2018.
As a father of three and grandfather of twins, Aitken appreciates living in Collierville. It has been his home for the past 33 years.
“It’s got everything one looks for in a community,” he said. “We have great schools, and it’s safe.”
In his free time, Aitken especially enjoys spending time with his grandkids.
“I like spending time with family because this job is kind of all-consuming,” he said. “I love grilling out and watching college sports – my wife would say I would watch 24/7 if I could.”
He also enjoys singing – and music in general – and dubs himself the “world’s tallest Elvis tribute artist.”
“I have the suit and everything,” said Aitken, who is 6- feet 9- inches tall. “I’ve been doing it for about 20 years – being from Memphis you sort of have to be an Elvis fan.”
Aitken’s 87-year-old mother is going to have to make room in her scrapbook of him for this article as well as any future awards. She has been keeping a book of his accomplishments for as long as he can remember, and she recently had to add some more pages.
“It’s good that she’s proud of her son,” he said with a smile.
Aitken is thankful for both living and working in Collierville.
“I think living in a community where there is such support from government, community members, parents and staff is the favorite part of my job,” he said.
“And we just have phenomenal students – that makes it all worthwhile when you have good kids.”