It was a sad day for many Laurel County residents as word of the untimely death of Johnson Elementary principal, Jamie Gilliam, spread throughout the county.
Gilliam, her husband and three children were traveling along Old Way Road on Monday night when their vehicle was involved in a head-on collision. Gilliam and the driver of the other vehicle were both pronounced dead at the scene. Gilliam's husband, Kenneth, and three children were seriously injured and Kenneth Gilliam and one child were transported to Saint Joseph London. Two of the children were airlifted to the University of Kentucky Medical Center. No information was available on their conditions as of press time Tuesday afternoon.
Gilliam was highly respected by her peers and the parents of students at Johnson Elementary.
"It's so sad," said Heather Brock, whose children attend Johnson Elementary. "She was a very sweet person and loved the kids. I hate hearing about this."
Laurel County School Superintendent Dr. Doug Bennett released the following statement regarding Gilliam's passing:
”As a school district and community, we are deeply saddened by the loss of one so dear to us all personally and professionally. Jamie Gilliam was very special to us. She was a devoted mother and wife and tremendous in every role which she served. She was an excellent teacher and principal. Jamie was recently hired as our Director of Pupil Personnel. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.”
Gilliam had just officially completed her first day in her new capacity as DPP on Monday, July 1. She died from the head-on collision at 9:37 p.m. that same evening.
Gilliam had been involved in the Laurel County School system for nearly 15 years. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education and a Master's degree in educational leadership, both from Eastern Kentucky University. She also earned a graduate degree in special education from Union College. She was selected as the principal of Johnson Elementary in 2015 after holding the assistant principal position at Bush Elementary School for the 2014-2015 academic year.
Gilliam said in a 2015 interview with The Sentinel-Echo that she hoped to work with staff, parents, students and the community at large to improve the school and encourage students to excel.
"My vision of a successful school is one that is student-centered, where children are held in the highest regard and all decisions are based on what is best for them," she said in that interview.
Funeral arrangements for Jamie Gilliam were pending as of press time Tuesday afternoon with London Funeral Home.