The Oktibbeha County School District Board welcomed the district’s new assistant superintendent, former Starkville High School principal Kathi Wilson, at its monthly meeting Monday.
James Covington, OCSD superintendent, said Wilson will replace retiring OCSD assistant superintendent Jerome Smith. Curtis Snell, OCSD board chair, said he welcomes Wilson with open arms.
“Whatever we can do to make your job more successful ... we’ll do everything in our power to make it happen,” Snell said. “We take very child seriously. This probably may be rough sometimes. It gets that way around here. We want you to know we appreciate you coming.”
Wilson said she was grateful and excited for the opportunity to work with OCSD. She said she was also honored to replace Smith.
“First of all, he’s legendary,” Wilson said. “What I hope to do is improve upon (Smith’s legacy). I’m going to put myself out on a limb and say this time next year, we should be a successful school district. I’m just looking forward to making gains and ensuring that children know what it is they’re supposed to know and they can do what it is they’re supposed to do.”
Personnel who believe education can level the playing field for students are the key to school district improvement, Wilson said. When she was SHS’s principal, she said her personnel had this attitude, and she believes OCSD’s personnel have it, too.
“Mr. Covington is very visionary,” Wilson said. “Everyone I’ve met, including board members and the school board attorney, it seems as though we all have the same vision. We all want to be labeled as successful.”
After leaving SHS but before becoming OCSD assistant superintendent, Wilson was assistant superintendent for the Holmes County School District. For most of her tenure at HCSD, Wilson said she commuted 90 miles to Holmes County from Oktibbeha County. Having a job closer to home was a key reason she applied for the OCSD job, she said.
“I moved here seven years ago, so it’s kind of like home now,” Wilson said. “I have some parents of former students (from SHS) who have come out to show their support (at this OCSD meeting). That means the world to me.”
The supporters Wilson spoke of were Everett Kennard and his family. Kennard said he was grateful to the board for welcoming Wilson back into the community, because his family had a very good experience with her as SHS’s principal.
“Anytime we had a problem or a question, she was always willing to hear from us and very fair,” Kennard said. “She had a very positive effect on our son, Cooper Kennard, who’s about to be a junior at the University of Alabama.”
In other matters, the board unanimously approved a proposal from Covington to add gray to the OCSD-sanctioned list of school uniform colors. The proposal makes the color available for all OCSD uniforms, Covington said, but the request came from Oktibbeha County’s west side.
“(Gray is) one of their school colors over there,” Covington said. “Everyone is wearing the same colors, but that blue color (students can already wear) is one of the school colors on the east side. East (Oktibbeha students are) wearing both of their colors. (West Oktibbeha students) want to wear their colors too.”
Snell said he had no problem with the change, but he was concerned about potential for new changes to the policy every year. He said he also wants to investigate the frequency of dress code violations.
“We need to look at this dress-down day,’” Snell said. “We’re still in school on Friday, and these dress-down days are causing problems.”