DeSoto County superintendent has busy schedule overseeing 33,000 students

Destiny Thompson
Oxford Stories

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a school superintendent for a day?

Cory Uselton, the DeSoto County Superintendent, had a very eventful day Friday, Sept. 29 as he supported county schools.

Uselton first traveled to Lewisburg Elementary School to participate in Go Jim Go! activities. LES leaders presented Jim Jaggers from News Channel 3 a check for more than $19,000 for Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.

Upon seeing the check, Jaggers “fainted,” requiring the superintendent to “revive” Jaggers with water. The check was presented by the students who raised the most money while the rest of the school lined the sidewalks with signs and cheered passing bikers.

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Cory Uselton reviving Jim Jaggers. Photo by Destiny Thompson.

Uselton then drove to Pleasant Hill Elementary School, where the National Elementary Honors Society was inducting the 2017-2018 NEHS members and honoring last year’s.

He opened the ceremony with a speech reminding students to thank their parents and teachers daily for their commitment and sacrifices so students can achieve greatness.

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Congratulatory cake for NEHS. Photo by Destiny Thompson.

After giving his speech, Uselton watched the pinning of new inductees, and Principal Jamie Loper gave the young students: “You can go as far as you want to, and do not let anyone tell you differently.”

Later that day, Southaven Intermediate School was hosting a pep rally to encourage students to participate in the cookie dough fundraiser and to surprise them. Burlington Coat Factory was there to present Southaven Intermediate with a $10,000 check.

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Principal Kenneth McKinney with Burlington’s check. Photo by Destiny Thompson.

The teachers will be able to use that money for their classrooms to benefit the children and enhance their education. Michele Henley, a DeSoto County Board of Education member, joined Uselton as they accepted the check with principal Kenneth McKinney and two Burlington Coat Factory representatives.

The last event on Uselton’s list was visiting Hernando Elementary School. They were hosting a balloon release at 10:30 a.m. that supported St. Jude Day. Students and teachers released yellow balloons for Childhood Cancer Awareness.

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Photo by Destiny Thompson. Cory Uselton at Hernando’s balloon release.

Uselton joined in and released his own balloon before interacting with students, teachers, and police officers. Then he returned to his office and began a normal day of meetings and emails.

Lauren Margeson, Uselton’s executive administrative assistant, helps him keep a tight schedule that allows for meetings and attending various events across the county. This is Margeson’s first year in this position, and in her four months with Uselton, she has learned that her job is very situational. She never knows what will happen.

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Photo by Destiny Thompson. Sign in the Desoto County Education Office.

Margeson said Uselton does not micromanage but encourages her and is a proponent of positive reinforcement. She said he is “very understanding of real life situations” and has, overall, been a pleasure to work for.

Gerri Hill oversees community relations for DeSoto County Schools and works directly with Uselton when needed. Hill works to promote the school district, including building relationship with businesses across the county.

Hill says Uselton is dedicated to students, staff, and the betterment of the county. He came up with last year’s theme “Team DCS.”

Team DCS emphasized that, although the schools are all different and have various things going on, they are all still part of one county. They should all celebrate and support one another.

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Photo by Destiny Thompson. Team DCS hung in Uselton’s office.

This year’s theme is “Raise the Bar,” which encourages student growth. The phrase is promoted so students are inspired to better themselves and raise their own goals to be extraordinary.

Cory Uselton received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Memphis, a master’s degree in education from Delta State University, and a specialist’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Mississippi.

He was a high school social studies teacher and head boys’ basketball coach for 10 years at Pontotoc High School, Charleston High School, and Hernando High School. He was also an assistant principal for three years at Horn Lake High School and high school principal at Senatobia High School for six years.

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Photo by Destiny Thompson. Uselton speaking with a student at the balloon release.

Uselton’s most memorable day was his first because he fully realized he was responsible for the education of over 33,000 students.

Although the job is challenging, positive letters from students and teachers remind him he is making a difference. Uselton wants the students and staff to know “[he] will not be outworked [and] will do whatever needs to be done to help the students and staff be successful.”

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