Last Wednesday, when Petal School District Superintendent Matt Dillon called Bruce Magee to come review storm shelter plans at the district’s central office, Magee figured it was just business as usual.
But when Magee, who serves as the chairman of the Petal School District Board of Trustees, arrived at the office, he discovered that Dillon and other school officials had something completely different in mind – in particular, a celebratory reception in honor of Magee being the first Petal school official to be named School Board Member of the Year by the Mississippi School Boards Association.
“I had no clue at all,” said Magee, who didn’t even know he’d won the award until he stepped into the reception. “When I walked in and the lights came on, I knew something was up.
“I’m humbled – I’m not deserving of such an award. I’m fortunate to be on the school board with great people all these years, and to be part of a great organization. What our people do every day encourages me to be the best I can.”
Several school officials attended the reception, along with Magee’s wife, Robin Little Magee; his son, Shea; and his daughter, Mallory Magee Guyse.
The School Board Member of the Year award was instituted in 2009 by the MSBA, a Clinton-based nonprofit organization aimed at ensuring quality school board performance across the state. It is given annually to honor school board members who have shown distinguished leadership in their tenure, including advocating for children, increasing student achievement, understanding their role in board governing and involving the community in the education of students.
Nominations are accepted from any members of the community – including teachers, superintendents or community leaders – and the selection committee is made up of school board members from across the state. Magee was nominated by Dillon, who said Magee was an obvious choice for the award.
“It couldn’t go to a more deserving individual – somebody that has a servant’s heart, somebody that always puts students and staff first in the decision-making,” Dillon said. “He’s very consistent, he works well with the board, and we have a great line of communication as a board chairman and superintendent.
“I can’t say enough about his leadership and how he puts our district first, and everything that he does. So this is special for me, and especially with me interacting with the board chairman as much as we have to communicate. There’s not a more deserving person of this award, because I know where his heart is, and that’s to serve.”
In addition to being honored during halftime of last week’s football game against the Terry Bulldogs, Magee also will be recognized at an awards ceremony hosted by the MSBA Nov. 13 in Jackson.
“We’re fortunate that we have great board members,” Magee said. “They don’t have agendas – they care deeply about kids and students.
“We’ve got a great leader, and I’m very pleased with who we’ve got as superintendent. We were very fortunate to find him and get here, because he’s right in with what we’re trying to do. All those things are beneficial to us as a district, so we’ve got a lot of good things going on.”
Magee has 16 years of experience on the board and 14 years as chairman, having been sworn in as a board member on April 9, 2002, and being named chairman on March 9, 20014. He has a B.S. from the University of Southern Mississippi and is employed by Richton Tie and Timber, where he has served as Chief Financial Officer since 1992.
“(Magee) does a lot behind the scenes that a lot of people don’t even know about,” Dillon said. “So this is very special. This is my fifth year as superintendent at the Petal School District, and he’s somebody I call, somebody I share ideas with, and he’s always very supportive.
“He understands his role as a board member, and he wants to do what’s best for this district and community by the support necessary to reach even higher. He’s never complacent – he’s always looking forward to what we can do next to enhance the great things going on in our district.”