Rookie teacher named, theme for 2018-19 announced

By HASKEL BURNS,

Matt Dillon, superintendent of the Petal School District, knows his employees across the district go above and beyond their duties during the school year.

In appreciation of that dedication, Dillon and other officials held the fourth annual End of the Year Employee Pep Rally Wednesday in the Petal High School gymnasium. 

“It’s just a time to celebrate our accomplishments, but also to celebrate our faculty and staff going into the summer,” Dillon said. “They work extremely hard in the course of the school year, and it’s just a great way to have fun.

“It’s a fun time to be together as a Panther family before they go off for the summer.”

The event started off with officials honoring this year’s 13 retiring employees, who were seated at the front of the festivities. Dillon said the retirees represented 231.5 years of total service to the district.

“We can’t say enough about the efforts of our retired teachers,” he said. “They meant so much to our district.

“They’ve invested in the lives of our students, and represented our school district so well.”

Of the 13 first-year teachers in the school district, Jordan Keen was named Rookie Teacher of the Year.

“(It’s exciting to have) 13 brand-new teachers coming in and getting through their first year,” Dillon said. “I know they’re going to come back with even more confidence going into year two.

“They’ve done a great job of bringing some ideas to the district, but also understanding the Petal way and what we’re about here.”

After a contest during which employees from each school around the district competed to see who had the most school spirit, officials revealed the new theme for the 2018-19 school year: Hometown Values, Global Vision.

“It represents what we’re about,” Dillon said. “We’re about hometown values in a small community, but also, we’re about being the best we can be globally, and giving our students every opportunity across this nation and world.

“So this really embodies what we’re about. It’s our current motto that we have, but it’s something we rebranded. It’s pretty special, and we’re excited to unveil that.”

More than $50,000 in door prizes were given away at the event, including items and gift cards from Merle Norman and Corner Market. The staff of Carter’s Jewelry in Petal gave a $100 gift card to each employee in the district, part of about $350,000 in gift cards the store has given to school employees around the Pine Belt.

“We always do a really big football promotion at Southern Miss, and this year, instead of that, we wanted to do something completely different in a whole other direction,” said Chae Carter, owner of Carter’s Jewelry. “We were trying to think of who we could help, or do something really big to make a change, and I (said) ‘teachers are never appreciated.’

“We actually came across this quote that’s on the gift cards, and it’s ‘teaching is the one profession that creates all other professions.’ When you really get down to the root of everybody, it’s teaching.”