Initiated at the instigation of former Interim Superintendent David Meadows and brought into existence by Superintendent Gearl Loden, the council selections were thoroughly vetted by an independent evaluation panel of Parents for Public Schools, the national nonprofit organization headquartered in Jackson. PPS selected the members from a list of applicants and its national program director, Nita Rudy, will serve as the council’s facilitator, Daily Journal education writer Chris Kieffer reported in Friday’s edition.
The 27-member council reflects the diversity of THS’s students and includes members from the student body, faculty, parents, the school district and civic leadership. Its role is advocacy and information. It has no governing, policy, or administrative authority, but it has eyes and ears to better link the campus and community.
Its goal is correct, timely information useful to the Tupelo school board – and honest discussion of the many issues identified as concerns and priorities for THS. The school dates to the 19th century on a succession of campuses. Its best students continue setting a high academic bar while gaining acceptance to top colleges and universities nationwide, while performance gaps among students identified by factors like family income level, race and ethnicity, so far have proven intractable.
Still, Tupelo High is the largest Mississippi high school, with significant financial, intellectual and leadership resources to address concerns expressed in many different forums over the last couple of years about its internal discipline, student academic performance, and responsiveness.
The 27-member group includes district and school leaders, teachers, students, parents, community leaders, business and faith-based representatives and others.
The district, significantly, will publish contact information for council members on its website so others can come to them with their concerns.
Members so far have noted the need for better communication among the school and community and to address inequities in discipline and academics between students in different groups.
THS senior and council member Ashton Huey said he wants to help put to rest the negative perceptions of some in the community. “Tupelo High is a great school, and I’m proud to be a part of it,” he said.
Tupelo High is correctly perceived as the system’s flagship campus, and its role as the leader must be sustained by performance, fact and successfully progressive practices.