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‘Price’-less leadership

Jacobs leading last student habitat build before retirement

Lovejoy High School construction teacher Price Jacobs instructs a group of students on how to re-habilitate a home Monday during the 10th annual Clayton County Public Schools fall Habitat for Humanity build. This is the final student-involved build for Jacobs, who will retire on Nov. 30.

Lovejoy High School construction teacher Price Jacobs instructs a group of students on how to re-habilitate a home Monday during the 10th annual Clayton County Public Schools fall Habitat for Humanity build. This is the final student-involved build for Jacobs, who will retire on Nov. 30.

— Lovejoy High School senior Marcus Gooch and his classmates begged last week and tried to convince Price Jacobs, the school’s construction teacher, to reconsider heading into retirement next month.

They enjoyed having him as a teacher, so they didn’t want him to go, said Gooch. He said the seniors were especially saddened to hear Jacobs was retiring because they’d been with him for four years. After Nov. 30, however, he will no longer be there to teach them about foundations and roof trusses.

Jacobs is a popular “extraordinary” teacher, said Gooch, that made the kick-off to Clayton County Public Schools’ 10th annual fall student Habitat for Humanity home build on Monday a poignant affair for students, district leaders and Habitat officials.

“It was an initial shock but he deserves to retire, so it’s bittersweet for all of us,” said Gooch.

With Price’s impending retirement, this week’s build project will be the final student build led by the 30-year educator. The 52-year-old has led every build project since they began 10 years ago. This time around, the pupils are rehabilitating a house in the Tara Plantation neighborhood just north of Lovejoy.

The kick-off ceremony featured praise and tributes for Jacobs from Clayton County Sheriff Kem Kimbrough — who is also the vice-president of Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity — and the school system’s Coordinator of Career, Technical and Agricultural Education, Eboni Chillis.

“Price, you’re a saint,” said Kimbrough. “What you have done over the last 10 years has really meant a lot to the county. How much it’s meant can’t be described in words, except to say you’re a special man.”

Chillis presented Jacobs with a Home Depot gift card during the kick-off ceremony, as a gift of appreciation from the school district. She called him “priceless” in a hand-written card that accompanied the gift.

Jacobs said in August he decided to retire because he had put in 30 years as a teacher and “everything just lined up right” for him to retire now. He said he has already been approached by Kimbrough to teach safety classes for Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity and by Clayton State University officials, who would like him to teach construction classes through their Continuing Education department.

But, those offers don’t change the fact that he’ll have an adjustment period to go through.

“I’m already missing it now that the kids are aware of my plans and my replacement has been named,” said Jacobs.

The retiring construction teacher and his wife of 31 years, Vicki, came to Clayton County Public Schools 29 years ago after spending a year teaching in Kentucky. Price Jacobs got a job at Riverdale High School while his wife got a job at an elementary school. Vicki Jacobs is now an instructional implementation specialist for the school district.

She said the fall and spring student Habitat for Humanity builds have been important to her husband. He led the planning to begin them a decade ago as a two-day project for construction students across the county, and the builds eventually grew into a week-long event.

“This is the crowning touch of every school for him,” she said. “He begins planning the fall build as soon as the school year begins, and then he begins planning the spring build after that. When we say it’s his baby, it really is.”

With Jacobs’ retirement, the leadership of the builds will be handed off to Gerald Wread, the construction teacher at Mt. Zion High School and Jonesboro High School. Wread has been working with Jacobs on the builds since they began, and he said whoever becomes the new Lovejoy construction teacher “has big shoes to fill.”

“He’s very good at what he does,” said Wread. “It’s going to be very challenging to plan these builds without him."