By Debbie Burt Myers
Dr. Lundy Brantley, who led the Neshoba County School District through the Covid-19 pandemic and later to a historic “A” accountability grade, announced his retirement Friday as superintendent of education.
Neshoba Central’s first appointed superintendent, Brantley took the helm in July 2017.
He made his decision to retire after much thought and prayer.
“It is not something I’ve taken lightly,” he said. “I’ve prayed about it and asked God to reveal the right time and he has. I have a great peace about it but still, my heart is heavy.”
Brantley said he would miss the people he worked with as well as the students at Neshoba Central the most.
“I am always going to be a Rocket,” he said. “I graduated from here in 1993. I am going to still be at the ballgames routing our kids on.”
Brantley will go into the private consulting business after his last day on June 30.
“I’ll go around the state helping other people try to improve every day,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to it. It will be a different kind of busy. I’ll get to do the things I enjoy like mentoring principals and superintendents to help them develop and improve. I enjoy doing that for myself. I like to help others reach their goals by coming up with plans and helping them execute those plans.”
Dr. Brantley said his biggest challenge as superintendent was leading the school district during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Covid was a change for everybody but our staff and students handled it very well,” he said. “We went to school! It was our job and our students are seeing the benefits from that now.”
Administrators and teachers had the mindset from the beginning to “stay in school,” he said, noting that setbacks were expected.
“We knew they would come so we dealt with it and moved on,” he said. “That was a tough challenge, mainly trying to keep our culture strong. It was a very tough time but we persevered through it. We learned that we could push through situations and still give ourselves an opportunity to have success.”
When he took over the school district, Brantley aspired to adopt a culture of high expectations for the staff and students.
“You can walk through all our buildings and you can see, and feel and hear that culture,” he said. “The conversations are very similar: ‘What are we doing to help our kids get better and what adjustments do we need to make.’”
Brantley told his staff in August 2017 that Neshoba was about “to have really high expectations and be one of the best districts in the state and we have done that.”
It’s not unusual for administrators from other districts to come and tour Neshoba Central to witness what students and staff are doing, he said.
Dr. Brantley cited multiple new construction projects underway on campus, internet capability upped to two gigabytes and over 4,000 new devices for students and teachers among his proudest accomplishments.
The “A” rating by the Mississippi Department of Education is the “cherry on top,” he said.
“That was the result of great people doing great things,” he said. “Our focus is on daily improvement. Everybody wants to be number one, and everybody wants to be an ‘A’ but you have to be willing to put in the work because it truly takes what it takes. There are really no options, no choices but to focus on improving daily and not hoping something great will occur in the end. I think you can see by our numbers through the years that we have had a gradual increase in our test scores. It’s a lot easier to sustain when it is gradual and not exponentially.”
Prior to his appointment as superintendent at Neshoba, Dr. Brantley was superintendent of Union Public School District, high school principal at Pearl Public School District, high school and junior high principal at Webster County School District and elementary principal at Neshoba County School District.
He holds an associate’s degree from East Central Community College, a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and a master’s, specialist and doctorate from Mississippi State University.
He is active in numerous professional and community organizations.