State superintendent reflects on years of service
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - As Dr. Carey Wright reflects on her time as the leader of Mississippi’s Public Schools, she admits it will be tough saying goodbye to a job she is passionate about.
Dr. Wright became the State Superintendent of Education for Mississippi in 2013 at a time when the state was struggling on the educational front. During, her historic tenure, she says schools across the state have made significant progress.
“When I got here in 2013, we were literally 50 in the nation. Our most recent rise has taken us to 35. So, the adage of ‘Thank God for Mississippi’ no longer applies anymore. We are no longer at the bottom and I am very proud of where we are with being 35,” she stated. “Education Week was ranking us with an ‘F’ in education in 2013, and, where are now at a ‘C’, we have come a long way in eight-and-a-half years.”
The state’s graduation rate has also climbed to an all-time high of 87.7 percent.
Wright said, “I can’t say enough about our data. Graduation rate at the highest they’ve ever been and exceeds the national average. We have more than doubled the rate of graduation for students with disabilities and our children, and 2019 we’re number one in the nation in grades four for reading and math for their gains.”
Dr. Wright says initiatives to increase literary skills and early childhood education have also equaled academic success for the state’s future leaders.
“Obviously, early childhood because that was brand new in 2013 and it was the very first time that Mississippi had ever put money into early childhood,” she said. “Now you see children coming into our collaboratives are outperforming all of their peers when they get to kindergarten.”
She points out there have also been some challenges along the way, including tackling the teacher shortage through a variety of benefits, pay raises, incentives, and assistance programs.
Also, providing the necessary resources for teachers and students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think one issue that the next chief is going to face, and we are already addressing that, but I think it’s becoming a little bit larger than all of us thought, and that is the overall mental health of our students, teachers and our leaders,” she said.
Dr. Wright plans to retire June 30 and she told me she is excited to spend more time family.
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