TPSD interim leader brings detail-oriented approach

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journaln He will be tasked with restoring

TUPELO – Data has a special significance for the new interim leader of the Tupelo Public School District.
David Meadows, who was named Tupelo’s interim superintendent on Thursday, looks at numbers to glean information. It’s a strategy he’s used during his 40 years as an educator and one he was particularly using in his previous role as the TPSD chief accountability officer. In that position as a consultant, he was tasked with performing cost-benefit analyses of various district programs.
“I am a believer in using data for purposes of decision-making,” Meadows said on Friday. “To make data become real for decision-making, you have to be able to take the data and turn it into information that all stakeholders involved in a decision can use to communicate with each other about what it shows. You have to turn it into meaningful information that can be used to support achievement.”
Meadows will replace Randy Shaver, who requested to be released from the final two years of his contract. That early contractual release was completed on Thursday, the same day that Meadows was named to the interim position. The school district has not yet outlined its search procedure for Shaver’s full-time replacement.
Meadows, 62, will be asked to bring stability to a community that has had recent unrest over its schools. It started with people complaining about the district’s discipline. Then, teachers said they were not being listened to by the administration. Most recently, students and community members protested when popular high school Principal Lee Stratton was transferred.
Meadows, who has been involved in the Tupelo School District for the last 16 years, said one of his priorities will be to build relationships.
“I am here in this interim role as superintendent to serve students and teachers, and hopefully in doing that, we can restore and rebuild trust and confidence in the Tupelo Public School District,” he said.
Former Tupelo Superintendent Mike Vinson worked closely with Meadows when Vinson led the TPSD from 1995 to 2002. During that time, Meadows was deputy superintendent. His primary role was to focus on instruction to help the district raise its test scores.
“I think he is probably what Tupelo needs right now,” Vinson said. “I think he will refocus on the link with the community. I think he will work very closely with parents, and I think that is very important right now.
“I think he will be very fair and firm in his discipline. I think he will make good personnel decisions, and I think he will focus on what children need to learn.”
Randy McCoy, who followed Vinson as superintendent, called Meadows “extremely detailed.”
“He works long hours and pays attention to details in anything that he does,” McCoy said.
Parkway Elementary Principal Joan Dozier has worked with Meadows since his first year in the district in 1994. Prior to that, Meadows was a superintendent in Quitman, and was a teacher, administrator and assistant superintendent in Moss Point.
Dozier called Meadows a fine Christian man and “one of the most trustworthy people” she knows. She said she has often been able to call on his “vast knowledge” to get answers she’s needed.
“He makes data-driven decisions based on what is best for all students,” she said. “He is so supportive and encouraging of all the staff of TPSD.”
Meadows said his first priority will be to help the district improve its current test scores, a task that will be helped by his abilities as a data cruncher.
“He is extremely intelligent,” Vinson said. “He has done a lot of writing and research, but he is also very practical.
“He knows what it takes to make education excel in Tupelo. I think he will be focused on making that happen.”

Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@journalinc.com.