SenatorTrent Lott's Resignation Surprises Educators

His autographed pictures decorate the walls, and his signature adorns the students' uniforms. Senator Trent Lott's presence is quite visible throughout the Pascagoula school that bears his name.

"Our students know that Trent Lott Middle School is named after a real, live person who is out there working for their benefit really," said School Librarian Tommy Saunders. "He's done so much for education. He's a leader and a role model for our students here at Trent Lott."

The bond between the senator and the school goes way back.  He went to school there when it was the old "Pascagoula Jr. High". That bond only grew stronger when the school was dedicated to Lott in 1996.

"He's been a great supporter of our school," Saunders said. "He's donated many, hundreds of books. He's been an on-site visitor."

Lott was there for the school, after Katrina left behind four feet of water.

"Senator Trent Lott has been a tremendous asset for education. We couldn't have done it without him," said Principal Dr. Shannon Vincent.

That's why news of his resignation came as such a shock.

"It was a big surprise," Vincent said. "This is a tremendous loss for Mississippi."

Senator Lott didn't just help his alma mater. He reached out to all South Mississippi schools. For instance, he was instrumental in getting more than $300 million dollars to help Mississippi schools recover from Katrina. And he brought in some powerful people. Several years ago, Lott accompanied then-U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige during a visit with local superintendents.

Educators hope their students will carry on Trent Lott's legacy of service.

"He's done his part. It's time for these children to recognize their roles in the world for serving the community, and take up where he's left off," Vincent said.

By: Trang Pham-Bui