‘By any means necessary’ — Malcolm X’s words, used in the context of the civil rights struggle in the US, resonate with Commissioner of Education Dr Edmond Heatley.  *Photo by Nicola Muirhead
‘By any means necessary’ — Malcolm X’s words, used in the context of the civil rights struggle in the US, resonate with Commissioner of Education Dr Edmond Heatley. *Photo by Nicola Muirhead

Bermuda’s Commissioner of Education has an interesting background — he’s a former US Marine who was educated in public schools. 

Dr Edmond T. Heatley  was born in Santa Ana, California, but has lived all over the US as his father George was an officer in the US Marine Corps.

Dr Heatley has a Bachelor’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and a Master of Science degree in special education from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.

He has a Doctorate of Education in administration and leadership from the University of Southern California.

Educated in public schools, he graduated in the top five per cent of his class. He also tutored friends and sports teammates in calculus and physics, starting his career as an educator at an early age.

After graduating from college he enlisted in the US Marine Corps where he became a military instructor and master sergeant.

He began his teaching career in 1996 after 13 years of active duty, and worked with students with disabilities in Norfolk, Virginia.

In 1998 he then moved to California for 11 years, to work in leadership for school districts Fresno, Sacramento, Oceanside and Chino.

From 2009 he was the superintendent and chief executive officer of Clayton County Public Schools, Georgia, where he managed 67 schools.

He is an adjunct professor of education at the University of Southern California, California State University and Old Dominion University.

Dr Heatley has a reputation for a strong work ethic and  improving student learning.

In Clayton County he reduced the operational budget by $198 million over three years by reducing, reorganizing and reallocating resources, but without scrapping teaching programmes.

Dr Heatley is married to Karen, who works in parent liaison. The couple have three children — Edmond Jr, a graphic artist, and Anthony and Chelsie, who are both at college. 

We sat down with Dr Heatley recently to get to know him a little better.


What were you like at school?

I was a very good student. I went to school every day, and was a straight-A student. I think my teachers would say I was well organized and focused on what needed to be done.

I enjoyed school and had a lot of fun.


What was life like as a US Marine?

It taught me self-discipline, teamwork, being a self-starter and a self-motivator, and to accomplish the mission and leave no one on the battlefield.

In a big team you all succeed or fail together, so it’s important for you to hold each other up, to encourage each other and to be accountable.

I got that from the Marine Corps and my parents, as my father was a retired Marine.

I have been to China, Japan, the Middle East, South America, Africa, the Lebanon, Afghanistan; a lot of places.


What are your interests — what do you like to do in your spare time?

I like to golf and read, but my biggest hobby is my family. We are very close and I talk to my wife and parents, and a different sibling every day.

In that sense, my life is perfect.


Name your favourite:

Movie

A Few Good Men. My favourite line is: ‘You can’t handle the truth’.”

Book

Clear and Present Danger (Tom Clancy). But I read the Bible every day, and each year I try to read it from cover to cover. I’m in Exodus right now.

I also try to read the local papers, and sports magazines such as Sports Illustrated. I love sports and am learning cricket right now, trying to get the verbiage.

TV show

I like watching NBA (US National Basketball Association) games and I also watch NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Service). It tends to be sports, news or movies that I watch.

Quote?

‘By any means necessary’ (Malcolm X).

Vacation spot?

Anywhere where my family are, is the best spot to be.


Who are your heroes?

My father George, mother Hester, and my Lord and Saviour.

My parents have been married for over 60 years. I have five siblings, all of whom have a college degree.