Bluff City High School has a new principal – Jonas G. Cleaves will be joining the Green Dot Public Schools family as the school’s leader this fall. Parents and students in the founding class of Bluff City are enthusiastic about this new leadership and the new school year. Green Dot could not be more proud of this addition to our team; there can never been too many great educators working to prepare all students to graduate prepared for college, leadership, and life.
Cleaves is a native of Chicago's Southside Woodlawn community. After graduating high school, Cleaves joined the United States Army, serving eight years that included a tour in Iraq. Upon receiving an Honorable Discharge from the Army, he returned to Chicago to volunteer and work in communities that have been historically underserved.
The impetus for his desire to work in education occurred while managing a prisoner re-entry program. Cleaves noticed that several of the folks he worked with had dropped out of school between seventh and tenth grade. “I wondered where the positive influence of adults dimmed in their lives,” asked Cleaves, “and I became devoted to the idea that positive intervention and role modeling in the early teen years are absolutely vital.”
This experience led him to join a founding team of administrators in opening an urban charter high school in downtown Chicago. Within three years the school was recognized as one of the highest performing non-selective high schools in the entire city of Chicago, serving all students regardless of socioeconomic status or academic ability. Cleaves nurtured a culture of greatness at his school, and helped students overcome various hurdles every day.
Cleaves has previously served as Dean of Culture, Instructional Coach, and Assistant Principal over the past eight years.
“I am excited to return to the home of my grandparents to serve the residents of Memphis,” said Cleaves. “It’s high time that great public schools help put students from every community on the road to college.”