Cody Killen, principal at Neshoba Central Middle School, joins 17 other education professionals across Mississippi on an advisory council to Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann.
Cody Killen, principal at Neshoba Central Middle School, joins 17 other education professionals across Mississippi on an advisory council to Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann.

Neshoba Central Middle School Principal Cody Killen was sitting in a deer stand on Christmas Eve when he learned via email that Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann had named him to his Administrator Advisory Council.

Killen joins 18 other public school leaders from across the state on the council.

As much as he loves to hunt, Killen quickly contacted Superintendent Dr. Lundy Brantley to make sure he was on board, then responded to the email accepting the appointment. 

Killen immediately headed home to share his excitement with his family and a few others.

“It’s humbling to be considered for this honor,” he said. “While I am humbled, this is not about me. It’s about making progress for all. I am looking forward to working with all stakeholders in making a better Mississippi for students and teachers. There are many passionate people about education on this council. This is the first of many steps in the right direction.”

Killen will represent East Central Mississippi on the council.

Dr. Brantley shared Killen’s excitement.

“We are beyond excited that Mr. Killen is on the Lt. Governor's council,” he said. “Neshoba Central has a seat at the table and that is great for our staff, students, and community. 

Hosemann vowed last year to seek input from public educators when considering legislation that will impact public schools.

“For Mississippi to succeed, our public schools must succeed,” Hosemann said in a statement. “This requires us to listen to educators and address their needs. I look forward to working with this group and other administrators to continue advancing student achievement and supporting our schools.”

The advisory council includes two representatives from each of Mississippi’s nine regions: Northeast, Golden Triangle, East Central, Pine Belt, Coast, Capitol Area, Southwest, Delta and North Mississippi. It includes superintendents, elementary, middle and high school principals, career and technical, special education and curriculum and instruction directors.

Killen is excited about what the council can accomplishment, noting that members had their first conference call last week.

The goal of the council is to keep its members informed when a bill is being considered in the legislature so educators across the state can provide their input before it is pushed.

“It’s nice to finally have someone who is reaching out to educators,” Killen said. “If you want to make a change in education, you have to think along the level of dealing with the whole legislative side of it.  Leaders need to look at it from a political side. Legislators don’t know everything that we want them to know. We can’t expect them to know, if we are not reaching out to them. It goes both ways. We have to reach out to them.”

The lieutenant governor’s office and the council plan to communicate easily through conference calls.

“There won’t be a lot of meetings,” Killen said. “It’s not going to cause us to miss a lot of school.”

Hosemann’s team will keep the Advisory Council informed about legislation relevant to public schools as the Senate moves throughout the 2020 legislative session.

He’s asked members to share problems they may be dealing with in their districts and plans to call on members to participate in various study groups this summer to examine potential legislation for the 2021 Legislative Session.

Killen is a 2003 graduate of Neshoba Central High School. 

He initially taught biology and chemistry at his alma mater. He later earned his master’s degree and administrator certification. 

“I was walking out of an interview for a principal position at another school when I got a call from Tiffany Plott at Neshoba,” he said. “She took a chance on me as an assistant principal for K-1.”

Killen said he learned a lot working under Plott.

“I merged my leadership style with what I learned for her,” he said. “I still reach out to Ms. Plott.”

Killen was an assistant principal for grades four and five before coming to the middle school as principal where he is in his second year.

“There were a lot of growing pains that first year,” he said, noting that he became a better principal for it.

He enjoys a “great relationship” with his teachers and hopes that his time on the Advisory Council will afford him an opportunity to help all teachers across the state. 

“Mississippi is near and dear to my heart,” Killen said. “With Mississippi, we are starting to go in the right direction. Our students need to be prepared to enter the college world after graduation or have an industrial certification to be successful.”

Killen and his wife, Courtney, have one son, Cruz, 4.