Biloxi Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Paul A. Tisdale, who has overseen a restructuring of curriculum and classrooms and had three schools nominated for national Blue Ribbon awards in the past five years, this morning announced that he is retiring in June, at the end of the current school year.
"Iíve had the best job in the world as superintendent of Biloxi Public Schools," the 58-year-old said. "It's something I aspired to when I was first appointed as a school principal. I've been so fortunate in my career. Biloxi and this school district have been very good to me and to my family. Itís been a pleasure and honor to serve my community."
Tisdale, who has spent 32 of his 36 years as an educator in Biloxi Public Schools, made the announcement to teachers and staff gathered this morning for an annual professional development day.
He is believed to be the first graduate of Biloxi Public Schools to later become superintendent of the district. He spent virtually his entire career working in Biloxi Public Schools, save a four-year stint as superintendent of the Bay -Waveland School District in the 1990s.
Tisdale said he relished dealing with the challenges the school district and community have faced in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. "Youíll always face adversity and challenge when youíre implementing change, thatís why leadership positions are not for the faint of heart," he said. "Almost every single day has been an adventure, and I wouldnít have had it any other way."
Said Biloxi school board President Kenny Holloway: "Paul Tisdale has done a fantastic job. This district has achieved unprecedented levels of academic success while dealing with the many challenges of rebuilding and a troubled economy."
Tisdale began his teaching career in 1974 at Jeff Davis Elementary School where he taught fifth and sixth grades, was principal at both Beauvoir (1980-86) and Dukate (1986-90) elementary schools before being appointed assistant principal at Biloxi High (1990-92). He served the next four years as superintendent of the Bay-Waveland School District (1992-1996) before returning to Biloxi as director of administrative services (1996-2004). In 2004, he succeeded Dr. Larry Drawdy as superintendent.
Tisdaleís seven-year tenure as superintendent saw the opening of Nichols and Gorenflo elementary schools in 2004; district students returning to class after missing only 19 days of school in the wake of Hurricane Katrina; U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon nominations for Biloxi High Biloxi (2006), Nichols Elementary School (2008) and North Bay Elementary School (2010); significant drops in student enrollment and state funding; a reduction from 11 school sites to 7; Excel by 5, a community initiative to serve children from birth to five; and first-ever district accreditation by AdvancEd (formerly Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement).
"People hear and read about the national awards and the school re-alignment, but these things could not have been accomplished without a hard working staff dedicated to educating Biloxiís children," Tisdale said. "Thereís been a great deal of effort to align curriculum and deliver instruction consistently within the school district. The result is accreditation as a High Performing School District, in the top 10 percent of Mississippiís 152 school districts. To meet higher levels of accountability required at the state and national levels, administrators and teachers will have to be more effective and creative in their use of time and building professional, instructional relationships with their students.
"Iíve worked with very good, caring, thoughtful school board members; talented administrators at the school and district level; and hard-working teachers who face more difficulty and frustration in an ever increasing accountable work place. Yet, despite these challenges, they do a marvelous job; they make it happen.
"Iíve always said that I would work as long as it was fun, my health was good, the board supported me, and I wasnít losing money because of the stateís retirement system. All of these are true except for the latter. Itís most advantageous for me to retire at the end of this school year.
"Iíll take a bit of time to relax, spend more time with my wife, Wanda, and family, and, honestly, find something else to do because Iím not ready just yet to sit on my porch and watch the world go by. And, if I stay home Iíll actually have to do some of those things on the Honey-do list!"