RIPLEY • After 30 years in education, South Tippah Superintendent Frank Campbell will retire on June 30.
Campbell has spent all 30 of those years with South Tippah schools, starting as a history teacher and assistant coach at Pine Grove and working his way up to the district’s top job.
“There was a position open at Pine Grove for a junior high coach and a history teacher. I interviewed and I was offered the job. I took it and have been at South Tippah schools ever since,” said Campbell.
Campbell worked for nine years at Pine Grove. When he departed the school, he served as head baseball and softball coach, drove a bus, and was assistant principal.
“I did everything I guess I could. I loved my years at Pine Grove.”
Campbell’s next stop was an eight-year stint as principal at Ripley Elementary School before taking the superintendent post in 2007. The 52-year-old admits that he seems a little young to be retiring, but he said that now “just felt like the right time.”
Campbell felt hesitant about retirement at first, especially with all the changes schools will face in the upcoming year due to the coronavirus.
“I hate to leave at a time I feel like issues in the upcoming school year will be tough. There are so many changes but at the same time I have had so many people tell me that I have picked the perfect time to retire.”
Campbell knows he is leaving the district in good hands, however. Tippah Career and Technology Center Director Tony Elliott has been hired as the new superintendent.
“I have the utmost competency in Mr. Elliott. This will be an easy transition from my viewpoint. Mr. Elliott was one of my former students at Pine Grove, a junior my first year there. I taught him both years. I feel like this is a good stepping off point for me, and a good point for him to start since he has been my assistant for several years. It is a blessing for me and I know he’ll do a good job.”
During his years with school administration, Campbell has seen many changes in the school district. He is especially proud of the improvements made to facilities throughout the schools. When he was principal at RES, a new kindergarten addition was built on campus, and a new playground was constructed.
“We raised the money to purchase the playground equipment when I was RES principal. We set a two-year goal for approximately $90,000 and raised it all in one year.”
In his first year as superintendent, an elementary addition was completed at Pine Grove. A combo project for the Ripley Event Center and double story building for Ripley Middle School was constructed shortly after.
“We also built a PE building at Pine Grove, and I’m really proud of that. It was a much-needed addition to that campus. We also constructed a new cafeteria at Blue Mountain and did facelift work at the elementary, which was much needed there as well.”
Other improvements have included a new baseball field at Pine Grove; lights on the football, baseball and softball fields at Ripley; new bleachers at the RHS football field; and a revamp of Ripley and Pine Grove softball fields.
“After the hail damage, we were able to acquire new roofing for Ripley High, Ripley Middle, Ripley Elementary, and the TCTC. I think that was a $3.2 million project, just for that. The great benefit of that was we got the new roof, but we also got new air conditioner units. Some of them were 20 years old, and we got them all replaced. So we’ve benefited tremendously on that one project. It helped us out a lot.”
Besides facilities, Campbell is pleased with all the academic achievements throughout the years, and he said working with the different administrators through the span of 13 years has been a blessing. He is also proud of the great teachers across the district and the support given to him by the South Tippah School Board.
“I can never say enough thank you’s to them for the hard work they do.”
In his 30 years at South Tippah, Campbell has gathered many fond memories. He puts having the Pine Grove yearbook, The Sapling, dedicated to him in 1996-97, helping start the Pine Grove Veterans Program, and attending the Harvard Principals Institute in 2004 at the top of his list. He was honored to have the 2020 RHS graduation video dedicated to him and still enjoys being called “Coach Campbell” by his Pine Grove baseball and softball players to this day.
As superintendent, he’s has served on the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents Executive Board and three years on the State Superintendent’s Advisory Committee.
As for retirement, Campbell is not sure what he will do. He jokes that he will prop his feet up and watch TV and do his wife’s honey-do list. He and his wife, Janie, have two daughter’s Bailey and Reaghan.
“Becoming a superintendent was the most rewarding time of my career ... I’m excited about being able to leave, but at the same time, it’s hard. A personal motto of mine is to try to leave things better than I found them, and that’s been my goal. I hope when the dust settles, that can be said.”