OPEN HOUSE: Meet Ruby Bennett, South Tippah School District’s pre-K director, assistant superintendent and testing coordinator

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Ruby Bennett’s 34-year career in education, the entirety of which has been spent with the South Tippah School District, has prepared her for the variety of roles she juggles on a day-to-day basis.

She serves as South Tippah School District’s pre-K director, assistant superintendent and testing coordinator.

Bennett never intended to become a teacher. While picking up her nephew from school one day, she was asked by longtime Blue Mountain Schools principal Larry Robbins to fill in as an assistant teacher.

“I stayed in that role and decided then that I loved being in the school, I loved the kids, and I was getting my degree,” Bennett said. “I was an assistant during the day and worked on my degree at night.”

Bennett earned her bachelor’s degree from Blue Mountain College and went on to earn a master’s from the University of Mississippi and an educational specialist from Nova Southeastern University.

She spent eight years as an assistant teacher and went on to teach at the elementary level for 16 years. She served as principal of Ripley Elementary School for eight years.

Now entering her second year in the district office role, Bennett is tasked with assisting superintendent Tony Elliott in any way she can while overseeing the district’s pre-k school and state testing.

Q&A

What was your favorite subject in school?

“I don’t know that I had a favorite subject. There were parts of classes that I liked, just like everybody has, and there are parts of classes you don’t like. I really loved going to P.E. because I loved playing basketball. But if I had to pick a favorite subject, I would say it would be reading. I always loved to read. In elementary, you had teachers that would read books to you. My favorites were ‘The Boxcar Children.’ We had this one period where you’d take everything off of your desk and just listen to them read, and it seemed like they made the books come alive. I enjoyed that part of the day.”

Did you have a favorite teacher? What made them special?

“My elementary teachers were the ones that stick in my mind. I think that’s because you would spend all day with that teacher, whereas in high school or middle school you may have anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour with each teacher. In elementary, you got to know those teachers better and they got to know you because you were with them each day. Some of the teachers that come to my mind are Ms. Ruby Sue Warrington, Ms. Dorothy Simelton and Ms. Lou Ann Miskelly.”

Tell me about your philosophy as an administrator? How do you approach the job each day?

“All students want to learn and need to learn. I think, as educators, our primary role is to fill that need for those students by creating engaging and relevant learning experiences every day. The greatest gift that we can give to these students is motivating them and giving them repeated learning success. I’m constantly reminded, and I use this quote all the time, of Rita Pierson. She says that ‘every child deserves a champion, one that will never give up on them.’ And that’s my approach. I try not to ever give up on a child, and I try to do what I can to help all students.”

What do you wish your students/their parents knew about you?

“After being in education for over 30 years, I’m an open book. I think they know everything there is to know about me. But one thing I would like for my students, their parents and the teachers to know is I love kids, I want to see them all be successful and I am passionate about what I do.”

What is your favorite part of the job?

“Getting out into the schools, seeing and listening to the teachers teaching their hearts out and their students providing feedback, showing them just how smart they are. When I was a principal, I was just at one school, but now I can get out to all of the schools in the district.”

What are you looking forward to this school year?

“Seeing the teachers and staff, watching them do what they do best and helping in any way that I can to see the district reach our goals.”