March 1, 2017 11:05:20 AM
Eddie Peasant, an assistant superintendent with the Tupelo School District and former Mississippi Administrator of the Year, will lead the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District beginning July 1.
SOCSD trustees voted unanimously to hire Peasant during a special-call board meeting Tuesday. His contract is for four years, and he will make about $180,000 annually.
"I'm super excited and looking forward to coming to Starkville and continuing the great things that are already in place and the great things that are waiting to happen there," Peasant said. "There's a lot of great potential there, and I'm excited about becoming a Starkville Yellowjacket."
Peasant said he will visit the district in the coming days to begin his transition.
In his current role, Peasant oversees TSD's secondary education, athletics, technology, dual enrollment and disciplinary matters for grades 7-12. He previously served as the principal of Clinton High School and Gulfport Middle School.
"He's been a highly effective administrative leader in large, diverse school districts, like SOCSD, where academics, arts, athletics and extracurricular offerings are equally important to a student's comprehensive experience," said school board president Jenny Turner in a release. "He's also familiar with the transition from middle school to high school, and he's very knowledgeable about how ninth grade academics can improve student achievement, which falls in line with the district's future plans for Armstrong Middle School."
SOCSD's consolidation plan will turn AMS into a preparatory campus for eighth and ninth graders after the district's Mississippi State University partnership school begins educating grades 6-7.
In an interview with The Dispatch last week, Peasant said the former Starkville School District's "tradition of excellence" sparked his interest in the upcoming superintendent's vacancy.
"Like all school districts, SOCSD needs a leader that has a forward-looking vision in terms of preparing students for careers," he said last week. "We cannot prepare K-5 students for the current job market; we need to prepare them for the job market that doesn't exist by utilizing more technology and science-, technology-, engineering- and math-based (STEM) education."
In that same interview, Peasant said he wants to make SOCSD his "final destination" in terms of employment.
TSD last received a "B" accountability score from MDE and serves about 7,000 students, Peasant said last week.
He earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Southern Mississippi and holds a master's degree from Mississippi College.
"It's an exciting time for our community and our district as we prepare to break ground on one of the most innovative schools from programs to facilities for sixth and seventh grades in the Southeast," Turner said in the district's announcement. "We're ready to take the next step forward with Dr. Peasant."
Peasant will replace Superintendent Lewis Holloway, who will retire at the end of June.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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