By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Derwood Tutor may have officially retired from the Tupelo Public School District in 1994, but he never stopped working in a district he has now served for nearly 40 years.
Since that retirement, the longtime school administrator has worked part time as the director of the Hancock Leadership Center. He is the only director the center has had in its 18 years.
State law allows retired school employees to work as part-time employees, and Tutor said he is honored to have that opportunity.
“Education is a large field,” Tutor said in his office last week. “I think there are a lot of opportunities for people like me to continue to contribute to school districts. I intend to do that for as long as I am physically able.”
Tutor, 69, came to Tupelo in 1971 after seven years of working in the Greenville School District, including four years as a principal. He served as principal of Thomas Street Elementary School for 17 and a half years and received his doctorate in educational administration in 1978. Tutor served as assistant superintendent from 1989 until 1994.
“I’ve loved my years in Tupelo,” he said. “I’ve been blessed.”
The Hancock Center is designed to host professional development opportunities and various meetings for the school district. It is operated with funds provided by the Tupelo School District Learning Foundation, Inc., which was established by a $3.5 million gift by Mr. and Mrs. L.D. Hancock.
Tutor’s duties include making sure its rooms are prepared, proper arrangements are made and everything runs smoothly for the different events held at the center. Meetings are scheduled practically every day, he said.
For years, he and administrative assistant Marilyn Russell also were responsible for the operation of 129 apartment units owned by the Learning Foundation from Hancock’s gift. A local professional rental company now handles most of that work.
Tutor also directs the North Mississippi Education Consortium’s First-Year Administrator Mentor program.
“He seems to be a really level-headed leader,” said Carver Elementary Principal Terry Harbin, who has gone through that program. “He gives sound advice that is always thought out.”
Today, he still receives several emails from principals and teachers asking for his help with various situations they are facing. He makes weekly visits to school campuses to provide advice and encouragement.
“He is a really good mentor,” Harbin said. “He is someone whom I have leaned heavily on throughout my career for his wisdom and his advice and his leadership.”