In selecting their next superintendent, South Pike officials are turning to a Hattiesburg elementary school principal with a history of improving failing schools.  

At a half-hour-long special meeting Thursday morning, school district trustees voted unanimously to hire Dr. Donna K. Scott to fill the position.

“Scott received an extraordinary recommendation from the MSBA,” board president Samuel Hall said, referring to the Mississippi School Boards Association, which assisted in the superintendent search.

Scott will begin her three-year contract on July 22.

“I’m excited about the work that we’ll be doing as far as moving academics forward in the school district and I’m excited to get out into the community,” she said.

Scott is a seasoned educator with many years of experience throughout school districts in Mississippi.

“Her resume’ is impressive,” said Hall.

Scott was most recently the principal at L.J. Rowan Elementary in Hattiesburg. As a result of her work and over four years, the school improved from an F to C rated institution.

Before her tenure at L.J. Rowan elementary, she was the principal at G.L. Hawkins Elementary in Hattiesburg. Between 2010 and 2015, Scott helped Hawkins improve from an F to C rated institution as well. Four years later, Hawkins Elementary has maintained the level of success initiated by Scott.

Scott earned her PhD in education from the University of Southern Mississippi and first worked as a middle school English teacher in the Hattiesburg school district. She then taught AP English at South Jones high school in Jones County, where she served as Assistant Principal from 2006 to 2009. Scott became Principal at South Jones high school in 2009 before returning to Hattiesburg the following school year. She was hired to be principal at Hawkins Elementary in Hattiesburg in 2010.

Scott will replace Johnnie Vick, the former superintendent of the district who’s term ended on July 1 of this year. Vick lead the district for two years before the board voted not to renew his contract, citing concerns about progress made toward improving the district from an F rating.

The Mississippi School Boards Association vetted a list of 22 candidates for the superintendent’s position provided by the school district in June.

The school board interviewed a short list of 10 candidates.

Longtime district administrator and transportation director Warren Banks has been serving as interim superintendent since the end of Vick’s service.

Trustee Dr. Luke Lampton, who was recently reappointed to another six-year term on the Mississippi State Board of Health, expressed excitement and confidence regarding the decision taken by the board.

“The board is very excited. (Scott) appears to be a change agent who can help move us forward in terms of district education,” he said.

In other business, the board:

• Accepted the resignation of sixth-grade math teacher AlexZandra Hamilton of Eva Gordon Upper Elementary.

• Hired sixth-grade math teacher Katrina Arterberry to Eva Gordon Upper Elementary pending certification.

• Hired high school biology teacher Susan Duncan.

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