By Jack Reed Jr.
I am excited that Kenneth Wheeler has accepted my request to serve on the Tupelo School Board, and I appreciate the City Council’s unanimous vote of confidence.
Wheeler brings many assets to the board.
First, as a 29-year veteran and team leader at North Mississippi Medical Center, he has been part of the leadership team at our community’s largest employer.
Like NMMC, the TPSD is a large organization; like NMMC’s self-examination process in winning the prestigious Baldrige Award, the TPSD, under our new Superintendent Dr. Gearl Loden, will be undergoing its own period of self-examination and improvement.
Wheeler’s experiences will undoubtedly be of value in overseeing this effort. Second, as chief of security and manager of a staff of 31, Wheeler is uniquely qualified to bring a sharp focus on the critical issues of school discipline and safety – for students, teachers, and administrators alike.
He will be able to ask the right questions and, as he has said, “our mission is always to get the truth.”
Third, as a parent of two children who have gone through our public schools, and as a community volunteer, Wheeler has proven his genuine interest in our school children and their success. He has unselfishly served as an AEE volunteer helping get teachers grants of excellence; he has been a Band Booster, a Soccer Booster, a mentor. He cares about our kids. He is a recent graduate of the Parents for Public Schools Leadership Institute.
Fourth, he is a good role model. His and his wife’s son Brandon, a senior at THS, has just accepted a full academic scholarship to the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
Their daughter graduated from THS, Ole Miss, and has come home to Tupelo to work for a local bank. Wheeler is a loyal husband and father.
Fifth, he is a compassionate, but tough man, who believes in being part of a winning team. He is very competitive for Tupelo and our school system. As a former college offensive lineman he has the personality to both ask the tough questions and enjoy working hard on a team that is committed to excellence.
Sixth, Wheeler will also represent citizens who live within the TPSD, but outside the city limits; a statutory requirement that we must have one board member so situated, since our school district’s boundaries go beyond our city limits.
Lastly, he understands what a good education can mean to our students and to our city. Wheeler’s grandfather couldn’t read or write.
Yet he wanted his children to be educated and Wheeler’s father became a science teacher and taught for many years.
Wheeler himself, of course, went on to graduate from college. His mother worked hard to ensure that all her children grew up to take on tough issues with a sense of fairness.
Now, he has stepped up to help lead our school district during important days.
He told me that this is “a tremendous opportunity” and that he would be “honored to be asked to serve.”
I know Kenneth Wheeler will be an excellent member of the Board of Trustees of the Tupelo Public Schools during this important year.
Jack Reed Jr. is mayor of Tupelo. He appoints school board members, subject to confirmation by the City Council. Contact him through Anna.Wyatt@tupeloms.gov.