3Qs: Kenneth Wheeler, new Tupelo school board member

By NEMS Daily Journal

Kenneth Wheeler became the newest member of the Tupelo school board on Tuesday when we was recommended by Mayor Jack Reed Jr. and approved by the City Council. Chief of security at North Mississippi Medical Center, Wheeler will serve a five-year term, replacing Lee Tucker, whose term expired last month. He begins his service on the board during a time when public scrutiny of the school district is high and as new superintendent Gearl Loden also will soon begin his tenure. Wheeler answered questions from the Daily Journal’s Chris Kieffer.

Q: One of the recent public concerns in the school district has involved a need for better discipline. Given your background in safety, how do you think your experiences and perspective can translate to helping the school district address discipline?
A. As Chief Security Officer of the Medical Center, my staff and I try to recognize a problem and eliminate the undesired behaviors before they escalate to an unmanageable level. Early recognition of problems is key. We then try to create options or opportunities for successful outcomes. It is up to the individual(s) to choose the most positive option. Teachers, school administrators and other authorities, I am sure are working toward similar goals. I am brand new and will look at how discipline is administered and to see if opportunities to succeed are created for those under our control. 

Q: During Tuesday’s school board meeting, you spoke about the importance of communicating with the community and City Council. How do you plan to open such communication?
A: First of all, I have to give respect to the other board members and gain a better understanding of how the board works, what can be legally disclosed, and then look for innovative solutions to close the communication gap.

Q: I understand that your reading list is pretty extensive. What do you like to read and how can that influence you as a board member?
A: I enjoy learning from the Bible, Tom Clancy, Ron Brown, Servant Leadership, Who Moved My Cheese, Popular Science magazine and playing and beating my son on the X-Box.