Mill Creek High's Principal in Profile
Principal Jim Markham brings experience and knowledge to Mill Creek.
Even during the cold days of December, Jim Markham keeps the heat turned down in his office to "try and save money," he said. This small detail is one part of his job as principal of Mill Creek High School, a job he has held since the school opened in 2004, and one to which he brings a lifetime of experience.
Born in Atlanta, the son of a Navy chief petty officer, Markham moved frequently as a child.
“We were rarely anywhere for longer than two years, so I was always the new kid. Consequently, I was very shy as a child,” he said.
After living in places such as Texas and Maine, Markham’s father retired so that his son could attend high school in one place.
“Sanford, Florida was where we lived the longest,” Markham said.
On December 16 1996, Markham found out that he had multiple myeloma, a bone marrow cancer caused by an environmental agent he was exposed to while serving in the Vietnam War.
“I wasn’t a candidate for a bone marrow transplant because I was in such a late stage,” said Markham. “But I did do other treatments. It’s incurable, but I’ve been in remission since 1998. The average is 84 percent of people with multi myeloma die within the first three years. I’ve got good support, good people around me.”
Markham said there have been several significant events in his life. Becoming an Eagle Scout was one of them. A level rarely reached by scouts, Markham also was awarded the Silver Beaver, the highest honor given to adults.
“Becoming an Eagle Scout was a very big moment for me. I still remember them pinning on that badge. In business and education, I can’t recall a single interview I’ve done where I wasn’t asked about that,” he said.
Markham holds a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in both Social Studies and Anthropology, a Master’s in Education and is weeks away from becoming a Ph.D.
“I’m not doing it because I’ll get a better job or a pay raise or anything like that,” he said. “I’m doing it because I want to. I’d like to write books and maybe teach at a college.”
Markham has 40 years of educational experience, 22 years of which he spent teaching English and Social Studies. Now he heads the largest school in the state of Georgia with 3,490 students enrolled.
“Even though we are such a big school, we have a family atmosphere. We have good kids here,” Markham said.
That family atmosphere is one that the school has strived to maintain.
“We have families from Dacula and North Gwinnett, and at the beginning, you would see a lot of spirit wear from different schools in the halls,” said Markham. “If we’ve done anything right, it’s to create a sense of community here. We’ve encouraged adults to use the school for that purpose as well. The doors are usually opened from 5 a.m. in the morning until 10 a.m. at night.”
Principal Markham has big goals for Mill Creek, such as attaining recognition as a Blue Ribbon school and a State School of Excellence.
“I’d also like to have every student taking at least one advanced placement class, and get our graduation rate up to 90 percent,” said Markham.
When asked about his hobbies, Markham said he enjoys playing golf and he also has plans to reread Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” but he would rather talk about Mill Creek High School.
“We really do have good kids here,” he said.