Philadelphia school leaders looking at all options


The Philadelphia Municipal School District has its leadership team in place and is getting ready for the new school year.

But right now, what the 2020-2021 school year is going to look like is unknown. The coronavirus Ppandemic shutdown schools across Mississippi back in March. The schools closed for Spring Break and never came back.

On paper, Philadelphia's first day of school is Aug. 5. But with the number of COVID-19 cases increasing every day, it's truly anyone's guess as to whether students and teachers will be working in the classrooms or some sort of online learning setup. And if they come back and the number of cases suddenly spikes, will there be another closing of the school buildings with classes being taught online as they were this past spring.

Superintendent Dr. Lisa Hull said her administrative team is preparing to educate the Philadelphia students either way.

"We will never again be caught in the situation we were in back in March," Hull said. "Even if we are in school every day, we are still going to do some sort of virtual learning regularly.

"As we have learned, you never know when you are going to need it. We are going to plan, prepare and hope that we never have to do that."

Philadelphia High School Principal Steve Eiland said some of our advanced students are already taking online courses and are used to online learning.

Eiland is entering his second year as principal at Philadelphia High School. He has 27 years of experience in the education. He holds an educational specialist degree from Mississippi State University.

Prior to his current assignment, he has served in administrative roles in the Philadelphia, Louisville and Starkville school districts.

"In our online lessons, our teachers are engaging the students," Eiland said. "They are looking for ways for the students to participate in the lessons."

Melishia Hancock and Renita Menchion are the assistant principals under Eiland.

Hancock is in her third year as assistant principal at Philadelphia Middle School. She has worked for 19.5 years in the school district as a teacher and administrator. She received her bachelor's degree from Southern Mississippi and her Master's degree from Mississippi State University. She has National Board Certification in Early Adolescent math.

Menchion will be the assistant principal at Philadelphia High School this year. She was assistant principal at Philadelphia Elementary School last year. She is a veteran from the U.S, Air Force where she rose to the rank of captain. She received her bachelor degree from Mississippi Valley State University and her Master's degree from Troy State.

Travis Creel enters his third year as principal at Philadelphia Elementary School. He was assistant principal at the school for six years prior to his current appointment. He earned his bachelor degree from Mississippi University for Women and his Master's degree from Mississippi State University.

"Nobody was ready for what happened after Spring Break," Creel said. "I think we learned a lot. That will help our teachers who are coming back. We have provided professional development on different online learning strategies," Creel said.

"It seems to me that the regulations are changing daily, so where are we going to be in August. Are we going to be able to come back to school and do face-to-face instruction? Will we be distance learning again? Is it going to be some type of hybrid? But our experiences over the past nine weeks will help us either way."

Robert Byrd will serve as assistant principal at Philadelphia Elementary School. This is his second year in the district. He will also serve as boys basketball coach.

Other administrative leaders in the district include:

• Dr. Tim Wilcox who is the assistant superintendent of the Philadelphia Public Schools. He has his PhD from Mississippi State University in K-12 administration with an emphasis in educational leadership.

During his career, he has worked as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and director of federal programs and curriculum;

• Tia Cotton Little wears many hats in the district. She is the Special Education director, the district testing coordinator, Gifted coordinator and 504 coordinator. She has 18 years of experience in education. She received her bachelor degree from Jackson State University and his Master's degree in Special Education from Southern Mississippi. She obtained her administrator license through the Mississippi Path to Quality School Leadership program. She has previously worked in the Kemper County and Neshoba County school districts; and,

• Stacy Peeler is the school food service administer for the district. She attended East Central Community College and graduated from Mississippi State. Previously, she worked for 10 years in the Neshoba County Health Department

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