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The Mississippi State Board of Education (SBE) appointed Dr. Kim Benton to become interim state superintendent of education on July 1. Dr. Benton will succeed Dr. Carey Wright, who will retire on June 30 after more than eight years as Mississippi’s state superintendent of education.

Dr. Benton currently serves as the interim chief academic officer/deputy state superintendent for the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE). She brings 40 years of experience working in public education in Mississippi, starting as a teacher’s assistant and then as a teacher, principal and executive director of special populations and federal programs in the Meridian Public School District. She previously served as MDE’s chief academic officer for six years before retiring from the agency in 2018. Dr. Benton subsequently worked as a consultant and trainer for the Academic Development Institute, providing leadership services to multiple state education departments and Regional Comprehensive Centers and the National Comprehensive Center, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Education. In addition, she served as associate professor in Educational Leadership at William Carey University and as interim superintendent for the Mississippi Schools for the Deaf and Blind.

As MDE’s chief academic officer, Dr. Benton was in charge of implementing several hallmark initiatives including the Early Childhood Collaborative Act, the Mississippi College and Career Readiness Standards and the Literacy Based Promotion Act.

“Dr. Benton has worked alongside Dr. Wright during most of her tenure and has been instrumental in helping to lead the state’s successful education reform efforts,” said Rosemary Aultman, SBE chair. “The Board is confident Dr. Benton will continue the progress we have made in public education over the past decade as we begin the search for a permanent state superintendent.”

The SBE will issue a call for proposals June 1 from consultant firms with expertise in leading searches for state education chiefs. The SBE intends to select a search firm by July 1 and begin interviewing candidates in the fall.

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