By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
SHANNON – Shannon Middle School principal Keith Steele will retire at the end of this year, his 40th in education.
Steele, 65, is in his third year leading the 280-student, sixth- to eighth-grade school. Prior to that, he was an assistant superintendent for three years and a principal at Saltillo High School for 5 1/2 years.
“In all of my 40 years, I’ve anticipated and enjoyed getting up and going to work every day until this year,” Steele said. “I think God is telling me it is time not to do it.
“The same thing happened with coaching. When you don’t love it, you need to do something else. I’m 65, and it is time to enjoy some other things.”
Steele said he does not have specific plans for his retirement. He’ll probably play golf and spend more time with his five grandchildren, perhaps teaching them how to fish.
His education career began in Kossuth, where he coached and taught ninth-grade social studies for two years. He then coached football at Bradford County High School in Starke, Fla.
Steele later worked as a head football coach at Bruce, Amory and Tishomingo County High Schools before stops in Fulton and New Albany. In New Albany, he was director of the alternative school for a year and spent two years as an assistant high school principal. He also was an assistant principal at Saltillo for a 1 1/2 years before leading that school.
In 2010, he left his position as assistant superintendent to lead a school turnaround effort at Shannon Middle School. The school’s Quality of Distribution Index – which is based on student scores on state tests – was 139 when Steele started. It rose to 153 after his first year and was 146 last year.
“We have not accomplished what we set out to do, but I’m not going to belittle what these teachers have accomplished,” Steele said. “I have to remind myself and them these things didn’t get down in a year or two, and we are not going to get them up in a year or two. It is a growth process, and we are in the growth process. If we can maintain the staff, the growth will continue.”