Hill to lead Natchez school district

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Tupelo Assistant Superintendent Fred Hill was named superintendent of the Natchez-Adams School District on Thursday.
Hill said in a release from the Tupelo Public School District that he “didn’t arrive at this decision easily, but it is an excellent opportunity for my professional future and family.”
He has been an assistant superintendent in Tupelo for three years, coming to the district with then-superintendent Randy Shaver after previously serving as a middle school principal in North Carolina.
In Tupelo, Hill oversaw sixth to 12th grades, as well as the district’s alternative programs. He helped implement the one-to-one laptop initiative, a program he had used in North Carolina, and also helped launch the School-Aged Mothers program and High School Advancement Academy, which helps students who are at least two years behind their peers recover credits and catch up academically.
Hill also received some public backlash, mostly because of his association with Shaver, who made some moves that were not popular in the community. When the City Council called for Shaver’s resignation in 2011, it also named Hill.
After Shaver was given an early release from his contract in April 2011, much of the backlash against Hill subsided.
Hill has previously been a finalist for several superintendent positions, including Birmingham, Ala., Fairfield, Ala., and Meridian.
He was chosen during a specially called board meeting.
Natchez School Board President Wayne Barnett told the Natchez Democrat that Hill stuck out among other candidates because of a proven track record of increasing student achievement.
“(Hill) showed he had done his homework, he knew a good bit about Natchez,” Barnett told the paper. “(Hill) gave us an idea that let us know that he knew what he was talking about, and that’s what sold him to us.”
Hill will start his new job on July 1, replacing Interim Superintendent Joyce Johnson. Until then, he will work for the district as a consultant.
“I have enjoyed working with Dr. Hill during the transition,” incoming Tupelo Superintendent Gearl Loden said. “He has been easy to work with. I know he wants to be a superintendent, and I feel like he’ll be successful in Natchez.”
Tupelo immediately will launch a search for Hill’s replacement.
It will be the second new assistant superintendent Loden will have the opportunity to choose. He has already tabbed Pearl High School Principal Matthew Dillon to fill an assistant superintendent position that was vacant.
Tupelo has three assistant superintendents. The third is Diana Ezell.
chris.kieffer@journalinc.com