Incoming Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District Superintendent Eddie Peasant says he’s committed to creating a 21st century school district that prepares students for future job markets many have yet to envision.
To accomplish this goal, he told a crowd gathered at the Greensboro Center Thursday it will take continued buy-in from parents and the community at large.
“You guys exude energy and enthusiasm — from the community, university, business leaders, students, faculty and administrators. The day I spent in the district with many of you during the interview process convinced me that this is the place I need to be,” Peasant said. “Our district has a rich tradition of excellence. One major reason for the success the district has experienced has been due to a community that holds the district to high expectations, but one that provides a high level of support. I will look forward to your continued involvement as we go on this journey.”
School district stakeholders gathered Thursday to officially welcome Peasant to the district after the board hired the current Tupelo School District assistant superintendent at the end of February.
Although he doesn’t officially take over his new position until July 1, Peasant’s influence has already been felt within the school district: He has met with various groups, toured campuses and SOCSD Board of Trustees President Keith Coble said Peasant was actively involved in the entire process that hired Christy Maulding as the district’s next assistant superintendent of curriculum and education.
Speaking to the crowd, Peasant said he believes well-rounded school districts support academic, athletic, artistic and extra-curricular experiences for its students. Higher performing systems, he said, provide the “best and most opportunities” for all children.
He laid out three goals for SOCSD: help each student discover and develop their individual talents, teach them to be critical thinkers and problem-solvers; and prepare them for a technological world full of new jobs and careers.
“These are the components which I believe make up a 21st century school district, and I am committed to giving our students the opportunity to be a part of a meaningful experience that allows them to learn, to discover, to create, to perform, to try again and to grow into successful, productive citizens,” he said. “We have many challenges which we are facing in education today, including some serious cuts we’re seeing in state funding, but we will work through it together.”
As Peasant gets his footing in the district, Coble said the school board and the incoming superintendent will remain in contact, assess SOCSD’s short- and long-term goals, create new strategies for success and continue to “simply get to know each other.”
“That relationship and the lines of communication are so important. I think you have the situation with an incoming leader like this where you have to convey information to them and let them bring new ideas to you. He’s going to bring ideas from Tupelo and Clinton, and we’re excited to hear them,” Coble said. “The next few months are about getting to know each other and what our priorities are. He won out of a very talented pool of applicants, and I feel like we went fast enough through the process to get our pick. We got our guy, and we’re very excited.”
SOCSD Superintendent Lewis Holloway will step away from his leadership role June 30 at the end of the 2016-17 academic year, concluding a 40-plus year in education.
He joined the Starkville School District in 2012 before the Legislature mandated it merge with the Oktibbeha County School District in 2015.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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