Administrator of the year


Tonsa Vaughn, principal of Burger Middle School, was named Hattiesburg Public School District Administrator of the Year during a surprise announcement Tuesday morning.

Vaughn is in her 14th year in the education field – 11 of those with the HPSD and her sixth year at Burger. She also served as an assistant principal under Dr. Robert Williams’ tenure as principal.

Vaughn said she was extremely surprised. “Everything I do it’s about the kids and the teachers,” she said. “I’m always looking for those external pieces.”

Vaughn said she received a call Tuesday morning from a counselor that a teacher needed her. “She never calls, so I thought it must be an emergency,” she said as she started running toward the room. When she arrived, Central Office staff, students and other personnel were there to help with the celebration.

“I was shocked and really really excited,” she said. She commended the school and staff for the many great things that are happening at Burger, especially the efforts of the students. On Tuesday morning they were also having a PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) program which offers students incentives and rewards them with some big-time prizes.

“It’s all about being present, attentive and good behavior,” Vaughn said.

Originally from New Albany, in North Mississippi, Vaughn received her undergraduate degree in English education, her Master’s in Education with an emphasis in Curriculum and Instruction and was certified as an administrator.

She and her husband, Joel, and 11-year-old son, Joel II, a sixth-grader in the HPSD’s Steam Academy, have made their home in the Hub City.

In a message from Vaughn on the school’s website, she said it is the school’s mission to educate all students to become academically proficient and socially responsible. “Positive engagement between the school and community will help us all to collaboratively support student success.

“BMS has a commitment formula for success that encourages all-students, teachers, parents, and community supporters to adopt as we work together to promote college and career-ready students who are prepared to succeed – Team + Focus + Grit = Success.”

Vaughn said the expectation is in every task, assignment, situation or condition the students and staff will have the mindset that the legendary coach Vince Lombardi describes, “The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” 

Vaughn feels that by moving forward together, Working to improve in focus areas, to develop students who Never give up, and to inspire students to persevere to Succeed. Forward Together.  Together Burger W.I.N.S.      


Vaughn said the faculty and administrators at the school work hard and have a plan in place to reach their goal of becoming B rated. We have a plan for becoming a B school and it involves the right staff and the right teachers.”