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Eagle’s Landing Middle School Principal Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in Unique Pinning Ceremony

HENRY COUNTY, GA – Malik Douglas, Ed.D., has led a purpose-driven life that has definitively positioned him at the intersection of two worlds. His roles as school principal and military officer converged to inspire a Jan. 25 ceremony at Eagle’s Landing Middle School (ELMS), where Major Douglas received his new pin affirming his promotion to Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) in the U.S. Army Reserve.

Among those witnessing the special moment were Brig. Gen. Dean Thompson, Commander of the 353rd Civil Affairs Command; Command Sgt. Maj. Clifford Lo; Dr. Douglas’ wife, Janice; Henry County Schools (HCS) Superintendent Mary Elizabeth Davis; Henry County Board of Education Chair Sophe Pope; Board Members Pam Nutt and Holly Cobb; and JROTC Cadets representing Eagle’s Landing High School (ELHS), Luella High School, Stockbridge High School, and ELMS.

The JROTC Cadets executed well-choreographed drills, paving the way for Brig. Gen. Thompson to administer the oath of office to LTC Douglas. All military officers take the oath upon commissioning and renew it with each promotion.

“I am proud to have a commanding general here,” Dr. Douglas stated. “This is not about me being promoted. In the military, we rarely get to see general officers. So, this is a rare and special opportunity for these kids as it exposes them to senior military leadership. This is a powerful moment that allows students to envision their future as leaders and the importance of serving a cause greater than oneself.”

The ceremony concluded with the JROTC Cadets’ pass in review, which impressed even the seasoned military officials who praised their exceptional routines throughout the program.

“We are truly honored that Eagle’s Landing Middle School is hosting this unique event to celebrate service to community and country,” said Superintendent Davis. “The U.S. Army is grounded in loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and courage, and I am proud to see JROTC members from our schools who embody and display these traits. We commit to creating opportunities, access, and outcomes for every student, so it is a true gift to witness this moment and share it with future leaders of our country.”

It is customary to hold promotion ceremonies at the officer’s home base or armory with family and Army personnel. However, it was ELHS freshman Elijah Rattler’s idea to host the ceremony at the middle school. Rattler, who hopes to enter the Naval Academy and become a Marine Corps aviator, met Principal Douglas while a student at ELMS.

“Rattler is a superb student,” Dr. Douglas said. “He’s interested in the military and carries himself as if in the military. I immediately embraced his suggestion and the idea of sharing this moment with my students. It made perfect sense to have him pin my new insignia rank.”

“I was honored when Principal Douglas asked me to be a part of this special moment,” Rattler said. “I feel I owe it to him. He has been a role model and mentor, and I feel I can make it with his support. He inspires and motivates me.”

Dr. Douglas, described as an expert in military operations, has approximately 27 years of experience in the Army and Navy that includes multiple assignments worldwide in various capacities, including military police officer, sailor, and regional emergency preparedness liaison officer.

His storied service career includes work in military intelligence and, currently, civil affairs as a citizen soldier serving the military and the civilian sector. Dr. Douglas has seamlessly linked his military career to his civilian passion.

“Malik Douglas has demonstrated that gifted citizen soldiers can enjoy great success in their military and civilian careers by serving in U.S. Army Reserve units,” said Brig. Gen. Thompson. “The U.S. Army’s Civil Affairs soldiers are the ones the U.S. government entrusts with its most complex civil-military missions that require empowering local populations and community-building, similar to what Dr. Douglas does here at Eagle’s Landing Middle School.”

Dr. Douglas has always been interested in being a certified educator. His foray into the field began when he worked for the Army National Guard as deputy state education officer, helping soldiers to obtain their college degrees. In 2008, he visited Ola Middle School to determine the status of his application for a seventh-grade social studies teacher position.

“I didn’t expect to be interviewed and hired on the spot,” Dr. Douglas stated. “It was the best decision I could have made. I also didn’t intend to go into leadership but wanted to make a difference and knew I could as an administrator. Balancing principalship with leadership in the military allows me to combine skills to lead the school effectively.”

“Today’s celebration acknowledges Dr. Douglas’ outstanding contributions to our country and undoubtedly serves as an inspiration to all of us to be steadfast in our pursuit of exceptional here in Henry County Schools,” said Board Chair Pope (Dist. 4).

During a special luncheon that followed the promotion ceremony, Brig. Gen. Thompson and CSM Lo seized the opportunity to address the cadets and highlight benefits of military service.

Among his many accomplishments in his five years as principal, Dr. Douglas is also credited with bringing the JROTC to ELMS, making it the first middle school in the county to offer the program.

“My military background influenced my desire for middle school kids to participate in JROTC,” Dr. Douglas said. “It has grown to almost all middle schools in Henry County having a JROTC program that feeds into their high school.”

The ELMS JROTC program is already making a difference in just two years. Eighth-grader Laila Mitchell joined at the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year and attributes positive personal changes to becoming a cadet.

“I initially signed up for JROTC for high school credit,” Mitchell said. “I learned discipline, self-respect, boundaries, and how to balance schoolwork and school activities. I feel overall, it has made me a better person. I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t joined. It has helped me in so many ways.”

Mitchell’s experience validates Dr. Douglas’ insistence on having the program at ELMS. He started in the ROTC and similarly credits the military for changing his life.

“Today means a lot to me, not because of the promotion, but because I was able to involve middle and high school students in the process,” Dr. Douglas said. “They see me every day as a principal, but today, they got a peek into my military career. As a principal, I always want to encourage and mentor students. Today showed them there are options and the path they can take to accomplish their goals. I consider it my duty and privilege to guide them along their way.”

About Henry County Schools

Henry County Schools (HCS) is the eighth-largest school district in Georgia, consisting of 52 schools, including two academies, located about 20 minutes south of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Over the past 20 years, our community has grown in population from 113,000 residents to over 244,000 residents. Since 1999, student enrollment has grown from 21,000 to 43,000 students, and our number of employees has grown from 3,000 to 6,000.

HCS is “In Pursuit of Exceptional,” taking action to advance opportunities, access, and outcomes so that every student in our school district has Exceptional Support, Exceptional Access, and an Exceptional Future. In 2020, our Board of Education adopted our 2021-2026 Community-Inspired Strategic Plan and laid out a clear vision and mission for Henry County Schools. Our vision is to ensure a high-quality, world-class education for every student, and our mission is to empower all students with exceptional opportunities and access that lead to success in a global society.