What 'A' Day: Retirement reception held for widely applauded superintendent

Town officials and school workers joined indebted parents and students on Sunday at Collierville High School to celebrate “John Aitken Day.”

Aitken, whose last official day as the Superintendent of Collierville Schools was June 30, was honored at a public retirement reception in the cafeteria of the new high school.

Several residents paid tribute to 'Mr. A' before singing 'Happy Birthday' to the school system's first-ever superintendent. He coincidentally turned 61 the day of the reception.

Collierville Mayor Stan Joyner proclaimed the day as “John S. Aitken Day” as Aitken addressed those in attendance.

Aitken made his decision to retire in February.

Although the superintendent’s current contract extends through June 30, 2020, the contract terms allow for his early separation by giving 60 days notice to the Board.

Aitken was formally employed by the Board of Education as Collierville Schools’ first superintendent on Jan. 1, 2014. He had previously retired after a 30-year career with Shelby County Schools that included successive roles as a classroom teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent, and superintendent.

In addition to the successful establishment of the Collierville Municipal School District, Aitken’s major accomplishments during his tenure include the provision of digital learning devices to all students, significant expansion of work-based learning opportunities, and the design and construction of the new Collierville High School, which opened in August 2018.

Prior to Sunday's event, Aitken bid a “fond farewell” to each of the town's schools and the central office staff in a video posted on social media. Near the end of the video, Aitken, a well-known Elvis Presley fan, can be seen wearing an eagle jumpsuit and singing Presley's version of 'My Way' before exiting the office and stating, “Elvis is leaving the building.”

“The last five-and-half years have been the best experience of my life,” he said.