SP superintendent pledges energy to meet challenges ahead 8/2/2013

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 2, 2013

SP superintendent pledges energy to meet challenges ahead

By Rupert Howell

“I’m not going to run out of energy, I just hope people don’t run out of patience,” said the new superintendent of South Panola School District Tim Wilder.

Wilder has taken the reigns of a school district that is rated mediocre at best in a state known for poor public schools.

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The trustee board that selected him for the job is expecting him to raise test scores and if his confidence level and positive attitude are indicators, he’s off to a good start.

Retired Lafayette County Superintendent Mike Foster served South Panola as interim until Wilder was hired and started his contract July 1. Foster was also present during the application and interview process. That Wilder, then currently serving as assistant superintendent in Grenada County, was at one time on the Lafayette County staff would lead one to believe that Foster  had a handle on who was being hired for the South Panola job.

More importantly, academic improvement has followed Wilder.

In a newspaper opinion piece last spring, Foster said the trustee board, “wants and expects the district to improve their accreditation standing,” adding, “It might mean changing the things have been done in the past. . .”

That was the interim superintendent’s polite way of saying that the new superintendent will have to shake things up to obtain the results expected of him.

Schools are rated on assessments (testing). Those assessments are computerized and data from those assessments are analyzed from every direction, giving administrators and teachers alike the knowledge of knowing who is learning and who is not. From that information patterns are recognized, often shedding light on why students are or are not learning.

From that data, decisions, hard decisions, may be justified as to which teachers are producing results and which are not. It’s called data decision making and sometimes it hurts, shakes things up and is not pretty.

Foster also said the new administration, “will need your (citizen) support as they strive to move the district forward on the academic side.”

In other words, nice facilities and winning athletic programs do not equal a successful school district—although they shouldn’t hurt.

Batesville Mayor Jerry Autrey returned from the municipal convention telling how the mayor of Oklahoma City credited emphasis on education as being part of that city’s recent turnaround.
During Monday’s county budget meeting, Chancery Clerk Jim Pitcock told supervisors that a long term solution to budget problems is having top-notch schools that draw new people to the county causing homes to be built and businesses to expand.

“The administration will need the support of the community, teachers, parents mayor and aldermen and board of supervisors,” Foster said in his opinion article back in May.

It’s a lot to put on one man, but he is responsible for a team of professionals that are expected to get our school going in the right direction.

“I am honored to serve as the Superintendent of the South Panola School District, and look forward to meeting and working with staff, parents, and community members,” Wilder said.
I believe he is honored. Honored because this is first job as superintendent and looking forward to the challenge at hand.

“I am here to serve the families of our district.  My door will be open, so feel free to stop by and visit with me at any time,” Wilder said.

Really. I hope he knows what he’s in for.

Meanwhile there is an air of excitement brought by a new administration. Expectations for the coming school year are building.

“I am going to do my best to live up to those expectations,” Wilder promised.