By Chris Kieffer
TUPELO – Tupelo Assistant Superintendent Matthew Dillon was named superintendent of the Petal School District on Friday.
Dillon replaces John Buchanan, who is retiring. The move will bring him closer to home.
Dillon grew up in Columbia, about 35 miles from Petal, and his wife is a graduate of Petal High School.
“I’m very excited about working in the Petal School District,” Dillon said. “It is a great school district known for its academic success, athletic success and wonderful fine arts program. Going through the interview process, it was evident it has great community support and understands the importance of having great schools for quality of life.
“From a personal standpoint, it will be extra special being closer to home.”
Dillon has been assistant superintendent in Tupelo for two years. Prior to that, he was principal at Pearl High School.
Tupelo Superintendent Gearl Loden said the district will begin advertising for Dillon’s replacement and hopes to fill it soon. He expects to draw strong internal and external candidates.
“Dr. Dillon has been a great asset to our district,” Loden said. “He has been wonderful to work with, and he has been a great leader.
“I believe the people in Petal will enjoy him as much as the people in Tupelo have. He’s done an outstanding job developing relationships in our community.”
Dillon said it will be difficult to leave Tupelo.
“I’ve had a wonderful two-year experience in the Tupelo Public School District,” Dillon said. “It has been wonderful working alongside such dedicated educators and wonderful students. In addition, the community support has been great, and it will continue to be great because everyone understands the importance of education in this community. I think the future is very bright in Tupelo.”
Although Dillon focused on secondary schools, Loden said the district will be flexible in seeking his replacement.
“We are very open,” he said. “We have a very skilled team that is very flexible and has a lot of different skill sets. We are not looking for a clone of Dr. Dillon. We will look at the people we interview and blend with the people we have on staff.”