Hop­son is cel­e­brated in his last meet­ing as the head of SCS

The Commercial Appeal - - Front Page - Jen­nifer Pig­no­let Mem­phis Com­mer­cial Ap­peal USA TO­DAY NET­WORK - TEN­NESSEE AP­PEAL

Dorsey Hop­son said he knew Tues­day night’s Shelby County Schools board meet­ing had to be spe­cial. His mom was in the au­di­ence. Of all his six years at the helm of the dis­trict, pre­sid­ing over hun­dreds of board meet­ings, Hop­son said he couldn’t ever re­mem­ber his mother com­ing to watch. She picked the right one for her first. Tues­day was the last full busi­ness meet­ing of the board dur­ing Hop­son’s ten­ure as su­per­in­ten­dent, al­though a few smaller ones may pop up that will re­quire his pres­ence be­fore his time as su­per­in­ten­dent ex­pires on Jan. 8.

Hop­son an­nounced his res­ig­na­tion just be­fore Thanks­giv­ing. He ac­cepted a lo­cally-based po­si­tion with a na­tional pro­file with in­sur­ance com­pany Cigna.

Tues­day night was likely just the start of a farewell tour of sorts for Hop­son, who re­ceived a stand­ing ova­tion from his staff and oth­ers in the au­di­ence, and a procla­ma­tion from the school board.

“We left it a whole lot bet­ter than we found it,” Hop­son said to his staff of their time to­gether in the dis­trict, which started with a merger with Mem­phis City Schools and a steep fi­nan­cial hole and ends with an up­ward aca­demic tra­jec­tory and op­er­at­ing in the black.

Hop­son, who still has chil­dren in SCS schools, said board mem­bers should ex­pect he won’t go far, and he’ll have an opin­ion as “dad-in-chief.”

“If I don’t like it, I’m go­ing to come out there and sign up to speak,” he said, point­ing to the mi­cro­phone used for pub­lic com­ment at board meet­ings.

Along with board mem­bers and his staff, Hop­son also thanked teach­ers for their work over the last six years. The United Ed­u­ca­tion As­so­ci­a­tion of Shelby County pre­sented him with a clock as a part­ing gift.

“We haven’t al­ways agreed, but we’ve al­ways been able to rally each other be­hind th­ese kids and what’s in the best in­ter­est of this dis­trict,” Hop­son said.

Board mem­bers went around the dais of­fer­ing their thanks to Hop­son and recog­ni­tion of his work at SCS.

“It is with a heavy heart we say goodbye to you,” board mem­ber Billy Orgel said.

Rem­i­nisc­ing about the newly merged school dis­trict, Orgel noted he was board chair­man of the 23mem­ber crew that chose Hop­son as its leader. Hop­son had been the le­gal coun­sel for Mem­phis City Schools.

“We had two le­gal coun­sels, we had two su­per­in­ten­dents, we had two of ev­ery­thing,” Orgel said. “We were the Noah’s Ark of school boards.”

The board chose Hop­son, Orgel said, and “I don’t think we’ve ever looked back.”

Board mem­ber Kevin Woods was also part of that orig­i­nal board for the merged dis­trict.

“You’ve done a great job, we ap­pre­ci­ate your lead­er­ship, and also ap­pre­ci­ate your abil­ity to take the hits,” Woods said. “We don’t al­ways agree, and that’s not how it’s sup­posed to be.”

Board mem­ber Stephanie Love joked about giv­ing Hop­son a hard time over the years, but thanked him for his ser­vice.

“Don’t change your num­ber,” she said. “I’ll still be call­ing you.”

Reach Jen­nifer Pig­no­let at jen­nifer.pig­no­[email protected]­mer­cialap­peal.com or on Twitter @JenPig­no­let.


Dorsey Hop­son poses for a photo with his daugh­ter, Rob­bie Hop­son, 11, and mother, Dorothy Hop­son, dur­ing his last SCS school Board meet­ing as Su­per­in­ten­dent of the Shelby County Schools. BRAD VEST /

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