By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Emotions ran high Tuesday night as Lee County School District officials named deceased Principal Bill Horton the administrator of the year.
“We lost a strong individual that made an impact on every student and faculty member he came in contact with,” said Lee County Superintendent Jimmy Weeks as he presented the award at Tuesday’s school board meeting.
There to accept the award were Horton’s daughter, Ginger Murray, her husband and three children.
“We are so appreciative of the Lee County district and Plantersville Middle School,” Ginger said. “He would be very proud.”
Better known as Coach, Horton died in November 2012 from a heart attack. His career in education spanned 33 years. Before coming to Plantersville Middle School, he coached football and basketball at Verona, and also taught at other schools around Northeast Mississippi.
In his seven years as principal, Horton elevated Plantersville Middle School to become a Title 1 Distinguished School in 2011, an honor denoting good test scores and high concentrations of poverty.
Weeks said Horton struck a balance between firmness and understanding with students that motivated his students to better themselves.
“He was retired military, so he understood and exhibited structure, and was very set on doing things the way they were supposed to be done,” Weeks said. “But at the same time he was very compassionate, so the students knew how much he cared about them.”