Tupelo board advances Loden start date to Friday

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – New Tupelo Schools Superintendent Gearl Loden will officially begin his tenure this week.
Loden’s start date was pushed up one month during a special school board meeting on Wednesday. The new superintendent had been scheduled to take over July 1.
Loden has spent the last three years as Amory’s superintendent, and had been under contract there until June 30. However, because Amory has already hired Loden’s replacement, Tony Cook, he was able to make the transition earlier.
“We wanted Dr. Loden to get here as quickly as possible,” School Board President Eddie Prather said. “We feel having him in the month of June is good for us.”
Loden now will officially begin on Friday, replacing Interim Superintendent David Meadows, who retires today.
“Tupelo is a large district compared to Amory, so we wanted him to have time to find his way around and meet people, so when school starts, he can focus on teaching and learning,” Prather said.
Loden has several tasks planned for June. He must replace assistant superintendent Fred Hill, who was hired as superintendent of the Natchez-Adams School District, and hire a principal for the High School Advancement Academy.
The HSAA, which aims to help high school students who are struggling academically, used a lead teacher instead of a principal last year, but Loden wants to beef up the program and give it a principal.
Loden also will attend the school board’s retreat in the middle of June and the administrative retreat at the end of the month. He also will go with new board member Kenneth Wheeler to the state’s training for new school board members.
“It is exciting to have the opportunity to be in the district in June,” Loden said. “Mr. Meadows has been wonderful to work with in the transition.”
June also will be a busy time, Loden said, because of the Summer Curriculum Writing Project, in which teachers will develop various curriculum documents. Loden will be working to develop new job descriptions for his central office team.
He won’t be able to finalize that until he fills the assistant superintendent spot.
“When we hire someone, we are looking at the skill set and trying to blend it with the skills we have,” Loden said.
chris.kieffer@journalinc.com