School board honors Pruitt’s time with the districtBy BUSTER WOLFE,
The Lamar County School District’s Board of Trustees has an empty seat that it will be looking to fill after District D board member Mike Pruitt attended his last meeting Monday night.
Pruitt, who has moved to another district, announced that he would be leaving the board at the conclusion of the regular meeting in the Administrative Offices in Purvis.
Board President Buddy Morris presented Pruitt with a plaque of appreciation for his 11 years on the board and spoke about Pruitt’s no-nonsense service to the district.
“Mike and I have definitely not seen eye-to-eye, which has been a good thing for me,” he said. “It has made me, I think, a lot better board member than I would have been if Mike had not been on the board. Mike is unique in that he brings a lot of different things to our board and they are good things. Mike has a lot of different insight that, honestly, brings a different dynamic to our board that makes us look at things that sometimes we might not have normally looked at or have found if it had not been for Mr. Pruitt.”
Morris said he and Pruitt have had heated discussions.
“What I like about this gentleman here is on our ride home, we were laughing and joking,” he said. “That’s hard to find is two people who can really disagree to the point their faces are red. But when you go home, you realize it was good for kids of this district or the employees. Heated debate is a great thing. It brings great ideas. Mr. Pruitt and I could laugh all the way home because we realize a lot of people thought we wanted to kill each other and we really didn’t. It was just a debate.”
Superintendent Tess Smith agreed, saying Pruitt would express what was on his heart and in his mind.
“Tonight, (board attorney) Rick (Norton) and I were joking and Rick said, ‘He’s a gentleman and a scholar,’” she said. “Then we both laughed and said, ‘Maybe not the gentleman part.’ When it comes to the ‘gentle’ part, he never told you what you wanted to hear. You never doubted what he was thinking because he would tell you. There was that honesty that I appreciate in that. He and I have not always agreed, but we have always been able to agree to disagree. I always knew when we walked away and we still may have had different opinions, but I knew he believed strongly that that’s knew what was right. I admire that about him and the true honesty that you get from the man is appreciated.”
Morris said he and Pruitt also became lifelong friends.
“(He is) someone who I will always be able to call and share the most intimate parts of my life, like kids marrying, because Mike has always got something really funny to say or some good insight,” he said. “Not only did I get to spend a part of my life with someone, I got to make a lifelong friend, someone that’s actually stood by me in hard times in my life. He might not have always told me what I wanted to hear; he told me what I needed to hear, which most people won’t do because they are afraid they might hurt your feelings. Mr. Pruitt is not that guy.”
Pruitt will be missed by the school district, Morris said.
“The input you have is never in question whether it’s for the good of the district, it’s for the good of the kids, it’s always on your heart and you always give 100 percent to this board,” he said.
Reading from a prepared statement, Pruitt said he thanked the school district “for the way you have handled growth and society’s continuing changing parameters should make every parent, every student, every member of this community honored to be a part of this district.”
Pruitt also thanked the district employees and administration for their commitment to nurturing students and said the board, counselor and administrative team is “amazing.”
“I will miss all of you and hope most of you will miss me, at least maybe just a little,” he said. “I hope I have an opportunity to serve this district and our students in another capacity. Even if not, you can always count on my prideful support of the Tornadoes, the Warriors, the Bobcats and the Rebels.”
Smith said resumes and letters of interest are being accepted in the district’s Administrative Offices for anyone who wants to become the next board member in District D.