Q&A with new SOCSD assistant superintendent

Anna Guntharp was recently hired as SOCSD’s assistant superintendent for federal programs and student support services. Her first day was Thursday. (Photo by Charlie Benton, SDN)
Staff Writer

At its meeting on Dec. 12, the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District Board of Trustees approved the hire of Anna Guntharp as the district’s assistant superintendent for federal programs and student support services.

Guntharp comes to the SOCSD from Tupelo Public Schools, where she has served as an administrator and assistant superintendent. During her time in Tupelo, Guntharp worked with Superintendent Eddie Peasant, then an assistant superintendent.

She holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Mississippi and a master's from Mississippi State University. She is currently pursuing an educational specialist degree from Arkansas State University.

She replaces former Assistant Superintendent Toriano Holloway, who was hired as superintendent of the Quitman School District.

The SDN caught up with Guntharp on Thursday, her first day on the job with the SOCSD.

Q: What is your background?

A: “I was a middle school teacher (in the Pontotoc County School District) when I first started out in education, and I taught middle school English for seven years and then became a principal. I’ve worked as a principal of a pre-K through fifth grade school, a third grade through fifth grade school and a kindergarten through fifth grade school. After my last principalship, I moved to the central office in Tupelo, and I worked as the federal programs director there and the assistant superintendent over curriculum.”

Q: How has your first day in the district gone?

A: "It's been very good. I've had the opportunity to see some of the schools. All of the teachers and administrators are involved with professional development today, but I had an opportunity to meet one of the principals, and I'm trying to just get a feel for where the schools are today. I've met with Dr. Peasant and (Assistant Superintendent) Dr. (Christy) Maulding."

Q: Are there any plans you have or changes you hope to hope to make?

A: "I know that one of my goals coming into this position is to help Dr. Peasant with expanding the pre-K program here in Starkville. My experience with that has been in Pontotoc County, I was principal of a school where we started a pre-K program. That was a federally-funded pre-K program there. I was involved with the startup of that program in Pontotoc County, and when I went to Tupelo as federal programs director, I was over the federally-funded pre-K program in Tupelo. I've worked for many years with pre-K as an administrator. Of course, my goal will be to align our federal programs with the goals of the school district, so whatever is involved with their strategic plan and to look at that and to look at what Dr. Peasant's goals are that he has set for the school district to align our federal programs application with those goals. Primarily federal programs are intended to improve student achievement, so going into this as I look at where we are with that and work with the principals and their goal-setting, and how we spend those federal funds should be tied into an academic goal for our students. That's one thing I'll be working on."

Q: Is there anything you would like to say to district parents?

A: "I'm just very, very excited to be a part of the Starkville-Oktibbeha School District. I see so many things going on in this school district. I think it's an exciting time to be here. With the Partnership School and the work that Dr. Peasant has already started here, I'm just looking forward to being a part of that. I feel honored to have the opportunity to work with these parents and these students, teachers and administrators."

Q: Is there anything you would like to say to the teachers and administrators you will lead?

A: "Probably I'll work more directly with the administrators, but I have an open door. I'm here to serve them and support them in their service to the children in this school district."

Q: Is there anything about this job that you are particularly excited about or particularly looking forward to?

A: I'm excited to see the Partnership School and the evolution that's going on there with the partnership with Mississippi State. I think that's a great asset to the school district and the city, the growing partnership with he university, so that's exciting for me. (I'm also excited about) Expanding the pre-K program. The earliest intervention that we can have for children, the better."