TPSD interim leader states future goals

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal


TUPELO – Less than two months into his tenure as Tupelo’s interim superintendent, David Meadows has outlined a vision for the district’s future.
Titled “Moving Forward Together,” Meadows’ plan acknowledges the public’s recent frustrations with the Tupelo Public School District.
Its stated goal is to “restore trust and confidence” in the district.
“We do not want to hide from them,” Meadows said of negative perceptions. “Hiding from them will not solve it for young people, and we owe it to future generations to restore trust and confidence in the Tupelo Public School District.”
The four-part plan specifically attacks three areas that have been among the biggest sources of discontent: discipline, lack of respect toward teachers and low test scores. Its provisions include:
• Recommitting to safe and healthy schools.
• Reconfirming administrators and teachers as front-line instructional leaders and education experts.
• Re-establishing a focus on student achievement.
• Recommunicating the eight recommendations of the PDK Curriculum Audit.
Meadows presented the plan to the school board on May 24 and also used it in remarks he made to the Kiwanis Club and to the district’s teachers at the TPSD’s end-of-the-year meeting.
Its seeds were sown, he said, during the time he recently spent at Tupelo High School as part of a support team of district administrators assigned to help the school prepare for state tests. The 12-member team was on the school’s campus from March until May.
“One of the best things that has happened to me in a very long time was to have the opportunity to be on a single-school campus for a long period of time,” said Meadows, who has been in the TPSD for 16 years. He was the district’s chief accountability officer before being named interim superintendent on April 14.
“It was invigorating and motivating because I was able to be around students and teachers where the work goes on … That was so helpful to me, not knowing I would be called into this interim position.”
Each of the four tasks in Meadows’ plan contains several recommended actions to reach that goal.
However, Meadows’ hope is that his plan provides a starting point for further discussion about how to reach its objectives. He calls his framework “bread crumbs for ideas.”
“I hope it will be food for thought so we have a good exchange of ideas,” he said.
As part of that discussion, the district will hold focus groups in the fall. They will be staffed by parents, teachers, community members and age-appropriate students, Meadows said, with the aim being to “explore various issues of what the community feels and perceives in terms of trust and confidence in the district.”
Ultimately, Meadows said, his goal is for the district to raise its Mississippi accreditation ranking one or two levels by the end of the upcoming school year.
Tupelo is currently ranked as Academic Watch, the fourth of seven tiers.
Meadows would like to see it rise to Successful or High Performing.
Chris Kieffer 6/3/11 optional trim 3
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@journalinc.com.