By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – New Tupelo Superintendent Gearl Loden made his first hire on Tuesday when the school board approved Matthew Dillon as an assistant superintendent.
Dillon, who is currently the principal at Pearl High School, will begin on July 1.
He will join a Central Office team that includes Deputy Superintendent Diana Ezell and Assistant Superintendent Fred Hill, whose contracts were extended for a year on Tuesday.
Dillon, 33, fills the assistant superintendent position that was held by George Noflin when he retired in June 2010.
Billy Crews assumed Noflin’s vacant position briefly in early 2011, but his title was chief operating officer.
TPSD has funded three assistant superintendent positions for at least the last 26 years, Interim Superintendent David Meadows said on Tuesday.
During his two years at Pearl, Dillon moved the school from High Performing status to a Star ranking, the highest given by the state.
“He has an outstanding work ethic,” said Pearl Superintendent Ray Morgigno. “He is very good with data and very good with people. He is what I consider one of the sharpest up-and-coming administrators in the state.”
Dillon, whose salary will be in the mid-$120,000 range, was one of three candidates Loden interviewed for the position out of seven applicants. He served as assistant principal at South Panola High when Loden was the school’s principal in 2008-09.
“Pearl had a great foundation, but for him to be able to tweak that and move them to a Star school says a lot about him,” Loden said.
Before coming to Pearl, Dillon was principal at South Panola for one year. He was also an assistant principal, administrative intern and remedial reading teacher at Batesville Junior High School and a teacher and baseball coach in Harrison County.
“Being a product of Mississippi public education and living my entire life in Mississippi, I’d always seen Tupelo as one of those elite jobs,” said Dillon, who graduated from Columbia High School.
“They were cutting-edge and innovative. When the opportunity came open, I wanted to be part of that rich tradition.”
Loden said that he will redefine the responsibilities for Dillon and the rest of his central office team and that he will announce those in the near future. Meadows also remains under contract through the end of December.
Dillon earned his PhD. in educational leadership from the University of Mississippi in 2008.