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TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – A longtime educator in our region announces his retirement. Tupelo Public School District Superintendent Doctor Gearl Loden says it’s time to step down.

As the Tupelo High School Madrigals were singing Christmas songs, School Board members already knew what Dr. Gearl Loden had just told members of the media. He is retiring at the end of this school year.

“I’ve had an exciting six years as superintendent,” Dr. Loden said.

Indeed, when he came to Tupelo from Amory, TPSD was facing backlash from the community over low test scores, and outcry over some personnel changes.

Doctor Loden says he is proud that test scores have improved, the graduation rate has jumped from 72 % in 2012,  to to more than 86 % last year, and major discipline infractions have plummeted from more than 1,000 in 2012 to 135 this year.

Also, he has worked to build community trust and forge partnerships among public and private sectors. He says the passage of a major bond package two years ago was another high point.

“If you had told me when I first arrived that we would be able to pass a bond issue of over 86 percent of people approving it with more than 44 million dollars, I would have said no way, no way, and we did and that says a lot about the community being willing to provide resources and support for the schools,” Loden said.

Although he is retiring, Loden says he still has work to do.

“If you know anything about me, I’m 48, I may have 28 and a half years, I’m not going to rock in a chair anytime soon, I will keep on working, I have several feelers out there, that I think in the next few weeks everyone will know what I’m planning on doing, primarily will be looking at going out of state to be a superintendent. I can’t thank the community enough for their support they have been great to work with,” he said.

Doctor Loden was named superintendent of the year in 2015 by the Mississippi Association of School Administrators.

Doctor Loden and his wife Monica have two children.

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