In June of 2016, Southampton County School Board named Dr. Gwendolyn Page Shannon as the new superintendent for Southampton County Public School Division. As a member of the education community for 21 years, she began her career at her alma mater, Clarksdale High School, where she taught biology, advanced biology, microbiology and field experiences. She was confident and successful teaching these classes, in part, because of her college preparation. She attended Mississippi Delta Community College where she received an Associate of Science degree in Biology; Mississippi University for Women where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology with a minor in chemistry; and Delta State University where she obtained a Master of Science degree in natural science.
After four years of shaping some of the brightest minds in the world, the drive to impact students on a broader and systemic scale inspired Dr. Shannon to pursue school leadership and administration. She enrolled at Delta State University and earned an Educational Specialist degree in education administration. This degree opened many doors for Dr. Shannon and afforded her the opportunity to serve in school administration at South Panola School District, where she served students, teachers, and parents for three years.
Following the phenomenal experience that she had at South Panola School District, she moved to Southern Mississippi where she had the opportunity to serve in district level administration at East Jasper School District. This district became home for Dr. Shannon for the next 12 years, as she served in varied capacities eventually becoming the superintendent. Dr. Shannon was officially hired as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction but was later assigned textbooks, professional development, and technology. After two years of serving in district level administration, she became Superintendent of East Jasper School District.
Dr. Shannon served East Jasper School District with honor, dignity, class, and heart. She states that this experience was one of the best personal, professional, and life experiences in which she had ever embarked. It was in that position that she was able to learn about the complexities and intricacies of running an entire school district and she absolutely loved it. Being in the position of school superintendent in the same place for ten years, she stated that there were many ebbs and flows. However, to highlight a few of the district's accomplishments during her tenure:
East Jasper School District was #7 on the list of top 10 districts with the highest graduation rates in the state of Mississippi and #5 on the list of top 10 districts with the lowest dropout rates. The school system was able to decrease the percentage of students in alternative school by 88% from the 2011-2012 to the 2012-2013 school year and the number of expulsions district-wide by 100% from 2012-2014. There was an increase in the number of students enrolled in Advanced Placement classes of 48% from 2012-2013 to 2013-2014. The school system successfully implemented a Chrome Book Initiative at all schools. At the junior high school, a 1:1 iPad Initiative was implemented. In addition, the Mississippi Department of Education rated this school an "A", which was the highest rating possible.
Because Dr. Shannon recognized that to remain an effective leader who advocates for research-based practices, professional and personal growth, and relevance, while at East Jasper School District, she participated in numerous opportunities to better serve the children of her school district. To cite a few she participated in training with the Mississippi Department of Education and its Superintendent's Academy (Mississippi & New York) and with the Mississippi Education Reform Collaborative and Apple's Executive Briefing (Cupertino, California). Dr. Shannon trained with Capturing Kids Hearts (Salado, TX) and the Marine Corp Educator's Workshop (Paris Island, SC). She took advantage of the opportunity to participate in Harvard University Leadership Institute for Superintendents (Cambridge, MA) and John Maxwell's Giant Impact Training (Suwanee, GA). She served on the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Quality Review Team (Auburn, AL) and was a member of the Education Policy Fellowship Program (Meridian, MS & Washington, D.C.). She received training as a new superintendent 11 years ago as a participant in the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents Institute (Jackson, MS). She participated in three programs at Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN): Financial Accountability for the Non-Financial Manager, Executive Leadership, and Leadership Dynamics where she received a certificate of completion from the Owens Graduate School of Management for completing the requirements of the Executive Development Institute. Most recently, she participated in AASA and Howard University's Urban School Leadership program.
After serving East Jasper School District for 12 years, "Virginia" called. Dr. Shannon decided to pursue doing the work of education in other areas of the country, which led her to Courtland, Virginia, Southampton County Public Schools. During her first week at Southampton, she knew that she had made the right decision. The people that she encountered were very kind, friendly, and easygoing. The staff was knowledgeable, helpful, and open-minded. Because of these factors, it was easy for Dr. Shannon to focus on expanding excellence and expounding on some of the great things that were occurring in Southampton.
In her first year as superintendent of Southampton County Public Schools, Dr. Shannon and her team focused on five goals (1) increasing student achievement, (2) ensuring a safe and healthy school culture and climate, (3) improving employee retention and professional training, (4) enhancing community and parental partnerships, and (5) continued capital improvements and acquiring more resources. The school division that Dr. Shannon inherited was fully accredited, and she is confident that through the efforts and dedication of the students, parents, teachers, and administrators, all schools will maintain full accreditation.
Dr. Gwendolyn P. Shannon
Division SuperintendentSouthampton County Public SchoolsP.O. Box 96Courtland, VA 23837(757) 653-2692(757) 653-9422 (FAX)