Community shakes hands with new TPSD superintendent

By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Parents, students, teachers and members of the community met new Tupelo Schools Superintendent Dr. Gearl Loden on Sunday afternoon and welcomed him to Tupelo, wished him luck and passed on a few words of wisdom.
“Overall, there’s a lot of energy in the air – positive energy,” Loden said during a break from meeting folks at the CDF building. “The new students are 50/50. You ask them if they’re ready to go back to school, and some say, ‘No, no, no.’ Some say, ‘Yes.’ But I believe we’re really ready to start school.”
One of those students excited about school is 7-year-old Johnathan Rogers, a second-grader at Lawhon. He and his mother, Faye Rogers, met with Loden and his wife, Monica, at the reception on Sunday. The second-grader is moving from Carver to Lawhon, and he’ll be in new gifted classes.
“It’s important (to attend Loden’s reception) because I haven’t had a chance to meet any of his teachers yet,” Rogers said. “I’m hearing good things about Lawhon, that the teachers are really focused on the kids.”
Charles and Tara Laney also thought it was important their children meet the Lodens. Sam, 5, Maggie, 8 and Julie, 10, all shook hands with Loden and his wife.
“I think it’s so important to meet the people who are trying to make their school a better place,” Tara Laney said.
Loden said teachers have been busy training this summer to make the next school year a great one.
“We’re making sure our focus is on things that will make a difference in this school system,” he said. “We want to focus on student achievement.”
Teachers report to work on Wednesday, and students will return Aug. 7.
“I believe we’re ready to start school,” Loden said. “We’re ready to have the buses rolling.”
The event was sponsored by Parents for Public Schools and Joining Hands to Lift Students.
sheena.barnett@journalinc.com