Mr. Dobbs Reminisces On Leaving THS

Golden Wave media reporter Hailee Spradling sat down with Mr. Dobbs to talk about moving up to a new position in the TPSD Central Office. 

HS – What led you to the decision to leave as head principal at THS? 

AD – It was a tough decision. But [moving to this new role at central office] is a way to be able to work with more students, and I know it sounds kind of cliche, but it’s actually very, very true in this situation.

I’m working with 2000 kids here. There, I’ll be able to work with close to 6000 kids throughout the district. It’s mainly going to be geared towards the 6th-12th grade. I’ll be working in a different role, doing different things than what I’m doing right now as principal, but it was a very difficult decision.  [Before I go] I definitely want to focus on finishing this year and getting through graduation for the class of 2022. 

HS – What are your future plans after leaving THS? 

AD – I’ll be the Executive Director of Educational Enhancement and Workforce Development. I’m excited about learning more about the district-level positions. I’ve never worked in that area before, but I’m very, very excited. 

Some of the things that I’m going to be doing is working with transportation, overseeing Coach Enis. He is the Transportation Director, and he’s doing a great job, I’m just gonna kinda sit with him and figure out how we can be better. 

Also I’ll be working with alternative schools. I want to look at maybe restructuring how we have alternative school right now and try to figure out a better way to meet everyone’s needs. Dr. Smith is doing an amazing job over there. We just want to add to it. 

And then I’ll also be working with student services, with Miss Traylor, and figuring out what we can do to help our students be better. Asking what else we can do. Let’s maintain the good things that we’re doing right now. But what can we do more to make Tupelo school students special? 

So basically, just like my new title reads, enhance means bigger and better. How can we do that, I want to figure out ways and try different things to make Tupelo High School/Tupelo Public School District a better experience. 

And then with workforce development I’ll be building and growing on what we already do. I want to partner with CDF, ICC and different foundations and companies and figure out what can Tupelo Public School District do for them. What do they need from our graduates? Are there any programs we can put in together to benefit both of us? Any way to maybe partner with them to allow students to come work for them in the summers, allow students to get college credit and maybe figure out how to help with tuition costs and other financial issues. 

Partnering with the community is one big area that I’m going to be working with, and I’m very, very excited about it.

HS – What would you like to see in a future principal?

AD – That’s a great question Hailee. 

You know, just care. This job, it’s hard to explain. Unless you’ve sat in that chair, if you’ve had that position, there’s really no comparison to what this is. I’ve loved every second of it. 

But what I would look for in a future principal is somebody that can become attached to the students and the teachers. Somebody that cares. Someone who has a good read on what the vibe of the school is. 

I feel like I’ve been able to do that pretty well in the last five years. It’s a 24 hour, seven days a week, 365 days a year job, you can’t turn it on and off. It takes a special person to be able to accept that. 

And, believe me, I’ve loved every second of it. And if I had to do it all over again, I would pick the same path.

HS – Alright, what are three memories that you remember from being principal at THS?

AD – There’s so many. I don’t know if I can remember just three. 

I guess my first when was my very first senior parade– that would have been fall of 2017. I was an assistant principal here. I coached baseball here, but I never got to experience that parade before. I was always waiting for the seniors on campus. So I just decided spur the moment– it was not anything planned or anything like that– I just decided to go over there and talk to them and get them excited and pumped them up a little bit. It really worked out. And it was fun. I felt like I was given a pep talk in a locker room before a game. 

Graduation is one I always remember. My first year, graduation was on my birthday. And every one of those students in the class of 2018 were all singing happy birthday in the back. When they came across the stage, everybody said “Happy birthday.” That was a cool memory. 

Let’s see, another memory. There are  just so, so many. One of my favorite things is seeing students graduate that sometimes thought there was no chance for them to graduate.  I always pull for the underdog so we didn’t give up on them. Seeing those expressions on somebody that we bought into, we trusted, we had faith in.  We just committed to them, and helped them get across that finish line. And for them to come back and say if it wasn’t for you, I would not have graduated. So that would be just the expressions, the thankfulness for not giving up on them. Moments like that will be definitely my number one memory but you have that every single year. And everybody contributes to that in a certain way. But it’s just that student coming back and saying “Oh, you helped me. I appreciate that.” You might not see it now, but trust me on this. And they do.

HS – Alright, last question, what do you hope to see continue at THS when are not here every day

AD – Pretty much everything. 

Tupelo is very, very special. Tupelo High school will always be special to me. There’s something special about the students and the teachers, the work ethic, the pride, the quality of the product that we produce–which is the students.

 It’s definitely the best school in the state. I think you can definitely tell Tupelo High School students from others. (I’m not saying anything negative about other schools.) 

Our expectations here, we expect so much, and our students buy into that. And I want that to continue. And I want it to get better. You know, whoever that principle is, they’re gonna be tasked with keeping the momentum rolling because we’ve had a lot a lot of major accomplishments here in the last five years. And, this school is exploding with academic achievements, athletic achievements. And it’s just going to get better every single year. So I guess to answer that in one phrases, just keep up with everything. It’s on the right path. Just keep it going.

HS – Alright is there anything else you’d like to add? 

AD – Go Wave! 

HS – Thank you.