Wilder, Tutor honored with retirement celebration

Published 9:38 am Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The South Panola School District Board of Trustees hosted a retirement ceremony for Superintendent Tim Wilder and Assistant Superintendent David Tutor on Wednesday, May 24, at the high school.

Faculty, staff, and friends of the school district leaders gave glowing speeches about each, and enjoyed refreshments after the reading of the proclamations prepared for the occasion.

Both were also presented with rocking chairs for gifts, and each assured those gathered the chairs would be soon put to regular use. Wilder said he is looking forward to spending time his front porch, and Tutor joked that he might use his rocker in a deer stand.

School board president Sandra Darby noted that prospective industry and business leaders, looking to locate in Batesville and Panola County, always have questions about the local schools and educational opportunities.

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“We have a great school, and I want to thank Mr. Wilder for his service to us and to our community and we appreciate all his efforts,” Darby said. 

She said Wilder’s leadership, and the board’s unwavering support while hard decisions were made, are the reason the district is now rated B in state accountability standards.

“We were a D district and it was not good when Mr. Wilder came to us and began to make the changes that now have us as a B district, and many of our schools are actually A schools,” she said. “We can’t thank him enough for his leadership.”

Wilder, in his usual self-deprecating manner, acknowledged that the road from D schools to A schools was sometimes difficult, but that he always felt the backing of the elected trustees made the difference in his ability to guide the district from near-failing to a leader among state districts.

“I was tough when I had to be, I know that, and I’m not going to say every day was perfect, but I will say that I enjoyed every minute of every day as your leader, and it was a responsibility I took very seriously,” Wilder said. “But, I have to say again that it was a team effort, and the ones of you that were in the classrooms and in the offices, you were the ones that made our plans work.”

Tutor, who spent much of his time at South Panola honing and improving the Career and Technical Education program, echoed Wilder’s assessment of the success of the school district in the past 10 years.

“We’ve had great support from the board and from parents and that’s what it takes to have a successful school,” he said. “I’m thankful for the opportunity to be a part of it.”

Tutor was the school administrator charged with formulating and presenting a comprehensive plan of action at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. Under his direction, the district implemented a cleaning and sanitizing program, and devised methods to identify and quarantine (from school) infected students and teachers.

South Panola had just one serious outbreak of Covid-19 during the pandemic that forced a short school closure once classes resumed in the fall of 2020. While other districts routinely reported dozens, and sometimes hundreds of cases, South Panola schools remained at the low end of reported infections throughout the ordeal.