RANDY SHAVER: Tupelo's schools just completed a stellar year

This has been a wonderful year, and I have enjoyed getting to know our talented teachers and administrators who make our schools some of the best in the state.
Carolyn and I are also extremely thankful to the community which has welcomed us with open arms and made this transitional year so easy on us.
It takes the cooperation of students, teachers, administrators, parents, and community to make our schools a success. I have been amazed at the overwhelming support our schools enjoy. From corporations and foundations to small businesses and individuals, everyone seems to understand the unique relationship between quality schools and thriving communities and how each needs the other to prosper.
As my first school year as TPSD superintendent comes to an end, I would like to reflect on the many accomplishments and achievements of our students, teachers, and schools. Every month the TPSD school board reserves a part of the meeting for recognitions. This year our schools have found success on many fronts.
Rigor, relevance, relationships, and results have been – and will continue to be – a major focus for our district. A major tool for increasing rigor and relevance has been the implementation of the 1:1 laptop initiative, and we are so proud to have the largest program of its kind in a Mississippi public school system.
Academically, our students and schools have been recognized for winning national and state competitions; several students earned perfect scores on the state subject area tests; middle school students received State Recognition as Duke University TIP Scholars; and 273 students were recognized for high ACT and SAT scores. Thomas Street Elementary won the Partnership in Excellence Award from the MS Association of Partners in Education and Church Street Elementary received the Inspiring Readers Award for North Mississippi. This year’s senior class also earned approximately $3.5 million in scholarships.
In athletics, our high school teams won seven state championships: girls volleyball, boys and girls swimming, bowling, golf, and boys and girls cross country. Our middle school teams won two conference championships: girls basketball and football.
The arts have always been a point of pride in TPSD, and this year was no exception. Tupelo Middle School won the School of Excellence Award presented by the Mississippi Alliance for the Arts; THS students placed in the State Thespian Competition; Sound Wave was named Grand Champions at competitions in Petal and Homewood, AL; and Riptide Indoor Percussion had an undefeated season.
Our outstanding faculty members have also been hailed throughout the state. Jeannie Sauls was named Biology Teacher of the Year; Lucas Smith was Mississippi’s Boys Swimming and Diving Coach of the Year; Annette Riddle was named Tombigbee Counselor of the Year; Christy Carroll was the 1st Congressional District’s Administrator of the Year for Mississippi; Debby Gibbs was named Director of the Year at the MS Thespian Conference; Pam McAlilly was inducted into the MS Master Teacher Hall of Fame; Mark Garrett just received the prestigious Fulbright Hays Scholarship; Marsha Warren won the L.D. Hancock Leadership Award; Janna Fairley was named TPSD and Rotary Teacher of the Year; and Tim Carroll was named Rookie Teacher of the Year. TPSD now has the most per capita National Board Certified Teachers in the state at approximately 120. Just recently, TPSD won Best Middle School and Elementary School categories in the Daily Journal’s 2010 Readers’ Choice Awards, and Melanie Bray was named Best Teacher.
This is by no means a complete list of all the accolades and accomplishments we have received this year. It is simply a small glimpse into some of the wonderful things we have going on in our district to remind you that our schools, faculty, and students are leaders in the state.
I am so proud our 356 recent graduates. This is such an exciting time for these students and their families. As many of these young adults plan to enter the workforce, the military, or pursue higher education; I am confident our schools have prepared these individuals for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Congratulations and best wishes to the class of 2010!
To our teachers and students, please have a safe, fun, and much–deserved summer vacation. I look forward to the beginning of school and the start of another successful year.

Contact Tupelo Public Schools Superintendent Randy Shaver at rrshaver@tupeloschools.com.

Randy Shaver