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Former superintendent returns to campus

Tom Burnham will return to Ole Miss as director of Principal Corps, a 13-month program meant to help graduate students excel in leadership, educational and directorial abilities.
Angelina Mazzanti

Tom Burnham, former superintendent of Mississippi and former dean of The University of Mississippi School of Education, is returning to the university to take on the job of director for the Principal Corps.

The Principal Corps was created in 2009 with a donation from the Jim and Donna Barksdale Foundation. It is an extensive 13-month program meant to help graduate students excel in leadership, educational and directorial abilities. The program includes summer sessions and an internship.

Admittance into Principal Corps comes with free textbooks and course materials and a $10,000 signing bonus if the graduate accepts an administrative position in Mississippi, among other benefits.

Upon completing the program, students receive a master’s degree.

Susan McClelland, current director of Principal Corps, said Burnham is the right man for the job.

“Dr. Burnham is the ideal person to lead this program into the next phase,” McClelland said. “With his knowledge of school leadership and his ability to network with district superintendents and principals, he will be able to recruit highly qualified candidates from across the state."

“Dr. Burnham has a passion for education and a commitment to the Principal Corps program.”

Burnham helped start the program and understands the importance of principals in a school.

“I believe strongly in both the mission and actions of the Mississippi Principal Corps,” Burnham said. “The real difference in the level of academic achievement of students rests with the quality of the teacher in the classroom and the leadership ability of the principal in charge of the school.”

The program is starting its fifth session. Every graduate of the program has been offered a job as a principal or vice principal once completed.

“I am thrilled with the success and respect the program has gained in this short period of time,” Burnham said. “I consider myself very fortunate to have the opportunity to return to The University of Mississippi."

“I have tremendous respect for the university and for the leadership of Chancellor Jones, Provost Stocks and Dean Rock.”