TUPELO – Public schools provide the backbone for a democratic society by building character and promoting involvement in civic life, new Tupelo Superintendent Randy Shaver said Tuesday.
“Without good public schools, other institutions will suffer,” said Shaver, who spoke at the Cellular South Networking at Noon luncheon at the BancorpSouth Conference Center.
It was Shaver’s first chance to speak to the community at large since assuming duties as superintendent of the city schools last month.
Shaver, a 34-year veteran of public education, came to Tupelo from North Carolina to replace Dr. Randy McCoy, who retired. Shaver will be the state’s highest paid superintendent, and there are lofty expectations to match.
While praising TPSD schools, Shaver talked about “pushing forward” with initiatives to make them better, listing his desire to see the graduation rate exceed 90 percent within four years and to see all schools achieve the top level of accreditation within three years.
He also promised to make the district 100 percent tobacco free.
Shaver also discussed the idea of making TPSD one of the top 10 districts in the country, a goal first announced in the late 1980s. Criteria for establishing that have never been fully developed, Shaver said, but he promised his administration would complete the task of defining what would make for a top 10 system.
Then he raised the bar even higher, saying he wanted TPSD to rank among the top 10 districts internationally.
Larry Harmon, director of the Fillmore Center, home of TPSD’s alternative education programs, said he’s been very impressed with Shaver’s work so far, particularly his emphasis on lowering the dropout rate and expanding the accelerated learning programs.
Polly Bailey, a former Tupelo school board president, said she liked what she heard from Shaver, saying he seemed to have a “good, clear vision,” and that he understood that “students are the most important people.”
Contact Daily Journal religion editor Galen Holley at 678-1510 or firstname.lastname@example.org
A community reception welcoming Dr. Randy Shaver and his wife Carolyn to Tupelo will be Sunday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the parish hall of All Saints’ Episcopal Church, 608 W. Jefferson St. Sponsors are the Association for Excellence in Education, Citizens for Tupelo Public Schools and Parents for Public Schools.
Shaver offers praise, plans for TPSD
* The new superintendent wants to establish criteria for Tupelo to be a Top 10 school system internationally.
Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal