The Mississippi State Board of Education (SBE) has named Dr. Robert Taylor, a 30-year veteran educator and deputy state superintendent for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, Mississippi’s new state superintendent of education.
A Mississippi native and University of Southern Mississippi graduate, Dr. Taylor began his career as a teacher’s assistant in Mississippi and served North Carolina public schools throughout his career as a teacher, principal, district superintendent and state education leader. Quality Counts ranks North Carolina No. 14 in the nation for K-12 achievement.
The SBE selected Dr. Taylor after conducting a national search. He will lead the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) starting in late January 2023.
“Dr. Taylor possesses all the qualities the Board sought for the next state superintendent of education. He brings extensive leadership experience at the school, district and state levels and the skill and commitment needed to continuously improve student achievement statewide,” SBE Chair Rosemary Aultman said. “Mississippi has become a national leader for improving student outcomes. The Board is confident we selected the right person to lead our state to achieve at even higher levels.”
Along with his experience as a district and state administrator, Dr. Taylor has served as an adviser to the schools of education at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and Fayetteville State University, where he earned both his Master’s of School Administration and Doctorate in Educational Leadership. During his 10-year tenure as a district superintendent, Dr. Taylor was selected for numerous state roles including an assessment task force that drafted new legislation for statewide student assessment, the governor’s superintendent advisory council and state board and higher education advisory boards. He currently serves as the governor’s appointee on North Carolina’s Center for the Advancement of Teaching.
Dr. Taylor will succeed Dr. Kim Benton, who has been serving as interim state superintendent of education since July.
“Dr. Benton’s contributions to advancing public education in Mississippi have been enormous. She successfully implemented the state’s signature education reforms while working as Mississippi Department of Education’s chief academic officer. She devoted her service to MDE once again when the Board needed her to lead the department as the interim superintendent,” SBE Chair Rosemary Aultman said. “The Board is deeply grateful for Dr. Benton’s commitment and service to Mississippi’s students, educators and school and district leaders.”
Dr. Benton will continue to serve as interim superintendent until Dr. Taylor assumes the role in January.
“It has been my honor and joy to serve the state as the interim state superintendent of education. I am incredibly proud of the outstanding students, educators and leaders throughout the state and appreciate the hard work and dedication of my colleagues at Mississippi Department of Education,” Dr. Benton said. “I welcome Dr. Taylor’s appointment and offer my full support to ensure a smooth leadership transition.”
Statement from Dr. Robert Taylor:
“The task of selecting a State Superintendent of Education is perhaps the most difficult task of a State Board, and my family and I thank the Mississippi State Board of Education immensely for offering me the opportunity to lead public education. Mississippi has made tremendous strides in literacy and our goal as a state should be to continue this growth and refine the work that has produced such great results.
I look forward to working with local school districts, superintendents, and their school staff in identifying barriers to success. The MDE will continue its support of local districts, working to expand our efforts to support the work that makes children college and career ready. Many districts produce outstanding student results, and I welcome the opportunity to examine this work and develop pathways for all schools and districts to share successful work.
The work of producing legislation to support schools resides with our Legislature and Governor, and I, along with the State Board of Education, look forward to collaborating on legislative issues that will benefit our entire state. My goal will be to offer effective legislative ideas that we all recognize will benefit student growth.
Our parents expect the best from us as educators, and I will work tirelessly to meet this goal. As always, parents should have the loudest voice regarding the education of their children, and as State Superintendent you will have my listening ear.
The opportunity to return home to Mississippi and work hand in hand with all stakeholders to improve education is perhaps the pinnacle of one’s career. This opportunity has been afforded to my family and I and we look forward to our homecoming.”