3Qs with Lee Stratton – Tupelo High's new principal

Tupelo High School’s Lee Stratton is ready to get a jump on the new school year.
After serving as interim high school principal, the Tupelo School Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to make him the permanent principal for the coming school year.
The new principal has a long history at Tupelo High School. Twenty-four of his 30 years as an educator are connected with Tupelo. He spent 17 years as a classroom teacher and boys basketball coach before becoming an assistant principal at Tupelo High School.
On the personal side, Stratton has strong connection with the school, too. Two of his three children have graduated from Tupelo High School and his youngest is a rising sophomore. Wife Janet has served as the Tupelo High School nurse.
Stratton sat down with the Daily Journal’s Michaela Gibson Morris last week to answer questions about his philosophy and priorities for the 2010-2011 school year.

Q: Why did you want to become a principal?
A: The challenges of administration are a lot like coaching. You’re working with a team. The team is made of students, staff, teachers and support staff. It’s a continual challenge to help kids learn and succeed. It’s the same as coaching: you want them to be successful and have fun doing it.

Q: What lessons from the basketball court have translated well to the principal’s office?
A: Stay humble and hungry. Give credit where credit is due to others. Discipline that comes with being part of a team and leading a team gets you through tough times and good times. You have to learn to be persistent. That’s so important for our students: To never give up, even when things are hard.

Q: What are your top priorities for Tupelo High School for the coming year?
A: One priority is to increase student learning and student achievement. That’s part of reaching every student. A teacher’s job is to see what students need and where they can go. Average isn’t good enough. We want the to be as good as they can possibly be.
It’s also about balance with academics and activities. Involvement in sports, arts and clubs are important to building a well-rounded student. It’s a balance in life, too.

Michael Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal