Dr. Ja’Net Bishop always felt a drive to advocate for children.
After 13 years as an officer in the National Guard and Army Reserves, including a stint in Operation Desert Storm, Bishop decided to pursue a career helping at-risk children.
Bishop first worked with teen mothers in Aiken and victims of sexual abuse in Augusta, then became counselor at Harlem Middle School.
She later served as counselor at Harlem High and the county alternative school, then assistant principal at Evans High and principal at Warren County High School.
She became principal of the Columbia County Alternative School this school year.
Her background in child advocacy, Bishop said, prepared her well for working with troubled students.
“My focus with all my students was to ingrain in them that there are consequences for their actions, and they have to learn from those consequences,” Bishop said.
She hopes her students can learn to better themselves by accepting responsibility for their mistakes.
“We all can pinpoint times in our lives when we made unwise decisions,” she said. “But we learned from it and became stronger as a result.”
A native of New York City, Bishop earned her bachelor’s degree from Hunter College in her home state. She received her master’s degree from Campbell University in North Carolina.
When she and her family – husband and fellow educator William, and sons William II, 22, and Matthew, 21 – moved to Columbia County 17 years ago, Bishop earned an educational specialist degree from Augusta State University and a doctorate from Georgia Southern University.
In her first year leading the alternative school, Bishop partnered with Columbia County Juvenile Court to create parent forums on bullying, gangs and drug abuse; started a new program to help fifth-year high school seniors earn their diplomas; and hopes to create a similar program to help fourth-year seniors at risk of dropping out.
“We believe the alternative (education) program in Columbia County can be a very valuable resource in meeting the needs of our teens in all of the schools,” Bishop said. “We also can be a resource for people in our community.”
Though the new programs expand the role of the alternative school, Bishop said her school’s primary focus will remain on helping troubled children.
“There are no throwaway kids,” she said. “Our alternative school is simply a school that gives students a last opportunity to complete their education.”