This month marks the beginning of new leadership for Black Hawk Middle School, as the recently-hired Dr. James Allison takes over as head principal.
Coming to Warrenton from the Rockwood School District, Allison replaces Lisa Pirrung, who left to pursue other career opportunities. Allison has administrative experience in a wide array of settings, including Francis Howell and Ferguson-Florissant.
“We were looking for someone with middle school administrative experience who has a track record of success. His background in those other districts will be an excellent contribution to the Warren County R-III School District,” said Superintendent Dr. Gregg Klinginsmith.
Allison says his journey as a “military kid,” frequently moving and adapting, helped him develop a heart for the students who struggle to find their place.
“I have a passion for the disconnected students,” he said. “All students will be successful if given an opportunity to be connected. That’s my goal is to help our scholars feel connected at Black Hawk.”
Allison is originally from Florida and said he spent his formative years in Germany.
“I was blessed to be one of the people chopping down the Berlin Wall, which really made me love history,” he said.
His Missouri roots were first planted in Bowling Green, before moving to St. Charles his sophomore year of high school when his dad’s time in the Army was complete.
Allison has lived in St. Charles since that time, but his career did not start in education. He went into the Army as a reservist. Looking for other jobs, he tried his hand at selling both televisions and cars.
“I knew I wasn’t living life like I was supposed to, but I didn’t know how to get out of it,” he said. “It took a divine moment where my grandfather had asked why I never went back to school to teach.”
Within a few months he was back in school and making his way into the education system. His early intentions were to teach, not be an administrator. Encouraged by colleagues, he agreed to give those higher leadership roles a try.
Allison stepped into his first assistant principal role with an immediate challenge, beginning his duties a week prior to the controversial shooting death of Michael Brown in the district.
“The three years at Ferguson taught me a lot about discipline and for what reasons we do discipline,” he said. “Those things really gave me a foundation that when the job opened up in Rockwood I felt driven and ready to apply for it.”