By Chris Kieffer
TUPELO – The Tupelo Public School District on Tuesday promoted the lead teacher of its pre-K program to a principal position.
Anita Buchanan has served as lead teacher of the Early Childhood Education Center since 1999. She recently received her master’s degree in educational leadership from Arkansas State University, which allowed for the promotion.
The school, which serves 4-year-olds and some 3-year-olds with special needs, did not previously have a principal. The district’s federal programs director technically served in that capacity.
“It shows our continual support for pre-K,” said Tupelo Superintendent Gearl Loden.
Not many, if any, Mississippi school districts have standalone pre-K programs with a separate principal, Loden said. He also praised the work Buchanan has done as lead teacher.
“When visiting the Early Childhood Education Center, you can tell it is well-organized and has great teachers,” he said. “Parents are pleased with the results they see from their children.”
The move means Buchanan will have a 240-day contract, 22 days more than her current one, allowing her to be available to teachers and parents more during the summer.
“That is a big advantage,” said Tupelo Federal Programs Director Anna Guntharp.
Guntharp said Buchanan does a great job understanding the development of young children and building relationships with parents and the community.
“This is an unusual circumstance that we have somebody really attuned to early childhood education and who also is a principal,” she said.
Buchanan is originally from Baltimore, Md. She earned an undergraduate degree in education from James Madison University and a master’s in early childhood with concentration in birth to kindergarten education. She began that degree at the University of Virginia and completed it at Lenoir Rhyne University. She also has received her National Board Certification.
“For me, the thing that has been so important is that early childhood education is supported by Tupelo and the community,” Buchanan said. “That is such an advantage for all of our children to have that support and the emphasis.”