Dr. Jennifer Pope named Ocean Springs School District interim superintendent

Dr. Jennifer Pope
Dr. Jennifer Pope(WLOX)
Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 5:40 PM CDT
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OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - A special called board meeting on Friday saw the Ocean Springs School District’s Board of Trustees approve the recommendation of Dr. Jennifer Pope, current Oak Park principal, as the school district’s interim superintendent, effective March 22.

Dr. Pope is stepping in for the retiring Dr. Bonita Coleman, who is set to step down on Tuesday to pursue other career opportunities. While Dr. Pope serves as interim superintendent through June 30, Oak Park Elementary assistant principal Dr. Stewart Smirthwaite will serve as interim principal.

Pope and Smirthwaite will return to their respective duties when OSSD’s next superintendent takes office on July 1.

“The Board of Trustees, along with the district, would like to thank Dr. Coleman for her exemplary service to OSSD the past 10 years,” said Dr. Vickie Tiblier, Board President. “We wish her nothing but the best in her future endeavors.”

In an effort to maintain an unbiased and fair superintendent search, Tiblier also said when determining who would fill the interim superintendent role, the Board of Trustees were looking for someone who could provide necessary leadership to the district, but was not a candidate to be OSSD’s next superintendent.

Dr. Pope began her career in education in 1991 and joined Greyhound Nation as a teacher at Oak Park Elementary in 1998. In 2004, Pope was named Lead Teacher at OPES, and in 2008, was named Assistant Principal. Pope moved into her current position as Principal of OPES in 2011 and has since earned OSSD’s Administrator of the Year Award three times, winning in 2013, 2020, & 2023.

Outside of OSSD, Dr. Pope enjoys spending time with her family, including her children and two grandchildren, as well as going fishing and boating.

The search process for OSSD’s next Superintendent will continue on schedule, with the position being officially posted earlier this month. Applications are currently being submitted for the position.

Next, HYA, the search firm hired by the OSSD Board of Trustees, will begin screening and conducting research on the interested applicants, which will then be presented to the BOT in early April.

The OSSD Board of Trustees plans to have a new Superintendent start on July 1, 2023.

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