James Payne, Ed.S, serves as a School Leadership Coach with Instructional Empowerment. James has a track record of increasing student achievement and improving teacher practices as an instructional leader. He gained his first experience in school leadership in the Fulton County School System. As principal, assistant principal, data support specialist and teacher leader, he affected positive change for students in the classroom and built the capacity of teachers throughout the Fulton County School District. In 2011, he was named a Georgia Master Teacher for demonstrating excellence in student achievement and student growth on state-mandated standardized tests.

As a principal, he led the efforts to remove his school from Georgia’s failing schools list. Under James’ leadership, the school improved its overall letter grade from a 58.6 (F) rating to an 83.5 (B) rating. The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement named the school a Beating the Odds school for four consecutive years (2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019). In 2019, the school received the Title I Reward School designation for the first time in school history. More specifically, the school improved the percentage of students reading on or above grade level from 52% to 70%. The percentage of students scoring at the proficient level or higher on the state’s end-of-grade reading assessment increased from 23% to 41% as a result of his leadership over time.

In his role as assistant principal, James enabled students to realize their full potential. Under his leadership, his school improved its school accountability score by 17 points. The school also achieved notable gains in Math, Reading, English Language Arts, and Science.

James is a life-long learner and is passionate about ensuring that all students have equitable access to high-quality learning opportunities each day.