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