By JB Clark
TUPELO – Hundreds of students, teachers, parents and community members gathered at Fairpark on Saturday to celebrate the announcement of Tupelo Public Schools’ academic improvement.
“By all means this is a celebration,” said Superintendent Gearl Loden. “It’s exciting for the school district to be able to have such a high level of community support.”
The teacher appreciation picnic was held in conjunction with Tupelo Parks and Recreation’s Touch a Truck event.
The event was kicked off with the Tupelo High School band and cheerleaders and followed by a hot dog lunch provided by Barbecue by Jim.
“I believe the improved levels of student achievement we have all across the district shows we’re moving in the right direction as a district,” Loden said. “It’s nice to see the academics improve and not just the academics but that we’re well-rounded. We have lots of arts integration and last night we had a good football win and the athletic program is doing well.”
Taneill Barbour is a speech therapist at Thomas Street Elementary School and moved to the district this year from Jackson.
“I wanted my little boy to be a part of a really good public school system that is doing their best and making strides,” Barbour said. “I wanted to be able to work where I send him to school and feel good about it.”
She said the district’s “B” ranking and two “A” ranked schools affirm her decision.
Jessica Tidwell has two children at Thomas Street Elementary and moved to the district last November.
“My son has achieved a lot since he’s been here and he enjoys it,” she said.
Tupelo Schools received a “B” ranking last year and this year’s ranking was much closer to the top grade. Milam Elementary was the only school to receive a “C” grade and both Tupelo High School and Lawndale Elementary received “A” rankings.
“This is what makes Tupelo so special,” Loden said. “When you have high expectations from the community for the schools and the community provides you with the resources and support you need, you can be successful.”