Myrtle Attendance Center’s new assistant principal, Craig Meadows, said he felt a calling to education for many years before answering it.
Meadows, a Blue Mountain native and 1998 graduate of Blue Mountain High School, worked as a land surveyor for several years, including four years for engineering firm in Oxford.
“I first attended Northeast [Mississippi Community College] to be a math teacher, but soon changed my major to civil technology because it seemed like a lucrative career,” Meadows said. “I enjoyed doing that for several years, but really, the whole time, there was this math teacher thing in the back of my mind. It never really did leave me.”
During his seven years as a civil engineer, Meadows had married his wife Heather and they had their first child. It was then that Meadows decided to pursue a career in education once again. He returned to Northeast and ended up finishing a four-year education degree at the University of Mississippi.
“I guess I would say the Lord really worked on me and said ‘What about that teaching that you said you were going to do?’” Meadows said. “From then, it just seemed like everything fell into place.”
Meadows’ first teaching job was at Hickory Flat Attendance Center.
“Mr. Robert Merritt gave me my first shot in the education field and that meant a lot to me,” he said.
Soon, Meadows was hired on at Ripley Middle School as a math teacher, where he taught for approximately six or seven years. It was while at Ripley that he began to pursue the next step in education – administration.
“The assistant principal there at the time and a good friend, Patrick Mathis, was like a mentor to me,” Meadows said. “During that time I was able to get my master’s degree and license in administration.”
Meadows went on work as a math teacher at New Albany Middle School for a year and added an endorsement in special education. It was this specialty, he said, that helped him get his next job at Myrtle.
“Mr. [Tommy] Ozbirn called me and said ‘I’m looking for a math teacher who also has a SPED degree,’” Meadows said. “I told him, ‘You know, that’s pretty rare, but you called the right guy.’”
Meadows joined Myrtle’s staff as 5th through 8th grade SPED math teacher last year and he said it was the best year he’s ever had in education.
“I learned a whole lot working with special education kids,” he said. “It would do a lot of good for every teacher to experience working with special education students. It was almost like a chapter in my life.”
Meadows said it’s important for teachers to remember to recognize each student has different strengths and weaknesses.
“Albert Einstein is quoted as saying ‘Everbody’s a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, then it’s going to live its whole life feeling stupid,’” he said. “I think it’s important for teachers to understand that all kids can’t do all things. Everybody has their weaknesses, but also everybody has their strengths. I think it’s important that we don’t pick out kids and expect them to do the unexpected. [We need to] focus more on what their abilities are and encourage them to grow from there.”
Meadows said he is very thankful for the opportunities he’s been given throughout his career.
“If it weren’t for Mr. Merrit, Mr. Mathis, and Mr. Ozbirn taking chances on me, I wouldn’t be where I am,” he said. “I’m very blessed. I’ve been able to learn how great Myrtle is. It’s a really good school, good community. It’s an awesome place.”
Meadows’ wife Heather teaches fifth and sixth grade math at Ingomar and together they have four children.