For the second straight year, Mississippi Department of Education state Supt. Dr. Carey Wright made the DeSoto County School District one of her stops among public school districts that have achieved excellence in the past year. 

DeSoto County Schools (DCS) Supt. Cory Uselton would not mind if Wright made the district an annual stop on her fall tour.

The state school superintendent has made appearances in the past few weeks to each of the 15 Mississippi public school districts that achieved an “A” grade in the state accountability tests, the results of which were released in October.

For the second straight year, DeSoto County Schools was on the “A” list and was one of nine school districts on that list in two successive school years.

Friday, Wright appeared at Center Hill Elementary School to congratulate district administrators, teachers, staff members and the more than 34,000 students that make up the state’s largest school district. A number of city and county leaders were also on hand to hear from Mississippi’s top education administrator.

“I think teachers are committed to implementing our standards,” Wright said. “Teachers here are very committed to engaging children, making sure that all needs are being met and using data to guide decision making. I think that’s a big thing that I have noticed here in DeSoto County.”

The accountability results have reached lofty levels in DeSoto County. The tests that show students’ learning levels and growth in core subjects lifted Lewisburg High School to be the top high school in the state and Lewisburg Middle School to again be the top school at that grade level. All eight district high schools were graded either an “A” or “B” grade and DCS has the top three middle schools in the state.

Center Hill Elementary, where Friday’s appearance took place, was ranked in the top 10 statewide for math proficiency.

“I think it is the people,” Uselton said about the district’s level of achievement. “They work diligently to make sure that our students reach their potential. We also have a very hard-working group of students who value education with parents that value education.”

Wright said the success of the district is another indication of educational growth happening throughout Mississippi, especially when it is noted that graduation rates are now at 82 percent statewide.

“We’ve achieved an awful lot,” Wright noted. “There’s not a single measure that we are using that is not headed in the right direction. That happens with a lot of dedicated people across this state that are doing everything they can to make sure that Mississippi’s children are as competitive as they can possibly be.”

Both Wright and Uselton noted the importance of community support outside the classroom walls.

“We’re fortunate that we have the support of all of the municipalities in DeSoto County and the support of the county government,” said Uselton. “They value public education and we appreciate all of the support that they give us,” with Wright adding, “There’s a tremendous amount of community support and I think that when you have communities come out and support teachers and principals, that only makes their job easier.”

Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.

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