Petal School District superintendent Matt Dillon has never been one to take individual credit for accomplishments, whether it’s overseeing the school district being consistently named No. 1 in the state, seeing his teachers in the district being named Mississippi Teachers of the Year, or being named as the 2019 Mississippi Haggar Hall of Fame Dad.
And he’ll continue that with his latest accolade: being named the 2021 Mississippi Superintendent of the Year by the Mississippi Association of School Administrators.
“Although this award has my name on it, it represents all the hard work of so many people in our school district,” Dillon said. “All the extra work, the long hours, everything that our teachers do, and our administrators and support staff – it’s something special. This award is not just about me; this award is about all the other people in our district who make our district look good, and make my job easier and support me and make me look good in what I do.
“Even though my name’s on the award, this really embodies a lot of people. I think about my family, my wife, my kids who support me and behind the scenes do so much; sometimes I miss out on a lot of things at home based on my job. Then our leaders at the central office level, the building level, the department level, and all our support staff – this is a direct reflection of the great things happening in our district.”
Only one other Petal superintendent has been chosen as Mississippi Superintendent of the Year since its inception in 1988: James Hutto, who won the award in 2005.
Every year, all 50 states in the American Association of School Administrators – which is the parent organization of the MASA and the other state affiliates – select one superintendent of the year. Those 50 superintendents are then placed in the running for National Superintendent of the Year, an award that will be given in February.
In selecting superintendents for the honor, the association looks at a variety of criteria, including accomplishments, awards, innovative measures at school districts, outreach and community support, and success in the district and the community.
“It would (be a huge honor to be named National Superintendent of the Year),” Dillon said. “Any time that we can bring some accolades and recognition to the great state of Mississippi, that’s a win.
“I know the great work that our educators are doing within our school district, and you’re seeing that across our state. So it’d be a feather in the hat to our state, and obviously to the Petal School District. From an individual standpoint, it would be something that would be very special to me and my family as well.”
Dillon earned an associate of arts degree from Jones County Junior College, a bachelor’s degree in elementary and education from the University of Southern Mississippi, and a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in K-12 educational leadership, both from the University of Mississippi. Before being named superintendent in Petal in 2014, he served as assistant superintendent for the Tupelo Public School District and principal in the Pearl Public School District.
Dillon and his wife, Mary Ann, have three children: Nate, Peyton and Anna Kate.
“Obviously, it’s very humbling to be recognized out of the 140-plus school districts in our state, and to be nominated as the representative for Mississippi as Superintendent of the Year,” Dillon said. “A lot of people work extremely hard across the state for the children of their community, and for me to be selected is very special, very humbling, and I could not be more proud to represent our state, and to represent the Petal School District.”